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The competition may seem unfair. In Middle Europe, the Trailseeker sells for about 250 Euros, while you have to pay around 550 Euros for the Monarch 7 (both in den 8x42 configuration). Naturally, prices vary, but as a general rule the Monarch 7 costs at least twice as much as the Trailseeker.
And yet, the similarities between these two models go far beyond the basic specifications. Let's have a look at these first:

Specifications: Trailseeker (TS) // Monarch 7 (M7)

Optics (TS // M7):

8 // 8

Objective diameter:
42 mm // 42 mm

Eye relief:
17 mm // 17.1 mm

Field of view (or FOV; real):
8.1° // 8°

Near focus:
2 m // 2.5 m (1.8 - 2 m, according to some reviews)

Construction (TS // M7):

Roof prism, single hinge design (both)

Central focus (both)

under the right eyepiece, without lock (both)

rubberized metal, twist-up, 4 stops // rubberized plastic, twist-up, 4 stops

Magnesium alloy // Polycarbonate, reinforced with carbon fibre

Tripod thread:
yes // yes

yes (no further specifications) // yes (depth 1 m for 10 min)

Fully multi-coated lenses:
yes // yes

yes // yes

Dielectric prism coatings:
yes // yes

Prism material:
BaK-4 // BaK-4

Nitrogen purged:
yes // yes

no (TS) // yes (M7)

Revolutions of focus wheel required from near focus to infinity (ca.):
1.75 // 1.5

655 g // 650 g

Dimensions (length x with x height, mm):
140 x 126 x 52 // 142 x 130 x 54

Interpupillary Distance (IPD, mm):
55 - 73 // 56 - 72

10 years // 5 + 5 years

New binos - what for?!

For many years, I had been using a pair of porros with WWII charm ("Hapo Spezial 8x30"), some 50 or 60 years old, but they were badly in need of repairs, and besides, I had to take off my glasses to use them. A procedure that's awkward at the best of times and really annoying (because simply too slow), when a kingfisher's brilliant back suddenly flashes up in front of you and the bird soars past like a giant tropical dragon-fly.

Apart from birding, I use my binos for watching wildlife, especially for beaver-observation. Beavers are fantastic animals, but most of them are strictly nocturnal and very shy, so viewing often takes place in conditions where even a half-moon's light would be considered a luxury. Rain certainly doesn't stop me from birding, and in search of beavers nightly forests with frozen, uneven ground have to be passed (which may lead to slipping and falling), so all in all my binos should perform well in low light, and they had to be waterproof and rugged, though they mustn't be too heavy either.
Besides, I needed sufficient eye-relief, a wide field of view, a reasonable near-focus and, obviously, breath-taking contrast and threatening sharpness. In short: I wanted everything.

Was I willing to pay for it? Certainly. However, the will is not always accompanied by the means, and in fact I could not spend, under any circumstances, more than 500 Euros. Of course I preferred much to spend only half of that sum, or a quarter, if that would still buy me perfection. The only thing I didn't care much about was edge-performance (knowing I couldn't afford it anyway; one has to remain realistic).

Starting with bino-knowledge next to zero I did a lot of online research and after a while I was on the brink of ordering the Vortex Diamondback 8x42; however, a yellowish image wasn't to my liking, nor was the silly, deep cut structure of the rubber padding, that was bound to collect dirt and show wear in no time. Thus, I ordered the Celestron Trailseeker, wasn't quite content, ordered a Monarch 7 that had a mechanical issue, discovered a biggish speck of dust on the Trailseekers prism, sent it back and ordered a new one ...
Well, it was a rather complicated business before I came to a decision - and before I had an acceptable device in my hands. But let's have a look at the binos.

The accessories ... miracles of modern design

Both binos come with a rainguard, front-lens covers (secured by rings that go around the barrels), a carrying case and a shoulder strap. In addition, the Trailseeker features a harness.

With the Trailseeker, rainguard and front-lens covers are of rubber and fit well. That's also true of the Monarch's front lens-covers; the rainguard, however, is a cheap plastic thing that doesn't fit the eyecups at all. Surprisingly, by means of some incomprehensible magic, this silly thing usually stays in place, and it even has the advantage that it can be removed very fast. However, if you get into a sandstorm, or even a gush of wind, carrying along dust, this rainguard will not be of much use.

