The original series of HG binoculars were Nikon’s showcase of luxury while the Monarch’s have long targeted the entry-level. Exemplary sharpness, instant focus, very comfortable eyecups and meticulous manufacturing quality: the HGs have been the flagship of the Japanese brand.
With the regular revamping of its series, Nikon offers here a high-end pair of binoculars at an aggressive price. The 10×42 caliber of this model is suitable for many activities: ornithology, animal observation, and even astronomy in addition to a telescope.
With a reduced price compared to the first HG models, but almost double compared to the Monarch 7, what are the new Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars worth?
We tell you everything!
Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 Binoculars Review
- Magnification: 10
- Lens diameter (mm): 42
- Perceived linear field at 1000 meters (m): 121
- Exit Pupil (mm): 4.2
- Eye Relief (mm): 17
- Brightness index: 17.6
- Minimum focusing distance (m): 2
- Dimensions (mm): 145x131x56
- Weight (g): 680
- Interpupillary distance (mm): 56 – 74
- Water resistance: 5 meters for up to 10 minutes
- Magnesium chassis design and reduced weight
- High light transmission even in dark environment
- Consistent, near-perfect image sharpness
- Minimal astigmatism defects and negligible distortion
- Limited coma aberrations, convenient for astronomy
- “Field Flattener” technology well balanced between performance and comfort
- Compact with excellent grip and robust construction
- Few reflections inside the tubes and on the image
- Good quality treatments were applied to the prisms and the lenses
- Diopter correction wheel that unlocks too easily
- Exit pupil slightly truncated
- Some chromatic aberrations at the edges of the field of view
Performance and optimized sharpness
The image is simply very high quality on the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42. With sharp edges, the resulting level of detail is impressive. This reflects the superior quality of the optical components used for this pair of binoculars, which obtains a score of 9 out of 10.
The lenses are made with ultra-low dispersion glasses, called “ED” glasses. This corresponds to the HD designations found with other manufacturers.
The composition of these lenses makes it possible to correct chromatic aberrations as much as possible, which are responsible for the appearance of colored fringes on the outline of the elements observed.
The result is very good: in the center of the image, only a very thin band can be seen around the objects, almost imperceptible without intense lighting. The chromatic aberrations are a little more important on the edges, but they do not bother too much. The colors that stand out are shades of green and purple.
The distortion is negligible, you really have to focus on a straight object at the edge of the image to detect it. Astigmatism defects are very low, even at the edge of the image: there is no difference in sharpness between the horizontal and vertical planes.
Comatic aberrations appear on the last quarter of the radius of the visual field. Their intensity remains low, and is therefore not detrimental, especially for astronomy.
The Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 will be ideal in addition to a telescope.
With the mention “Field Flattener” inscribed at the level of the fixing notches of the strap, the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 is equipped with the technology of flattening of the visual field. This process makes it possible to partially correct the effects of field curvature. This visual aberration manifests itself when observing a flat object: the surface in the center is clear, but the edges are not completely clear.
If field flattening improves sharpness around the image, it can reduce comfort if it is too pronounced: we then have the unpleasant sensation that the image “rolls” when we move the binoculars.
Here, the flattening is quite easily noticed during the day. A minimal curvature on 15% to 20% of the perimeter of the image. It is a good compromise between precision and observation comfort.
The Nikon Monarch HG’s use Schmidt-Pechan type roof prisms, not Abbe-König type (as in much more expensive models). These prisms are treated with a dielectric coating, which significantly improves light transmission over more widely available aluminum treatments.
The lenses have a complete multi-layer treatment, whose performance is that expected of a pair of binoculars marketed at $1000. The lens diameter of 42 millimeters allows plenty of light to be captured, which is particularly useful when it starts to get dark.
The exit pupil is not perfectly circular, but truncated: there is moderate vignetting. On the other hand, the luminosity is generally homogeneous over the entire field of vision with only a very slight decrease in the periphery.
The color balance is excellent. Red and orange tones slightly dominate the rest of the visible spectrum complementing a green tint. In practice, the difference is insignificant.
With a total transmittance of 92%, the Monarch HGs do very well and provide a very bright image. This earns them a score of 8.5 out of 10 in brightness. Even with light pollution, as in built-up areas, it is possible to distinguish two objects close to each other without too much effort.
At dusk, especially during winter, you will have more time to spot animals or birds hiding in the flora before the image becomes too dark.
The focus wheel turns and adjusts with precision. Its size makes it easily accessible no matter how the binoculars are held. The rotation is very flexible while the mechanism is not even greased.
Unlike many other focusers, you don’t feel the friction in the Monarch HGs. The central wheel could have been a little larger, like the old HG, or EDG models to maintain the same precision while wearing gloves.
