NIKON introduces new Monarch HG 8x30 and 10x30 Binoculars (1 Viewer)


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Time allowing during the next few weeks, I plan to review it against a number of similarly priced 8x30s, e.g. Conquest HD, Pentax DCF ED, Swaro CL (new) and MeoStar.

Looking forward to it Christophe. What a super collection of compact binos.



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Looking forward to your evaluation and comparisons with the new Nikon MHG. In my 'standing at the display counter' quick evaluation of the Swaro CL (new FP) vs the Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD I found the handling (holding and focusing) of the Zeiss much more pleasing but the optical performance of the CL was superior for me with better central sharpness, better contrast on fine shadow details. Sample of one each binocular in that case so there is always variation between units. Image quality and ease of eye placement is paramount for me. I am hoping the Nikon 8X30 MHG arriving this week will compare favorably with the optical performance of the Swaro CL so I am most interested in your comparison there.

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"Quick evaluation of the Swaro CL (new FP) vs the Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD I found the handling (holding and focusing) of the Zeiss much more pleasing but the optical performance of the CL was superior for me with better central sharpness, better contrast on fine shadow details."

Exactly what I found between these two. Agree 100%.


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I'm thinking about getting one of these....thinking about it. Consider I'm saying all this having never actually looked at one. I have a few bridges I have to cross and I haven't done that yet. ONE is 30mm. A 32mm binocular is just overall easier to use. I WISH this one were a 32mm but it's not and not going to be so there's that. Another is price. I agree it SEEMS a little high to me. Even $100 less would help BECAUSE, and my LAST's current price makes it DANGEROUSLY close to the new Swarovski CL. Why not throw in a couple more hundred dollars and get the CL if I simply HAVE to have a 30mm binocular? I have neither of these binoculars but I can't help but toss these thoughts around.

I suppose a couple of reasons might be FOV and close focus distance if those are important to you. They are both significantly better in the HG. I agree on the 32 vs 30mm. I'd also be concerned about glare in the HG as the two M7 8x30s I had were horrible in that regard. I notice a lot of members here have not experienced that problem with their M7s so perhaps I had two defective pairs. Also while the retail is fairly close the HGs will surely be on sale at some point in the future and if LL Bean starts carrying them in the 30mm sizes you'll probably be able to get them for 20% off at some point in the future.


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Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 arrived today - it appears well designed and very well finished and cannot hide who its parents are (seen here between the HG 8x42 and 10x42 models), looks kind of neat :)

Very first tentative impression: lightweight and comfortable to hold and use; bright clean image, little CA (there is just a tiny bit in the outer parts of the fov), almost distortion free, edge sharpness maybe a tad less impressive than in the 8x42 HG (caveat: not a firm observation yet, I need to further confirm this).

Overall very nice addition to the 8x30 market - looking forward to putting it into practice.

Time allowing during the next few weeks, I plan to review it against a number of similarly priced 8x30s, e.g. Conquest HD, Pentax DCF ED, Swaro CL (new) and MeoStar.

Awesome! Nice group of binoculars!

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The main problem I had with the new Nikon Monarch HG 8x30 is the eye cups were not long enough for the eye relief so I had to hold it away from my face or really tilt it away from my eyebrows to avoid blackouts but I have shallow and fairly big in diameter eye sockets so I have trouble in that respect with a lot of binoculars. I just tried a Leica Ultravid HD Plus 8x32 and the eye cups were about 1 to 2mm too short. It irritated me because I could see the optics were very good but it just didn't work for me because I don't like to rest the binocular on my eyebrows to get proper eye relief. For my facial structure Swarovski's work the best and the eye cup length matches the eye relief almost perfectly so that is what I usually stick with but sometimes I try a new binocular like this one to see how it works.


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Nikon 8X30 Monarch HG First Impressions

The Nikon 8x30 MHG arrived this week and first impressions out of the box were very positive.

Build quality is quite good, handling is nice for a compact, images are very sharp and contrasty, focussing is extremely nice, ease of eye placement is good and eye relief is quite adequate with my eyeglasses (not perfect with about 95% FOV). I always use eyeglasses but trying it without eyeglasses and eyecups extended fully it was quite comfortable for my use with the eyecups resting under my eyebrows for correct positioning. Other face shapes will be different.

