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Several days birding with Monarch HG 8X42

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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 00:16   #1
chill6x6
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Several days birding with Monarch HG 8X42

Greetings!

So I've had the Nikon Monarch HG 8X42 for nine days. Out of those days I've used them birding for four trips. I always used the MHG as my primary binoculars but always had another binocular to compare. I got the binocular on a Friday afternoon and went birding the next am. Thanks to Steve at Optics4birding for getting these to me as quickly as possible!

First impressions.....
Firstly....the case is much better than the EDG case. The EDG case looks straight out of the 80s IMO. The MHG case is more modern with a nice snap on the closure.
Weight... The MGH is lightweight binocular. I didn't realize it until just now but it's the lightest 8X42 I own or have ever owned.
Objective covers... Tied with the Leica Noctivid as the best designed objective covers ever. MUCH better design than those on the EDG. These work perfectly and you'll never lose these.
Focus... Seems really nice. Smooth and equal resistance in both directions.
Ocular adjustment... Located on right eyepiece coaxially. This one LOCKS to ones setting.

Day 1
Last Saturday. My friend Doug and I went birding and binocular comparing at Blackwell Swamp. Weather conditions were drizzle/light rain to start out and overcast most of the day. Folks see a lot of bird here....but quite honestly I find it a little slow as far as birding goes. It IS a beautiful area.

Priority one for me was to compare the MHG to the EDG II and to the Zeiss Victory SF. First up...SF vs. MHG, both 8X42. I started off with the new MHG with the SF just along for the ride for now. As mentioned this is one lightweight binocular. Focus is really nice. ZERO slack/slop as it should be. No problem locating and IDing desired bird. One thing I DO notice. The term "field flattener" is used concerning this binocular. It even says it ON the binocular. From my best recollection it IS a flatter field than the Monarch 7 that ever so briefly resided here. Whatever you do, don't compare the MHG to a Zeiss SF. Even though I really like the MHG, it ain't no SF! I really dislike this phrase but If you want to really go WOW, pick up an SF after having used a Maven B1, Leica Trinovid HD, OR a Nikon Monarch HG for a while! THAT'S what a flat field looks like folks! When the FOV is this large and this flat, it's truly the next level. In fact, in every optical category I could compare on this day, the SF rules. Startling reality actually. So this was a quick comparison! No need for more....I took the SF off and handed it to Doug for a while.

NEXT up is the EDG II 8X42. It is obvious the EDG II is a cousin to the MGH. How close is what I'm trying to determine. Even as nice as the MHG focus adjustment IS, the EDG II is even better. IMO, it's THE focus adjustment all others are judged by. I can't imagine one being better. But the MGH is certainly in the top tier. Optically....about the same can be said for the EDG II as was said for the SF, except to a lesser degree. Even though the MGH has "field flattener" written all over it, it just ain't so. I CAN tell the FOV IS larger with the MGH, it's just not flat edge to edge. In fact it's really about a 70% flat field. The EDG II is pretty dang flat edge to edge. Not quite to the level of an SF/SV, but pretty close. Conclusion of EDG II comparison on birding day TWO...

So day one has come to an end... First conclusion....even though the Monarch HG looks to be a fine binocular, it ain't no Zeiss SF at a bargain price.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 00:26   #2
james holdsworth
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I think most users have commented on the lack of a ''flat field'', despite the claim. Seems strange - the added complexity and cost for zero benefit..?

How's the CA and glare control?

I do find it an attractive package, looking very well built.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 01:23   #3
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Day 2
The next day in fact. I went to a new birding area for me, Mallard-Fox WMA. WOW was this a GREAT PLACE! Started out right where I left off with the MHG and the EDG II along for the first part of the trip. Sparrows were EVERYWHERE! First time in a while I saw all the woodpeckers! Today was as sunny as can be. No doubt the EDG II is one of the most glare-free binoculars you'll ever see. The MGH is pretty good with glare too, just not quite to the level of the EDG II. I had one thing that DID surprise me. In more than one instance...several in fact...after using the EDG II and went back to the MHG, I thought that the MGH was in fact brighter than that then EDG II. I thought this the day before, wanted to confirm it and thought the same thing today....Don't be surprised if the MHG tests out with a higher transmission %. After using the MHG I never had the impression the EDG II was brighter.

So time to put the EDG II up. Conclusions?

