Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Range Reviews: Nikon Monarch ATB 8X42 DCF

© 2009, 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Nikon Monarch ATB 8X42 DCF ReviewNikon Monarch ATB 8X42 DCF

After going through an innumerable number of binocular reviews, I found that the full-sized Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 DCF binoculars are probably the best binoculars in their price range; the $250 to $300 area. Well designed and engineered, the Monarchs offer an excellent image and solid feel that makes you think you are holding a set of binoculars costing two or three times as much.

These are the basic specifications:
Magnification: 8x
Weight: 21.5 oz.
Field of view at 1000 yds: 330 ft.
Eye relief: 19.6mm
Close focus: 8.2 ft.
Size: 5.7 in. long by 5.0 in. wide.

I have always done a bit of bird watching. I don't chase them down and make notes in notebook, but a set of binoculars are always close by to observe my feathered friends. The hobby of bird watching requires binoculars with sharp resolution and excellent color rendition in order to be able to identify the characteristics of a bird. For those of us that also hunt, these characteristics make them a logical choice for that endeavor also.

Interestingly, the engineers at Nikon have been able to get the Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars to focus as close as 8.2 feet. This is great for those occasional birds that land practically in front of your nose, or for bugs and butterflies that you might be observing. And when that turkey comes strutting by at spitting distance, you 'll be able to count individual hairs on his beard! It also provides a 300-foot field of view at 1000 yards which is a good width to survey while glassing for game. The eye relief is substantial at 19.6mm, so they will be comfortable for eyeglass wearers. The eyepieces are comfortable, deep, and flexible one-piece cups, made of a durable rubber material.

They're roof-prism binoculars which makes them a little bigger, but that's why they are full size binoculars and not compact. They are also both fogproof and waterproof. They have a tripod socket for use in low light or if you are using them as a spotting scope out in the field. This is important as it reduces eye fatigue and your arms will thank you if a shot presents itself!

Nikon Sports Optics carry a 25-year warranty for manufacturers' defects plus a "no-fault" warranty, which means that Nikon will repair accidental damage for a flat fee of $10. That is an incredible bonus. Folks that are less than careful with their equipment will appreciate that feature!

In my opinion, the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 DCF, is top-notch of any mid-priced, full-power field binoculars. These are lightweight, waterproof, and very comfortable binoculars. While I was comparing them with the binoculars priced at three to four times as much, I could see that there was a narrower field of view, it was a slightly muddier, less crisp image, which was not as sharp at the edges. But the street price is well under $300, compared to the image difference for an additional $900.00... Well see for yourself next time you are at the optics store.

There were a few things that I didn't like about the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 DCF package. The accessories leave something to be desired. The case is cheap and I don't think it will hold up at all. That's not a big deal to me, as I will find something better to stow them in anyway. The strap is also less than what I expected. But again I don't use the straps that come with any optics anymore since I started using the Crooked Horn Bino-System.

But the lens caps, they are definitely a problem for me. I keep and protect from loss my lens caps. I would have liked better lens caps that were deeper and made of a more resilient and thicker material. It's a minor peeve, but money is money and valuable optics need protection. Some ducttape and I'll resolve that issue to my satisfaction!

Nikon has built-in quite a number of advances into the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 DCF:
  • All lenses and prisms are multilayer-coated for the brightest images
  • Phase-correction-coated roof prisms for high resolution
  • High-reflection mirror-coating prism for bright image
  • High-eyepoint design provides a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers
  • Close focusing distance: 2.5m
  • Eco-glass optics that are free of lead and arsenic are used for all lenses and prisms
  • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 5 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas
  • Turn-and-slide rubber eye cups facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eyepoint
  • Rubber armoring for shock resistance and a firm, comfortable grip
  • Lightweight body uses fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin
  • Wide strap
  • Can be fixed to a tripod using optional tripod adapter
For the money, I don't believe there is a better set of binoculars. At less than $300.00, if you shop for them, they can't be beat!

Nikon Sport Optic
Nikon Monarch 8X42 DCF

Street Prices:
$254.00 - Amazon Marketplace
$339.00 -
Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Kandahar Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


Wild Ed said...

Nikon has turned out some great glass. I would love a pair of these to review in time for this hunting season. 8 power is enough without having vibration issues when I hold them. On a Crooked Horn suspender system these should be perfect for hunters.

Albert A Rasch said...

Thanks Ed,

When it comes to glass Nikon is second only to Cannon. But Cannon makes neither binoculars, nor scopes as far as I know. These where better than anything I have owned, the brightness and sharpness are fantastic.

I'll be doing a review on the Bino-System sometime in the near future. Currently I am using them on my camera. I find it to be a great way to carry a single body without it bouncing or swinging around.

Best regards,

flea said...

I have a pair of Olympus Binoculars I love. Nothing special and certainly not up the the standards of the one you have reviewed.

Nice thorough review Albert!

Wild Ed said...

Everyone in my family use the crooked horn type suspender system for glass. There are several copies out there now. I used to carry extras in my truck to sell to clients I was guiding on hunts. Once you use this type system nothing else will do. Ladies will find it works ok for them, kind of like a cross your heart bra. Just make sure the binos are laying up high and you will like it. My daughter and wife carry their binoculars this way all the time.

Gun Slinger said...


This is one of your best reviews, full of good information so one can make a great choice.

Wild Ed,

Your information is very valuable also. That's how people learn about new things, from people who are pros in their field!

You guys are great, keep it up!

Shoot Straight,
Reviewing the Reviews

Unknown said...


I do believe these are the binocs my hubs just got.

Anonymous said...

You have to be able to see them to hunt them!

Beware of

Albert Quackenbush said...


I totally agree with everything. I have used the 10x36 Monarchs for a couple of years and I love them. I wear glasses, so the eye relief was a big deal.

I also agree on the lens caps. They drive me nuts! They don't stay seated and the little tabs to hook onto a strap are way too small. You can't slip them to anything except the Nikon strap.

The binocular straps are a great tool. I am doing a comparative review in a couple weeks on the Crooked Horn and the Nikon system. Both are functional, but one works better, in my opinion.

Great review and I look forward to your bino harness review.