Factory next strap is quite nice, lens caps are captive on little straps but prone to pop off the objective tubes inadvertently, lens caps flop around annoyingly when using the binocular, rain guard protects well but hard to get off quickly.

Central imaging is quite excellent and well corrected over the large FOV. Chromatic is well controlled, it's there if you look hard for it but in normal use it is not noticed. Focus wheel is large diameter and soft rubber coated resulting in good tactile feel with images going into focus quickly and crisply. Good distortion balance with slight pincushion and no RB.

In the field on the second day I ventured out early to the see the water rise in the local Rillito river after monsoon rains overnight and found to my disappointment that stray light control is a real weakness for the little Nikon. Glare from the water with a low sun angle caused serious image flaring. A quick look at the exit pupil shows numerous internal reflections near the pupil and lots of scattered light off of the prism edges that would explain the problems experienced.

So far I am impressed by the little Nikon except for the poor stray light performance that shows up under some conditions. I am interested in how the 8x30 Nikon compares in stray light control compared to other high performance 8X30 or 8X32 binoculars. Comparisons to the Swaro 8X30 CL, Swaro EL 8X32 WB, and Zeiss 8X32 Conquest HD would be most useful and I may be able to compare them at a local dealer but a field comparison would be more useful. I know there has been some criticism of the Swaro EL 8X32 WB for flare under some conditions (and I have seen that once before in that glass at a demo). It may well be a weakness of these compact WFOV binoculars that stray light is hard to control and still keep the overall size down.

Looking forward to hearing from others that may be able to field test and compare this class of binoculars for susceptibility to flare under extreme glare conditions.

Will be doing some more detailed evaluation of the 8X30 MHG in the near future.

What great tools we have these days to choose from!


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I don't like to have to position the binoculars under my eyebrows for proper positioning so the little MHG's didn't work for me. It sounds like the MHG's have a similar flare problem like the M7's. It is unfortunate since these are Nikon's top binoculars now. Of course a smaller diameter objective is always in general going to be more prone to flare than a larger one in my experience. The Swaro 8X30 CL and the Zeiss 8x32 Conquest HD are two examples of smaller binoculars that have above average flare control and the Swaro EL 8x32 is not quite as good in that area in my experience. I have had all these binoculars.


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Quick comparison of my Nikon 8x30 MHG to the Swaro 8x30 CL at the local dealer revealed that viewing a backlighted view of the building eaves with the sun just out of the FOV (by varying directions and amounts of 10 to 30 degrees) showed that the problem of stray light image flaring was no better in the little CL and possibly worse than the MHG. They had sold out of the 8X32 SV and the 8X32 Conquest HD so no chance to compare them. Will need to live with the MHG for a while to see how often the stray light manifests itself in field use for birding and nature study when a lightweight glass is needed.

Comparing the imaging of the MHG and the CL I was continually struck by how equal they seem in overall performance. The CL had slightly better CA correction but had to look very carefully at power lines against the sky to tell the difference. Unlike the MHG I could see the field stops in the CL with my eyeglasses on but that is because the FOV and AFOV is slightly less than on the Nikon. The Nikon seems to me to have slightly more of that subtle 3D view effect that is hard to define and fully understand but you know it when you see it.

Both the MHG and the CL are impressively good binoculars considering the small size, weight (450g and 490g!), and midrange cost factors. The main difference of importance to me is the lack of true close focus on the CL. Other factors distinctly in favor of the Nikon are the lower cost and a decent diopter setting function compared to the worst ever diopter adjuster on the CL.


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Nikon Monarch HG 8X30 – A Brief Review

The new Nikon Monarch HG comes into a market occupied by several dozen other makes and models in sizes 8x33, 8x32 and 8x30. A selection of a few well known models is listed in the attached table.

(( to be followed in next post ))


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(( see previous post ))

To briefly compare the Monarch HG 8x30, I chose seven similarly priced 8x30’s, as well as the larger Monarch HG 8x42 introduced some time ago, to see how well the Nikon fares (I may at some later time also compare the Monarch HG to more expensive competitors such as Zeiss FL, Leica Ultravid HD+ and EL SV).