The MHG is a better designed binocular. It should be. I don't know when the EDG II came out but it's been several years. The EDG II leaves a little on the table with objective cover design and hinge tension which is too loose. The MHG is about perfect in this regard. Optically, the EDG II is the better binocular. The FOV advantage the MHG has(439ft vs 403ft) is lost to the flat field of the EDG II.
Size is about equal but the EDG II is heavier, 25.5 ounces vs. 29.1 ounces. For me, optics will generally prevail so I'm not selling the EDG II. I can also EASILY see why most users would probably purchase the Monarch HG vs. the EDG II. Even though the EDG II has better optics, the MHG(gulp!) is overall probably a better binocular.

So the EDG II goes in the truck and the Maven B.1 8X42 comes out. I really like the Maven 8X42. Always have. It's a really nice binocular. Feels great in the hands. Focus adjustment is just off the best. Image quality is really good. But is IS pretty easy to tell the difference in FOV between it an the MHG. With a FOV of 388ft @ 1000yds vs. 439ft, it's a pretty obvious difference. Finding pine and yellow rumped warblers is slightly more of a challenge. Larger FOV is especially helpful in following a moving bird and as you know warblers are rarely still. FOV advantages are also especially helpful at closer distances.

So day two is over....my Fitbit says I walked about 11,000 steps. Saw and IDed a lot of birds today! 53 birds which is great for me! Point is...that's a LOT of binocular usage! Continued with day three!
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 02:10   #4
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Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
...The FOV advantage the MHG has(439ft vs 403ft) is lost to the flat field of the EDG II...
Thanks, Chuck, for the comparisons, very useful as usual from you. Does that text I copied mean the image near the edge of the field is not only less flat but much less sharp? If so can you please give some idea of this? Thank you.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 05:15   #5
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Day 3

Today starts off at Joe Wheeler State Park. I wasn't expecting much in the way of birding....turned out to be a great birding day. I starting out where I left off...with the Maven B.1 8X42 and Monarch HG 8X42. Started out early. Interesting finding today....how glare-resistant the MHG is compared to the B.1. On several occasions....glare present while using the B.1....much less glare when I swapped to the MHG, never moving my feet and looking at the exact same target. FOV wasn't as much of an issue today as it's a more open terrain. This is really not typical of most of my birding spots. Looking at killdeers I could see very little if any difference. Killdeers are great birds to look at when evaluating binoculars. If not moving and facing you, they can be quite hard to see against brown dirt/soil. But once you find them, contrasting black/white neck rings with while belly and brown back. Braced on a tree both binoculars did an outstanding job separating the rings and contrasting colors. When comparing the flatness of the FOV....I found them almost exactly equal...about 70% before the image really starts going downhill. Both binoculars are able to focus easily and precisely on target. I can't say one is better than the other. I can't imagine anyone complaining about either. No issues whatsoever with placement, knobs, or friction of adjustment. Both are pretty close to being equal focusing in both directions as well.

The Maven B.1 is the heaviest binocular here. I weighed the B.1 and the MHG with objective covers ON and with the UL-Harness snaps I typically use. As mentioned earlier, the MHG is the lightest 8X42 I've ever used at 24.3 ounces. That's LIGHT! The B.1 Maven in the same configuration weighs in at 30.3 ounces. That's pretty heavy but consider the SV 8.5X42 is right there with it at 30.5 ounces.

So overall, I find the binoculars are pretty equal. Optically the only real differences were that the MHG is less prone to glare and the MHG has a larger FOV. Other pluses in the MHG's favor are smaller stature, better attachment of objective covers, lighter weight, locking diopter adjustment, and included case.

Verdict- Both are $900.00 binoculars. Nice $900.00 for sure. I sure can't recommend against the B.1, BUT my $900.00 would go for a Monarch HG.

Maven to the truck, Leica Trinovid HD 8X42 up next....


Previously I picked the Trinovid HD from a field of three other binoculars. It is very close to the size many 8X32 binoculars weighing in at 26.9 ounces with objective covers in place. Previously for me it was the smallest AND lightest 8X42 I had ever used. It's still the smallest but no longer the lightest.

Switching back and forth between the Trinovid HD and the MHG it's again easy to tell the FOV difference. After using the MHG then picking up the Trinovid the Trinovid HD's FOV feels very constricting. We're talking 372 ft @ 1000yds vs 439 ft. I'd say that's a lot of difference. Also the flatness of field is about the same 70% or so. So the larger FOV wins all the way around. Optically, again I'd say these two binoculars are very similar both offering bright optics and great color. The Leica Trinovid HD is a very handy binocular. But the same can be said for the MHG. Both have excellent focus adjustment. Near perfect. The Trinovid HD's best assets have always been light weight, small size, great focus adjustment, great optics, and adequate FOV. The MHG has all that as well EXCEPT it also features even LIGHTER weight , useable case, locking diopter adjustment, much larger FOV, and better designed objective covers.

