If you're looking for a binocular to use for a wide variety of activities, don't get a niche binocular such as for fog, rain or sharper images, and instead check out Nikon's Monarch models. All eye relief, FOV, brightness and focus are at the versatility sweet spot, so you can use them for anything from hiking to bird wathcing. You can see their manuals here [PDF] at page 53 (which I was provided by the customer rep I contacted).
But... which Nikon Monarch 7 should you get? 8x42 or 10x42? What are their differences and who are they best for? This post is all you need for the answer.
In summary, 8x is considered better than 10x. 90% of people would be better with Monarch 7 8x42 | $419.30 (or Monarch 7 8x42 Complete Kit | from $329.99) due its improved steadiness, field of view and eye relief caused by 20% less magnification (8x). However, if you prefer 20% more magnification to these advantages for some reason, Monarch 7 10x42 | $410.95 (or Monarch 7 10x42 Complete Kit | from $389.99) is the way to go for you.
#Note: I'd recommend the complete kits (more on this later)...
So, their KEY difference is:
Magnification (and hence, slight weight & size).
I contacted Nikon Monarch Customer Service myself (screenshots below) to conclude that 8x42 and 10x42 don't have any other differences than magnification!
All the other differences (field of view, steadiness etc) stem from this difference in magnifications.
Now on paper, these differences are as follows:
And now let me translate these.
This is important for those who wear glasses, and in summary, more eye relief is better. Although all Monarch models provide long eye relief, 8x42 is the winner in this comparison since it's more than 10x42.
Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece (which is inside the binocular) and your eye where the optimal vision is achieved. With or without wearing glasses, for Monarch 7 8x42, eye relief should be at 17.1 mm (0.67 inches) and for Monarch 7 10x42, it should be at 16.5 mm (0.65 inches).
This is why higher eye relief is better for folks with glasses: There will be more room for your glasses to fit in between your eye and the eyepiece.
What happens if you go for the model with less eye relief (10x42)?
The answer is that you won't be able to see the edges of the image, but only the center of it:
For further reading: Birdwatching.com has a good article about it.
Field of view
Obviously, field of view is better with Monarch 7 8x42 due to less magnification:
8x42 offers 20% more field of view compared to 10x42! That's a BIG difference - as you can see in the image above.
Zeiss blog has a good article about it.
Another thing to consider: Steadiness
Steadiness, as the name implies, can be interpreted by "ease of use" for most people. In summary, less magnification is easier to use, so again, 8x42 is the winner here.
The answer is hand shake. No no, I mean shaky hands.
Everyone's hands shake a little bit - some more, some less. Although experienced binocular, monocular and scope users can handle this issue easier; for most non-pro users shaky hands is an issue while using a binocular.
The more the magnification, the more the image will jump around. Therefore, Monarch 7 10x42 will come more difficult for most of you to get a hold of a steady, firm and "changeless" image than 8x42.
Chances are, if you haven't used any type of binocular before, wobbly 10x magnification can piss you off and it doesn't have a short learning curve.
Other shared features
Let's talk about them a little before closing.
Close focus: 8.2 ft
Close focus is the closest distance the binocular will focus without providing you a blurry image. That's why, the lower the close focus of a binocular, the more clear you can see the closer images.
Both models stand at 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). There are other binoculars out there that can focus clearly to closer distances, but 8.2 feet is lower (=better) than most of them.
Close focus is determined by the eyepiece itself - NOT the magnification!
Lens size: 42 mm
There are 3 lens sizes: 28 mm, 42 mm, 50+mm.
The higher the lens size, the more clear and bright the image will be, with sacrificing weight & size a lot. That's why 50+ mm binoculars are used for purposes such as stargazing, whereas 28 mm binoculars are used when weight/size are huge concerns.
That's why, 42 mm is another thing that makes Monarch 7 8x42 and 10x42 quite versatile for most of us.
What about weight and size?
At 1.43 lbs (0.65 kg), 8x42 is only 0.4 oz (11 grams!) lighter than 10x42. That's why I didn't list this as an advantage of 8x42.
Complete kits or binoculars only?
- Op/Tech USA Bino/Cam Harness
- Universal Smartphone Adapter
- Binocular Tripod Adapter
- Rokinon 67" Monopod & Case
- PD 5pc Complete Cleaning Kit
- Lenspen Microfiber Clean Cloth
Regardless of your usage, I'd hiiiiiighly recommend going for complete kits rather than only binoculars since EVERYONE will need some of these items such as harness and cleaning kit.
It doesn't worth trying to find other "cheaper" harness and cleaning kits while risking harness incompatibility & risking image quality of your not-so-cheap binocular while cleaning. Let's not even get to the extra time and headache you waste researching.
Other included items such as tripod, mono-pod and smartphone adapter are less important for most of us - although would still be used (especially smartphone adapter).
In summary, 8x is considered better than 10x. 90% of people would be better with Monarch 7 8x42 | $419.30 (or the complete kit Monarch 7 8x42 Kit | from $329.99) especially either you have shaky hands, aren't experienced in using a binocular, prefer the a more versatile use or wear glasses. However, if you prefer 20% more magnification to these advantages for some reason, Monarch 7 10x42 | $410.95 (or the complete kit Monarch 7 10x42 Kit | from $389.99) is the way to go for you.
So... what about Nikon Monarch 5?
Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 vs 10x42
If you think either Monarch 7 model can be an overkill for you, you can take a look at Monarch 5 models:
I'll put together another post devoted completely to the differences between Nikon Monarch 5 and 7, but as you see, the most important difference is field of view.
The difference is substantial and no matter what purpose you're using the binocular, you'll notice the difference. Still, if you think Monarch 7 would be "overkill" for you, you can go for Monarch 5.
Eye relief is already pretty high in Monarch 7 models, so Monarch 5 models don't really have a lot to offer - especially if you don't have to wear HUGE glasses.
That's why, for the same reasons (field of view and steadiness), I'd recommend 8x over 10x. Unless your binocular use would make VERY MUCH use of 20% more magnification over other steadiness and field of view benefits (which I'd highly doubt), get Monarch 5 8x42 | from $244.00 (or the complete kit Monarch 5 8x42 Kit | $246.95). Otherwise Monarch 5 10x42 | $266.95 (or the complete kit Monarch 5 10x42 Kit | $266.95) can be a good option for you.
I hope this review was helpful for you to understand which Monarch 7 binocular would be the best choice for your needs. Feel free to ask me any questions, provide feedback and I'll be happy to respond in the comment section below if it's within my knowledge.
Thanks a lot for reading. Happy trails.
References & Further reading