Nikon Monarch ATB 10X42 and 8X42 Binocular Review

Nikon Monarch ATB 8X42 and 10X42 Binocular review – What is this?? Binocular reviews on a photo site? Yep! Not only do I love photography, I also really like good binoculars. The fact is that there are quite a few photographers who carry binoculars in their kit! Especially the nature/wildlife crowd. Since I know many of you also enjoy decent binoculars I will be reviewing some on this site from time to time, even some Leica Binoculars 🙂 Yep, for those who did not know, Leica does in fact make some KICK BUTT binoculars.

Today I will be writing a little bit about the Nikon Monarch series, in particular the 8X42 and 10X42 models. These are Nikons mid-priced, feature packed small size binoculars and they come in at $279 and $299, which is actually cheap when you start getting into the nicer sets. The 10X42’s are only 5.5 inches long and weigh in at 21 oz.

I received both of these in the mail after B&H Photo contacted me and asked me if I enjoyed using binoculars. When I said yes, they sent me these two sets because “they are so good that more people should be made aware of them”. I have looked through some $3,000 binoculars as well as $50 binoculars over the years and the pair that I actually own is a $79 (Now $56)  pair of Celestron’s that I thought was great for my uses. I do not use them too much but when I do I never had a problem with my set. That was about to all change. Once I looked through the Nikon Monarchs I knew that I would have to buy a set for myself, or at least upgrade from my crappy set to something…Arg!

Before I write about my experience with them, here is what Nikon says about them:

A roof prism binocular with a hearty feature-set that’s easy on the wallet and the environment? Yes! – theMonarch ATB 10×42 from Nikon is here – it’s layered with assets, and it won’t break the bank when you bring one home.Nikon’s proprietary lead and arsenic free optical-glass formula, known as Eco-Glass, is used for all lenses and prisms in this fine Monarch binocular. All of the air-to-glass surfaces are fully multicoated to ensure maximum light transmission, sharpness, and contrast. The roof prisms are finished with a dielectric coating that enhances the efficiency of the optical system to near perfection.

This easy-to-handle optic is fully waterproof and fogproof, and a tactile rubberized exterior ensures a secure grip at all times. The centered focus knob is fast, accurate, and easy to use. A pair of multi-setting click-stop eyecups and a notable 15.5 mm of eye relief allow you to tailor the binocular to suit your needs – whether you’re wearing glasses or not.

They are also covered by Nikon’s 25 year no fault repair/replacement policy! LIFETIME!

Optical Performance
  • AFOV: 55.3°
  • Fully multicoated Eco-Glass lenses for enhanced sharpness and clarity
  • Dielectric multilayer prism coating delivers extremely high levels of light transmission, excellent contrast, accurate color rendition
Construction Details
  • Nitrogen filled/o-ring sealed for water and fogproof performance
  • Durable/protective rubber armoring provides a sure non-slip grip
  • Sleek lightweight form factor: excellent ergonomics, easy to carry, durable
Use and Handling
  • Center focus knob: fast full-range of focus for quick viewing.
  • Click stop eyecups: clear comfortable view with/without sun/eyeglasses

The specs above are for the 10X42 set which are just a TEENY bit larger than the 8X42. Both are somewhat small, light, and seem like they are geared for the hunting crowd. Also, they would be awesome for children due to their small size and weight.

Eye Relief

These have a 8X and 10X magnification and from using both of these it seems like the 8X42’s are a little sharper. The eye relief of the 10X42 is not the greatest at 15.5. What does this mean? It means you will have to press your eyes closer to the eyepieces for the clearest view. Think of it as giving your eyes some relief! With these (10X42) you get 15.5 so if you wear eyeglasses you may want to look for a set with 20+ of eye relief. The 8X42’s are a little better with an eye relief of 19.6.

Me, I had NO problems or vignetting when using either of them though the 8X42’s were a little more easier to look through. I also had my Mom and Son give them a try and they were very impressed with them. I think they spent an hour bird watching in the backyard. They could not tell a difference between the two in regards to eye relief which tells me both would make most people happy.

For more info on eye relief and binoculars, you can check out this web page.

So how are these with real world use?

