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Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

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Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

Old 11-24-2004, 06:51 AM
Boone & Crockett
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Default Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

I typed the following post up in response to a thread on another forum but thought it might prove useful here as well.......

Excellent timing! At various times throughout the year I get fixated on certain pieces of my hunting equipment. For the last month or so it has been binoculars. As you may or may not know I bought a pair of Nikon Monarchs 10x42s last Christmas and have been singing their praises ever since.

However, I have found that I tend to always like to have at least one backup set to just about everything I own and use on a regular basis. Binoculars could not be any different so the search was on. I spent several days over the span of about two weeks at the optics counter in the local Cabelas. I looked through everything they had (indoors and outdoors) and continue to be impressed with how the Nikon's compare to the higher end glass.

They are not as good as the high end glass in certain areas but relatively close to it and for alot less money. I cannot tell you how many times I have searched the web for websites/articles on binocular reviews and have found quite a few. In just about every one, after you get past the words Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski, the next binocular mentioned is the Nikon Monarch ATB (with the exception of the Nikon Venturer LXs which are in a class all by themselves and with a price to match. ). The Monarchs are rated as a best buy by a variety of different optic "professionals".

Having made those comments though I did decide though that it would be somewhat redundant to buy a second pair. I made up my mind that I wanted something a tad smaller overall and with an 8x pair of optics instead of the 10x that I had on the Monarchs. I like to have some variety and many of the birding websites recommend the 8x for closer situations where a wider field of view and slighter larger exit pupil would be more beneficial.

After alot of looking and a modest price limit I ended up narrowing down my search to various 8x32 models. Most notably a Browning model, the Pentax DCF-XP, a Burris 8x32, the Bushnell Legend 8x32 and the Wind River Katmai 8x32. The last of that bunch I did not actually get a chance to look at as they were not available at the retail store. The others though compared favorably and other than the Pentax were all within about $10 of one another.

I ended up with the Bushnell Legend.

My reason was two fold. One, the clarity and resolution appeared slightly better than any of the others. Two, the price was significantly under my spending limit. The Pentax was actually my first choice but I found that I when I took it out into the woods I could not get the clarity and definition at longer distances that I could with the Monarchs. With the Legends I found that same level of clarity and definition even though they were only an 8x versus the 10x of the Monarchs. Granted, I cannot see as much detail (10x versus 8x) but then again that is not the primary reason I decided to purchase them.

After being able to compare both the Monarchs and the Legends under a variety of conditions over the last few weeks I believe that each has its place in my hunting pack. I believe I will use the Legends for more early season hunting when the amount of foliage dictates short distance glassing. The Monarchs will be relegated to vehicular use and use during rifle and our late archery/muzzleloader season. Ofcourse, this is all subjective. I might change my mind and just use both interchangeably throughout the hunting seasons.

The major optical difference I found between the two is the color of the light allowed to reach the viewer's eye. Now take this with a grain of salt as the difference is barely noticeable and only under specific conditions. What I have found is that the Nikons tend to allow more of a red/brown/orange hue to reach your eye. The Legends tend to favor more of a green/blue hue. What this means to me is that the Nikons tend to resemble more of the natural color of my surroundings while the Legends color variation tend to accentuate more detail. It is difficult for me to relate but if you spent enough time behind both them you would understand what I am trying to convey.

Pluses and minuses:

Optically I think the Nikon's use better glass. The image is just a tad more realistic in terms of color without giving up much in terms of detail. The Legends offer better definition, slightly, but not enough to offset the more realistic color of the Nikon's.

Ergonomically I like both but would give the slight edge to the Legends because they are a smaller binocular. The specs on the Monarch are 5.6 inches and 21 ounces. The specs on the 8x32 Legend is 5.25 inches and 23 ounces. The Legend's combination of weight and length make them feel a bit more solid than the Monarchs (though they might not necessarily be so). I have not had a chance to check out the 10 or 8 x42 Legends but they are listed at 6 inches and close to 30 ounes. I do not think I would find them as comparable to the Monarchs as the 8x32 Legends are from a physical standpoint and my personal preferences though I am sure they would provide an excellent overall hunting binocular.

I have two pet peeves with the Monarchs. One, the central focusing adjustment is nice in that it does allow for focusing at various distances with only a minute turn of the focusing wheel. However, in comparison to the Legends and several other models it feels somewhat loose. On the one hand this should not be an issue if the archer is continuously glassing with them. On the other hand though I have had several occasions where I had to keep refocusing after putting them down and picking them back up because the focus wheel got bumped in the process. With a slightly stiffer wheel this would not be a problem.