The Trailseeker's carrying case looks rather cheap and not very durable, but at least it does what it should: it covers the bino and protects it from rain and dust. The Monarch's case is of better quality, but absurdly designed - it doesn't really cover the bino. Both cases are just thinly padded, they will not offer much protection if the bino is dropped.

Build quality ... and issues

First impression and rubber padding
The Trailseeker looks and feels very good, very solid. The casing is covered by a hardish rubber, but it still gives you a good grip; the rubber doesn't smell.

The Monarchs rubber is much softer and gives off a slight smell, but it's not too bad and probably it will wear off soon. Some reviewers noted that the rubber didn't fit the casing, giving the whole bino a cheap appearance. This wasn't the case with my set. On the contrary, the Monarch, though it's a smallish bino, fitted my hands (probably a bit larger than average) so perfectly, that I could get addicted to the feel of it. It was just a pleasure to pick it up and hold it. The Trailseeker with its more straight, unstructured barrels felt awkward in comparison; by itself it was quite a pleasant bino too, though. Besides, the soft rubber of the Monarch will certainly provide more protection to the bino if it should be dropped.

Rubberized metal for the Trailseeker, rubberized plastic for the Monarch. Four stops, they could be more marked in both binos; probably the Monarch's eyecups will get loose sooner than the Trailseeker's, because of the plastic and because of the way the stops are constructed. The rubber doesn't leave any traces on your glasses. Both binos are good to look through.

A speck of dust ...
It took quite some time before I discovered that speck of dust on a prism-surface in the right barrel of the Trailseeker. But it was big enough to cause a darkish blotch near the edge, and on inquiry it was clearly visible looking into the objective. Actually it was on the very last day of the 30-days-return period that I discovered the blotch and I just managed to get the binos to the post office in time. I then ordered another Trailseeker (see details below).

So, I can only recommend to inspect any set of binos carefully before you buy them - or decide to keep them.

The Monarch's tubes seemed to be quite clean inside.

Focus Wheel and Diopter
Both binos have a big, comfortable, rubberized focus wheel that's easy to reach and operate. With the Monarch, the wheel always offered the right amount of resistance; I only tried it at medium temperatures, though.

With the two Trailseekers, I wasn't quite as happy here. The first set's focus wheel worked perfectly at "normal" temperature, but even at slightly lower temperatures (about +5° centigrade, or 41 Fahrenheit) the wheel developed quite a big play (or slack) that it didn't have at room temperature. I suppose, the problem will be worse if temperatures are really low. (I contacted the Celestron support and was told that the focus wheel might be loose and that I could send the bino in for a warranty repair; I don't find this explanation too convincing, though.)

The second Trailseeker's focus wheel felt quite weird at first: It offered much more resistance in one direction than in the other, and resistance could suddenly chance while turning the wheel. However, this was probably just the effect of grease not being evenly distributed, because after a day of use it started to behave normally.

The diopter ring worked well with both Trailseekers and also with the Monarch 7. You can't lock it, but that seems unnecessary, as the ring offers sufficient resistance. There's no danger of changing the setting by accident.

A heart condition
One should think that producing a decent central hinge shouldn't pose any major difficulty. And indeed, even many of the cheapest binos have a hinge that works quite well. So does the Trailseeker's (set one and set two).

Things were different with the Monarch, though. From the very beginning, the central hinge had a marked resistance, like a "stop", in the middle between wide and narrow gauges. This didn't really affect the performance, it just gave you the feeling that something was wrong inside. And indeed something was wrong: After a few hours of use only, the central hinge became so loose (especially near the narrow gauges), that holding the bino in both hands was enough to change the gauge, even without consciously exerting any pressure.
That, of course, was unacceptable, and incomprehensible too with a bino at such a price tag, especially as a loose hinge had been noted before by other reviewers.

