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Hands-on Gear Review

Nikon Monarch 5 8x56 Review


Binocular

Price:   $750 List | Sale $746.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Extremely bright, work well in low light situations
Cons:  Small field of view and close focus range
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Nikon

Overview

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.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Michael Payne
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
April 10, 2016
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.

Performance Comparison


The large 56mm objective lenses on the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56. This pair excels at low light situations.
The large 56mm objective lenses on the Nikon Monarch 5 8x56. This pair excels at low light situations.

Clarity


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.

Brightness


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.

The Nikon Monarch 5 has all adjustment mechanisms within easy reach. This is not a small and light binocular for hiking  but is better for still  long distance viewing  like planets and stars.
The Nikon Monarch 5 has all adjustment mechanisms within easy reach. This is not a small and light binocular for hiking, but is better for still, long distance viewing, like planets and stars.

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.

These are the two largest binoculars in our test  but due to the large objective lens sizes  they are also the brightest and best for low light situations. The Celestron SkyMaster DX 9x63 and Nikon Monarch 5 8x56
These are the two largest binoculars in our test, but due to the large objective lens sizes, they are also the brightest and best for low light situations. The Celestron SkyMaster DX 9x63 and Nikon Monarch 5 8x56

Comfort


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.

The comfortable rubber eyecups on the Monarch 5. Some testers felt that the larger binoculars were easier to hold while others felt they were too heavy to hand hold for long. Luckily this pair is tripod compatible.
The comfortable rubber eyecups on the Monarch 5. Some testers felt that the larger binoculars were easier to hold while others felt they were too heavy to hand hold for long. Luckily this pair is tripod compatible.

Construction Quality


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.

Best Application


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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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
Nikon EDG 8x42
  • Price: $2,399.95 ($1,650 more than the Monarch 5)
  • Advanced fully coated optics
  • Field of view at 1000 yards: 403 ft (78 ft larger than that Monarch 5)

Monarch 7 ATB 10x42
  • Price: $499.95 ($250 less than the Monarch 5)
  • More advanced optical system than the Monarch 5
  • Field of view at 1000 yards: 351 ft (26 ft larger than that Monarch 5)
Michael Payne

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Most recent review: April 10, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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by Michael Payne

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