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Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Review

These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity
nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review
The Monarch 5's included case.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
Price:  $290 List
Manufacturer:   Nikon
By Max Mutter & Steven Tata  ⋅  Dec 7, 2022
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 16
  • Clarity - 45% 7.1
  • Brightness - 25% 8.6
  • Comfort - 10% 8.1
  • Field of View - 10% 6.0
  • Ease of Adjustment - 5% 8.0
  • Close Focus Range - 5% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 performs very admirably for its price range. These binoculars manage to provide high-end optical quality and impressive brightness while shielding themselves from the astronomical prices typical of a high-end set of optics. Nikon also paid attention to the small touches with these bins, designing a smooth focus knob and using a grippy rubber coating that makes them feel secure in your hands no matter what type of grip you like to use. However, the somewhat average field of view and close focus range is nothing to write home about. Most people probably won't care too much about these aspects, but if you do, there are several similarly priced models in our comparison review of the best binoculars.
REASONS TO BUY
Good clarity and brightness
Smooth focus knob
REASONS TO AVOID
Mediocre close focus range
Mediocre field of view
Editor's Note: This review was updated with new testing information on December 7th, 2022.

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Pros Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knobExcellent brightness, great clarity, comfortableRelatively good clarity, easy to focusGood clarity, easy to focusInexpensive, good clarity and brightness
Cons Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of viewSlightly heavy for backpackingfairly dim, rubber feels a bit stickyDimmer than competing modelsAverage construction quality, mediocre low-light performance
Bottom Line These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarityAn excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightnessWhile these binoculars are good, many competitors in the same price range are betterA good pair of binoculars, but is easily outdone by other models in the same price rangeThe most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching
Rating Categories Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron TrailSeek... Athlon Midas G2 8x4... Celestron Nature DX...
Clarity (45%)
7.1
6.3
5.8
5.5
5.8
Brightness (25%)
8.6
8.1
8.1
8.1
7.7
Comfort (10%)
8.1
9.3
7.0
7.0
5.6
Field of View (10%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Ease of Adjustment (5%)
8.0
6.4
8.0
8.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (5%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Vortex Diamondback... Celestron TrailSeek... Athlon Midas G2 8x4... Celestron Nature DX...
Glass Type ED HD Bak-4 UHD Bak-4
Multi - Coating FMC FMC FMC XPL FMC
Magnification 8 8 8 8 8
Field of View (at 1000 yards) 335 ft 393 ft 426 ft 426 ft 388 ft
Close Focus 8.2 ft 5.0 ft 6.5 ft 6.5 ft 6.5 ft
Eye Relief 19.5 mm 17 mm 17.2 mm 17.2 mm 17.5 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fog Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Size (Length x Width) 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.7 x 5.1 in 5.5 x 4.9 in 5.7 x 5.2 in 5.3 x 4.9 in
Measured Weight 22 oz 22 oz 24 oz 23 oz 22 oz
Tripod Adapter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 earned a high overall score in our testing, standing out for solid performance in its price range and even rivaling some top-rated binoculars that cost considerably more. It offers users a clear and bright viewing experience, which is enhanced by comfort features, ease of adjustability, a decent field of view, and great close range focus.

Performance Comparison


nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - one of our testers in the field. the ability to quickly adjust for...
One of our testers in the field. The ability to quickly adjust for focus is a crucial part of using binoculars.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Clarity


The Monarch 5 is exceptionally clear, earning it a high score in this metric. It's able to produce a crisp and striking image that really pops. In our testing, we could easily pick out inconspicuous identification marks on small birds and could even count individual pine needles at 100 feet. The Monarch 5 presents a slight bit of blurring around the extreme edges of the image, which makes it slightly less immersive than the images produced by the top-tier models. However, this feels like a very small sacrifice, considering how much more affordable these binos are.


Compared to other binoculars in this price range, the Monarch 5 is just as clear or clearer.

nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - the monarch m5 offers great clarity and brightness at this price...
The Monarch M5 offers great clarity and brightness at this price point.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Brightness


This is where the Monarch 5 sets itself apart from other binoculars in the same price range. Its impressive brightness earns it a solid score, and it outpaces its main competitors like the Vortex Diamondback 8x42 and Athlon Midas 8x42.


