Nikon Monarch M5 8x42 Review
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Nikon Monarch M5 8x42
|Price||$286.95 at Amazon|
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$239.00 at Amazon
$348.90 at Amazon
$299.99 at Amazon
$125.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob||Excellent brightness, great clarity, comfortable||Relatively good clarity, easy to focus||Good clarity, easy to focus||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness|
|Cons||Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view||Slightly heavy for backpacking||fairly dim, rubber feels a bit sticky||Dimmer than competing models||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity||An excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightness||While these binoculars are good, many competitors in the same price range are better||A good pair of binoculars, but is easily outdone by other models in the same price range||The 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...|
|Field of View (10%)|
|Ease of Adjustment (5%)|
|Close Focus Range (5%)|
|Specs||Nikon Monarch M5 8x42||Vortex Diamondback...||Celestron TrailSeek...||Athlon Midas G2 8x4...||Celestron Nature DX...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||XPL||FMC|
|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|
|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|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nikon Monarch M5 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.
The Monarch M5 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 M5 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 M5 is just as clear or clearer.
This is where the Monarch M5 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 M5 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.
The Monarch M5 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 M5 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.
Overall, the Monarch M5 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 M5'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 M5 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 M5 didn't lead the test group for similarly priced and sized binos.
Ease of Adjustment
In our ease of adjustment testing, the Monarch M5 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 M5 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.
Close Focus Range
Our tests measured the close focus range of the Monarch M5 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.
Should You Buy the Nikon Monarch M5 8x42?
The Nikon Monarch M5 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 M5 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 M5 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.
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