Nikon MONARCH 5 20×56 Binoculars Review

Nikon MONARCH 5 20x56 Review

The Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 are among the few high magnification binoculars that combine performance and a reasonable price. While many people think that x10 or x12 pairs are sufficient for astronomy, a power of 20 is much more advantageous for observing celestial bodies, especially those invisible to the naked eye.

This pair of binoculars incorporates all the features of the Monarch 5 range, such as ED glasses, full multi-coating of the lenses, flawless ergonomics, and high image definition.

But is the result good in practice?

Here is our opinion on the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56!

Nikon MONARCH 5 20×56 Binoculars Review

Nikon MONARCH 5 20x56

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Technical Specifications:

  • Magnification: 20
  • Lens diameter (mm): 56
  • Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 58
  • Exit pupil (mm): 2.8
  • Eye Relief (mm): 16.4
  • Brightness index: 7.8
  • Minimum focusing distance (m): 5
  • Dimensions (mm): 199 x 146 x 67
  • Weight (g): 1235
  • Interpupillary distance (mm): 60 – 72
  • Water resistance: 1 meter for up to 10 minutes


  • Excellent performance for astronomy
  • Few chromatic aberrations
  • Good flatness of the visual field
  • High light transmission
  • Tripod adapter included in the package
  • Neat details and finishes
  • Advantageous price/quality ratio


  • Slight distortion on the edge
  • Daytime Difficult Focus
  • Little play in the focus wheel
  • Fairly large eyecups that will not suit small body types
  • Rather heavy, we recommend the tripod in addition

Good image quality with better sharpness at night

Image definition is generally very good on the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56. Nikon has integrated very good quality optical components into this pair, including its famous ultra-low dispersion ED glasses. These are used for lenses. Their purpose is to correct some of the chromatic aberrations.

ED glasses are very useful since the high magnification and the large objective diameter of the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 natively accentuate chromatic aberrations. The result is easily visible: color defects on object outlines are minimal.

The only downside is that they don’t completely disappear either: you can see them more when the contrast varies a lot, especially during the day. The purple fringes are then the most visible.

An excellent point for these binoculars is the flatness of the visual field. Even if a small curvature of the field appears on approximately 20% of the contour, it remains practically imperceptible by day.

We also detect a slight loss of sharpness in addition to the distortion, but nothing annoying. A slight loss of sharpness is visible on the end of the ray of the image, up to around 20%. This is a result that translates to a fairly good flatness of the visual field.

On the other hand, a slight distortion is simultaneously detected, which creates a slight curvature of the image on the contour of the field of vision.

The lenses return virtually no comatic aberration and astigmatism defects are negligible. This is a good point for astronomy: the stars and other bodies will appear correctly in the form of dots and circles. For sky observation, the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 has excellent performance.

Have good brightness

The lenses have received a multi-layer treatment which limits the loss of light when it passes through the different surfaces of each lens. The lenses take on a greenish appearance, a sign of good quality.

Reflections are very low inside the tubes, which suggests that all glasses have a coating that limits light loss. Often on lower-quality binoculars, only the outer lenses are coated. With the Monarch 5 20×56, Nikon has not compromised on the quality of the optical components, which is excellent.

The prisms are of the Schmidt-Pechan type, the most common for roof binoculars. They use a high-reflectivity dielectric coating that allows maximum light transmission. It is the most efficient treatment compared to those that use aluminum or silver.

The light transmission of the Monarch 5 20×56 is up to 86%, which is a high result.

The brightness is homogeneous over the entire exit pupil, which makes it possible to take advantage of the entire visual field. The lens diameter of 56 millimeters will compensate for low ambient lighting when it is dark.

The stars and the moon offer a very marked contrast with the sky. It is easy to distinguish distant celestial objects. During the day, the contrast is not as good as on premium binoculars such as the Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56 for example, but the image remains well lit.

Sometimes makes it difficult to focus

The focus wheel turns very easily and effortlessly despite its large apparent size. Its rough appearance makes it accessible, especially when wearing gloves, which is practical in winter. However, it has a slight play during rotation: when returning to the previous position, the focus will be slightly different. At least you get used to it pretty quickly.

The range of adjustment is very short: the dial does not even make a full turn between minimum focus and infinity. During the day, it is difficult to find the right position.

You have to be very precise and you regularly find yourself going back and forth with your finger to find the optimal focus. This is all the more unfortunate as the high magnification of 20x already complicates focusing. However, this poses no problem when looking at the sky.

The diopter correction is adjusted with a conventional wheel placed under the right eyecup. We would have liked to be able to lock it in the desired position, or at least have a click system to adjust it more easily.

