Perhaps no category in the outdoor marketplace is as intensely competitive as optics. Competition in the lower- and middle-tier categories is especially fierce, as they represent the largest portion of the market. It’s the consumer who benefits from such contests, as both large and small companies are forced to continually innovate, effectively trumping their existing products in attempts to better the competition, all while maintaining affordability. It’s no easy feat. But, with its 10x42 mm Monarch 7 all-terrain binocular (ATB), Nikon did just that.
Image quality in a binocular is primarily determined by glass quality, coating composition and quantity and prism configuration. The 10x42 mm Monarch 7 ATB features Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass, which enables blue, green and red colors to be brought to a single focus, thus nearly eliminating the optical abnormality of chromatic aberration. With this, dielectric multi-layer coatings are applied to the lens and prism surfaces, and the prisms have phase-correction coatings; the former enhances light transmission for increased “brightness,” among other things, while the latter reduces destructive interference. Even though the Monarch 7 ATB is a roof-prism binocular, which has less stereopsis and sharpness than a comparable porro-prism binocular, the aforementioned features result in the utmost resolution, brightness and contrast.
Roof-prism designs benefit from improved ergonomics and compactness. The rubber exterior enhances purchase and is fashioned in such a manner that the web of each hand is well placed for extended viewing without discomfort. The ribbed, centrally located focusing wheel, which operates from 8.2 feet to infinity, is easily manipulated without changing hand positions. The right eyepiece’s diopter adjustment is sufficiently tensioned so as not to be unintentionally changed. The Monarch 7 ATB measures 5.6 inches (length) x 5.1 inches (width) and weighs 23.6 ounces. It features click-stop, twist-up eyecups with multiple positions using a design that reduces the likelihood of unintended movement, as well as ensures both eyecups are similarly positioned. The Monarch 7 ATB is touted as being waterproof and fog-proof, so testing began with relegating it to the freezer overnight, followed by submersion in warm water. The lack of internal fogging proved the nitrogen-purged binocular to be watertight. There was no eyestrain or double imaging during testing, indicative of proper barrel alignment, and a quick test verified collimation of the two optical systems. Peering into the objective lenses revealed attention to detail during the assembly process; there were no errant remnants of glue, foreign objects or visible dust.
To evaluate its optical quality, we conducted side-by-side tests of 10x42 mm Monarch 7 ATB and comparably priced binoculars, as well as top-tier models, in varying lighting conditions. It compared favorably to the higher-priced European optics.
Most assuredly, competition among companies with similar products is viewed as negative by those involved; however, as the Nikon 10x42 mm Monarch 7 ATB clearly illustrates, the consumer benefits from such a market.
Importer: Nikon, Inc.; (800) 645-6687; www.nikonsportoptics.com Magnification and Objective: 10X 42 mm Finish: rubber Field of View (Ft. @ 1,000 Yds.): 351 ft. Exit Pupil: 4.2 mm Length: 5.6" Width: 5.1" Weight: 23.6 ozs. Feature: center focus; twist-up click eyecups; Accessories: lens covers; neck strap; owner’s manual Suggested Retail Price: $500