Waterproof ... but Don't Touch The Focus Wheel!
Both models are waterproof. With the Trailseeker, this claim is not specified any further, at least not on the Celestron website or in the bino's manual.

For the Monarch 7, waterproof means that it will stand a depth of 1 meter for 10 minutes. In the manual, however, things become rather contradictory: The model is waterproof, it says, but as its structure is not perfectly sealed, you must not use or hold it in running water. You can use it in a humid environment and in the rain, but you should wipe off all humidity before changing the focus or adjusting the diopter ... How one is supposed to use a bino without touching the focus wheel is beyond my comprehension.

And the Trailseeker? I sent an email to the Celestron support to ask whether I could wash the lenses under the tap, if they got very dusty; this seemed to be of greater practical importance to me than the depth of the puddle I can throw my binos in without killing them. The answer was, yes, I could, because the bino was fully waterproof. (I'll print that email and keep it, just in case ...).

Limited Warranty
In Europe, both binos come with a ten years warranty. (Please note that the much more generous warranties the two companies give in the US - lifetime for the Celestron, 25 years for the Nikon - are not valid in Europe!). Of course, you'll have to pay shipping and return shipping.
This much you gather from a short glimpse at the warranty card, but it's worthwhile reading the small print.

With the Trailseeker, the warranty covers spare parts and repair work for ten years, as could be expected.

With the Monarch 7, however, this holds true only for the first five years. For the second five years only spare parts are covered, repair work will be charged. Considering the usual cost of skilled labour in Europe, such a "warranty" repair can become a very costly business. In addition, the Monarch's warranty card states that damage caused by water is not covered. Now, if you look at the above paragraph, you don't need much imagination to guess what's going to happen: If you ever get into a torrential rain with your Monarch and the bino fills up like a goldfish-glass - they may just tell you that the damage is not covered by the warranty because surely you touched the focus knob!

Optical performance ... and other aberrations

Both binos have good sharpness in the centre; towards the edges you mustn't expect much in either model. I've tried really hard do read or discern anything with one bino that I couldn't with the other, during bright daylight and in very dark conditions, but without success. By sharpness alone I could never tell which bino was which.

Whiteness rendition
The Trailseeker's image has a very slight yellowish hue. I don't think you'd ever notice it without making a conscious comparison, so it's not a big issue. But if you do compare, the little yellowish tint is clearly visible, at least if you are looking at blues or whites.

The Monarch fares better here. It's colour rendition seems quite neutral. In this respect, I definitely preferred the Monarch.

Very difficult to make out any difference. If you can't read something with the Trailseeker because of weak contrast, you cannot read it with the Monarch either. However, if white/blue tones are contrasted against brown/yellowish tones, the Monarch has a very, very slight edge; obviously a consequence of the better whiteness rendition. Looking at brownish birds in a meadow or following a yellowish bird in green foliage, I don't think anyone could tell the two binos apart by their images.

Chromatic aberration (or CA; colour fringing along edges of high contrast)
In the first set of the Trailseeker I ordered, CA was disturbingly high even in the very centre; of the edges I say nothing. In fact, I was truly shocked when I first observed a crow in flight ... a black bird, pursued by rainbows and neon lights! I certainly wasn't looking for CA - rather, CA was looking at me. With my ancient porros, I had never been bothered by CA at all, though naturally it was there near the edges. Actually it was the Trailseeker's CA that made me order the Monarch at all. However, when I received my second set of the Trailseeker (see explanation above), I was quite surprised: Not only were the prisms clean, but CA control was significantly better.

The Monarch 7 features ED-glass (the only "technological" advantage over the Trailseeker), and yet it's CA-control is quite disappointing. For CA, there is a sweet spot about the size of a blackbird seven meters away, but it hasn't nearly flown half the way to the edge before it's being enveloped in merry colours. Other reviewers saw CA well controlled in the Monarch 7, or saw no CA at all - fine for them, I certainly did see it.

I've read somewhere that the difference between two sets of the same model may be bigger than the difference between two models in the same price range. I can only confirm this. (What I don't understand is the virtual absence of CA in some cheap porros - does anyone?)

All in all, the second Trailseeker's CA control was at least on the Monarch's level, if not better.

