The Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 has been discontinued and replaced by the Nikon Monarch DCF 8x42 (*Est. $280). Reviewers say the full-sized Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars are the best binoculars in this price range -- the "sweet spot" where you get the most for your money. Recommended for birding, hunting and butterfly watching, the Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars can focus as close as 8.2 feet and provide a 300-foot field of view. With 19.6 mm of eye relief, they're also comfortable for eyeglass wearers. They're roof prism binoculars (the best type) and are both fogproof and waterproof. They have a tripod socket for use in low light, and carry a 25-year warranty for manufacturers' defects plus a "no-fault" warranty, which means that Nikon will repair accidental damage for a flat fee of $10. If closer focus is the priority, consider the Pentax Papilio 6.5x21 (*Est. $130), which can focus as close as 18 inches.
Birding is considered the most demanding use for binoculars, so we found the best comparison tests of the Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where teams of experienced birders compare it with 77 other models in various sizes and price ranges, using well-documented tests and precise ratings. Pete Dunne's review in Birder's World compares the Monarch ATB 8x42 with seven comparably priced binoculars, and the scorecard at Optics4Birding.com rates this model on eight different factors. We also found owner-written reviews at Amazon.com and HuntingAndFishingGearReview.com.
1. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology ranks the Nikon Monarch the best 8x42 binocular in the $200-500 "sweet spot" price range, noting that they're "lightweight, waterproof, and very comfortable," with "an image and feel that surpasses many models costing two or three times more." Scores are very high for image quality and close focus, but especially high for overall feel and eye comfort.
Review: The Age of Binoculars, Kenneth V. Rosenberg, Winter 2005
2. Birder's World
Testing eight moderately-priced binoculars for good optics, experienced bird-watcher Pete Dunne recommends the Nikon Monarch: "There are others in this price range that are comparable, but for some reason, after an hour of testing and comparing, this is the glass buyers walk up to the counter with."
Review: Out with the Old, In with the New, Pete Dunne, February 2005
More than 100 owners give the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 binoculars a high average rating, praising their bright clarity and comfort. Minor complaints involve inconvenient lens covers, and one owner reports a quality-control problem.
Review: Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 Waterproof Binocular, Contributors to Amazon.com
4. Hunting and Fishing Gear Review.com
A handful of outdoor sportsmen review the Nikon Monarch ATB 8x42 here, with praise and minor complaints that mirror those articulated by Amazon.com contributors.
Review: Binoculars Reviews, Contributors to Hunting and Fishing Gear Review