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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 16:34   #1
cnybirder
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Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 vs Vortex Viper 8x42 vs Leupold Golden Ring 8x42 vs others

I have been looking for another pair of binoculars.
I currently have Bushnell Natureview 8x42 which have been pretty good (view is usually pretty good, etc.) but I would like to upgrade to something with a faster focus, brighter in lower light, etc.
I have seen alot of good reviews of the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 (some even that say it is their binocular of choice even though they have more expensive pairs).
There are many good reviews of the Vortex Viper as well.
I recently read a fantastic review of the Leupold Golden Ring bins at betterviewdesired which says that they are about the best binoculars you can
buy.
How do the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 compare with the Vortex Viper?
Is it worth the extra $250?
How do those two compare with the Leupold Golden Ring (which would be about $500 more expensive than the Nikon Monarchs)?

Also I am open to other suggestions in my price range (preferably under $500).

I do not wear glasses so eye relief is not a concern.

Thanks!!
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 16:44   #2
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The Leupold gold rings are too heavy for my tastes. 33 ounces. I am eagerly awaiting the Leupold switch power 7-12 x 32 binoculars though; they are just over 20 ounces and are supposed to be out next month.

I like my vipers and they are quite bright and sharp and good in low light. But at least with my pair, I find the focus wheel to be a bit stiffer than I prefer. I think the monarchs might be better in that regard, though I have not tried them myself.

My two cents,
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 21:06   #3
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I have both Viper and Monarch binoculars. While the Monarch is a very good glass at its price point, eventually came to the conclusion that its image was a bit soft at the outer ranges of reasonable 8x expectations. The search for an affordable upgrade led me to get both a Swift Eaglet 7x36 (the Eaglet 8x42was not yet available at this point) and a Viper 8x42. Both are easily better than the Monarch, but not by a totally huge margin. There is enough obvious difference that you do not need a side by side to know it exists. I had the Viper and Eaglet for a couple of weeks trying mostly in vain to find something that would seperate them optically one from the other. I tried every sort of a test I could think of and they always tied. So I kept the Eaglet because I figured maybe it said something that, at 7x, it stood up toe to toe to a very good 8x. Also it is a very small and compact glass, sized much like the more common 8x32 genre of binoculars. Also it was a heck of a lot better than any similar priced 32 mm glass that I had ever tried. So, I sent the Viper back and tried a 10x42 Viper from the same dealer (Eagle Optics in this case). Well I liked them well enough I ket them too. The smaller 7x and a full size 10x make a good 1-2 combination. They cover about anything. However the Eaglet would be, hands down, my choice if I were to limit myself to one binocular. So, in my experience, you can improve on the Monarch with the Eaglet series, the Vipers, the Pentax SP, and the Leupold Pinnacle.

I may be sort of a lone voice, but if you choose to reach way up the optics ladder, there is, to me at least, no better optics available at any price than the Leupold Gold Ring HD. Since it is now in the $750-800 range, you will not beat it for the price. I include the offerings of the mighty teutonic trio in this assement. A lot of folks will adamantly tell you that this is simply not the case, but keep in mind, everybodys eyes are different, and there will likely be something that you find that you will really like. At that point all that maters is how well you like it. They are a litle heavy, but totally manageable with a harness and if the binocular is your main tool on your hike. Or unless you are of a very small stature or have some limitation. Fo a different ergonomic package at that price point the Vortex Razors and Meopta Meostars are worth a lok as well.

Or if you want to really experience a true optical bargin, spend less than a hundred bucks on a Leupold Yosemite. They will astonish you. They come in both 6x30and 8x30. Mine are 6x and I would choose them for one binocular over the 8x42 Monarch.
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Old Thursday 6th March 2008, 21:32   #4
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Monarchs are otherwise solid, but the eye cups may eventually fall off. Recommend leaving them in when not in use. I have had mine for some 4 years.
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 01:00   #5
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I would opt for the Viper out of the three you listed and for many of the reasons Steve C mentioned. To me the Vipers do/are everything the Monarchs are but with a brighter and sharper image.

Not to offend anyone but I would not recommend the Leupold GR or GR HDs as I was disappointed in them optically...the weight was not as much of an issue.
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 01:31   #6
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Not to offend anyone but I would not recommend the Leupold GR or GR HDs as I was disappointed in them optically...the weight was not as much of an issue.
Proof again that everyone sees things a little different.