A hint for those who have little experience using binos: Please note that centering your eyes correctly with the eyepieces is very important for limiting CA; so is the correct adjustment of the IPD (distance between the two barrels). This is especially true if you wear glasses, because if you don't look straight through them, they too produce CA.

Rolling ball effect
In the Trailseeker I didn't notice any rolling ball effect at all, except when I was looking for it.

The Monarch's rolling ball effect, unfortunately, is strong enough to make you sick. When you are checking binos for rolling ball effect, please note that the effect depends entirely on the form of the landscape. Moving your field of view along a flat, rather smooth horizon you may not notice anything. The same binos, when scanning nearby tree foliage or undulating meadows, can twist your brains.
For me, such a marked rolling ball effect would be reason enough to reject any binocular. It's nice to scan meadows or treetops - but it's not nice anymore if the image keeps bending and moving in a nightmarish way. It seems curious that bino designers accept such an ugly headache-giver of a rolling ball effect with the sole purpose of correcting distortion, the practical importance of which I fail to comprehend (unless the bino is meant for observing architecture).
Of course, there's always another side of the coin, and I'm not going to hide it from you: The only way of limiting the rolling ball effect in a given bino is to scan very slowly, so in the end you may discover more with the Monarch ...

Many people don't seem to be bothered by the effect. But if you are, don't let anyone tell you that you'll get used to it. Why should you? There are enough binos out there, so choose the binos that fit your needs instead of getting used to them.

Ghost images and glare
Neither model was too convincing here.
With the sun in front of you, both binos showed a significant amount of glare, though the image was still acceptable; I didn't notice much of a difference between the two models. At night, when I had a strong street light before me, it was easy to tell the two binos apart: With the Trailseeker, a street light would produce a straight beam of light that crossed the image. In the Monarch's image, however, you'd see an arrangement of curved beams. The reason for this behaviour becomes obvious when you look into the objectives: the Monarch's tubes are ridged inside, but the little edges (or "steps") are not matted; on the contrary, they are quite shiny and bound to produce curved ghost beams. Thus, a good idea, put into practice very badly.

I found the Trailseekers straight (ghost-)beams far less disturbing, probably because we are used to ignoring straight ghost beams that cross photos etc. Besides, the Trailseekers straight beams would vanish as soon as you moved the light source out of the field of view. With the Monarch, you had to move your field of view farther away from the light, before getting rid of the curved lines.

With a strong street light near the centre of the FOV (field of view), there were lots of ghost images in both binos.

Low light performance
Both binos gave very bright images, and it seemed quite impossible to find any difference. A bino is bright for me if its image seems brighter than what I see with the naked eye (even though that's physically impossible, if I am not totally deluded).

Kidney beaning
A short explanation for those who may not be familiar with kidney beaning: The term refers to dark shadows entering your FOV from the side. It is usually the result of not centring the eyepiece-lenses well with your eyes, but the problem depends much on the bino, too. High eye point (or long eye-relief, which is the same thing) tends to favour kidney-beaning, so be careful with binos that feature unusually long eye relief. On the other hand, sufficient eye relief is important if you're wearing glasses, but also if you are viewing in a cold environment (short eye relief invariably leads to external fogging up of the eyepiece lenses, as soon as you put your binos to your face). An eye relief of 17 mm is usually sufficient, but it may depend on your glasses.

Kidney beaning was not a serious problem with either of the two binos.

A Summary - and a personal note

In the end, the competition may have been unfair after all. The Trailseeker got a second chance, the Monarch 7 didn't. It's quite possible that another set of the Monarch 7 would have performed better, too.
However, let's not forget that for the Monarch's price you can actually buy two Trailseekers, which may set things right again.

Obviously, you can now get a roof-prism binocular that is lightweight and waterproof, has excellent specifications and features all kinds of high-tech features, all for a few hundred Euros. Getting consistent optical quality and an issue-free build seems to be much more difficult.

