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NIKON introduces new Monarch HG 8x30 and 10x30 Binoculars

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 16:19   #176
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I have tested a lot of the binoculars in Canip's list and I have tested the Zeiss 8x32 FL and the Nikon 8x32 EDG and the Swarovski 8x32 SV side by side. If I put these three in Canip's list they would all be above the Swarovski 8x30 CL with the SV 1st and the EDG 2nd and the FL 3rd and then the CL 4th. The FL and the EDG are a little better at flare control than the SV but overall the SV is the best binocular and IMO the best 8x32.
I basically agree: the 32mm SV, EDG and FL (I own all three) are in a different class, optically but also price-wise.
Allbinos ranks EDG the highest (I believe, haven't checked) but other people with different priorities may well rank them differently. Anyway, to answer AltaVista question, imo the FL 8x32 is a better glass than the binos reviewed by the OP, but you'd have to pay quite a bit for relatively small improvements.

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 16:59   #177
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A larger EP obviously is an advantage when you want to avoid seeing glare, but the baffling also plays a major role and the FL 56mm is among the very best in this respect. I owned the NVs and, while I did not like them enough to keep them, I agree that their glare control is outstanding. But the glare resistance of my FL 10x56, which has a smaller EP than the 8x56 mentioned above, is even better (the best I have ever seen): when viewing the landscape under a low sun it shows no glare at all but a crystal-clear image (the details of which were completely obscured to the naked eye due to the strong light coming from the sun).
I agree on the 10x56 FL's flare control. What didn't you like about the NV's?
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 17:01   #178
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I basically agree: the 32mm SV, EDG and FL (I own all three) are in a different class, optically but also price-wise.
Allbinos ranks EDG the highest (I believe, haven't checked) but other people with different priorities may well rank them differently. Anyway, to answer AltaVista question, imo the FL 8x32 is a better glass than the binos reviewed by the OP, but you'd have to pay quite a bit for relatively small improvements.
Those three the SV, EDG II and the FL are $2K alpha binoculars. They are the three best 8x32's made so they are better than the less expensive 8x30's.
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 17:41   #179
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I agree on the 10x56 FL's flare control. What didn't you like about the NV's?
I have posted a review of the NV some time ago but couldn't find it.
For people who want to use them without glasses, they have too much ER and thus blackout issues, especially the 8x42. Also their FoV leaves something to be desired, and they have a bit more CA than other alphas. Their open bridge design is somewhat useless, as one can hardly squeeze more than 2 or 3 fingers between the barrels, and at least for me they did not feel as well in the hand as the SV, SF, EDG or even FL.

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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 19:08   #180
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Denis, I'm not so sure it's necessarily the small aperture per se, I wonder if it's more to do with the shorter focal lengths that are used in the smaller binoculars to achieve a smaller proportioned instrument, rather than one which is merely as long but thinner, if you get my meaning. Shorter focal lengths give rise to shorter, "wider" light cones which are harder to baffle effectively, and also more curved optical surfaces (smaller radii) with more oblique light entry angles; also more prone to reflections and flare.

But yes, - the observed outcome would be the same - a greater tendency to flare under difficult lighting conditions.
MandoBear and AltaVista,

The shape of a binocular objective lens light cone and the curvature of its lenses are determined by the lens's focal ratio, not the focal length. In many cases the focal ratios of small aperture binoculars are higher than their larger aperture siblings making their ray angles less steep. For instance, that's the case for one of Altavista's favorites, the Nikon E Series. The 8x30 has a 110mm FL objective (f3.67) while the 7x35/10x35 has a 126mm objective (f3.6).

In any case proper binocular baffling doesn't take a computer or a rocket scientist. Two or three knife edged baffles of the right size in the right places will do it for any size binocular. What's amazing is how often it isn't done well.

Henry
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 22:42   #181
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Good point Henry - quite so!
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Old Tuesday 21st August 2018, 22:51   #182
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I have posted a review of the NV some time ago but couldn't find it.
For people who want to use them without glasses, they have too much ER and thus blackout issues, especially the 8x42. Also their FoV leaves something to be desired, and they have a bit more CA than other alphas. Their open bridge design is somewhat useless, as one can hardly squeeze more than 2 or 3 fingers between the barrels, and at least for me they did not feel as well in the hand as the SV, SF, EDG or even FL.
I understand what you are saying about the open bridge design on the Noctivids. It seems most Leica's don't have long enough eye cups for the eye relief for me. I have tried several and ran into the same problem you did with the Noctivids. I just tried a Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32 and the eye cups were too short creating black outs. I saw a good amount of CA in the Ultravid's also.

