• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Monarch HG 8x42 vs Conquest HD 8x42 vs Swarovski SLC 8x42 (1 Viewer)

ok..... I had previously started a thread: Conquest HD 8x42 vs Swarovski SLC 8x42. I have started a new thread because I have added a third to the mix because of limitations/ ergonomics (for me) of Conquest HD 8x42 and the Swarovski SLC 8x42

So now I have all three to try back to back:

I only feel it is fair to include my purchase prices

- Monarch HG 8x42 ($685 refurb)
- Conquest HD 8x42 ($760 new)
- Swarovski SLC 8x42 ($1560 new)

They are all different and excel in different areas compared to each other.

Of the three, I would have loved to keep the SLC, but they did not work out for me due to the inability to focus past infinity without using my glasses (overdrive pas infinity).

Here are the comparisons of the above 3

Sharpness:
SLC>HD=HG (HD might be better? I can't find it, SLC I can)

Edge to edge sharpness
HD>SLC=HG (HD "techinically" wins, but b/c FOV of HG is so large, more stuff is actually sharp)

Brightness:
SLC>HD=HG

Least CA
SLC>HD>HG (HD very VERY slightly Less CA than HG, SLC CA almost non existent)

Weight (Least to most)
HG>SLC>HD (on stats HD=SLC, in use SLC noticeably lighter than HD)

Color accuracy (Not sure, but to me):
HG>HD (a little grey prob due to less contrast)=SLC (kind of yellow tint?maybe)

Contrast
SLC=HG>HD (SLC may have slight edge to HG, I can't tell)

Focus depth
SLC>HG>>HD (HD too thin, gets annoying and always focus hunting)

Exit pupil (least Black outs during use)
SLC(5.3mm)=HG(5.3mm)>>HD (5.25mm) During use alot of black out with HD

Focus knob (smoothness)
HD>HG>SLC

Diopter adjustment (personal preference between HG and SLC, I prefer HG)
HG=SLC>>HD

Focus/ over drive past infinity
HD=HG>>SLC (SLC is like -4 or so, this was a deal breaker for me other 2 are at least -6.5)

Close focus
HD6.5'=HG6.6'>SLC10.5'

Eye cup adjustment
SLC>HG>>HD (HD works, just really stiff)

Manufacture
HG Japan, HD Germany, SLC Austria

Build Quality
SLC>>HG>HD (SLC really feels like quality here, esp. eye cup function)

Construction
HG (Magnesium) = SLC (Magnesium) >> HD (Aluminum)

Protection / Durability
HD>>SLC>HG (HD is built like a tank and Heavy, if you rap on it it is solid like a brick. If you rap on SLC you can her something vibrating, SLC does have alot of padding, HG sounds a little hollow and has least padding) Not issue for me, I am very gentle with my binos and I don't hunt.

Ease / pleasure to use
SLC=hg>>>HD (because of focus wheel, weight and FOV HG>SLC. HD makes you work for the view. HD not as forgiving esp. b/c of thing focus depth. you really have to get jiggy with the focus wheel, have your eyes perfectly centered, the narrow FOV you have to move, weight also makes it more cumbersome)

Overall, I would have liked to keep the SLC, but not being able to use them without glasses is a complete deal breaker. Comparing The HD without glasses to the SLC with glasses I preferred the HD. So... unfortunately, the SLC was out and I was only mildly satisfied with the HD. I was planning to keep the HD but then a forum member suggested to take a look at the HG. Since my current binos were the Monarch 5s, which I was happy with, and I just wanted a step up in optics, I ordered the HG refurbished. After I received the HG, it was clear that for my use and preferences it is superior to the HD. It should have been SLC vs HG all along. IMO the optics in the HD might be ever so slightly (I mean very slightly) better than the HG, but the HG's ergonomic and ease of use just make it so much more pleasurable to use than the HD.

Compared to the HD the HG is so much easier to use and are more forgiving. The weight, FOV, and focus depth adds to the ergonomics. In spite of very slightly more CA on the HG vs the HD I find myself reaching for the HG vs the HD. In addition, using the HG leaves me happy, not fatigued, and I look forward to it using next time. Where as, after using the HD I feel fatigued and recalling limitations (like constant focusing and weight) as opposed to recalling what I was looking at. I find the ergonomic of the HD negatively distracting and I find them to get in the way of viewing and enjoying birding/bino-ing. And I find the ergonomics of the HG to allow me focus what I am looking at and forget about the binoculars. I had the same feeling with the SLC (actually even more so than the HG).

At the given prices I think the Nikon HG wins hands down. At cost non-issue the SLC is clearly the best as it should be at ~2x the cost. I don't think the SLC's price gives you 2x more bino than the HG. 10% more might even be a stretch...maybe...

The HG is a considerable upgrade from my Monarch 5. As forum members have said : "at $685, it is a no brainier." I agree with that. I have head of people finding $500 refub Monarch HGs, it is a steal at that price IMO.

In a way I am glad the SLC had a deal breaker ergonomic as it saved me $875 and I am happy with the HG. The Monarch HG 8x42 is the one I kept.

