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Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

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Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:42 am

How do you improve on the world’s best selling $300 class roof prism binocular, one that has been the benchmark in this category some twenty years running? Should you even try?

That’s exactly what Nikon has done with their latest version of the venerable Nikon Monarch 10x42, namely the Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 and, make no mistake, this is a new Monarch that goes right to the heart of the binocular, namely the optical system. It is not simply a re-badged Nikon Monarch binocular with a few cosmetic changes.

Construction, handling, focusing, accessories
First thing you’ll notice on the new Monarch 3 binoculars is a bit more weight than the old Nikon Monarch 10x42 (7295). At 24.7 ounces, the new Monarch 3 is still a lightweight as 10x42 binoculars go, but that’s a bit more than 3 ounces heavier than the old Monarch. The Monarch 3 is also a bit longer binocular at 6.1 “ compared to the old Monarchs 5.6”. Like I said, this really is a new Nikon Monarch binocular.

Despite these changes, I rate the handling on the new Monarch 3 as excellent and I do mean excellent. Those 24.7 ounces balance beautifully in the hand and that added weight makes this Monarch a steadier glass to hold than the older (and more expensive) Monarch 10x42. Overall, I found the Monarch 3 binocular hard to put down and the excellent feel and balance was just one of the reasons. It’s as nice a handling 10x42 binocular as I have ever used and I have owned the best.

I am one very fussy birder about the way a binocular focuses, but the Monarch 3 10x42 that I have could not possibly focus better. Focusing was smooth throughout its range, no high or low spots. The center focus wheel is right under the tip of my index finger where it belongs and, best of all, requires only one finger’s effort to move. That's the way good birding binoculars should focus.

Excellent handling and balance with ease of focusing makes this Nikon binocular one that can be operated effectively with one hand. If you are a birder like me who often balances a tripod and spotting scope over the shoulder with one hand and works a binocular with the other, this is important. I expect hunters will find this equally useful.

While we’re on focusing, you birders out there should take notice of the Monarch’s close focus capability. Close focus on the Monarch 3 is listed at 9.7 feet, but, as always, this feature varies from one sample to the next and from one person’s eyes to the next. On my Monarch 3, I can read a spot on the floor that measures 82 inches (not quite 7 feet) from my front toe, according to the tape. That’s all the close focus any birder could ask for in a birding binocular. You may not get this, but even at 9.7 feet, as advertised, the Monarch 3 has all the close focus a birder could need.

Even better, my Monarch 3 can focus from this very close 82 inches all the way out to infinity in just one and a quarter turn of the focusing wheel! That’s about as fast as it gets in the binocular focusing department, folks.

As for the other goodies, you get the same wide webbed nylon binocular strap with no padding, but it is certainly adequate for the Monarch’s 24.7 ounces. I had no problem at all carrying for several hours at a time.

For those of you who use objective lens covers (I don’t, but some folks like them) you’ll be pleased to know that Nikon dumped those earlier flimsy, never stay in place objective covers on previous Monarchs and replaced them with beefy tethered lens covers that pop into the objective housings like they mean it (see the pic). Nikon must have had their fill of complaints about the old ones and these new objective covers should put an end to that.


Optics
Most of the changes I see with the new Monarch 3 are in the optics. This an optically different binocular than the old Monarch, no doubt about it.

For instance, eye relief on the Monarch 3 10x42 has been increased to 17.4 mm over the old Monarch’s eye relief of 15.5mm. That may not seem like much, but that15.5mm on the old Monarch was a bit tight for some eyeglass wearers, including me. When using the Monarch 3 with my glasses, I can now see right out to the edge of the field stops and a bit beyond. in other words, I can see the entire field of view plus. That’s definitely above average for a 10x42 roof prism in the eye relief department.

Nikon is making a point of advertising image brightness on the new Monarch 3 binoculars, via its silver coated roof prisms as opposed to the old Monarch’s dielectric coatings. It is rare to see silver coated prisms at this price, no doubt about it. That’s a feature you typically find on more expensive roof prism binoculars. Is the Monarch 3 actually brighter than the old Monarch, then? That’s not something that lends itself to casual testing and these old eyes are probably not the best instruments to test this, anyway, but I will say that you will be impressed with the image brightness in the new Monarch 3 10x42 from the very first look. It’s every bit as bright as any 10x42 I have tested, at any rate. Yes, this is a noticeably bright 10x42 binocular.