After using these for birding, spotting far off objects, and even some night time sky gazing I can say that I am VERY impressed with these. The images are bright, colorful, and sharp. There is a little softness at the edges but for this kind of money the Nikon Monarchs are simply awesome. So good in fact that I may be sending B&H my money for the 10X45’s. But, I would like to get some mid range Leica binoculars in here just to compare. How cool would it be to have an a Leica M9, Leica X1 (yes, I am still thinking of buying one) and a set of Leica binoculars in your bag? Cool yes, but EXPENSIVE!

For the cash, these Nikons will be hard to beat. When looking at a cardinal up in a tree the view was very 3-D and crisp. The red color of the Cardinal was eye popping. When I compared the view with my trusty 8 year old Celestrons I wanted to toss them in the trash. What I thought were my “nice” binoculars looked yellowish and blurry in comparison.

My son and I did some stargazing and the stars were crisp and sharp. The sky was black, not grey.

Also, these are waterproof and rugged and they come with a killer 25 year warranty from Nikon. At $299 for the 10X45’s I really do not think they can be beat. For a little less you get less magnification but a little bit of a sharper view in the 8X42 Set.

I admit it. I am not one who would spend $3000 on a pair of binoculars because I do not use them very often but $300 is pretty amazing for what you get with these Nikons. This is a set I would buy, and I just might do so.

Here is my pro/con list:


  • Nice size and low weight
  • Crystal clarity, especially on a nice sunny day
  • Great contrast and color
  • waterproof/weatherproof
  • Comes with strap and nice case
  • Nikon 25 Year warranty! $10 to replace if anything goes wrong with them within 25 years.
  • Rubber eyecups are soft and comfy 🙂
  • Easy to focus with a smooth twist


  • Eye relief could be better at 15.5 for the 10X42’s
  • Not up to the performance levels of the $1000+ binoculars (but these are $299 and come eerily close at times)
  • some softness at the edges

So there you have it. These have a huge following from those who own them and I now know why. For my uses the 10X45’s would be perfect for me, and at a price I can swallow. I enjoyed using these and now have to decide…do I send both sets back? For those of you looking for a set of binoculars that are built well, waterproof, have great optics and magnification, come with a superb warranty and are “all terrain” I can highly recommend the 10X45’s AND the 8X45’s. Both are SUPERB, especially for this kind of money. Really, they make my $56 Celestrons look like they are broken.

These binoculars also work VERY well in lower light. To test them out, while we were stargazing with them I looked down my street (it was dark out) and I could see with extreme clarity. It was like I was superman and I engaged my super eye with 10X power! They still had that 3D pop and contrast. These may just be the best Binoculars I have looked through up to the $1,000 price point.

I am hoping that my next binocular review will be of a Leica pair. This pair looks pretty amazing. But for those with an absolute top budget of $300, I can think of nothing better than these Nikons! Keep in mind that these are the latest versions which are Version III and have enhancements over older versions. These are truly “high end” at a mid end price point!

You can find these at B&H Photo. These are an EASY recommend, both the Nikon and B&H!

Nikon ATB (All Terrain Binoculars) 10X42 at B&H Photo – $299.95

Nikon ATB (All Terrain Binoculars) 8X42 at B&H Photo – $279.95

Also, for more magnification you can also find the 12X42 set at B&H Photo – $329.95

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  1. Just ordered the Monarch 5 10×42 and also considering a Athlon 8×42 because of a review I read on a birdwatching site. The author of the article spoke very highly of the Athlon and compared it to the Leica that he used at work that were much more expensive. Can you give me any insight on the Athlon 8×42? Thanks and I enjoyed your article.

  2. I like to warn any potential buyers of NIKON Monarch 10.5 x 42 binocular as they are inherent mechanically weak designed. My binocular broke down, beyond repair after 3 yrs of use. No coulance from Nikon service.

  3. These binoculars (I’ve checked out the 12×56) cannot be mounted on a tripod, which for me is a deal-breaker. I’m going for the 16×50 instead.

  4. recently purchased leupold ‘cascades’ 8×42 binos..they blew away all the other binos that were priced up to 700$..i got them on sale for $240..sooo happy.. use them for scouting/hunting

  5. i have a pair of nikon monarch10x42 atb real tree they are a fine pair of binos but the problem with them is the 5.5 field of view is way to narrow and it is like looking thru a telescope other than the lense capps which arnt too much hassle they are very good, outer lenses are not coated as you find in other models.i bought a pair of nikon 8×40 action porros for my wide angle viewing pleasure for £55 pounds and i cant tell much if any difference between
    the monarch s and the action either on magnification or sharpness so either buy 8×42 monarchs or if you wanna get away cheap try the actions 8×40 although not weather proof.