I recently bought a Leupold GR (non-HD) and I have been absolutely thrilled with them. I even think the "heavy" arguments used against them are largely blown out of proportion. I haven't even bothered with a harness and packing them around with the included neck-strap has been no problem. They are indeed heavier than some other offerings but, that weight adds tremendously to overall image stability. Optically, I think I would be hard pressed to find anything that would satisfy me more. I can't even find much justification to desire the HD model. This is especially true considering I only paid $500 for mine NIB.
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 02:23   #7
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I even think the "heavy" arguments used against them are largely blown out of proportion. I haven't even bothered with a harness and packing them around with the included neck-strap has been no problem. They are indeed heavier than some other offerings but, that weight adds tremendously to overall image stability.
To clarify my previous comment, I used binoculars of similar weight for about 35 years without any real difficulty. But when I switched to my vipers (23 ounces) I really enjoyed the light weight, and the feeling that I could let them hang on my neck for the whole day without ever feeling any strain-- and even forgetting they were there. (plus with my old binoculars I occasionally had some significant soreness when I went on very long hikes with binoculars around my neck). So on the one hand, I agree 33 ounces is not oppressively heavy, and if you really like them optically, that should not stop you. Or if you do not mind using a harness (I personally would rather not bother), it may not be an issue. But if you are like me and really prefer a lighter binocular, the weight could be a serious obstacle.

my two cents,
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 02:57   #8
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I don't dare whine about the weight of my 8x42 GR/HD's. A regular birding partner of mine is a '60 something' woman that has been lugging around a pair of 10x42 SLC's for a long time without grumbling!

My old 'best' bins are my Swift Ultralites which at 300 bucks should be on your list of prospects. The FOV is a little narrow, something I didn't notice until I got the Leupolds, but they have a great image-and the focus is quick and easy.
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 13:03   #9
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I am not too worried about the weight of the Golden Ring HD as it is only a few ounces heavier than what I have now.

It seems nobody can agree on the quality of any of these.
But thats the way it is. I have read almost everything posted about the Monarchs, Golden Rings, Vipers, etc. on this forum and there are a lot of variety of opinions.
One thing for sure Monarchs rate very highly with hunters.

Thanks for the responses.

Do you think the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 would be a lot better than what I have now?
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 14:23   #10
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It seems nobody can agree on the quality of any of these.
But thats the way it is. I have read almost everything posted about the Monarchs, Golden Rings, Vipers, etc. on this forum and there are a lot of variety of opinions.
Is there some way you can try out at least some of these yourself? That of course is the best option. It will give you a baseline for better interpreting what other posters say and what reviews say.

Also, looking at non-subjective factors, the vipers and gold rings have lifetime warranties (and the Viper has a transferable warranty), and both have locking diopters (I know the Viper does; and at least I assume the Leupold does given its price tag), and have a wider field of view than the Monarchs. So based on those factors those two look better than the monarchs.

Best,
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Old Friday 7th March 2008, 15:13   #11
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There are not very many optics stores around.
I think the nearest Cabela's is 200+ miles away and know of no stores around here that stock the Viper or the Golden Ring binoculars.
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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 01:41   #12
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I think the nearest Cabela's is 200+ miles away and know of no stores around here that stock the Viper or the Golden Ring binoculars.
FWIW, if you are talking about the Hamburg store, they only had one pair of the 8x42 HDs in stock when I was there last...the display model. There were plenty of the older, non-HD 8x32s...and maybe one 8x42 back in the bargain cave at heavily discounted prices. Not sure about the warranty coverage there though I have always heard that Leupold is superb in this regard.

If you order the Vipers then I would suggest getting them from a place like Cameralandny or Eagle optics as both have excellent return policies. Ofcourse you could order both from one of these places and then just send back the one you "don't like". I know plenty of folks do it and it would really only cost you the return shipping. Cameralandny currently has several Viper "demos" at discounted prices for what it is worth.

lucznik,

This is only the second time we have really disagreed on an optic. In the case of the last time I had a poor specimen and eventually found some impressive Elites. This time I am not so sure. You must have a cherry pair as I have looked through several of the Golden Rings and, honestly, I expected more from an HD/FL style of glass.

Case in point, I actually went to the above Cabelas with the intention of picking up a pair of the 8x42 HDs...their last pair. But after looking through them I just couldn't convince myself to buy them. I ended up buying a 2nd pair of the 7x42 FLs that were heavily discounted back in the bargain cave as display models. The difference optically was striking. But, hey, I know everyone prefers something different and I am glad you are happy with your HDs.
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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 03:21   #13
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lucznik,

This is only the second time we have really disagreed on an optic. In the case of the last time I had a poor specimen and eventually found some impressive Elites. This time I am not so sure. You must have a cherry pair as I have looked through several of the Golden Rings and, honestly, I expected more from an HD/FL style of glass.

