We love the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars because they are so convenient. Thanks to their roof prism design, these binoculars are narrow, so slip them easily into their custom carrying case (or a large pocket on an overcoat). In order to achieve sharpness from the center of the image circle to the edge, Nikon developed a field flattening lens system and used extra-low dispersion (ED) glass to prevent chromatic aberration at the same time.
With an MSRP of $999.95 (opens in a new tab), the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars won’t be for everyone, but they represent excellent value for money. You don’t just get quality binoculars at this price either, as every other accessory is polished and refined, whether it’s the beautiful carrying case, the handy lens caps or the carrying strap. soft and padded neck.
They provide a reasonable range for any bird watcher or wildlife hunter who prefers a wide field of view in order to track moving subjects. Their 42mm lenses also drink up a lot of light, making them useful throughout the day and even during twilight hours. One thing to note about Nikon Monarch HD 10×42 binoculars is that they are completely waterproof.
So come rain, rain or snow, you’ll be fine. Even if you drop them in a lake or pond, they’ll be fine because they can withstand up to five meters of water for about ten minutes (yes, time to find a way to fish them out). These are comfortably some of the best binoculars on the market.
Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 Binoculars: Design
- Solid magnesium alloy body is lightweight
- All lens caps and seals fit perfectly
- Premium finish on every part of the Monarch set
Nikon seems to have skimped nothing with the Monarch HG 10×42. They are beautifully balanced in the hand, have a soft but grippy rubberized weave on the lightweight magnesium alloy body and every part of the binoculars is finished to a high standard. The eyecups twist with solid, confident snaps. The lens caps fit snugly over the ends and stay in place (when removed for viewing) and the diopter ring even slides and locks once users set up focus.
Take a look at the badging on the binoculars and even these are upgraded versions of slightly more budget model models, thanks to the gold treatment all around the instrument. Even the carrying case has a nice metal emblem and a safety latch that secures the lid, preventing the Monarch from falling out – something that’s normally left to Velcro on more affordable binocular lines.
Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars: performance
- Edge-to-edge sharpness through binoculars
- No chromatic aberration to speak of which is exceptional
- Good light transmission thanks to 42 mm objective lenses
There’s a lot of optical technology in the Monarch HG 10x42s that many bino users may overlook. For starters, Nikon’s attempt to retain sharpness across the entire field of view (edge-to-edge) is successful with the Field Flattener system. Edge blurring isn’t much of an issue as it’s hard to see the edges directly with a direct view due to the natural vignetting that occurs when viewers shift their eyes. But this is especially noticeable in peripheral vision, so the sharp edges can help users find small or camouflaged subjects.
Surprisingly, we found almost no chromatic aberration (color fringing) with these binoculars. Try as we might, it took the most contrasting edges (dark foliage against a bright sky) to spot small purple and magenta outlines around those edges. Still, we had to concentrate hard to spot them and to the untrained eye we think it may be almost impossible to tell. If you have the slightest vision problem impairing your sight with the naked eye, you will certainly never be able to tell. This lack of chromatic aberration is due to Nikon’s extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements.
Light transmission is also good as the 42mm lenses are large enough to let light through even at dusk. Each glass element also contains multi-layer coatings to help improve light transmission, which Nikon has reported to be 92% or better.
While 10x magnification doesn’t sound particularly groundbreaking, this type of magnification does have some advantages. The first is that the field of view remains relatively wide (121m at 1000m) and this makes it much easier to spot moving wildlife when tracking it in the field. This, plus the ability to hold the binoculars steady (helped in part by the tiny 680g weight) means they won’t need to fit a tripod – although there is a tripod mount/adapter tucked underneath the Nikon badge on the front of the binoculars.
Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars: functionality
- Lightweight at just 1.5lbs/ 680g
- Smooth focus wheel makes focusing easy
- Locking diopter ring stops accidental defocus
Although it weighs only 1.5 lbs / 680 g, the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 is remarkably strong to hold. This lightweight magnesium-alloy build reinforces a tough rubberized armor that flanks it, and while we wouldn’t want to try it, we’re confident in its durability to hard knocks or even a short drop to the ground. The handles are comfortable and at no point do we feel like they are about to fall out of our hands like some other models do.
The primary function of operation when using binoculars is to focus to view a given subject. True to form, Nikon has fitted the Monarch with a smooth focus wheel that provides just enough friction to prevent the focus from being accidentally shifted when placing them in the carrying case or when recover. The focus wheel also offers plenty of room for focusing, giving users the ability to fine tune their focus so that even small subjects can be comfortably brought into sharp focus.
It’s really hard to fault these binoculars, they are just awesome. We could say that because they don’t have image stabilization like, say, the Canon 10x32IS, they’re somehow inferior. But their superior optical clarity actually makes up for the lack of this electronic technology. Although we do like the stabilization, and it would be wonderful to see this pair get an IS, or VR (vibration reduction) as Nikon likes to label it. If they included this, we’re pretty confident it would blow every other binocular we’ve reviewed out of the water. If they could do it without raising the price and weight too much, they would get full marks in this review.
One unusual feature you don’t see every day on a pair of binoculars is the Monarch’s locking diopter adjustment ring. When the ring is in the down position, the diopter adjustment is locked in place, preventing unwanted shocks from altering it. Pull it up and the ring spins freely until users can match focus through both lenses to account for sight differences. It’s such a simple and elegant solution to a problem that persists among all binoculars that have a diopter.
Should I buy Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 binoculars?
These binoculars are some of the best on the market and that’s no surprise considering Nikon’s history in making optics (which spans over 100 years at this point). Everything they come with is crafted to a different standard with a high degree of finish and polish.
This premium package also comes at a steep price and is not ideal for first-time binocular users unless you have deep pockets or a genuine passion for wildlife or a similar interest that you plan to pursue for coming years.
If this product is not for you
Yes, the Nikon Monarch HG 10×42 is exceptional. Optically some of the best (if not the best) binoculars we’ve ever reviewed, combined with solid construction and insane waterproofing (as well as fog protection). We think they are absolutely fantastic. They even come with premium accessories, but that also means the price is higher. For those who want to drop that kind of money but want a more stable view the Canon 10x32IS binoculars are a good bet but they lack nitrogen purge for some reason so fog up when moving between areas hot and cold. With an MSRP of MSRP of $1999 (opens in a new tab)they cost twice the cost of monarchs.
Want to pay a tenth of the price of monarchs but don’t want to drop to a tenth of the optical prowess? Take a look at the Nikon 10×50 Aculon A211 binoculars which cost around $139.99 (opens in a new tab). They have larger objective lenses which makes them more useful in low light conditions but they are a Porro prism which means they are wider and bulkier which can be a deciding factor for some.