All of the above are my personal preferences and opinions. In addition, at this level it is kind of splitting hairs and any of these binos are fine and excellent instruments. In the comparisons above I really needed to look and test side by side to find differences.

I hope the above helps future buyers, I have not seen a direct comparison of these 3 on the web.
 
Last edited:

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Great summary and I agree with your assessment :)

As I predicted in the previous thread, optically the HG is basically neck-and-neck with the HD (other than the wider FOV), not the SLC. The SLC is better, even though it's a slight difference.... but it IS there. As it should be.

But the ergonomic advantages of the Monarch HG (light weight, smooth focus, etc) really add up vs the Conquest HD, and combined with the super wide FOV and long eye relief they are just very EASY binoculars to use, as you have found.

I also agree that the Conquest HD is really good optically, but a little "flat" in terms of contrast / color saturation. Whereas the HG is a bit more vibrant. The Conquest HD for sure feels more rugged and solid, but the Monarch HG feels smoother and easier in real world use.

And one more point of agreement -- although my comparisons were 10x, I also found the Conquest HD to be a little more "finicky" on focus because the focus knob is SO fast and the focal plane feels a bit less "deep", so even though it's extremely sharp and crisp I found myself hunting for focus more.

The Monarch HG focus knob is also smooth and light, not that dissimilar from the Conquest HD in feel, but it's better damped and the ratio is slower so it's easier to dial in the focus and not overshoot.

Final point: the Conquest HD is "manufactured in Germany" but it's a poorly kept secret that it's actually made in Japan by Kamakura, and then Zeiss does enough assembly/finish to be able to legally label it as "made in Germany". Despite that label, it's sourced from the same place as the Vortex Razor HD, Tract Toric UHD, etc.
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
I also agree with your comments, especially regarding the Conquest HD, which was my first serious binocular, but which I had to sell due to two major facts you point in your observations: bulky/heavy and the blackouts issue. It is a very nice glass, but I just hope the MHG 8x42 had been around when I bought my HD. As a matter of fact, the weight and bulk of the HD steered me towards the 8x32 format, which is my favourite. But the charms of the MHG 8x42 (which I've tried only in a shop) are always there.
 
I also agree with your comments, especially regarding the Conquest HD, which was my first serious binocular, but which I had to sell due to two major facts you point in your observations: bulky/heavy and the blackouts issue.


Great summary and I agree with your assessment :)

.................

Final point: the Conquest HD is "manufactured in Germany" but it's a poorly kept secret that it's actually made in Japan by Kamakura, ..... it's sourced from the same place as the Vortex Razor HD, Tract Toric UHD, etc.

Thank you eitanaltman and yarrellii for confirming my findings. My goal was to help future buyers. So this verification will definitely be helpful for credibility. :t:

I did not know about the Kamakura secret. Good to know.

So I guess the title should read Kamakura Vs Nikon vs Swar..... jk
 
Last edited:

Patudo

Well-known member
Really enjoyable read sir - a lot of which I agree with, but even if I didn't, the detail and layout of your notes was very readable!

I just wanted to ask why it was so essential to use your binoculars without glasses? In an ideal world I too would prefer to use binoculars directly to my eyes, but in the majority of my birding situations the extra situational awareness I have when wearing glasses is very important, if not critical. I'm pretty good at whipping off my glasses while putting binoculars to my eyes, but even so, I lose more birds than I'd like in the couple of seconds it takes.
 
Really enjoyable read sir - a lot of which I agree with, but even if I didn't, the detail and layout of your notes was very readable!

I just wanted to ask why it was so essential to use your binoculars without glasses? In an ideal world I too would prefer to use binoculars directly to my eyes, but in the majority of my birding situations the extra situational awareness I have when wearing glasses is very important, if not critical. I'm pretty good at whipping off my glasses while putting binoculars to my eyes, but even so, I lose more birds than I'd like in the couple of seconds it takes.

I appreciate the kind words. Thank you for reading and confirming my assessment so future buyers/readers may benefit (credibility).

I like the luxury/option of using the binos with or without glasses for a few reasons.

Positives using binos without glasses for me:

- More stable less shake (I can rest eye cups on nose bridge and i can hold binos towards front, 2mm movement near eye cups is like 1 cm movement at front)
- Way more comfortable (my glasses eye pieces don't dig into my nose from pushing binos on glasses lens to stabilize)
- Bino feels lighter b/c some (almost 1/3 to 1/2) weight on nose bridge
- Less ambient light leak
- Less black out Since I can anchor eye cups on my nose and binos don't float
- 1 Less element of "glass" (poly carbonate) to view through
- I Feel more "one" with the binocular (easier to track moving subjects)
- Looking at stars no steaks/distortion (halo effect) from glasses lens
- This is how I am used to using my Monarch 5s
- I can still use with glasses if I want to

Because of the collective reasons outlined above, I can glass/view for a longer duration of time more comfortably without fatigue or eye strain. That makes the overall experience so much more pleasurable to me.
 
Last edited:

Users who are viewing this thread

Top