The glare issue, again. Once again when using the Trinovid HD I found I could swap to the MHG and find much less glare present.

Day 4 coming up.....
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 05:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james holdsworth View Post
I think most users have commented on the lack of a ''flat field'', despite the claim. Seems strange - the added complexity and cost for zero benefit..?

How's the CA and glare control?

I do find it an attractive package, looking very well built.
Glare control definitely better than the Maven Trinovid HD. CA test will be coming up in a few days. I really don't get the "Field Flattener" hoop-la. It's just not there. I honestly just wonder if it just means flatter than the lower tiered Monarch 7?

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Originally Posted by adhoc View Post
Thanks, Chuck, for the comparisons, very useful as usual from you. Does that text I copied mean the image near the edge of the field is not only less flat but much less sharp? If so can you please give some idea of this? Thank you.
I my way of thinking when referring to a "flat field," you are exactly talking about an image that is perfectly focused, or pretty close to it from the left to the right across the FOV after focusing on your object in the center of your FOV. The two best examples of a flat field would be a Swarovski Swarovision and a Zeiss Victory SF. So focus on a bird in the center of the FOV and the bird is still at least pretty close to perfectly focused anywhere in the FOV with no change in focus adjustment.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 10:24   #7
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Chuck,

You sold your Tact Toric 8x42 awhile ago, so you are no longer able to do a direct comparison with the bins now under consideration.

I assume that the Tracts were less satisfactory, but can you recall in in what aspects they failed to meet your needs?
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 10:42   #8
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I[n] my way of thinking when referring to a "flat field,"...
Thanks, Chuck, now I get it. Also, that picture of the Trinovid HD and Monarch HG side by side is something I have been waiting to see. Where I am it is often impossible to find and compare binocular models before buying.

Making the outer field flat and sharp are two different matters. In a wide-field design it is more difficult to make it sharper without flattening. A flat design has two main disadvantages: some people find that a more curved field feels more natural, and a flatter field is more likely to cause the rolling-globe effect. But don't let this subject interrupt or divert from your very interesting comparisons.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 10:52   #9
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Beautiful Chuck report, there is nothing better than trying the binoculars to wonderful places.
I tried the MHG 8x42 and it seems very well done, I agree on making good fire, but nothing to do with the EDG series, their focus is unparalleled. Giorgio
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 12:43   #10
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Thanks, Chuck. How would you say they compare in terms of color? I've been hesitant to suggest the Zeiss SF to others based upon my limited time with them and some reports indicating a greenish color cast - similar to the yellowish/washed out color cast I always found in the Zeiss FLs I've owned.

Great report, though. Always good to have a field type comparison of different optics. I'd do something similar from my experiences, but I'm not particularly verbose.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 12:51   #11
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Originally Posted by The-Wanderer View Post
Chuck,

You sold your Tact Toric 8x42 awhile ago, so you are no longer able to do a direct comparison with the bins now under consideration.

I assume that the Tracts were less satisfactory, but can you recall in in what aspects they failed to meet your needs?
At the time i was really looking for a travel-sized 8X42. The B.1 was thrown into the mix even though it's really not "travel-sized," i.e. close to the size of an 8X32. I didn't keep the 8X42 Tract because optically I felt it was no better than the Leica and Maven, in fact I felt not quite as good. The FOV was essentially the same for all three. Of course the Leica HD was the smallest/lightest of the group and seemed to offer at least as good of optics/focus adjustment/eyecups/etc.
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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 16:51   #12
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Terrific reports Chuck. Keep 'em coming!

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Old Monday 27th February 2017, 17:52   #13
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Thanks, Chuck, a very useful response.

The Tract and Maven are not available here and shipping, agents fees and taxes add to the costs.

The Opticron Imagic 8x42 is becoming available and I understand that it may be base on the same chassis but lighter.

With my eyesight I no longer expect to make the best of alpha optics, so I will wait and see.
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 08:51   #14
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I'm delighted with my MHG 10x42 and, as outlined on another thread, note that the claim of 'Field Flattener' is perhaps going to be overly-scrutinised as there is, with the 10x version anyway, some 'softening' of focus and flatness at the edges. The field is, however, free of any strikingly obvious distracting distortion and it's such a remarkably wide FoV that I consider this quite some achievement. I like the compromise. The periphery of vision is still remarkably useful for acquiring fast-moving objects and - with the 10x version especially - gives an astounding AFoV.