Those models chosen in the attached table are marked in color. I list below only those aspects and features of competitive models that struck me most during this very brief comparative review.

Some data of the Monarch HG 8x30:
- RFOV 8.3 o = 145m/1000m
- AFOV: 60.3 o
- Eye relief: 16 mm
- IPD: 56-74mm
- Close focus: 2 m
- Prisms: Schmidt-Pechan
- Weight acc. to spec. “naked”: 450g
- Weight measured with strap and eye caps: 543g
- Waterproof: 5m, 10 min.

The new HG looks and feels like a “young” Monarch HG 8x42: same design (much less “baroque” than the EDG), same excellent finish, nice haptics and ergonomics, well balanced, small and light.

Mechanically also very similar to its larger brother: the central hinge is firm but not too tight, the eyecups are slightly smaller than on the 8x42 but are comfortable on the eyesockets. Positions are: Fully in, 2 intermediate clickstops, fully out; they exhibit just slightly more play than those of the 8x42.
The focus wheel turns smoothly and very similarly to the bigger model, but with a much higher transmission ratio: on the 8x42, focusing from 3m to infinite requires a 110 degree turn, on the 8x30 only a 60 degree turn. There seems ample travel of the focus wheel beyond infinity.
The same applies to the diopter adjustment; it’s precise, no play; the neutral position matches the “0” mark.

Nice round exit pupils, no false pupils, but the area around the EP exhibits quite a bit of light structures and reflexes (reminded me much of the EL SV), but this seems not to affect image quality much.

The ease of view (“Einblickverhalten”) is good, but not as good as on the 8x42. To avoid kidney beaning when observing without glasses, I had to fully extend the eyecups. The 8x42 is a bit more forgiving in this respect. Observing with glasses: no definite answer (I observe without), but I have the impression the 8x42 might again be easier for spectacle wearers than the 8x30.

The field of view is very nice with 145m. This is more than most 8x30s feature (I only know two that have more: the Nikon E II, and the DDoptics Fieldstar). As the attached table shows, most comparable binos have less or even much less (e.g. Trinovid HD) field of view.

In this respect and in most others, the image of the Monarch HG 8x30 is comparable to the 8x42 Monarch HG: very good central sharpness and contrast, good CA correction (there is CA in the outer parts of the image, but less than on many other 8x30s), good straylight suppression – reviewed in daylight only, but including the “glittery water surface” and “low sun” tests -, good color fidelity, bright clear image throughout most of the field of view.

NOTE: recent reviews by other forum members (e.g. AltaVista) indicate a bit of “stray light image flaring” in certain situations; I do not dispute these findings, just did not experience any myself.

But there are differences between the 8x42 and the 8x30: the rectilinear distortion is almost not visible in the 8x30, whereas there is a bit of it in the 8x42. Nevertheless, I could not perceive a substantial rolling ball effect when panning, so Nikon seems to have done a good job here in my view.
And: as I had indicated after a very tentative trial of the new 8x30, the edge sharpness appeared a tad inferior to the 8x42. When panning, the 8x42 appeared to show a slightly better off-axis sharpness than the 8x30, and this impression was confirmed when I mounted the binos on tripod.

Compared to the

Zeiss Conquest HD:
The HD is bigger and heavier. Same eye relief, with 140m not far behinf the HG, similarly “fast” focusing Good brightness in the Zeiss, but for my eyes, central sharpness and contrast are better in the Nikon, and the edge sharpness is much better in the Nikon.

Pentax DCF ED:
The Pentax is compact and gives a rugged impression with its heavy armour. Narrower field of view (131m). Sharpness and contrast thoughout the image are clearly inferior to the Nikon, the same is true for brightness.

Nikon HG-L:
mechanically excellent. Brightness of the image, as well as sharpness and contrast are inferior to the Monarch HG, edge sharpness is much worse. Color fidelity in the HG-L appears as good as in the Monarch HG.

