It’s tough to choose between binoculars, especially when you’re new to the world that comes along with these types of optic products, and honestly, there’s a lot to choose from- whether it’s lens type, the manufacturer, specific specifications, terrain resistance, build strength, magnification, or even just the brand- which means that you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Several brands, especially Nikon, have a rich history and reputation that makes NOT purchasing a Nikon product difficult. In fact, Nikon products usually have such high quality lenses at more affordable prices with unbeatable warranties, which generally makes it a smart decision.
Nevertheless, there are a wide variety of extraordinarily high quality varieties of binoculars out there and the Vortex Viper HD are no different. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you might very well enjoy everything that these top of the line binoculars have to offer.
Nikon Monarch 7 Review
Size and Ergonomics
One thing that you would immediately note about the Monarch 7 series is that they are considerably bigger and clunkier than most Monarch brand binoculars. Anyone with experience with Nikon products knows that the Monarch brand is the “sportier” line of Nikon optics, so one might expect a more compact experience.
However, the optics on this particular Nikon model is outmatched by very few products. While Nikon series binoculars are known as the “middle ground” of binoculars because they use roof prisms that are more durable than higher end porro prisms, the coatings that Nikon puts on its binoculars are spectacular- an initial silver coating to give them more magnification and brightness in low light situations, and a coating to help with high light situations and focusing- giving you excellent quality in lower end glass- and it’s typically reflected in the price.
Another thing about the Monarch 7 series is that they have an excellent field of vision and provide spectacular watch-ability if you’re following wildlife, or going on a hike. We recommend 8 times magnification, simply because anything else is overkill, but these provide excellent color saturation, are completely nature-proof, fog proof, water proof and highly durable, have no chromatic aberration to distort your view and are great to use with glasses- which is extremely important.
Match that with the field of view and the excellent image quality and detail that these monarch products bring, and you’ll be pleased with the quality of these binoculars. Complete with ocular lens covers and objective lens covers, with an armored body, case and neck strap, you’ll never have to worry about breaking them.
That being said, they are a little bulkier than they have to be, and the lens covers are looser than they probably should be. While Nikon binoculars are great out of the box for use, the accessories that come with the binoculars don’t quite fit the bill. With no real instruction, you’re going to have to be pretty crafty to get everything put together on these ones.
Vortex Viper HD Review
Size and Ergonomics
“Vortex Optics” was once a kind of a no-man’s name when it comes to optics- completely overshadowed by the bigger, more popular and historied brands. That being said, they’ve become very popular in recent years, thanks to great design and value. They are probably the most lightweight varieties out there, with a rubberized body to increase the grip you get with actual thumb and finger grips, and they’re just as durable against drops and breakages as the Nikon products are.
While the optics aren’t quite as coated as the Nikon Monarch variety, they do have excellent low dispersion lenses and extremely high density glass that produces some of the best and sharpest images with great contrast and focus ability.
Vortex actually uses the same brands of viewing glasses (in HD clarity) as other optics companies do, so they come in very close competition with competitors, and provide great visage in low light situations compared to Nikon or other brands. With this, the Vortex product also offers a huge variety of magnifications and a very similar warranty to Nikon (but you’ll notice most high-end brands doing this these days too) so you’ll hardly see a difference between these two products except in size, shape, weight, and build.
Some of the major problems with the Vortex Viper HD are that they haven’t got the BEST field of view– while the view is great, it’s not as wide as some other brands.
Additionally, some have complained that the eye cups are sticky and hard to use and open when you’re fumbling to view a bird or animal at a distance that’s on the move, and the eye relief isn’t as good as Nikon brands are- which is pretty typical in side by side comparisons.
They aren’t terribly expensive, but they are a few hundred higher than your typical Nikon Monarch 7, while the Monarch cases blow the Vortex Viper cases out of the water.
Which Should You Choose?
It really depends what you’re looking for in binoculars. If you’d prefer eye relief, a cheaper price, and around the same quality lenses all around, you’ll probably end up going with the Nikon Monarch varieties. While both have very similar warranties and optic glasses, the Monarch brand offers a higher field of vision (which is very important to hikers and nature watchers) and double coating that makes their optics similar to porros prisms. That being said, if you’re not worried about price, you might end up going with the Vortex brand because they’re lighter weight and much easier to carry around than the Monarch brands, which is a huge draw for anyone that’s moving around a lot. While both have pretty similar lens cover issues, the Monarch brand offers better eye relief (another notorious Nikon feature) perfect for anyone that’s stuck wearing glasses. The all important decision comes down to your personal preference, but most would probably end up going with the storied history of Nikon products, mostly because a pair of Monarchs will probably cost around 400 dollars while a similar pair of Vortex Viper HD lenses would end up costing approximately 200 dollars more. If accessories are important, the case is better on the Nikon varieties, but you’ll probably end up buying a newer, more adjustable strap in the end anyways.
Go with what feels right for YOU, because you can’t go wrong with lifetime guaranteed full-coverage warranties.