We think the Monarch 5 is one of the most affordable pairs of binos you'll find that can still produce truly good images at dawn on an overcast day. To get any better, you're going to have to spend a lot more money.

nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - the monarch 5's lenses soak up more light than other models in this...
The Monarch 5's lenses soak up more light than other models in this price range.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Comfort


The Monarch 5 binoculars feel very comfortable in hand, which mostly boils down to a rubber coating that improves texture and ergonomics. This rubber is tacky enough that the grip feels very secure, but not so tacky that your hands are left feeling sticky when using the binos on a hot day.


The rubber coating also gets thinner on the bottom of the barrels, providing some extra space for your thumbs.

Soft rubber eyecups comfortably rest at the inside edges of your eye socket. They seat a lot nicer than most binos, do a better job distributing pressure around the eye sockets, and do not create an annoying pressure point on the bridge of your nose.

The Monarch 5 also comes with a padded neoprene neck strap that is 1 ¾ inches in thickness around the back of the neck and incorporates a non-slip coating on the inside. While the coating and thickness keep the binos from sliding, we found the texture and thickness to be just a tiny bit scratchy.

nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - the rubber coating is shaped ergonomically for a comfortable grip.
The rubber coating is shaped ergonomically for a comfortable grip.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Overall, the Monarch 5 is an incredibly comfortable pair of binos to hold, handle, use all day, and even rest on your shoulders when not in use. It is on par with the most premium models, and comparable to the exceptional ergonomics of most Vortex models, but like all great models, was slightly edged out by the Vortex Vipers.

Field of View


Our test team measured the Monarch 5's field of view at just over 317 feet at 1000 yards, which is 18 feet narrower than the manufacturer's-specified field of view at 335 feet. Here again, the Monarch 5 is slightly behind the competition. Almost all other 8x42 binoculars, including the Vortex Diamondback 8x42 and the Athlon Midas 8x42 outperformed the Monarch.


While the differences in the field of view are noticeable when looking at far-away landscapes, they're almost indiscernible when looking at something a couple hundred feet away. It's worth mentioning though, that this is one of the few categories that the Monarch 5 didn't lead the test group for similarly priced and sized binos.

Ease of Adjustment


In our ease of adjustment testing, the Monarch 5 was again towards the top of the scoreboard. Its focus knob is solid yet smooth, allowing for easy adjustment and the ability to quickly lock in on the perfect focus once you find it. The diopter knob is small and stiff, so it's very unlikely that you could move it inadvertently. However, when you do need to make a diopter adjustment, it moves smoothly after overcoming a bit of initial inertia. The eyecups twist in and out and have four distinct stopping points (one more than most models), so you'll easily be able to get the eyecups even and at an acceptable distance from the lenses.


Overall, the Monarch 5 checks pretty much all of the boxes in the ease of adjustment category, as do most models in this price range. The only thing that could make them better would be a locking diopter and possibly more eyecup settings.

nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - the focus knob has nice, smooth action.
The focus knob has nice, smooth action.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Close Focus Range


Our tests measured the close focus range of the Monarch 5 8x42 at 6.2 feet, which is an impressive 2 feet closer than the manufacturer-stated 8.2 feet.


The average measured length for the entire test group was 8.1 feet. In other words, this is one of the better models available when it comes to close focus range, and is more similar to the more premium models we tested.

nikon monarch m5 8x42 binocular review - the close focus of the nikon monarch m5 8x42.
The close focus of the Nikon Monarch M5 8x42.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Should You Buy the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42?


The Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is among the best pair of binos we've found in its price range. The Monarch provides solid all-around performance and super crisp images, whether the sun is shining or not.

These fall within a common budget for those looking to invest in a good pair of binos, and we think the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is a great way to spend that budget. Combining good construction, a nice focus knob, high-quality glass, and great low-light performance, the Monarch 5 will be able to keep up no matter where your adventures take you. It also just barely outperformed the Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42, a previous favorite of ours, and does so for around the same price.

What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?


These are a great pair of binoculars for the price, and if you're loyal to the Nikon brand, and looking for a little more performance, then the Nikon Monarch M7 10x42 would be another pair to consider. However, one of our favorite models, the Vortex Viper HD 8x42, is a small step up in price from the Monarch 7 and performs better overall. So if you have a bit more to spend on a pair of binos, we'd go with the Viper. If you find yourself able to spend thousands of dollars on a pair of binos, and want the best of what is available, you should take a look at the rather exceptional Swarovski EL 8.5x42s.

Max Mutter & Steven Tata
 
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