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The eyecups are extendable on 3 levels using notches. The eye relief can be adjusted up to the maximum value of 16.4 mm, which will easily suit spectacle wearers. The interpupillary distance varies from 60 to 72 mm, which may be too large for some children.

Besides this, the eyecups have a rather large diameter which will not always suit all body types.

Ergonomic despite their large wingspan

The 20×56 model is the heaviest of the Monarch 5 series. With a weight of over a kilogram and around 200 millimeters long, it’s not the easiest pair to handle.

Luckily, Nikon has integrated a mount to mount these binoculars on a tripod. You don’t even need to buy the corresponding TRA-3 adapter. This is already included with the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56.

The body of the binoculars has a rubber sheathing that is very comfortable to the touch which improves grip. The hollow shape on the outside of the tubes ensures a firm grip and leaves plenty of room for thumb positioning, especially for large hands.

The eye cups rest fully on the face and the pressure is evenly distributed around the eyes. Nikon provides a neoprene strap. Although a tripod will be used more often, it will still be useful for some nature outings. The lanyard has a padded surface at the neck, which will decrease the pressure of the binoculars on the skin.

Overall, the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 benefits from good ergonomics which easily compensates for the large dimensions.

Robust and neat build quality

The Monarch 5 20×56 are sold quite expensive for a good reason: their build quality is very neat. The rubber sheathing gives them a certain resistance against shocks.

They are also made waterproof up to 1 meter deep for a maximum of 10 minutes, and they benefit from an anti-fog treatment with the filling of the tubes with nitrogen.

The elements are well put together. Apart from the central focus wheel, the mechanical linkages have no play and all pivot smoothly. The finishes are neat, both on the outside and inside the binoculars.

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A storage case is provided in the package, along with protection for the lenses. The only negative point that we too often find on many models is the passable quality of the eyecup covers.

Here they tend to fall off easily by simply turning the binoculars over. You will have to be careful not to unhook them when storing the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 in their bag. With a minimum of precaution and periodic maintenance, you will have a pair of binoculars that will accompany you for many years.

The minimum focusing distance is quite correct

The minimum focusing distance reaches 5 meters. Obviously, the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 are not designed to observe nature very closely, but they have the merit of being able to obtain a sharp image over a relatively short distance.

Compared to the Celestron Skymaster 20×80 whose focus is impossible below 33 meters, this is a significant asset.

The linear field is quite average

The visual field is quite limited on the Monarch 5 20×56, even for such magnification. With a horizontal clearance of only 58 meters at 1000 meters away, peripheral vision won’t be very wide. It’s a shame because you can easily find 20x binoculars with a field width greater than 70 meters.

While the whole point of having a powerful pair of binoculars is to focus on a particular object, it’s still nice to be able to spot what’s going on around it.

What activities are ideal for the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56?

The Monarch 5 20×56 are binoculars that you won’t move around a lot during outdoor outings. They are a little too heavy for hiking, and their high magnification makes them difficult to stabilize without a tripod. They will be used mainly for stationary activities, a bit like a spyglass or a telescope.

If you plan to observe a panorama from a fixed point such as the valley of a mountain for example, you will obtain beautiful images. The Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 are the perfect choice for practicing astronomy: their optical performance at night is excellent.

The Verdict!

Daytime observations provide good quality images with little curvature of the field and rather high luminosity. The color rendering is well-balanced and has very few aberrations. Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 has exceptional performance at night.

With the high magnification, large objective diameter and lenses that actively transmit light, observing the sky reveals detailed panoramas with high definition. Nikon manages to compete with certain premium models sold at a much higher price when it comes to astronomy.

Besides the high optical quality, the Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 has a robust construction that presents neat finishes. Despite their imposing size, the optimized handling reflects a certain attention to ergonomics on the part of Nikon.

One could possibly criticize the eyecups for being a little too wide. Also, the focus wheel has too high sensitivity. You will often have to go back and forth to get a clear image, which can be frustrating in use. The field of vision is quite small compared to what you can find elsewhere, but that’s not the most important point.

With its Monarch 5 20×56, Nikon offers here a pair of binoculars at an excellent value for money that we recommend without hesitation.

If you want a model with a smaller magnification but also more versatility, we recommend the Nikon Aculon A211 10×50.

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Liam Dean is a Professional Blogger and Outdoor Enthusiast. He completed Masters in Sports Sciences and spend all of his free time doing sports and other outdoor activities. During vacations, he goes hunting, fishing and mountaineering.

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