Nikon Monarch binoculars are a favorite among bird watchers and many outdoor enthusiasts because you get a lot for your money compared to other binocular models at the mid-price level. In fact, the Monarchs have some of the same features that higher-priced models have, especially the better quality optics.
The latest model of the Monarchs have several improvements. One that stands out is the new dielectric prism coating. This high-reflective, multi-layer prism coating; formerly only used on the higher end Nikon EDG binoculars, provides a brighter, crisper image of birds and wildlife with sharper colors and is especially helpful during low-light conditions such as at dusk or dawn. Monarch always had good optics, but now this improvement alone is worth the purchase.
Their ATB line, which stands for All-Terrain-Binoculars, provides durability and ruggedness that can withstand all your outdoor birding activities. All the ATB models are nitrogen-purged making them 100% waterproof and fog-proof which is a necessity for most bird watching and really any outdoor wildlife watching activity. It is possible to purchase Monarchs at a cheaper price that are not waterproof or fog-proof, but it is not recommended. You never know when a downpour is going to come or an unexpected slip into the creek.
The Nikon Monarch binoculars come in several sizes, but the 8×42 and 10×42 are a favorite among birders and outdoor enthusiasts because the combination of magnification and objective lens size provides a good balance between field of view and light transmission for optimal bird watching. There are birders who prefer more magnification or a larger objective lens size, but this can makes for a heavier, bulkier binocular and/or one with a smaller field of view. Overall, the 8x and 10×42 model sizes are best for a variety of bird watching situations.
An upgraded version of this line is the Nikon Monarch X binoculars. They contain slightly higher quality optics and are especially good for low-level light birding. The higher light transmission will provide an even brighter image than the regular Monarchs. Also unique to the X model is the thumb position memory contours, providing optimum traction with a soft-grip tactile surface. The Monarch X currently comes in 8.5×45 and 10×45.
What are the criticisms of the Monarchs? Some eyeglass wearers would prefer a littler longer eye relief on the 10x’s which is 16mm. The eye relief on the 8x42s is 20.6mm which is optimal. Others have noticed a slight softness to the edges on the lens, but for most birders is not really noticeable or bothersome. Some experts have said that looking through the Monarchs is really not much different from looking through a $ 1,000 pair of binoculars. So if you cannot spring several thousand dollars for a pair of Swarovski or Leica or Zeiss binoculars, then you should take a hard look at the Monarchs.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a mid-level priced bird watching binocular or multi-purpose outdoor binocular, then you should seriously consider getting a pair of Nikon Monarchs; either their regular ATB or the Monarch X model. A combination of high quality optics, durability and ergonomics make these hard to beat at the $ 200-$ 300 price level.