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Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 Binoculars: Our Review

Excellent image and feel, although with a limited field of view. This binocular is one of our Top Picks.

At A Glance

Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 binoculars. Image by Hugh Powell.


  • Very sharp and bright image
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Comfortable, compact, and fairly lightweight


  • Substantially narrower field of view than other Top Pick models


  • Price: $290 MSRP at press time. Prices often fluctuate, so check with retailers
  • Close focus: 8.2 feet (250 cm)
  • Field of view: 6.4° (336 feet at 1,000 yards). More about field of view 
  • Weight: 24.2 oz (687 g)—that’s about 1.5 oz (42 g) lighter than the average for 8×42 binoculars in our review
  • Eye relief: 19.5 mm

Viewing Experience: Priced some $200 lower than the Monarch M7, the Monarch M5 offers a similarly comfortable, well-built binocular with excellent optics. The main difference is the M5’s substantially narrower field of view, which gives them a sense of tunnel vision and can make it hard to find and follow birds. The image itself is very bright and sharp. We took these out on a fall day and found swarms of migrating sparrows. A Fox Sparrow in a low bush was gloriously red; the image brought out the subtle interplay of gray on the head and cheek. The thin arrowhead marks on the chest were so sharp they were almost piercing. A mixed flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and Chipping Sparrows hung from goldenrod stems and perched in sumac bushes, with the M5s really doing justice to the many shades of gray and rufous.

Feel and Build: Nikon has given these binoculars a solid build quality in a neat and easy-to-hold package (at least in our male reviewer’s medium/large hands). The smooth barrels (no scallops or indentations for the thumbs) have a black armoring with a slight texture for grip. The focus wheel is steady and easy to turn, though with less glide than in some of our favorite binoculars so that it requires positive pressure to keep moving. The eyecups are firm and click securely into their preset positions without slipping. The objective lens covers even showed some thoughtful design, with a double ring around the barrels that keeps the covers from slipping.

More on Binoculars

Comments From Testers: 

  • Good image quality
  • Easy to focus
  • Light and comfortable
  • Focus wheel a little stiff

This article is one in a series of mini-reviews. To see how these binoculars compare to others we’ve tested, see our full review of affordable 8×42 binoculars.  

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