Of course, we are all quick in attributing such problems to spreading indifference and to share-holders greed. That may be part of the truth, but it's hardly the whole story.
We, the customers, often want everything (naturally), and we want it cheap, cheaper, the cheapest. Big sales chains and internet retailers can and do exert a lot of pressure on companies to lower prices, and one consequence is that they have to produce cheap, cheaper, the cheapest. Saving on build quality and quality control is an easy way of reducing production costs. In the end (naturally), someone has to pay for the low price. It's the costumer himself - and many others who don't even have a choice.

If I may presume to give an advice to those who haven't got much experience in choosing binoculars yet: If you're looking for a pair of binoculars, don't rely too much on reviews, and don't just choose a model. The only way of getting good quality is to choose a particular set of binos, trusting your own hands and eyes more than anything else. And: The local dealer may be more expensive than the web shop, but if he's at all competent, he may still be the best choice.



Well-known member

Welcome to the forum.

Thanks for the detailed comparison. I think we would all whole heartedly agree with your concluding comment.

"The only way of getting good quality is to choose a particular set of binos, trusting your own hands and eyes more than anything else."


hawken 12

Well-known member
Rafaele, Thanks for a very detailed review. It sounds like the Monarch 7 has quite a few QC issues going on. I recently ordered one and am now rethinking my decision to do so. Jim


Well-known member
Rafaele, Thank you for the review. I own many Celestron telescopes and have been very happy with them all. I have viewed with the Trailseekers at the Shot Show and really liked them.



Well-known member
Raffaele, thanks for a fine comparison review. I've been considering both these bins, but the Celestron, I now learn from your post, unfortunately, due to a mistake. What was attractive was the price and the *stated* very small size: copying from their own website, 5 x 4.9 x 1.8 in (128 x 126 x 46 mm)!


Well-known member
I have to agree with the others. Very nice review. I liked the format and the detail you chose.

I have yet to try the 8x42 Trailseekers though the 8x32s were definitely worth the price. My only complaint with the 8x32s was the relatively small sweet spot. I am guessing the 8x42s are better in this regard.

Jaymie Arnold

Well-known member
The 8 x 42 Trailseekers are exceptional bins for the price, I'm still amazed by how well they compare to the only other bins I currently have (8 x 42 Ultravids, not the HD's). Obviously they aren't quite as good as the Ultravids, but at an eighth of the price I never expected them to be. The AFOV of 65 degrees on the Trailseekers is the big selling point IMO, about as good as it gets and more expansive than a lot of 8 x 32's bins.


Registered User
There's something I don't quite understand about the "waterproof" limitations of the Nikon Monarch.

If turning the focus wheel compromises the sealing of the tubes, it would imply that the pressurized nitrogen would exit and there would be some gas exchange.

I wonder: does it necessarily imply that the tubes can fill with water, or, actually, that water can end up damaging or at least compromising the focusing mechanism in some way?


Well-known member
There's something I don't quite understand about the "waterproof" limitations of the Nikon Monarch.

If turning the focus wheel compromises the sealing of the tubes, it would imply that the pressurized nitrogen would exit and there would be some gas exchange.

I wonder: does it necessarily imply that the tubes can fill with water, or, actually, that water can end up damaging or at least compromising the focusing mechanism in some way?

The latter seems to make more sense from a big picture perspective. The former makes no sense at all.


Well-known member
Immersion test

There's something I don't quite understand about the "waterproof" limitations of the Nikon Monarch.

If turning the focus wheel compromises the sealing of the tubes, it would imply that the pressurized nitrogen would exit and there would be some gas exchange.

I wonder: does it necessarily imply that the tubes can fill with water, or, actually, that water can end up damaging or at least compromising the focusing mechanism in some way?

Borjam, Allbinos published an endurance test of 8x42s including testing for waterproofing against immersion.

They tested a couple of Nikons, although not the Monarch, it's here if you haven't seen it :


You could try it at home ;)


Well-known member
Waterproof qualities / CA control

Thanks everyone for the replies.

It is true that two Nikons fared very well in the AllBinos' endurance test, although these were binos costing two or four times as much as the Monarch 7 (HG 8x42 L DCF and EDG 8x42), and their build quality wasn't criticized in the respective AllBinos' reviews either.

