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Size: 10x42|Color: Camouflage|Change
Price:$267.26 - $305.32
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on February 25, 2011
I've written a review about the last iteration of these binoculars and I won't repeat it here. Briefly, these are the best binoculars you can get without spending big bucks, and I think they are the cheapest binoculars you should even consider buying (while there might be an exception to this, cheaper binoculars are bad enough to be worthless and a complete waste of money). These binoculars are three times as good as what you can get for $100 and 90% as good as what you can get for $2,000. They are better than most similarly priced binoculars, and better than many much more expensive binoculars.

Since this is one of the most common binoculars bought by beginners (for good reason), I thought it would be helpful to have a breakdown of the uses of the different magnifications as many buyers have probably not used binoculars extensively. I am mostly into birding and wildlife watching, so beware of that bias if your needs are different.

Don't know what size binoculars to get? Probably just get the biggest ones you can afford, I mean, more magnification is better because you see more, right? Not really. There are a number of trade-offs associated with high magnification. This will help you decide what size is best for you (hint, if you are reading this, 8x42 is almost certainly the best choice for you).

Binoculars have two numbers such as 8x42 or 10x50. The first number refers to magnification, typically 8 or 10, but others also exist (6, 7, 12...). The second number refers to the size of the objective lens (that is the big piece of glass farther from your eye) which in turn determines light gathering potential. These nikon monarchs are offered in 8x42, 10x42, and 12x42 sizes. I don't know that I've ever seen 12x binoculars, but 8x and 10x binoculars with the same objective lens (42mm in this case) will be nearly identical in size (and, counterintuitively, the 10x will often be very slightly smaller). The higher the magnification, the more light you need, so a 10x binocular will need a larger objective lens than an 8x binocular to have similar brightness.

First major consideration: trade-off of magnification vs. brightness. Higher magnification means things appear closer, but higher magnification also means less brightness. Brightness is very important to see markings and to have a pleasant image to look at (try watching a movie with the monitor brightness turned way down, not as much fun, is it?) Obviously you can counter this trade-off with larger objective lenses, but that gets expensive and heavy.

Second major consideration is shake. 10x binoculars are hard to hold steady (and I am young and not particularly shaky). If you are leaning against a tree with a low heart rate, no problem, if you just ran up a hill to see something, much harder. As you up the magnification you also increase the problem of shakiness. If you can't hold the binoculars steady, your eyes can't focus on what is in them. This one is really, really, really important. If you haven't used binoculars much before, you probably don't realize how much of a problem hand shake can be. 8x is pretty easy to hold steady. 10x isn't so bad. 12x is more or less out of the question without a very steady support.

Third major consideration: Field of view/ease of finding things in your binoculars. Try this: take your digital camera, put it to full zoom and try to aim at a distant object that takes up much of the screen. Kind of hard, isn't it? Now zoom out all the way and try to find that same object. Much easier. Binoculars are very similar, the larger the magnification, the more zoom you are working with, the the more difficulty you will have getting an object in sight. This is particularly true with moving objects. Lower magnifications make it easier to scan because the give you more peripheral vision.

Fourth (somewhat less major) consideration: depth of field. This is the range of distance from you that is in focus without moving the focus wheel. Larger depths of field are better. Smaller magnifications tend to have wider depth of field. Wider depth of field is more pleasant to look at and makes finding things easier. Mostly a wide depth of field just looks a lot nicer.

So, what size to get? Of the available sizes: 8x42, 10x42, and 12x42. 8x42 is definitely the most versatile. 8x magnification is quite a lot, but shake isn't too bad, depth of field is pretty good, field of view ("peripheral vision") is pretty good. These are ideal for watching moving birds as they are easy to track with. I prefer 8x binoculars and most of what it comes down to for me is that the image that comes through them is much more pleasant to look at: brighter, crisper, more depth of field. Learning to aim your binoculars at something takes practice, and 8x will definitely be easier to learn with. 8x really shines in lower light conditions, in tracking fast moving birds, and whenever your hands might be shaking a bit (which is pretty much always). While 8x is definitely the choice for a beginner, it does not mean that it is only for beginners and many, probably most experienced birders use 8x as their primary binocular.

10x can definitely help show some markings on birds. For still and slow birds in good light, or when it is easy to track birds (think hawks) 10x can be an excellent choice. They are a little bit less versatile, they are a little bit harder to use, require a bit more technique and steadiness. Still a really good choice for birding. 10x make IDing birds a bit easier (in good light and with good technique) but the overall image is a bit less pleasant to look at, and that is really important to me, less so to other people. 10x is a very popular choice among birders (probably slightly less popular than 8x, but not by much). If you are interested in watching how birds behave, get 8x, if you really want to see those faint markings to make a positive ID, 10x may work better for you.