Two, along the same line of thought the actual central hinge that holds the optical barrels together also seems be getting a bit loose after a year's worth of use. I am unsure whether this is somewhat my imagination after using the Legends side by side with the Monarchs or whether it is actually getting looser. In either case I am considering sending them to Nikon after hunting is over to have both issues looked at and fixed if necesary. I am sure it will be a relatively minor issue and yet still a good opportunity to test out Nikon's customer service.

To be fair, the two points I had some issue with on the Monarchs are probably also two points that I have good things to say about the Legends. The focus is much stiffer thus allowing for less worry about refocusing between uses. The amount of adjustment on the center focus wheel for various focusing distances isn't as small as the Nikon's though. The central hinge on the Legends is also quite stiff and actually requires some effort to get the binoculars to "open up" or close even a moderate amount.

While we are on the subject I thought I might also promote the 10x26 porro prism Legend model binoculars. I bought two pairs of these for a hunting buddy and my brother in law in the last few weeks. Optically they are very good for a compact sized binocular. They are waterproof, internally fogproof, fully multicoated and phase coated as well as coated with Bushnell's rain guard external fogging coating. Clarity is very good and relatively bright for a compact sized binocular. The best part is the price though. Typically compacts are much less expensive than their full sized counterparts and the 10x26 Legends are no different. Locally they go for $109 but I am sure that some of you more resourceful folks could find them for a bit cheaper.

In conclusion, I think the both the Monarchs and the Legends are great pieces of glass for the price. Easily more than adequate for the average Joe, like myself, who wants quality equipment at a reasonable price. I recommend either highly.

Hope this helps.

Edit: As a follow up to what I posted above, some information that might prove useful to you folks that are looking at picking up a pair of binoculars in the near future.....

There are two basic types of binoculars, porro and roof prism designs. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Porro prism models have been around for many years. They are the larger style of the two. This design's benefits include a brighter overall image (without any lens coatings applied) and better depth perception. They are also significantly less expensive than their roof prism counterparts. The downside to using one is that most of them are not waterproof and they are much larger and bulkier than similar roof prism models.

Roof prism models are the more streamlined design. The eyepiece is in a direct line with the objective lense of the binocular. The downside to this design is that light has to pass through more glass to reach your eye. This drastically reduces the brightness and clarity levels of untreated roof prism binoculars. However with the proper chemical coatings roof prism binoculars can equal, and in some cases surpass, the brightness and clarity levels of the best porro prism designs. Speaking of which, something to look out for when you see the descriptions for the various binoculars on the market.....

Fully coated = every lens and prism surface receives at least one chemical coating to increase light transmission

Multi coated = At least one lens or prism surface receives more than one chemical coating

Fully coated = Every lens and prism surface receives more than one chemical coating

Phase coated (corrected) = a special chemical coating is applied to the prism itself to redirect as much visible light to the viewer's eye.

The best roof prism designs should be described as both phase coated and fully multicoated. These are the models, in my opinion, that you really start to notice a difference in the level of brightness and clarity.

Roof prism models are also easier to waterproof (and in most cases are) and are more compact overall than their porro prism counterparts. The downside is that they are much more expensive. In many cases a roof prism model can be several hundred dollars more expensive than the equivalent porro prism design.
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Old 11-30-2004, 01:36 PM
Boone & Crockett
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Default RE: Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

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Old 12-04-2004, 09:28 AM
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Default RE: Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

i recently went to cabelas in PENNSY and at least in the store( which wasnt the brightest lite situation) i loved the monarch 10x42 over the bushnell 10x42 in feel weight and clarity. i tried the 1500$ models in swars-lieca-zeiss and although a difference i didnt feel they were worth 5 times the price. i think there are some really great options for under 600$ these days.
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Old 12-06-2004, 10:08 AM
Boone & Crockett
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Default RE: Nikon Monarch and Bushnell Legend Binocular mini-review

Thank you for the comments LO. I, too, thought the Monarchs compared very favorably considering the price difference.
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:27 PM
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Thanks for this thread...

I realize this thread is pretty old but as a brand new binoculars buyer, I found this information helpful.

I did hours upon hours of research.

Porro prism vs. Roof, coated lenses, eye relief, relative light, magnification vs. Field of view vs. Shakiness of image... Thousands of dollars vs $700 range vs $400 range vs mid $200 range.

A person can go crazy trying to educate themselves.

My hunting buddy said a general rule is at least five times between the two numbers for low light viewing.

For example, 8 x 42 let's in more light than a 10 x 42 because of the size difference between the magnification and lenses. So while the 10 power gets you closer to the object, the 8 x 42 may be better in early morning light for hunting purposes.

I wear glass so need higher eye relief for that... Wanted waterproof for hunting.

I ended up buying the new Monarch 5 in 8 x 42 for $279.

If you are still monitoring this topic, how would you compare the Monarch 5 vs. The Bushnell Legends both in the 8 x 32?
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