Contrast I also rated as excellent with full, rich colors, somewhat reminiscent of what I get with my far more expensive European birdwatching binoculars. Color correction I rated as very good, with only a barely noticeable tinge of color when on the perimeter of the moon (a severe test for any optic) and a also tinge of color when objects were moved to the extreme edge of the field. Clean as a whistle in 90% of the field, though. Can’t really ask for much more than this until you move into a binocular with ED or other special glass.

Speaking of edge of field performance, I am as fussy, here, as I am about focusing and, once again, the Monarch 3 impressed. This binocular is darn near as sharp at the edge of the field as my Nikon Premier binoculars and that is saying a lot. I have yet to see binoculars at this price with this kind of edge sharpness. As for distortion, forget it. Straight lines stay very close to perfectly straight when I scan back and forth with the Monarch 3. Flat field and sharp to the edge. What more could you want?

Resolution, sharpness? Again excellent and right there with much more expensive binoculars on the chart, but no one buys binoculars to test on a chart. Out in the field, where it counts, I was able to distinguish the white eye ring on female Wood Ducks out on the lake at a half mile distance, same as with my much more expensive Premier LX binoculars. That’s all you can ask for in birding binoculars.

Is the Nikon Monarch 3 perfect in terms of optics? No, but what binocular is? For instance, the new Monarch 3 seems just a touch fussier than the older Monarch about eye placement on the eyepieces, but not enough to have to fight the binocular. This is easily remedied by carefully adjusting the interpupillary distance adjustment (opening and closing the two halves of the binocular for the width between your eyes). The effort is worth it because of the wonderfully flat, crisp, sharp edge to edge view you get with a properly adjusted Monarch 3. Once I had my Monarch 3 properly adjusted for diopter (via the usual ring on the right eyepiece) and IPD, I experienced no eye strain whatsoever over several hours of continuous viewing, similar to what I have experienced with the much more expensive Nikon Premier LX and Nikon EDG binoculars. That’s outstanding for a binocular at this price.

Only other issue encountered was a small amount of glare at the very edge of the field in the Monarch when the angle of the sun was low to the horizon. Hardly worth mentioning, because this admittedly rare occurrence was easily eliminated by shading the objectives with one hand and at no time did the tiny bit of glare intrude all the way to the center of the field render the binocular useless. In this respect, the Monarch is no worse than the majority of binoculars I have tested and much better than others. I only report it in the interest of accuracy.

Conclusion
In my opinion Nikon hit a home run with the Monarch 3, a grand slam, in fact. This new Monarch does indeed raise the bar for a binocular in its price class and, in fact, it should give binoculars at two or three times the price a legitimate run for the money. Think of it as a poor man’s or poor woman’s Nikon Premier LX, if you will. It is that good. That benchmark performance Nikon has been advertising? This binocular lives up to its billing.

Let’s put it this way: I never thought I would test a binocular at this point that would be hard to put down. That’s a characteristic I’ve only experienced with very expensive premium binoculars. The Monarch 3 10x42 has changed that. The Monarch 3 is just plain hard for me to put down.
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby scoter on Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:42 pm

Hello Joannie,

Thank you for the detailed review. Very high praise for a less that $300 dollar binocular from a recognized expert. Must be an exceptional product!

I do have some questions:

1. You reviewed the 10X42 model. Can I assume the 8X42 model would be just as good? (I have an 8x32 and a 10X44, but not an 8X42. An 8X42 of that quality/price combination could be hard to resist!).

2. How would you compare the Monarch 3 to the Nikon SE's and the Pentax DCF 8X43 SP and ED?

Your forum, especially your contributions, are very much appreciated.

Thank you,

Scoter
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:57 am

HI

Glad to help.

Yes, I would expect the 8x42 to be essentially the same, optically as the 10x42.