12x is not for birding. I've heard of some birders using them in some situations, but I have yet to actually meet one. 12x is better suited for astronomy or looking at targets or any time you know you can be sitting still and resting your binoculars on a large static object. 12x is a very specialized tool, it should not be the only pair of binoculars you own.

I hope this helps.
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on April 22, 2010
These binoculars are mostly just like the old Nikon Monarchs, with maybe just a little more light in low light conditions. An excellent pair of binoculars for the price, five years ago binoculars of this quality would have been more like $500-600. An especially cool feature of all the Nikon Monarchs is the close focus distance, which with my eyes is probably even a little under four feet. If you like looking at butterflies and dragonflies as well as birds, these binoculars are an excellent choice for their price tag.
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on June 18, 2010
I purchased these based on the performance review from Cornell. I am thouroughly pleased and actually purchased a second pair for my wife.

The low light performance of these was more than adequate for our birding needs in early morning or late evening. The brightness is astonishing compared to a binocular of lesser quality. I will never go back to cheap binos. These have helped tremendously bringing our birding experience to the next level. They offer a superb level of contrast and sharpness required for bird identification. I can easily see markings on a sparrow at 50 feet or more in low light. The eye relief is great and having retractable eyecups, even works well with eyeglasses. These binos are meant to be used heavily, just about bulletproof in most conditions.

I would advise people to change out the neckstrap with a harness. My neck never hurts and they don't swing with a harness. The Leupold harness is fantastic. If you are a birder and want to make a good experience and great one, pull the trigger on these. I really think you will be pleased.

As for the 8 x 42 or 10 x 42 debate... If you need low light performance and are watching moving targets such as small birds or the like, I feel the 8 x 42's are the way to go. If you have bright conditions,very steady hands and a still target the 10 x 42 is worth looking at. Try out a pair of each magnification at your local sporting goods store if possible and you decide.
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on December 6, 2010
I purchased my pair of Nikon Monarch's about 2 years ago. That model did not have the current Dielectric prism coating and it had a different look and feel then the new version. I had the same problem that MANY people have had with the eye cups. If you do not twist them down after use, and you drop or bump the cups on something, they will crack and eventually break off. After making do with just one cup (when is a good time to send in binoculars, birding is a hobby year-round for me) I had a mishap while kayaking that caused some condesation to enter the prism. I finally caved in and sent them back to Nikon for repair.

After a week Nikon sent me an invoice stating that it would be COMPLETELY covered in repair and shipping charges. After waiting another week I recieved what I believed to be my old, refurbished pair of binoculars. You could imagine my suprise when I opened the box to discover a brand new pair of the new model of Monarch's. Nikon replaced my binoculars free of charges including shipping!

I have noticed an increase in the quality of the image that they provide in low light conditions. For the price and quality (in both product and service), I whole heartedly recommend this product!
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on January 19, 2011
Buying these binoculars was quite possibly my best online purchase ever. I bought them about two years ago after a friend got me into birding. I did a lot of research before buying my bins, both online and more informally by talking with fellow birders and nature lovers. I settled on these because they were relatively inexpensive, durable, and lightweight, and because they came with the imprimatur of the Ornithology lab at Cornell--which considered them one of the best two or three pairs of entry-level binoculars. I have not been disappointed once. These binoculars produce a bright, crisp image; there's very little distortion, even at the edges. They work well in low-light situations, which is especially important to birders. They are rugged and waterproof. They come with a 25-year warranty, but I doubt I'll ever have to take advantage of it. And they have an amazingly short focal distance of about six feet. This is great for people who want to watch butterflies and other insects, but not so useful for birders in the wilderness. If you have feeders in your backyard and can get close to them without disturbing the birds, though, they will reveal the beauties of common birds like house sparrows and starlings in ways you've never experienced. I can sit in my chair on the porch and watch cardinals feeding on safflower seeds just six or seven feet away. Seeing the male select a seed and give it to his partner, up close in my binoculars, always reminds me how magical the natural world is. Even the small slice of it in my yard. I've recommended these binoculars to about a dozen friends (fellow birders, friends, family, etc.), and all have been satisfied. I recommend them to you, too.
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on May 30, 2011
I wanted a binocular for general viewing, one of my priorities being getting the most magnification without compromising the ability to use them handheld. These binos fit the bill. The 12x42s provide a sharp and brilliant view, and are, at barely 22 oz. easy to hold with a minimum of the "shakes". In addition, the higher 12X and the greater apparent field of view (the apparent diameter of the image circle seen when looking thru the glasses) adds to the unique visual experience, compared to the 8X and 10X Monarch ATBs with their less apparent field of view (but larger true field of view), and it's probably not too far off the mark to compare the sensation of observing thru these binos as similar to but better than watching a large screen 3D HD TV. They appear to excel in subdued lighting situations, as in early morning and at dusk. These are not just an ordinary pair of binoculars.