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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 06:24   #183
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I understand what you are saying about the open bridge design on the Noctivids. It seems most Leica's don't have long enough eye cups for the eye relief. I have tried several and ran into the same problem you did with the Noctivids. I just tried a Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32 and the eye cups were too short creating black outs. I saw a good amount of CA in the Ultravid's also.

You mean the Leica eye cups are too short for you, don't you? Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Leica owners have no problems with them.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 15:14   #184
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To complement the recent comparison - see above posts #153 and #154 - of the Monarch HG 8x30 with similarly priced 8x30‘s, I did a very brief side-by-side today with the more expensive „premium“ binos Zeiss Victory FL 8x32, the Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD+ and the Swarovski EL SV 8x32, focusing only on:

- image quality at the center and
- at the edge of the field of view
- daytime straylight characteristics.

Fields of view are 145m for the Monarch HG, 141m for the EL SV, 140m for the FL and 135m for the Ultravid.

First observing outdoors.

For my eyes, the Monarch HG and the Zeiss FL give the impression of a very similar image: bright, relatively „neutral“ with good color fidelity, very good central sharpness, none to very little CA. The difference is in the peripheral sharpness, whre the Nikon is clearly better.

The Leica is different. The brownish / yellowish colors of the meadows and fields, omnipresent here after an amazing dry spell and heat period, are more intense in color; good overall contrast, the overall tone of the image is warmer. Central sharpness might be just a tad below the Monarch HG, edge sharpness, however, is much worse in the Leica, it is also worse than in the Zeiss. For my eyes, there is a bit more CA than in the Nikon or the Zeiss

What a contrast to the EL SV, with it‘s much cooler image, almost slightly tinted towards the blue or green tones, but giving a very brilliant image, and the perceived sharpness is even better than in the Monarch. And that is also particularly true at the periphery of the image; I guess no other bino beats the EL SV in this respect. The image of the Swaro is the flattest of the four, but not everybody may like the effects that go with this (globe etc.).

Indoors comparing the binos on the USAF 1951
I am aware this is not a strictly „scientific“ method to assess central sharpness, since I am still using my subjective eyes to observe, and it's only about black/white and does not give a reliable answer as to image contrast under normal viewing conditions, so it‘s just an additional piece of information how the binos perform at the center of the image.
Without booster, the differences between the 4 quality binos in question are way too small to perceive, so I used a 2.5x booster from Kite Optics and the 4x and 6x boosters from Zeiss.
Caveat: talking hereafter about results, we are really talking about nuances only, not significant differences.

On the USAF, the Zeiss and the Swaro share first rank, and the Leica and the Nikon second.
After the comparison outdoors, I had expected a slightly better result of the Monarch HG. Out in the fields, the Nikon performed so well that I had expected to see no difference in central sharpness compared to the Zeiss or the Swaro. But the results of the Nikon on the USAF were just slightly below those two, and about the same as the Leica (I had expected the Leica to be slightly behind the Zeiss FL and the Swaro EL SV).

All of the above to be taken with a grain of salt. This is the result achieved with MY eyes, others may come to different results.

Straylight performance
In 2015, I had done a review of a number of 8x30‘s with regard to straylight performance; the results are summarized in the attached table.
Testing again today, I came to the same results for the Swaro EL SV, the Leica Ultravid and the Zeiss FL.
The FL today again exhibited this pronounced veiling glare over the entire image when the objective lenses were exposed to direct sunlight at a low angle. Otherwise, it did well.
The tendency of the EL SV to exhibit all sorts reflections under special circumstances has been widely discussed (if I remember correctly, also in this forum).
The Monarch HG performed quite well today, with now significant immediate „flaw“ becoming apparent for my eyes (Altavista recently pointed out his different experience, see above post # 152).

fwiw
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 15:44   #185
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Many thanks Canip for your excellent review and this additional comparisons!

Reading your conclusion, this new HG certainly seems to be a really great addition. Together with the CL, which has a very similar form factor, it looks like a great alternative to the more chunky 8x32s. At the moment, the HG is still similarely priced as the CL, but I'd expect the price of the HG to drop a bit. I guess I have to try these two myself soon.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 16:28   #186
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You mean the Leica eye cups are too short for you, don't you? Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Leica owners have no problems with them.
The ones I have tried have been too short for me. Shallow eye sockets I guess.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 16:35   #187
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I'll add my thanks for your excellent work, Canip.

However, I can't help but notice that you are tantalizingly close to finishing the task of a complete evaluation of the axial aberrations and resolving power of these four binoculars. You have everything you need already except an artificial star and a 20mm stop down mask for the objective lenses, both easily made. With your boosters you could star test and measure the true resolution at full aperture and at a simulated "daylight" aperture of 20mm. After another hour of effort I think we'd have some good explanations for some of your subjective impressions.