While the Monarch 3 is a great buy at the going price of $250, I can't rate it with an SE or the DCF SP in the Pentax, but, then, very few binoculars in those respective price ranges do. On the other hand, I don't think you'll buy a better roof prism binocular for $250. Not saying you'll see more with the SE or DCF SP, but if you are fussy about optics and know what to look for, you would see the difference by moving up to the SE or DCF SP. I suspect most users, though, would be quite content with the Monarch 3.
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby bearclawthedonut on Wed Oct 19, 2011 4:01 pm

Joan:

Thanks for the review of the new 10x42 Monark 3. I've been to [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-brand.html]Nikon[/link]'s website and looked at their specs for the new 8x42 Monarch 3. I have a couple of questions. The eye relief for the new 8x42 is listed as over 24 mm (almost 1"), is this a typo? I hope so, as I've found that the eye relief of 21 and 22 mm to be too much for me and my [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/rx-eyeglasses.html]EYEGLASSES[/link]! The eye relief on the old 8x42 Monarchs is 19.5 mm, this combined with their eyecups that waste a mm or two of useable eyerelief was PERFECT for me and my [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/rx-eyeglasses.html]eyeglasses[/link].

Second, does the introduction of the new Monarch 3 signal the withdrawal of the Monarch ATB (with DE prisms)? The new Monarch 3's are too heavy for me; I'll be wanting to get another pair of the ATB's (to use as backups) before they are discontinued. Thanks.

bearclawthedonut
bearclawthedonut
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:37 am

Hi bearclaw

Unfortunately, don't have an 8x42 version to examine, but maybe we can bart, the Nikon rep, to answer this one. I'll forward it to him

I agree, there can certainly be too much eye relief on binoculars and that is often the source of blackouts at the edge of the field and other uncomfortable things. I do my best, for instance with binoculars that have an actual 15-17mm of eye relief.

I don't know Nikon's specific plans for the future of the Monarch line of binoculars, but I'd be shocked if Nikon ever dropped the line. I'm sure the Monarchs will be around, in one form or another, for a long time.
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby bman940 on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:31 am

Bear, The Monarch 3, 10x42 is listed at 17.4 mm and the 8 x at 24.1, these are the correct eye reliefs measurements.
I am not aware of any changes in the Monarch line at this time. It has certainly proven itself over time so I doubt any major changes are coming.
As for the weight issue of the Monarch 3 compared to the Monarch 42mm ATB's. The 3's are only 3 oz. heavier. If you are really interested in a light weight pair of binoculars check out the Premier's in 10x25 which weigh in at 10.5 oz., also the Monarch ATB's in 10x36 weigh in at only 20.3 oz.
Thanks for your reply Bear and Jne_k, Excellent review.

Bart
Nikon Pro Staff
My name is Bart, I am a longtime hunter and I am here to answer any questions on Nikon hunting optics you may have. I will also be sharing new products and specials on occasion.
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby scoter on Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:00 pm

Thanks Joanie,

I should have known that a $250 binocular could not be expected to be the equal of a pair which costs more than twice as much. But given your glowing review, I just had to ask!

Thanks again and keep up the great work!

Scoter
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:58 am

Glad to help.
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby bearclawthedonut on Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:51 pm

Bart:

Yes, the specified eye relief for the new [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-monarchatb8x40.html]Nikon Monarch 3 8x42[/link] is over 24 mm as I previously posted. My question in regard to that eye relief is: as 24 + mm of eye relief is excessive is this a typo? I certainly hope so for your and [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-brand.html]Nikon[/link]'s sake.

My other question was: with the introduction of the new Monarch 3 8x42, is [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-brand.html]Nikon[/link] planning on discontinuing the current Monarch 8x42 with di-electric prism coatings? I suspect that they will not. Their new Monarch 3 series is doomed for dissapointing sales. They have produced something that no one wants, just like they did with the Monarch X series.

I currently own a Monarch 8x42 (pre DE prism); it is a supurb [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binocular[/link]. I've compared it to many apha's and optically a few of them have very, very slight advantages in brightness or contrast and in one or two instances in usable (for a hand held [link=http://www.OpticsPlanet.Com]optical[/link] instrument) resolution. However, none of the 40/42 mm alpha's can begin to compare with my Monarch's unsurpassed handling for a full sized [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binocular[/link]. Unfortunately, the new Monarch 3 series has added weight, length and bulk and when combined with excessive eye relief - I'm not sure who would want this [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binocular[/link]?
bearclawthedonut
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:26 am

Hi Bearclaw

I rellay do think you should give the Monarch 3 a try as to that weight. As mentioned in my review, the bino balances beautifully and 24.7 oz is still on the light side for a 42. I found it a joy to carry and handle.

24mm is a lot of eye relief, yes, at least for most eyeglass wearers, but there will be some folks that will need it. If you do need less, the eyecups can be popped up to the first detent position, anyway, and that should solve the issue.

