Specs for the Nikon 8x42 Monarch 7 prismatic binocular are excellent: ED glass, a lightweight, tough and rubberized polycarbonate body, wide angle FOV, extended eye relief, fully coated lenses, and PC (Phase Corrected) and coated prisms.
The Monarch 7 uses a Schmidt-Pechan roof prism, in this case made of BaK-4 glass that features multilayer dielectric and phase-correction coatings, and all air to glass surfaces in the lens elements are multilayer coated, with the external surface of the objective lenses also treated with a scratch resistant coating.
We found the design of this binocular to be extremely light and very ergonomic, albeit the esthetics may not be universally appreciated, it is either ‘you love it’, or ‘hate it’; the rubber material used seems to be of good quality and features a great grip, while the 3D surface allows the user to manipulate and operate confidently the instrument with a single hand. The large focus knob feedback is positive, smooth and precise, although one and a quarter clockwise full rotation is needed to focus from the minimum focusable distance (an excellent 2 m) to infinity. Build quality is lower than expected, though, with the rubber armor that is not perfectly fitted to the body.
Creaking sounds accompany the adjustment of the interpupillary distance. Also, we did not like too much the diopter adjustment ring on the right eyepiece, which moves the outer lens; it works well, it does not feature any lock – although it does take some effort to move, so we’re confident it will hold its setting - and feedback is not very satisfying, with plenty of creep and a bit of backlash.
The measured eye relief is a quite standard 15,9 mm; considering the “high eyepoint design” claim, we would have expected more. This would not translate well for prescription glasses users: as a matter of fact, the measured FOV observable with spectacles in this case is only about 82%, but out of the Nikon’s excellent 8° FOV, making it a respectable 6,5° usable. The eyepieces are protected by four position, telescopic rubberized eyecups.
On the positive side, the field of view is indeed very wide for this class of binoculars, a hair-width below the claimed 8°, with a measured 138 m FOV at 1000 m.
The box is standard Nikon, with the usual gold-black color scheme. It contains the 8x42 binocular, a barely passable nylon carry pouch with a plain Velcro flap and no provisions for a carry sling, a padded shoulder strap for the binocular, a bikini eyepiece cover and removable objective caps.
In our subjective test, the Nikon 8x42 Monarch 7 binocular performs reasonably well; the image is very sharp, with excellent contrast and neutral color, very low chromatic aberrations and limited fringing.
Perceived veiling glare and some internal reflections do tend to wash out the image in some instances during harsh daylight, an impression that has been confirmed by the laboratory tests measured values.
Geometric distortions are noticeable over the peripheral 25-30% area near the edge, so is some darkening at the edge, together with a slight focus reduction; in the end, all this is more than bearable, especially considering the very wide field of view of this instrument and its street price.