Henry

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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 16:41   #188
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Awesome review, Canip! Especially the stray light comparison chart. I agree 100% with everything on your review.
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 16:45   #189
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Excellent comparisons again Canip and thanks for adding the 3 "alpha" 8x32 binoculars into the comparison. Very, very useful information!

When I had some brief time with the new SV 8X30 CL to compare with my Nikon 8X30 MGH I found little difference in the stray light susceptibility with both showing some strong internal reflections under admittedly severe backlight conditions. Compared to my 8X42 Noctivid the smaller binoculars had poor performance in controlling stray light under this severe testing. The Noctivid shows what is possible when meticulous attention is given to stray light control. We can hope that this design approach shows up in more binoculars in the 8X30/32 class in the future. Until then I find the little Nikon 8X30 MHG to be an excellent binocular for my use when size and weight are strong factors that prevent carrying a full size glass.

Stephanie
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 19:29   #190
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Thanks Catnip for your detailed comparison.

Like the 8x42 I've tried a few times, I thought the sample of the Nikon MHG 8x30 I checked out a few weeks ago was less sharp than the likes of the Swaro EL FP 8x32, or even the Monarch 7x30 the shop offered for comparison. It was somewhat closer to the Swaro CL, and obviously better than the Trinovid HD 8x32.

Like Henry, I'd appreciate a boosted resolution test with the objective stopped down to 20mm if possible.

David
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Old Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 19:51   #191
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.....
..... I thought the sample of the Nikon MHG 8x30 I checked out a few weeks ago was less sharp than the likes of the Swaro EL FP 8x32, or even the Monarch 7x30 the shop offered for comparison. .....
......
Just as a side note:
I did not mention that, but I also briefly compared my sample of the Monarch HG with a number of other 8x30 in my collection, including the Monarch 7 8x30 and the Nikon E II (both in a different price class than the Monarch HG).
The influence of sample variation is difficult to asses, of course. But my Monarch HG was clearly sharper than the otherwise fabulous EII and much sharper than the Monarch 7.
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Old Saturday 15th September 2018, 17:04   #192
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I've now had an MHG 8x30 for about a week. My first impressions are nearly entirely positive. I won't try to give a fully technical analysis as I'm a birder not a binocular tester, so please bear with me in that regard :)

First, most importantly for me, the eye relief does work with my glasses. I struggle to get the full field of view on the M7 8x30. The Opticron Traveler 8x32 wasn't much better with respect to eye relief (and my sample was worse optically). The MHG 8x30 clearly has something around 1-3mm more available eye relief than the M7 8x30, letting me get a full perfect field of view readily with my glasses, without having to smash the bin into my glasses and then my glasses into my face.

Ergonomically I find no faults. They are lightweight, feel good, have good hinge tension, smooth not too light focus action, and fairly fast focus.

The large FOV is impressive, and I find them nice and sharp, including far enough to the edge that I don't notice the edge softening without looking for it. On anything short of an ELSV you can find softening at the edge of course, but that doesn't mean you'll ever actually notice it in use, and I find the benefits of a wide FOV outweigh the negatives. I don't see any rolling ball what so ever. I also never see rolling ball on any Swaros, though I do occasionally, briefly see it on the SF 8x42.

I have the initial impression that the center sharpness of the MHG is very good. To my eye, it is a clearly sharper and much better view than the M7 8x30. It seems to have a slightly warm/yellow cast that yields a contrasty, almost Leica-esque quality. Time will tell if the yellowish cast becomes a bother or is something that the brain compensates for - I need to try it in more conditions / environments to really say. I would say that ELSVs and SFs are all around sharper, crisper, with better color and thus do still differentiate themselves, but the MHG gets to the "excellent" level (similar to the Conquest HD in this regard), after which atmospheric interference and hand holding are going to limit me long before the binocular does.

In any case, those are my initial impressions. Unless something else arises it certainly ticks all the boxes for me and I think it is a definite keeper and will get a lot of use. I am not particularly tempted to try the 8x30CL due to FOV and close focus, though I'm certain that it is excellent and likely a bit better than the MHG if you get on with the FOV and close focus limitations.
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Old Sunday 16th September 2018, 21:06   #193
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I've been reading the entire post with great interest (Special thanks for the side-by-side tests, mightly interesting!). However, I think I'm missing more direct references (or even a direct comparison) to what seems to be the "enfant terrible" of the current 8x30 class: the Maven B3. I've read very positive reviews from several forum members, so despite the price difference, they seem somehow competitors aimed at a similar audience (together with the SW CL 8x30 Companion; actually there are several side-by-side posts between B3 and CL.).
Just a thought, probably I'm not the first one who came up with this idea
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Old Sunday 16th September 2018, 23:32   #194
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I've been reading the entire post with great interest (Special thanks for the side-by-side tests, mightly interesting!). However, I think I'm missing more direct references (or even a direct comparison) to what seems to be the "enfant terrible" of the current 8x30 class: the Maven B3. I've read very positive reviews from several forum members, so despite the price difference, they seem somehow competitors aimed at a similar audience (together with the SW CL 8x30 Companion; actually there are several side-by-side posts between B3 and CL.).
Just a thought, probably I'm not the first one who came up with this idea

Are you talking about Swarovsk's new and more expensive CL Companion 8x30 B: https://www.swarovskioptik.com/birdi...green-p5418295 or their older less expensive model CL 8x30 Companion which seems to be discontinued? I seem to recall that the Mavins were considered by some to be just as good as the original Swarovski CL Companions.