The diopter correction wheel is located under the eyecup of the right eyepiece. To be able to turn it, you have to push it up, then come back down to lock it in the desired position.
Unfortunately, it only takes the push of a finger to unlock it, which will happen from time to time. In addition, there is a slight play during adjustment. This is one of the only negative points for these Nikon Monarch HG 10×42.
The eyecups can be adjusted to 3 levels to the retracted position. On the positive side, the notches firmly hold the eyecups without the risk of inadvertently disturbing them, unlike the Nikon Prostaff 7S for example. The eye relief of 17 millimeters is ideal for spectacle wearers.
Compact and ergonomic
The Japanese firm has opted for a compact design. The tubes have an elongated and rather thin shape, in the same style as the Nikon EDGs. The space between the two lenses is still quite limited: those with large hands will have more difficulty finding an ideal grip.
The coating of the tubes has a rough appearance which greatly improves grip.
The low weight of the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 is a real technical feat. With a lower weight of 200 grams compared to Swarovski EL, you will have no trouble handling them at arm’s length for many hours.
The eyecups are made with a very flexible rubber, which fits perfectly against the face. They allow you to take advantage of the entire surface of the lens without hiding part of the image.
Along with the package, Nikon provides a storage case, protective caps, lanyard, and cleaning cloth. The strap is padded at the neck. It will not irritate the skin and prevent the binoculars from rocking.
If you prefer to use the Monarch HG from a fixed position, you can install them on a tripod, a fixing is provided for this purpose on the front of the binoculars. You will simply need to purchase Nikon’s TRA-3 adapter separately, which is not supplied as standard. In conclusion, it’s a 10 out of 10 for ergonomics.
At first glance, the Nikon Monarch HGs can give the impression of being fragile with their slender body, exposed metal parts, and very thin coating with a leatherette look. And yet, the finish is extremely neat, both on the optical components and on the rest.
The two tubes are linked together by a single axis of rotation, which is quite thin and very short, which leaves more space to place your hands. This design is increasingly being adopted by other brands. We can cite the top of the range of Vortex.
We mentioned the relatively low weight (680g) of the Monarch HG for the 10×42 caliber. Nikon has used magnesium alloy in the construction of the chassis, which is a fairly rare feature, even for premium binoculars.
The imitation leather type covering used in place of the traditional rubber protections further reduces the weight of the Monarch HG 10×42. Besides this, leatherette attracts less dust and dirt. As with ergonomics, the Monarch HGs score 10 out of 10 for build quality.
On the design side, it’s true that the Monarch HGs differ from the more modern appearance that Western manufacturers usually choose, but they fit well with Nikon’s signature style. Despite their slim appearance, Nikon assures that the Monarch HGs are sturdy.
They are waterproof up to 5 meters deep for a maximum of 10 minutes. The tubes are fitted with a series of deflectors that prevent part of the stray reflections from passing through the lenses.
The storage case is made from a Cordura fabric. The end of the flap appears to be leather, with a snap button closure. There’s not much to say about this satchel other than that it’s quite standard.
The eyepiece caps are thin and rigid. They stay in position well on the eyecups, unlike many other Nikon models. Lens protectors are supplied with the Monarch HG 10×42. We can possibly blame them for coming off a little too easily, but nothing critical.
The minimum focus distance is reasonable
Focusing can be done from 2 meters away. This is very reasonable for a model with a magnification of 10. If close-range macro observation is not necessarily what you are looking for with such a zoom, you will nevertheless be able to spot what is happening very close to you.
Very good visual field
The Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 has a field of view of 121 meters wide at 1000 meters distance. This is a very good score that will allow you to miss nothing of the landscape while ensuring high magnification.
What activities are the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 made for?
You have here a model of versatile binoculars: the practice of ornithology will be very pleasant, and you will be able to observe the animals from very far away without being spotted.
At night, you can easily observe the sky and many of its stars. Otherwise, you can take this pair on a hike. With their interior filled with nitrogen and their waterproofness, the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 will fear neither wet areas nor rain or snow.
The Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 is an excellent pair of binoculars, which we recommend. The first impression of fragility given by this pair quickly gives way to its exemplary manufacturing quality. The image is excellent, and well-detailed with high brightness while ensuring good color rendering.
Comfort and ergonomics go hand in hand with performance: the eyecups are pleasant to the touch, and the firm grip allows quick and precise adjustment.
However, some flaws stand out. The diopter correction wheel tends to get out of adjustment fairly easily for having little play. Some chromatic aberrations stand out on the edges, especially when the ambient lighting is intense. These defects are however secondary in view of the superior overall quality of this pair.