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Binoculars review

Nikon Monarch HG 8x30

Nikon Monarch HG 8x30
25 March 2019
Optyczne.pl 
For many years the top-of-the-range Nikon roof binoculars were grouped in the HG series consisting of 8x20, 10x25, 8x32, 10x32, 8x42 and 10x42 models. In 2010 they launched an even higher range of products, marked as EDG. Meanwhile the HG series got a bit older and, as the rivals moved sharply forward, Nikon decided to launch its successors. In July 2016 two Nikon Monarch HG binoculars were shown to the public, the 8x42 and the 10x42. Two years later the Monarch HG 8x30 and 10x30 hit the shelves.

Compared to their predecessors you deal here with a smaller, physically lighter casing and a wider field of view along with a shorter minimum focusing distance. The only negative change is a decrease in eye relief distance. Still it should be noticed that Nikon resisted the trend of moving everything to China and their new Monarch HG series, like the predecessors, is still produced in Japan.

When it comes to the optics you deal here with objective lenses that contain ED low dispersion glass. Dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coating and phase correction coating are applied to the Schmidt-Pechan prisms; the construction of the eyepiece is such that it is able to flatten the field of view (Field Flattener Lens System) and removes all optical aberrations. All air-to-glass surfaces feature multilayer antireflection coatings so the maximum transmission is supposed to reach 92%.

The body of this pair of binoculars is made of magnesium alloy. It is nitrogen purged and offers very impressive waterproof/fog-proof performance (up to 5 m for 10 min.) Outer elements are covered by special hydrophobic coatings.

Buyers get a rainguard, rubber rings, objective caps integrated with these rings, a wide neoprene strap and a hard case in the box. The product comes with 10-year warranty period.

Pictures
  • Lornetka Nikon Monarch HG 8x30
  • Lornetka Nikon Monarch HG 8x30
  • Lornetka Nikon Monarch HG 8x30
  • Lornetka Nikon Monarch HG 8x30
Manufacturer data

Manufacturer:

Nikon
web site

Distribution / Sales:

Nikon Polska
web site

Magnification Lens diameter Angular field of view Prisms Eye relief Weight Price
8 30 145/1000(8.3o) BaK-4/roof 16.2 mm 450 g 3899 PLN
Results of the review
Real front lens diameter Left:   30+/- 0.05 mm
Right:  30+/- 0.05 mm
8 / 8.0 pkt
Real magnification 7.95+/- 0.05x 3/3.0
Transmission 90.1+/- 1% 13/15.0
Chromatic aberration Slight in the centre, medium on the edge. 6.8/10.0
Astigmatism Slight. 7.5/10.0
Distortion Distance of the first curved line from the field centre compared to the field of view radius: 50% ± 2% 5/10.0
Coma Starts near 70% of the field of view radius and is between medium and high on the very edge. 6.2/10.0
Blurring at the edge of the FOV Blur occurs in a distance of 74% ± 4% from the field of view centre. 4/10.0
Darkening at the edge the FOV Noticeable. 3.3/5.0
Whiteness of the image Very delicate, almost imperceptible green colouring. 4.3/5.0
Collimation Perfect. 5/5.0
Internal reflections
Left: Right:
Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 - Internal reflections - Left Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 - Internal reflections - Right
Quite wide and rather light area around the pupil.
2.6/5.0
Housing Very nice and stylish – one of the prettiest binoculars launched recently. Shapely and handy, comfortable to hold and to look through. The casing is covered by matt, rough rubber of good quality which sticks to your hands very well. Everything done as it should. Rubberized eyecups with 4 detention stops. The binoculars are produced in Japan. The fastening of objective lens covers should be praised here – you can remove them with the ring that is wrapped tightly around the tube and put on tube covers dedicated for that model. It's a simple and comfortable solution both for those who like carrying objective caps around and those who don't use them at all. 8/8.0
Focusing Big, comfortable and ribbed central wheel, covered by rubber armour. It moves smoothly with some slight resistance and without any squelching. The full turn amounts to 390 degrees. Individual focusing done through a rubberized, ribbed and movable ring on the right eyepiece. It moves the outer element. 4.5/5.0
Tripod Comfortable tripod access. In the 8x32 test all binoculars were given an average value of 1.5 points in this category as a tripod exit is rarely used in this class of equipment. 1.5/3.0
Interpupilary distance from 55.3 to 74.9mm 5/6.0
Closest focusing distance 1.45 meter. 2/2.0
Eyepieces FOV Apparent field of view of 65.3 degrees. 8/10.0
Field of view Measured by us amounted to 8.21 +/- 0.03 degrees and was slightly narrower than the field stated in official specifications. A very large field for this class of equipment. 7/8.0
Quality of the interior of the barrels Black tubes, quite matt and strongly baffled. Black, matt bottom but we noticed a small prism setting ring which is made of gray, slightly shiny metal, not covered by anything. It is not a feature you expect from a brand name pair of binoculars. Very clean inside. 3.9/5.0
Vignetting
Left: Right:
Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 - Vignetting - Left Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 - Vignetting - Right
OL: 0.69%, OR: 0.89%.
6/8.0
Prisms quality High quality BaK-4. 8/8.0
Antireflection coatings Green-purple on objectives, green-blue-purple on prisms, green-purple-pink on eyepieces. Low intensity. 5/5.0
Warranty [years] 10 4.5/6.0
Final result
77.7%
132.1 / 170 pkt
Econo result 0pkt.