The new Swarovski CL Companion 8/10x30 Bs have a newly designed eye piece which has what Swarovski calls an "optical box." Because of it you can use the binoculars either braced up against your brow ridge or placed back around your eyes without being affected by blackouts. I have one and I can use it either way. I have not heard of the Maven 8/10x30 B3s having this.

Bob

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Old Monday 17th September 2018, 05:41   #195
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The Maven B3 is, from what I read, believed to be very similar / from the same design and parts as the Kite Lynx and Nikon M7 and Opticrom Traveler. If that is the case I would be surprised if the B3 were at an optical quality level comparable to the MHG or new CL. I’ve not seen the new CL or the Maven B3 but have the M7 and MHG and have used the Opticron.
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Old Monday 17th September 2018, 07:01   #196
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@ceasar, @pbjosh Thanks for your reply. My comment addressed the fact that the B3 seem to get a great deal of praise, some saying that they're as good as many binoculars compared in these post against the MHG (the likes of Zeiss Conquest HD, for example). I haven't tested either the B3 or the SW Companion, for that matter, so I can't judge if it's a crazy idea, but it occurred to me that there could be some interest if someone had the opportunity to test the MHG against the B3 (I remember reading Dennis review of CL vs B3, but also FrankD's great praise for the B3). :)
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Old Thursday 4th October 2018, 10:12   #197
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I mainly use binoculars for natural history pursuits with birding being the most prevalent. For all-round birding my preference is for x10 magnification and a wide apparent field of view.

When using binoculars, a huge spoiler for me is errant light in all its forms; be that sun-induced flare, veiling glare or the subtle ‘dancing’ reflections and hints of shadows that often manifest when quickly panning an open sky whilst trying to acquire a subject.

Over the years I’ve owned and used various models from Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss, and - truth be told - I’ve never been terribly satisfied with any of them. Notwithstanding the hype, they have all - to a greater of lesser extent - irritated me with errant-light-control shortcomings.

I’ve concluded that a realistic aspiration is to aim for binoculars with the fewest irritations.

Cutting a long story short, my go-to all-round current choice for birding is Nikon’s Monarch HG 10x42. I’ve gushed about this bin on other threads and maintain that - from my perspective at least - birding bins don’t get much better: at any price.

I travel a lot and often carry bins on my push bike; for which purpose - and in spite of gripes with veiling glare - Nikon’s Monarch 7 10x30 has proven to be my least-worst choice for this job.

How delighted was I, then, when I learnt that my favourite bin was available in my favourite travelling format. A 10x30 HG - joy!

Of course, I bought some: I also returned them. I desperately wanted to love them, and tried hard to, but they just didn’t do it for me.

I had expected (or at least hoped for) 10x42 HG performance (albeit a little less bright) but found the 10x30 HG more comparable to the M7 than its big brother. Although the 10x30 HG was definitely sharper and brighter than the M7, and demonstrated more neutral colour rendition and better edge-of-field performance, it didn’t perform much better than the M7 in terms of taming veiling glare. Neither did it perform much better than the M7 in near-sun flare control. In neither case was it a patch on the 10x42 version.

The killer though, for me, was the 10x30 HG’s propensity for throwing up the irritating ‘dancing’ reflections when panning open skies that I clumsily described above. I don’t know what this phenomenon is called but it drives me nuts. The M7 does NOT demonstrate this irritation, neither does the 10x42 HG.

The phenomenon manifests in the form of brighter circular areas that appear to dance around whilst panning / focussing / finessing IPD or eye relief. I’m not talking blackouts or kidney-beaning here, it’s much more subtle. Sometimes the circular areas appear around the periphery of the field of view, sometimes more centred. It looks like the reflection of an interior lens but I don’t know. In any event, I find it hugely distracting, present in many ‘alphas’, and it’s not something I can settle with.

And so, for now and genuinely disappointingly, my M7 remains my bike-birding bin of choice. The 10x30 HG just didn’t offer the anticipated huge improvement, and in the significant-to-me way described above, was actually worse.

Sad-face emoticon.

Last edited by crinklystarfish : Thursday 4th October 2018 at 10:15.
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