As I said, try to get one in your hands when you get a chance. Don't know if you'll want to retire your old Monarch when you do, but I think you'll like the Monarch 3. Give it a try.
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby bearclawthedonut on Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:40 pm

Joan:

I will definately look for the new Monarch 3 in local retail outlets. However, in the past, it has been my experience that it sometimes takes appreciably longer for new models to appear in local retail stores than to be available for purchase on line. My gut instinct suggests that the Monarch 3 will not be for me. My concern is that, if I wait too long to find a Monarch 3 to hold in my hands and look through, then the present Monarch ATB (DE prisms) may no longer be available.

I have no intentions of retiring my old Monarch 8x42 as it is the best full sized [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binocular[/link] that I've ever used. I do not know if mine is atypical or just average. But I really like it. Yes, a few other [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binoculars[/link] have slight improvements in brightness, contrast or even resolution, but no other [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binocular[/link] that I've ever held comes close to it in handling! Any additional Monarch 8x42 that I purchase will simply be a backup for my present Monarch. Thanks very much for your review and comments.
bearclawthedonut
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:09 am

You are so very welcome

I don't think your Monarch is atypical at all. I've been testing Monarchs for over 8 years and the thing that has most impressed me is how consistently good they are, year after year. By all means keep your Monarch if you are happy with it.
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby puzzled on Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:13 pm

Why would anyone post something as negative as "their new Monarch 3 series is doomed for disappointing sales" and "they have produced something that no one wants?" What makes someone think he is so smart he can make such a prediction? Because in his mind the eye relief is excessive? Really? Or is he simply afraid that maybe there's something better out there than his own prized possession?
puzzled
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:51 am

Hi

I agree - his criticism was a bit over the top on such a minor issue. Too much eye relief is an easy fix.

There are people who, for one reason or the other, carry grudges against certain brands. Perhaps they had a bad experience or perhaps, as you said, they view a good review on a brand they don't like as an attack on their binocular. They do have a right to their opinion, of course and they are still welcome to post, here as well.

The Nikon Monarch 3 has been out long enough, now, to get a good idea of how it will be accepted and, on that basis, it's been a great success for Nikon. It's an amazing binocular for the money, as I posted in my review and apparently a lot of folks agree with me. :)
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby pedro on Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:51 pm

[quote="Jne_K"]
[link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/nikon-brand.html]Nikon[/link] is making a point of advertising image brightness on the new Monarch 3 [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binoculars[/link], via its silver coated roof prisms as opposed to the old Monarch’s dielectric coatings. It is rare to see silver coated prisms at this price, no doubt about it. That’s a feature you typically find on more expensive roof prism [link=http://www.opticsplanet.com/binoculars.html]binoculars[/link]. [/quote]

Hi Joanie

Is not the Dielectric prism coating the brightest available today? Swarovski, Leica and some others are using Dielectric instead Silver or Alluminium mirror, am I wrong?

Pedro
pedro
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:34 am

Hi

Yes, dielectric is the best coating used, these days, but can your eyes sees the difference? That's arguable, since it's unlikely our eyes can detect a difference less than 3% in in total light transmission, anyway. Still, every bit of light transmission is a good thing. The dielectric coating process allows manufacturers to match the formula of the coating exactly to the specific refractive index of the lenses or mirror surface, in this case, rather than just going with a simple silver or aluminum coating on the roof prism.
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby deLuna on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:07 am

Can you comment at all on the Monarch 3 vs. 5? I'm primarily interested in it for birding and can't discern much of a difference beyond the silver/dielectric coatings. I'd use an 8x42 either way. I'm on a <$300 budget and would like to get as much value as I can, this will be the pair I intend to use for for quite awhile. Beyond the Monarchs, is there another pair you'd recommend for me? Thanks!
deLuna
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:41 pm

Haven't tried the 5, yet, but the 3 is more than adequate for birding. I guarantee the difference in coatings will not make one bit of difference in the number of birds identified.
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Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby deLuna on Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:47 am

Will it make much difference in terms of low light situations or at night? I'm willing to spend the extra $30 or so for the 5 if it's an improvement but if they're equal in every regard essentially I'll go lower. Thanks again.
deLuna
 

Re: Nikon Monarch 3 10x42 Review

Postby Jne_K on Thu Mar 01, 2012 8:07 am

Hi

I doubt you will be able to tell any significant difference in low light. If money is a concern, go with the 3.
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