Of course it was just irony when I said, the bino might fill up like a goldfish glass; it most probably won't (though you can't be quite shure, if you look at how two high-end Leicas did in the same endurance test ...). Whatever could or would happen to the bino if operated when wet, if you find statements of this kind in a manual, it doesn't really strengthen your confidence in the product's quality. Especially if the warranty does not cover damage "resulting from water", as the warranty card states.

You see, I think it's perfectly all right if someone sells a bino that must not be operated when wet, but then the word "waterproof" should not appear in the specs at all.

A question to Jaymie Arnold: How do you see CA controlled in the Trailseeker? I really don't know whether my "good" set was just above Trailseeker-average or whether my "bad" set was below average ... or maybe this is the normal variation in cheaper binos?

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Jaymie Arnold

Well-known member

Unfortunately it sounds like the sample variation problem continues. I'd like to think it's primarily limited to the lower price segment bins produced in mass quantities where QC is presumed to be less regulated but I have heard stories about the occasional high priced bin defect. Anyway, in regards to your question perhaps my Trailseeker sample is one of the more decent performing units as I've been unable to discern much in the way of CA in high contrast situations. There definitely appears to be a trace on the edges of the view in this sample, but I find it's effect on image quality to be rather negligible. I guess I was just lucky that I didn't get a defective unit the first time around as it sounds like you did. If you get the opportunity I'd also contact Celestron on their webpage form just to let them know your experience with 2 units that performed entirely differently.


Well-known member
I guess it's worth pointing out again that we are all uniquely sensitive to the various parameters by which we judge quality ; one person may experience colour fringing / chromatic abberation with one binocular that another person may not with the same bin in the same situation.

james holdsworth

Consulting Biologist
I guess it's worth pointing out again that we are all uniquely sensitive to the various parameters by which we judge quality ; one person may experience colour fringing / chromatic abberation with one binocular that another person may not with the same bin in the same situation.

This seems to apply to many parameters - edge sharpness, sweet-spot size, colour fidelity, apparent sharpness.......all seem to vary depending on the observer and his / her eyesight and / or preferences.

That's why you try before you buy - something that someone else may hate, you just may love.


Well-known member
Have any eyeglass wearers tried the Trailseeker 8x42? I can't seem to find a store that carries them in my area. The eye relief is listed as 17 mm, which seems like it should be just enough.

The specs for these binoculars are impressive (FOV especially), and I like the promise of slightly lower weight. And they're very affordable...


Well-known member
Thanks, Turaco. Your account of all these problems makes me wary, especially as these binoculars aren't available locally to try first.

I may go with the Zeiss Terra, although it has a narrower FOV. The Terras are currently available in the US for less than $300, so not too much more than the Trailseekers.


Well-known member
Stay cool!

The next chapter of the TrailSeeker Saga:

With the Monarch 7, I complained about a floppy central hinge. I've now had the first opportunity of using the TrailSeeker at temperatures around 30°C (= 86 degrees Fahrenheit), and the result is sobering: The hinge is so loose now, that if you hold one barrel in your hand, the other one comes down immediately. After a few minutes' walk in the sun, the second barrel doesn't come down, it literally drops, arriving with an audible little click - the hinge doesn't offer the slightest resistance any more.

I now have to pinch a finger between the barrels to use the bino, but even so it's a floppy and awkward affair.

I have to admit that I don't quite understand what Celestron is trying to achieve with this trash build: The optical quality of the TrailSeeker is as good as that of the much applauded M7, and if the TS had a really good build quality, they could sell it for twice the price. However, as it actually is, it isn't even worth half the price.

If you can wait for a few months, I'll let you know how "well" this bino does in the cold, provided I haven't chucked it into Lake Constance by then - but no, you can't always afford to follow your impulse ...



Well-known member

You might be able to tighten the hinge on the binocular yourself. Take the cap off the front of the hinge where the tripod adapter is. If it has a slot in the front of the screw holding the hinge for a screwdriver you should be able to tighten hinge. If it has a series of small holes surrounding the screw you will need a small pin wrench or spanner wrench to tighten it.

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