Case in point, I actually went to the above Cabelas with the intention of picking up a pair of the 8x42 HDs...their last pair. But after looking through them I just couldn't convince myself to buy them. I ended up buying a 2nd pair of the 7x42 FLs that were heavily discounted back in the bargain cave as display models. The difference optically was striking. But, hey, I know everyone prefers something different and I am glad you are happy with your HDs.
The other (and highly likely) possibility that you have ever so kindly failed to mention is that it is quite possible you simply are more discerning in your choice of optics than I. I'm quite sure that the astronomically high price tag on so-called "alpha" optics clouds and biases my perception of them. I am also completely confident that your ability to perceive optical differences between models (and even between individual units of the same model) exceeds my own by a considerable amount.

I did come really, really close to ordering one of those 7x42 Zeiss FLs from Natchez for $900 but, fear of my wife kept me from reaching for my credit card.
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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 03:33   #14
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...the vipers and gold rings have lifetime warranties (and the Viper has a transferable warranty),
All Leupold Golden Ring optics have transferable, lifetime-of-the-product warranties. Leupold also has a customer service department that is legendary for its high quality service and fast turn-around times.

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...both have locking diopters
No, the Leupold does not. It has a interpupillary distance lock (that to be frank is a bit fidgety) but, the diopter adjustment does not lock. It is quite stiff and doesn't move easily (even when you want it to.)

This interpupillary distance lock is BTW, one of the only two things I don't totally like about the Golden Ring. It is fairly innocuous itself but, it exists in the place of where you would normally have a mounting screw for an adapter that would allow you to use the binocular on a tripod. Hence, if you really want/need to mount your binocular to a tripod, the Golden Ring is not for you.

The other thing I'm not super happy about is that the eyepiece is too large in diameter for my Bushnell Elite 2.5x "doubler" to fit onto. This isn't Leupold's fault but, I really like the doubler so; I was still a bit bummed to learn that I wouldn't be able to use it with this binocular.
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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 03:45   #15
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and both have locking diopters (I know the Viper does; and at least I assume the Leupold does given its price tag)
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No, the Leupold does not.
Thanks for the information, but so that people do not misunderstand, I would have preferred that you had quoted my entire statement (reproduced above), in which I made clear that I was making an assumption about the Leupold.

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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 04:51   #16
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...I would have preferred ...

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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 09:01   #17
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you simply are more discerning in your choice of optics than I.
Thanks for the complement Lucznik!
Jim

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Old Saturday 8th March 2008, 11:59   #18
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I think he was talking to me Jim. :)

Lucznik,

It is possible but then you and I usually share the same opinions on many optics. I would not rule out the possibility of product variation...even in large batches. The only place I have looked through the Leupolds was at Cabelas...both versions...several times over the last few years. If they received an "average" or "poor" batch of the Leupolds then that would explain alot. I try to keep an open mind about such things and will continue to check them out wherever I see them. I really wanted to like the 32 mm models especially for the price they were discounted at.

Quote:
I did come really, really close to ordering one of those 7x42 Zeiss FLs from Natchez for $900 but, fear of my wife kept me from reaching for my credit card.
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Old Tuesday 18th March 2008, 15:18   #19
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I ended up getting the Vortex Viper from Eagle Optics.
I have had a few days to use it and I think it is great.

Here are some of the things I like about it:
1. Ergonomics are excellent. Eyecups are great. Diopter is great. Rainguard is great. Strap is great.
2. Focus is fast and easy to stay in focus even with flying birds.
3. Nice and bright view even in fairly low light. I would say it works good almost up to sunset.
4. Resolution and Sharpness are excellent, even at a long distance. You see this especially when looking at birds. Details are clear, sharp and the resolution is excellent.
5. Field of view is very good. Not as wide as my other bins but at this price range it is the best there is. And 347 FOV is pretty good anyway.
6. Depth of View is Very Good.
7. Light weight. While weight doesn't really bother me it is easier to carry
around especially if you are carrying a camera as well.
8. Contrast is great.
9. Eye relief is excellent (my mother wears glasses and she was very impressed with the eye relief).
10. The warranty is wonderful as well (lifetime transferable).
There seems to be alittle softening around the very edges of the field but it is hard to see even when you are looking for it. I doubt that the top three are any different in this respect. It doesn't bother me at all.
I haven't noticed any other faults or any problems at all.
I think these are the best bins for the price and I don't know how much better it could get.

One thing I noticed is that birds and other objects appear slightly larger than with my other binoculars (also 8x42). I was thinking maybe that is because of the smaller FOV? Maybe it is just my brain playing tricks on me.
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