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Hands-on Gear Review
Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 Review
Cons: Small field of view and close focus range
The Nikon Monarch 5 has massive 56mm objective lenses and advanced low light brilliance. The ED glass lenses provide sharp, high-contrast views. It suffers somewhat in clarity when compared to the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42, but the Monarch 5 has superior brightness. Since it is large and somewhat unwieldy it is tripod adaptable, which gives it more versatility and offers stability for those long distance, low light viewing sessions.
RELATED: Our complete review of binoculars
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Monarch 5 is extremely bright. Where it lacks is in field of view and close focus range, but this pair is not designed for close distance viewing. This pair is heavier and larger than the Nikon Monarch 7 ATB 10x42, which is a more general purpose binocular than this one.
Due to the lack of close focusing abilities of these binoculars, it was hard to test against the ISO 12233 chart. Zone 6 was clear from edge-to-edge. The ED glass made for good color representation and contrast with no noticeable fringing or color aberrations. Everything looked sharp and clear like you would expect from a pair of Nikons.
Nikon is not kidding when they say this pair has "low light brilliance," these almost give the exceptional Swarovski EL 8.5x42 a run for their money in brightness. It has fully multi-coated lenses, dielectric coated prisms, and big 56mm objective lenses. The Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 was made to gather and transmit light back to your eyes.
Ease of Adjustment
The focusing is smooth and fast. We found it very easy to to go from close to far objects quickly without losing fine focus control. The diopter is located on the right eyepiece and was a bit stiff to move and almost felt stuck the first time we went to adjust it. There is no locking mechanism on the diopter. The interpupillary distance is easy to adjust and comfortable.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
While not the smallest field of view out of all 11 binoculars in this test, it did have the smallest out of the 8x binoculars with 325 feet at 100 yards. The same thing could be said for its close focus ability of 23 feet. However, like the Celestron SkyMaster DX 9x63, these binoculars are not made for close objects. They were designed for spotting distant objects in low light.
There is just something about big, heavy binoculars that we find comfortable, especially when compared to small and awkward compact binoculars like the Leica BCR 10x25. Some testers did not agree with this and found the Monarch 5 uncomfortable for hand holding. The eye cups are made with soft, comfortable rubber and features the best eye relief out of all the binoculars we tested. A rubberized exterior makes them easy and comfortable to grip.
Like most optical companies, Nikon is outsourcing its production to China. Who would have guessed? Because everything about the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 just moves smoothly and feels quality. Every hinge point has just enough give to make it flow smoothly without being loose, except for the diopter which was very stiff the first time. There were no noticeable alignment issues. Everything feels solid and looks good.
The Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 is best used for situations when you would not be wandering far from your car, home, or vessel because of the large size and heavy weight. This pair excels at low light conditions and has a rugged waterproof design. These would make an excellent pair of binoculars for your boat or astronomy viewing.
The Monarch 5 8x56 are the third most expensive pair of binoculars we tested. This is mostly due to the size and quality of the 56mm objective lenses. Other Nikon Monarch 5s are in the middle range for value, like the 10x42 which retails for around $250.
The Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 is an excellent pair of binoculars that would work well for marine, car, home, or astronomy use. For those wondering what the difference is between the Monarch 5 line and the Monarch 7 now that the Monarch 5 has ED objective lenses: if we were to compare the 8x42 Monarch 5 to a pair of 8x42 Monarch 7, the difference would be in the dielectric coating on the prism, the weight, and the field of view, all in the Monarch 7's favor. That comes with a price though, the Monarch 5 are almost half the price of the Monarch 7. In the end both are fine pair of binoculars.
Other Versions and Accessories
Nikon EDG 8x42
Monarch 7 ATB 10x42
— Michael Payne
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: April 10, 2016
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