  6. Looking for a new pair of binoculars and think I’ve narrowed it down to a Nikon. Can anyone tell me what the REAl difference is between the 8×42 Monarch DCF ($349 in Canada), Monarch ATB, and the Sporter EX 8×42 at $209. Are the extra $$$$ worth it for the Monarch? I tried both the Sporter and the DCF in the store but it was hard to see any difference. My store doesn’t carry the ATB.
    Many thanks.

  7. Thank you Steve for your post and all the thoughtful comments. I am a Peruvian forester trying to get a new pair of “all terrain” binoculars. Nikon ATM Monarch 10x 42 is my first choice. Your pictures in this post are really great for describing this set.

    Than you again

  8. I have tested many binoculars one year ago. There were three high premium brands, that make the finest binoculars. And they were all German manufacturers ;-). It’s Leica of course, then the Zeiss Victory line, which in my eyes are a bit better than the Leica and another brand, i’m sure you heard of: Minox. It’s a traditional german optic brand, like Leica and Zeiss. They make the BD and HG line, which you can compare with the Trinovid and the Victory. And they make cheaper lines, which are not so good, but i think they can keep up with every Nikon. I have bought a Minox BD 10×42 BR asph. When you look through it, it’s blowing your mind. Sharp, clear and bright. And i got it, because there was a new improoved line on the way and i got the “old” one 60% cheaper :-0. I think the price achievement is very good at Minox. Steve you should test one, believe me you wouldn’t regret it. If you want to have further informations about Minox, go look at
    And if you are considering to buy a high priced binocular, look also at the Zeiss Victory. They are pricey but they are the best money can buy.
    Sorry for my bad english. 😉
    Greetings from Optic land No1

  9. Yes, if I remember right, my Leica 8 x 40 is also a bit sharper than were my Nikon 8 x 40 of comparable vintage.

  10. Steve, it may be that the Nikon Monarch 8 x 42 is not really sharper. It may just be that you can’t hold the 10 x 42 steady enough. That’s also certainly why a 12 x 42 should only be used with a tripod.

    Hey, I’ve got a rubber-armoured Leica 8 X 42 that’s about 25 years old !

    Just before that, I had a then quite inexpensive pair of porro prism Nikon 8 X 40. They had a wider field of view, more of a 3D effect, and about the same brightness. But the color-rendering of my Leica is noticeably better. And of course roof prism binoculars are more compact and just naturally are better sealed against the elements.

  11. I think Nikon binoculars has some good qualities. I traided a new pair of Swarovskis for Nikon ED-binoculars. The Swaros (their mid range, heavy model) had better contrast but they strained my eyes. The Nikons are easier to use for a longer time, very little eye-strain. I’m not totally happy with the Nikons at infinity though. Perhaps Nikons new top model is better at infinity, watching ships at sea etc. Boat binoculars would be better for me (I’m not a bird watcher), they have better depth of field and are better corrected for infinity.

  12. When I was in College I worked at a camera store that sold both the Nikons and the Leica Trinovids. The Nikons are excellent for the price point, but the Trinovids would just blow your mind they were so good. No surprise, I guess, but they were really great.

  13. The 8×42 are as good as you say. I consider them to be high end binoculars at a mid range price. People who wear glasses will find that the bayonet eye cups are *so* much nicer then the roll-ups found on other binoculars in this price range. The weatherproofing is almost a necessity for those who go birding in wet weather.

    Get the 8×10 for general use or for use in dense forest. Consider the 10×42 as a second pair for use in open areas such as lakes and prairie.

  14. Hi Jonathan!

    We used these for a night looking at stars and were pretty amazed at the clarity and sharpness. Honestly, we enjoyed looking through these more than my sons big telescope. Better clarity, contrast and sharpness. Not as much magnification but a beautiful view.

  15. Fully appreciate your love for binoculars, and love how your mum and son enjoyed them for a full hour 🙂

    I bought a Meade 9×63 for my wife many years ago and we were simply stunned by how many stars we could see through them that weren’t visible to the naked eye. Unfortunately during a holiday someone bumped/dropped them so they are now in need of a very expensive alignment repair! (~70% of the purchase price =*{ )

    How are these for stargazing?

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