Nikon Monarch 8×42 ATB Binocular

The Nikon Monarch 8 x 42 ATB is currently THE binocular (bin) of choice at Chat Happens. In fact both Ryan and Chad- Chat Happens co-founders- can be spotted in the field with this very binocular. It is also the binocular that we most frequently recommend to birders of all levels. It is hands down one of the best binoculars in its price class (under $300), and is often compared to other models which retail for up to three times the cost. Please join us in the following overview and review of this spectacular birding tool.



These All Terrain Binoculars (ATB) are easily one of the best deals (steal really) for any birder who is looking for a binocular with a high quality image and durable body at a great price. Coming in with a very versatile 8 power magnification and a large 42mm objective lens, these binoculars can be used in just about any birding situation; from the early light at dawn chorus to the high seas of a pelagic boat trip and everywhere in between the Nikon Monarch will produce. On top of its great light gathering ability, it is also a great binocular for those of us that want a better ability to focus close. Whether you are searching for a Black-capped Gnatcatcher popping up in a dense wash in southern Arizona or waiting for a Red-spotted Purple to float by, these binoculars will let you focus as close as 6 feet making sure you get on your target fast.

The prisms are fully phase-corrected for a sharp, high contrast image, and the lenses are multi-coated for an increase in light transmission for those dark moments in the day. For the environmentally conscious, all the lenses are made of eco-friendly glass without the use of lead or arsenic. To tie all the prisms and lenses together is a large focus wheel with an incredibly smooth turn to get you on the birds fast! For those of you who wear eye glasses, the Monarch’s eye cups are of the turn and slide variety which is an obvious step up from the archaic fold-over models that are still being produced on some of the lower end brands producing today. This feature also allows you to quickly share your binoculars with someone who may be optically different, perfect for group birding sessions.

Possibly, the best feature of the ATBs is just what makes them that, their ability to go just about anywhere in any terrain. These slim roof prism binoculars are not only fully waterproof and fogproof to keep you going in any conditions, they are also fully shockproof and coated in a rubber armor for a positive non-slip grip. Whether you are a new birder looking for your first pair of binoculars or the seasoned veteran conducting daily point counts, these truly are a great pair of optics to go out in the field with. They will very easily change the way in which you look at birds.


Close behind the tiny Leupolds was the Nikon Monarch 8×42, clearly the top-rated of any mid-priced, full-power birding binoculars. These lightweight, waterproof, and very comfortable binoculars focus down to 6 feet (they were given the name “Monarch” to attract butterfly watchers) and offer an image and feel that surpasses many models costing two or three times more. Only in a direct comparison with the top-priced binoculars could our reviewers discern the narrower, slightly duller image, which was not quite sharp at the edges. But with a street price well under $300, the Monarchs are a steal.

-Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Review of the Nikon Monarch 8×42 ATB

I am currently birding with Nikon Monarch 8×42 binoculars. I entered the roof prism/waterproof/fogproof arena with a pair of Eagle Optics 10×42s four years ago but found the eye relief very tiring on long days. I looked through a pair of Monarchs at Gander Mountain one day and my jaw dropped at the clarity, eye relief, weight, and COST! Needless to say, I bought myself a Christmas present the next year.

-Ryan (Chat Happens Co-Founder)

The Nikon Monarch 8×42 ATB Binocular is quite possibly the best thing that literally dropped into my birding life in the past 10 years. As a bird bander for the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO Conservation Science) I used binoculars 6 days a week for 6-12 hours a day. It was of course very shocking the moment I realized I dropped my then current pair of a binoculars (Swift Audubon) thus knocking the prism loose. I quickly ordered a Monarch for myself after remembering that I looked through Ryan’s months prior. When the Nikon was delivered to my door I realized then that I shouldn’t have waited for an accident to purchase them. I have birded everywhere from the Pacific to the Atlantic and have used my sightings to contribute to avian conservation efforts. They are truly an All Terrain Binocular and I easily give them my endorsement.

-Chad (Chat Happens Co-Founder)

External Links

Eagle Optics- Nikon Monarch 3 8×42

Nikon Sports Optics

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Binocular Review