Low light performance seems very good for a 12x42 bino. At dusk I can train these on a black hole in the woods 200' distant and see a surprising amount of detail in the trees. Sharpness of the image is impressive across the field of view, except for a small area of softness at the top and at the left and right edges of the fov that do not, however, distract from the overall viewing experience (not noticeable unless you specifically look for it).

Contrast in these binos is inherently high, and there is some false color in contrasty lighting situations. Construction of the Nikons seems sturdy enough. Achieving best focus requires some care, as the binos can seem to be slightly out of collimation if focus is off.

Regarding complaints about the loosely fitting eyepiece cover falling off, instructions in the owner's manual (fig. 1, page 13) show the neckstrap threaded thru both sides of the eyepiece cover. If these instructions are followed correctly, the cover will not fall off, and will always be in position to protect the eyepieces until viewing an object; then, all one need do is lift the cover off the ep and pull it back toward the viewer. I think it's a great solution that resolves the lost eyepiece cover problem while keeping the optics protected until ready for viewing.

A nice padded black belt case and a wide black canvas neckstrap with the gold Nikon logo are included.

Since these binos are so contrasty and bright,they are great for stargazing. Comparing them to an older pair of porro 7x35s and a roof 10X42, the Nikon was the clear winner. My suburban skies are not that dark, but globular cluster M13 in Hercules was found immediately, as were the brighter galaxies M81 and M82. Under darker skies the 12X42s provide a major "wow" factor, with the night sky becoming alive with glittering celestial objects.
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on November 28, 2010
Nice, compact and fit my needs. I recently purchased these Nikon Monarch ATB's for hunting in South Texas. I'm scouting between 100-550 yds. This weekend I glassed and area and assumed by how close it appeared thru these Nikons, that the tree (distance marker) I was looking at was roughly 300 yds away. After more accurately measuring via GPS, the tree was in fact 500 yds away. These Nikons drew that tree in big time.

I have a $2,000 pair of Zeiss, and a friend of mine has a pair of Swarovski 10x42. Last night we were looking at a reflection 152 yards out (pitch black) and we could BOTH see the object the same way, and these Nikons were $1700-2000 cheaper. You won't be disappointed.
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on December 13, 2011
I bought these as an early Christmas present for my wife an avid birder who has been using a small pair of opera glasses really.

I have no information to add to Thomas McFarland's review and the FAQ in the product description they were both very helpful to me in choosing.

I chose the 10x42 because a) my wife has very good distant vision and can spot small birds very far away and b) she is also very good at quickly getting something in the field of view of the glasses.

These binoculars are very bright (42 is a good size aperture), excellent image quality, almost no color distortion all the way to the edge, and relatively light weight. They focus easy and adapt quickly from one person to another.

She has been using them for about 2 weeks (I think that's about 5 outings) and is very happy with them.

And when Mama's happy, I have a chance to be happy.
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on June 16, 2010
As I was researching binoculars because mine broke, I came across a review on the NIKON 7294 Monarch ATB 8x42 Binocular. They were very highly recommended by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and since I am an avid bird watcher, I decided to buy them. I am not disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised at how lightweight they are, which makes them easy to carry around. I am also pleased with the magnification they provide. An excellent choice for the price.
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on August 5, 2011
First the ugly...
The extremely loose eye lens covers are a complete embarassment for such a high quality pair of binoculars. Just throw them in the trash where they belong, and order the perfect fitting, well designed Vortex Binocular Rainguard #SHL147-1 for about $15.

And the bad...
The included main lens covers are also poorly designed, but seem to fit ok, but I replaced those with the snug fitting Eagle Optics Tethered Lens Cover set for 42mm, #BAC-EO-LC42, for about $7. These are a bit tight, but you won't lose them like the originals.

Now the good...
Great actually. I am very, very impressed with the Nikon ATBs.
The light gathering at dusk is simply amazing for such a compact unit. And the clarity is superb for under $300.
These are intuitive to use, and make everything viewed look like super high-def 3D.
I decided on the 12x42 model for our Alaska trip since many of the critters in Denali are a long way off. And I already have some 8x and 10x power binoculars on the shelf.

Bottom line...
A great choice in mid priced binoculars.
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