Gear re­views

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents - Re­viewed by David Chan­dler

We test the Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 binoc­u­lars

It’s a while since I’ve re­viewed some­thing new from this Ja­panese cam­era gi­ant. Then like buses (only smaller) two came along at once – the 8x30 and 10x30 Monarch HG. I put most of my ef­fort into the 8x, but also of­fer some com­ments on the 10x.

It feels like qual­ity

This binoc­u­lar seems very well con­structed and has a feel of qual­ity. At just 450g, few peo­ple will com­plain about the weight though larger hands might find it too small. I liked it. Thumb in­dents are not to ev­ery­one’s taste but on this Monarch they are shal­low and un­likely to bother any­one. As you would ex­pect, this binoc­u­lar is ar­moured, wa­ter­proof, and ni­tro­gen-purged. Scratchre­sis­tant coat­ing on the outer lens’ sur­faces pro­vides an­other layer of pro­tec­tion. The diop­tre ad­justs by pulling up the ring, twist­ing, and push­ing down to lock, with ridges pro­vid­ing cal­i­bra­tion. The twist-up eye­cups are rub­ber-coated, with two click-stopped intermediate po­si­tions. I used them fully ex­tended and they stayed in place. Fo­cus­ing is via a sin­gle finger-wide wheel which moves very smoothly with mod­er­ate re­sis­tance, clock­wise to­wards in­fin­ity. There are just over 1¼ turns, but mostly, you won’t be mov­ing it more than about 1/8 of a turn. Typ­i­cally, a gen­tle touch is all that’s needed – which I quite liked, and fo­cus­ing pre­ci­sion is very good. Which brings us on to the view…

Through the look­ing glass

This lit­tle Monarch delivers a very good view with im­pres­sive, nat­u­ral colours. It is wide, crisp, and plenty bright enough. Sharp­ness is ex­cel­lent. I de­tected a bit of edge soft­ness, but noth­ing to get worked up about, a bit of colour fring­ing (ad­just­ing my eye po­si­tion helped) and some vi­gnetting (‘edge shad­ows’) – rest­ing the binoc­u­lar against my brow ridge, and pulling them closer to my eyes im­proved things. To get the best out of this binoc­u­lar, han­dle it gently. The 145m field of view (at 1,000m) is hard to beat and while the close-fo­cus is quoted as a very ac­cept­able 2m, I mea­sured it as about 1.6m – sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter. As the evening crept in the small ob­jec­tives didn’t limit things too much for my eyes – light gath­er­ing was good, though, had de­te­ri­o­rated a bit by 20 min­utes af­ter sun­set.


In the box

Sup­plied ac­ces­sories in­clude a strap, case, rain­guard and teth­ered ob­jec­tive cov­ers. It’s a good case – hard, zip-up, and well-sized – you can fit the binoc­u­lars in with the eye­cups fully up and the strap on. The rain­guard is a tight fit but can be used loosely and the ob­jec­tive cov­ers are re­mov­able – un­usu­ally, you re­move the ob­jec­tive rings with the cov­ers and re­place them with sup­plied, cover-free rings.

The 10x

These days, I am more of an 8x than a 10x per­son. I used the 10x in over­cast con­di­tions in wood­land. The view was very good, and I had no is­sue with im­age wob­ble, some­thing that can be harder to man­age with a higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Light-gath­er­ing was fine and vi­gnetting seemed less of an is­sue than on the 8x. The con­clu­sion wasn’t what I would have pre­dicted – with this binoc­u­lar, maybe I pre­fer the 10x. There was an­other sur­prise – Man­darin Duck, a new species for #My200birdyear, at the won­der­fully named Nan­pan­tan reser­voir. That may sound like it’s in the Man­darin’s na­tive range – ac­tu­ally, it’s near Lough­bor­ough.

The Monarch HG binoc­u­lars are well con­structed, well ar­moured, and have a mark of qual­ity about them

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