Kowa Genesis:
Wide 140m fov. The Kowa exhibits excellent central sharpness and a nice color saturated image, very nice brightness as well. Edge sharpness is inferior to the Nikon.

Leica Trinovid HD:
central sharpness appears high and almost as good as in the Nikon, despite clearly more CA (I have wondered for some time why Leica calls it “HD”). Edge sharpness is clearly inferior to the Nikon, despite a much narrower field of view (the Trinovid with 124m has the narrowest field of all “contestants”).

Meopta MeoStar B1:
although of dated design, the MeoStar still impresses me with its slightly warmer, but high contrast image and a very acceptable edge sharpness for a non-flat-image bino (not as good as the Nikon, though).

Swarovski CL (new):
this was the “surprise of the day”: the CL showed not only excellent central sharpness, at least equivalent to the Nikon, but also better off-axis sharpness than the Nikon. Even compared to the 8x42 Monarch HG, the CL impressed with a flat, bright, CA- free image sharp almost to the edge, confirmed both in free hand panning and mounted on tripods. Of course, the narrower field of view – 132m in the CL against 145m in the Nikons – needs to be taken into account.

Preliminary conclusion:

The new Monarch HG 8x30 competes well with established models (of course, much will depend on how it is priced in various countries). It beats most in terms of field of view, and its flat bright sharp image leaves many other 8x30s behind. In addition, it’s compact size, light weight, excellent finish and mechanical excellence speak for it as well.

I personally like the larger 8x42 Monarch HG, with its – for my eyes - slightly better edge sharpness, even more.

If I had to rate to rate the 8x30 binoculars compared in this review, based only on their image characteristics - field of view, central sharpness, edge sharpness, brightness - and my personal preferences, this would probably look as follows (not to be taken too seriously :):

1 Swarovski CL (new)
2 Nikon Monarch HG
3 Kowa Genesis
4 Meopta MeoStar
5 Zeiss Conquest HD
6 Leica Trinovid HD
7 Nikon HG-L
8 Pentax DCF ED


attached image: the HG 8x30 among it's competitors, the 8x42 HG in front.


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Thank you both for your write-ups. Now we're getting to the meat and potatoes of how these binoculars perform... :)


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Very, VERY nice review! I really appreciate reviews such as this where other binoculars are included and compared. It's time consuming and rather costly but information relayed to potential buyers is so helpful and meaningful. Of course the included pictures really helps as well!

I've been rather on the fence concerning your top two contenders here. Of course each of those two have their own merits as it always seems to be! After reading this review it's easy to see why I AM on the fence!


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Many thanks for the interesting review and pdf. What is surprising is the weight of some recently introduced examples. IIRC the old Nikon 8x32 HG weighed over 700 g, but some are now down to 450 g. This is not achievable just by using Makrolon or magnesium housings instead of aluminium, so if no-one is using plastic optical components, the greatest weight savings are probably to be obtained by scrimping on the prisms.

I own an 8x33 Kowa Genesis, an excellent binocular in many aspects, but I suspect that Kowa have gone this route to achieve a weight of 590 g, quite average by today's standards. If held at arm's length and rotated off-axis, the exit pupils are almond-shaped before they occlude. By contrast, a 950 g brick of an old 7x42 Swarovski SLC shows 3/4 gibbous moon-shaped exit pupils just before occlusion. Perhaps this is what Swarovski call "Randpupille".

I am convinced that vignetting alongside eye relief and exit pupil size can play a role in viewing comfort, and it would be interesting if you could report back on how the candidates hold up in this respect.

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Thank you, John.

Interesting point !! Thanks for bringing this up.

If I compare vignetting in the eight contenders the way you describe it, the following is the ranking, starting with the bino that exhibits the least amount and ending with the one that exhibits most:

Monarch HG
Trinovid HD
Nikon HG-L
Swaro CL
Conquest HD
Kowa Genesis

So the Monarch HG performs well in this respect, and the Kowa not so well.

Wether vignetting affects viewing comfort, as you write, I don‘t know; it’s well possible. What it certainly affects is the brightness of the image, since it results from cutting the outmost parts of the light beam (see Merlitz, Handferngläser, 1st ed., p. 157s).


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