Summary


Pros:
  • small, shapely, stylish but also very solid, waterproof casing,
  • significantly wide field of view,
  • good transmission,
  • very good colour rendering,
  • slight astigmatism,
  • sensible correction of chromatic aberration,
  • good quality prisms made of BaK-4 glass,
  • efficient antireflection coatings,
  • sharp images already from 1.45 metres.

Cons:
  • too big decrease of sharpness on the edge of the field of view,
  • blackening inside the tubes could have been better,
  • exorbitant price, especially compared to the performance.

I admit it – our demands concerning the new Monarch HG binoculars were rather steep. The instruments were launched with price tags even higher that the prices of their 8x42 and 10x42 brothers. About 1000 Euro for an 8x30 class model is a lot – nothing less than a premium level. What's more, the producers aroused our imagination, promising a transmission of 92% and a flat field of view, guaranteed by their special field flattening system. It worked every single time – it's enough to look at our tests of the older HG series, the EDG series or the review of the Monarch HG 10x42.

Time for the reality check – let's start with the transmission graph.

Everything seems to work properly at that point. The binoculars don't reach the promised 92%, that's true, but at 600 nm wavelength you get a result near 91% so, within the margin of error, in accordance with the declared resolution value. In the middle of the range you see a very good result of about 90%. What's more the graph is quite flat, ensuring you good colour rendering.

Unfortunately the FIELD FLATTENER inscription on the casing of the binoculars seems to be just a joke of the producer. On the edge of the field there is a really huge blurry area, practically as big as the one you see on the edge of the Monarch 7 8x30, a device three times cheaper, without any field flattener. It is an obvious slip-up.


Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 i Nikon Monarch HG 8x30.

Another slip-up: the blackening near the prisms. At this price point we expect perfection – everything should be dark, matt and excellently baffled – meanwhile here some parts shine, resembling interiors of models several times cheaper. As a result the area close to exit pupils is too bright and the performance against bright light leaves a bit to be desired.

In our test we got too few excellent or outstanding results for the 1000 Euro price point instrument. Such aberrations as coma, astigmatism, distortion, brightness loss on the edge of the field or chromatic aberration are corrected well, a bit above average, but never very well or outstandingly well.

Don't get me wrong – I wouldn't like to end my summary in a pejorative way. The Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 remains a very good pair of binoculars which will be undoubtedly a joy to use in most of situations. Still my job means I expected the best, basing my expectations on the excellent performance of the Monarch HG 10x42, a higher price of the smaller models, and unfulfilled declarations of the producer concerning flat image.

The final result is such that the Monarch HG got merely 4 points more than the Monarch 7 8x30. Does it mean both pairs of binoculars are the same? Of course not. You have to remember each time we test and assess a completely new device. The Monarch HG has a lot of chances to serve you longer in a good shape because its superior build quality and better materials. I mean here especially the quality of the outer rubber armour which, in the case of the Monarch 7, is definitely a drawback – prone to stretching, making the whole device look not especially nifty after a while. Still the fact remains that for the price of one Monarch HG you can buy and virtually overdrive, three Monarchs 7... The conclusions are yours to drawn.