At the risk of repetition, this is a great bin at any price. I've sold an Ultravid HD+ on the back of it!
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 14:54   #15
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Thanks, Chuck. How would you say they compare in terms of color? I've been hesitant to suggest the Zeiss SF to others based upon my limited time with them and some reports indicating a greenish color cast - similar to the yellowish/washed out color cast I always found in the Zeiss FLs I've owned.

Great report, though. Always good to have a field type comparison of different optics. I'd do something similar from my experiences, but I'm not particularly verbose.
Quite honestly I've never noticed a green or yellowish color cast of any of the Zeiss binoculars you mention. I will say I generally like the color representation a little better with the SV/UVHD+/EDG II. Of course that's only with a back to back comparison. Otherwise I'd never see a difference.


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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Terrific reports Chuck. Keep 'em coming!

Lee
Thanks Lee! Will do!

Quote:
Originally Posted by crinklystarfish View Post
I'm delighted with my MHG 10x42 and, as outlined on another thread, note that the claim of 'Field Flattener' is perhaps going to be overly-scrutinised as there is, with the 10x version anyway, some 'softening' of focus and flatness at the edges. The field is, however, free of any strikingly obvious distracting distortion and it's such a remarkably wide FoV that I consider this quite some achievement. I like the compromise. The periphery of vision is still remarkably useful for acquiring fast-moving objects and - with the 10x version especially - gives an astounding AFoV.

At the risk of repetition, this is a great bin at any price. I've sold an Ultravid HD+ on the back of it!
Selling an UV HD+ is a pretty good endorsement!
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 16:42   #16
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If you look at the BGR transmission graphs on Allbinos they do support the visual observations in this article. http://www.greatestbinoculars.com/al...rightness.html
Clearly, Nikon go for a flat curve whereas the philosophy of Zeiss is to boost green which gives an apparent brighter image to our eye/brain.
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 17:02   #17
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So... Day 4

So back to Blackwell Swamp. It's about a 40 minute drive here from my house. A little farther than my regular spots. My feet were on the ground at about 8AM, temperature started out at 40 degrees. Blackwell Swamp is an area I always seem to under-perform. I can never see the birds some seem to. So I tend to go back here basically to improve. It's some beautiful woods though and a huge area of wetlands. I was actually here over five hours.

Today I'm basically trying to firm up what I believe I all ready know. Today I did things a little differently from previous days. I put either the B.1 OR the Trinovid HD as my primary binocular with the MHG to the side. Pine warblers and even more so, yellow-rumped warblers were EVERYWHERE. So lots of glassing on moving birds.

The MHG strong points are becoming more evident. The MHG's larger FOV does pay dividends in this birding situation. Basically I do most of my birding here walking down a dirt road with an occasional venture into the woods or sometimes a sit and watch. So the distance to many birds is across the road, eight to 15 yards or so. CLOSE. Birds are small....brown creepers, nuthatches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, yellow-rumped warblers, etc. FINDING and FOLLOWING these small, close, moving birds is easier with the larger FOV of the MHG, much like using the FL 7X42. No doubt in my mind, the MHG is the better birding tool in these situations. Let's talk about glare. A rising sun sure can make this an issue. It sure is a pretty definitive test to be looking thru binocular "A" and see glare and to reach for binocular "B" and to see less glare. I did this over and over. I really have little doubt that the MGH is a more glare-free binocular. The Trinovid HD is the more glare-prone. The B.1 I had previously thought was pretty good in this regard. I guess it still is. But the MHG is better....in several instances I would see glare with the B.1 and reach around for MHG and would see less.

NOT binocular related...As I was driving along from one point to the next I noticed a red-tailed hawk on the ground....it took off with a very LARGE SNAKE!! It happened to light just behind me and on the other side of the road....so I rolled down the passenger side rear window and took this picture thru the back window with a 300mm lens...
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 17:39   #18
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Chuck

Its interesting to contemplate how bins that are lacking in some areas can still turn out to be so usable and indeed so good in the field. And of course the best binocular in the world is the one you have around your neck (sure beats being without one), but then you go and start walking around with 3 of the darned things.

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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 18:17   #19
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There is a vagueness about field edge aberrations on this thread that I think is preventing a reader (at least this one) from understanding exactly how the HG performs off-axis.

Edge sharpness is primarily determined by two aberrations: field curvature and astigmatism. This old post attempts to explain how they interact.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.ph...42&postcount=5

Geometrical distortions at the field edge are unrelated to edge sharpness. The first two posts in this old thread attempt to sort them out.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=161309

Some of Nikon's "flat field" binoculars (like the SE series) have employed an edge sharpness solution that corrected astigmatism well, but field curvature much less well (condition "c" in the first link), and a distortion solution that relied on a small amount of pincushion combined with a small amount of angular magnification distortion to prevent "rolling ball" without introducing an obtrusive amount of pincushion (the Nikon EDG in the second link). Are those approaches what the Monarch HG is using?

Henry

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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 18:17   #20
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Chuck

Its interesting to contemplate how bins that are lacking in some areas can still turn out to be so usable and indeed so good in the field. And of course the best binocular in the world is the one you have around your neck (sure beats being without one), but then you go and start walking around with 3 of the darned things.

Lee
Oh yeah! Of course all three of the binoculars are really good binoculars! A good case could be made for anything of the three. I've used the B.1 a good bit and it really has a great track record. So does the Trinovid HD. So to supplant either of those two would be a worthy accomplishment.

But USUALLY it's only two binoculars at a TIME and maybe a camera!
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 19:02   #21
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Originally Posted by henry link View Post
There is a vagueness about field edge aberrations on this thread that I think is preventing a reader (at least this one) from understanding exactly how the HG performs off-axis.

Edge sharpness is primarily determined by two aberrations: field curvature and astigmatism. This old post attempts to explain how they interact.

http://www.birdforum.net/showpost.ph...42&postcount=5

Geometrical distortions at the field edge are unrelated to edge sharpness. The first two posts in this old thread attempt to sort them out.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=161309

Some of Nikon's "flat field" binoculars (like the SE series) have employed an edge sharpness solution that corrected astigmatism well, but field curvature much less well (condition "c" in the first link), and a distortion solution that relied on a small amount of pincushion combined a small amount of angular magnification distortion (the Nikon EDG in the second link) . Are those approaches what the Monarch HG is using?

Henry
Thanks for this question--I was wondering the same. I'm guessing that the Monarch HG corrects astigmatism and doesn't correct field curvature much, but we don't have enough information to know whether anything at all is corrected. Can the Monarch HG view at the periphery be brought into sharp focus (even if not in synchrony with sharp focus in the center)? Is the periphery at its sharpest focus (even if still blurry) when the center is at its sharpest focus? I hope the former rather than the latter because I prefer a bin w/curved field and low astigmatism (e.g. Nikon 8x32 SE, Leica 8x32 BN) over a bin w/astigmatism but low field curvature (e.g. B&L 8x42 Elite waterproof, Zeiss 8x32 FL).

--AP
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 19:16   #22
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I think what we know is - we all see the edge of the field in a different way - and using hard definitions just don't work in reality.

Same goes with 'sharpness' and 'contrast.'
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 19:35   #23
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Originally Posted by james holdsworth View Post
I think what we know is - we all see the edge of the field in a different way - and using hard definitions just don't work in reality.

Same goes with 'sharpness' and 'contrast.'
I can't quite agree with this, James. Some observations have more predictive power for the rest of us than others.

If I read that the edge is unsharp and distorted I really don't know what to expect. But, If I read that the edge has low astigmatism, combined with high field curvature and just enough pincushion to correct angular magnification distortion then I have a very good idea of what I will see.

Henry

Last edited by henry link : Tuesday 28th February 2017 at 20:28.
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 20:54   #24
Binastro
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It may be that the current 8x42 MHG has been sorted out and performed better than my early production sample.

In mine the main source of blur at the edge is colour error. It is excessive and drowns out other errors.
CA? or spherochromatism. I don't know as I am not so familiar with binoculars compared to telescopes.
In fact the edge performance of my 8x42 MHG is slightly better than the 8x32 Conquest HD, but I just hate the false colour.

It may also be that the inner tubes are now matt black instead of shiny black. Or somehow they have eliminated the flare from just extraneous light sources.

Again I don't know and have no intention of trying a new model 8x42 MHG.
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Old Tuesday 28th February 2017, 21:30   #25
henry link
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Hi Binastro,

I don't think it's spherochromatism. That would affect the entire field equally.

Usually, if the worst blur at the edge is from lateral CA that's a good thing in a binocular. That's the case with the Swarovski SVs, but of course in those binoculars the field curvature and astigmatism are so low that a moderate level of lateral CA is unmasked by their absence. It would be a different thing if the lateral color were so excessive that it "drowned out the other errors", even though the other errors weren't very low.

Henry

Last edited by henry link : Tuesday 28th February 2017 at 21:36.
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