Whether you are a bird watcher or a star gazer, a monocular is a handy device that you will be sure to get a lot of use out of. A cross between a telescope and binoculars, a monocular will allow you to see far away items with crystal clear precision. Like binoculars, a monocular utilizes lenses and prisms to reflect light, which allows it to magnify an image; however, like telescopes, a monocular contains a single body and viewing lens. Though the magnification levels don’t compare to a top of the line telescope, a monocular is a suitable, more compact and easier to use alternative to a telescope. This device also provides better viewing capabilities than standard binoculars.
If a monocular is something that you are interested in, you are going to find that there are a lot of options to choose from when you start shopping. It’s great to have a lot of options, but it can make choosing the best monocular for your needs a bit of a daunting challenge. To help you find the best monocular, we have put together this handy buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information pertaining to these useful viewing devices and will help to make the task of finding the best one for your needs a much easier task.
Types of Monoculars
There are five main types of monoculars:
- High powered monoculars
- Waterproof monoculars
- Night vision monoculars
- Tactical monoculars
- Compact monoculars
High Powered Monoculars
High powered monoculars offer exceptional magnification power. They are among the strongest monoculars produced, offering up to 12 times magnification and a 50 mm lens. With such high magnification power, you can get a clear view of an item that is as far as 1,000 feet away. High powered monoculars are ideal for hunters, bird watchers, sports enthusiasts and nature lovers.
If you want to do some high powered distance viewing under water or while you are out in the rain or snow, a waterproof monocular is an excellent option for you. Made with high quality water resistant materials, these monoculars can withstand wind, rain, sleet and snow. Do note, though, that if you plan on using it underwater, you will be limited by the depth that you can go, as the monocular can easily collapse under the strong weight of water pressure.
Night Vision Monocular
If you plan on looking at objects in the dark, a night vision monocular can be a handy tool. Outfitted with strong magnification and high quality infrared technology, a night vision monocular will allow you to see objects in the dark with ease. In fact, the highest quality night vision monoculars will allow you to see as clear in the dark as you can in the light, and at distances of up to 100 feet.
If you are looking for a monocular that offers a range finder, you will want to consider a tactical monocular. These devices are made to help you manually estimate the distance between you and the object that you wish to view; for example, the lens boasts silhouettes that you can use to compare to the object that you are viewing, so you can use the silhouette to determine how far away the object is that you are viewing – 300 meters or 500 meters, for example.
Compact monoculars are smaller, more compact (as the name suggests) and lighter weight, yet they still offer great viewing power. Their sleek design allows you to tuck them away and carry them around with ease; however, do note that their viewing distance is not as far as lager monoculars.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Monocular
There are several factors that should be taken into consideration before you purchase a monocular. These factors are important, as they will help you choose the best viewing device to meet your specific needs.
Your Intended Use
What do you intend on using your monocular for? Will you be viewing items that are at great distances, or will you be looking at items that are within closer range? Will you be using it in various weather conditions? Do you plan on tucking it away in a compact area? You intended use is important, as it will help you choose the best type of monocular for your specific needs.
Magnification of the Monocular
The magnification of the monocular is one of the most important factors to take into consideration. The magnification refers to how much larger the device will make the image that is being viewed. The magnification specification will usually include two numbers; 8 x 28, for example. The 8 in this example stands for the magnification. Here is a look at the ranges of magnification and what their viewing power is:
- 4x – 8x: These monoculars have a low magnification, which means that the image zoom is small, but the field of vision is large. Monoculars with this magnification range are good for viewing large landscapes rather than a single object.
- 8x – 9x: Though slightly higher, this is still considered a low range of magnification. The field of vision is still large, but the image is brighter and clearer.
- 10x – 14x: These monoculars offer a higher magnification level, but the field of vision becomes smaller. In other words, you will be able to see a single object with more clarity, but you will not be able to clearly see items that surround it.
- 20x – 25x: These monoculars offer the lowest field of view, but they offer the most powerful magnification. A monocular with this magnification level is best suited for viewing a specific item, such as an animal in a distant tree.
In addition to considering the magnification level, you should also consider the diameter of the lens. As stated above, monocular specifications are usually listed with two numbers; 8 x 28, for example. As discussed above, the 8 in this example refers to the magnification level of the monocular, while the 28 (or whatever number comes second in the specification) stands for the diameter of the lens. The lens diameter that you require will largely depend on your intended use of this viewing device. Generally, the larger the diameter, the more light will be let into the equipment. In other words, monoculars with a larger lens diameter are better suited for use in poorly lit areas. Do keep in mind, though, that the larger the lens, the larger and heavier the monocular will be.
The Size and Weight
The way you plan on carrying your monocular will impact the size and weight that is right for you. Generally, monoculars that are 8 x 25 are considered compact and will easily fit into your pocket; however, the lower the size and weight, the less viewing power you will have.
You should also consider the amount that you want to spend on the monocular. These viewing devices can vary in price. The highest quality monoculars will tend to run upwards of $100 or more. Do keep in mind that the more features the device offers and the greater the viewing power, the more expensive the monocular will likely be.
Monoculars can boast a number of features. These features are intended to improve your experience and your viewing pleasure; however, the more features a monocular offers, the more expensive it will likely be. To avoid paying for features that you are interested in or don’t need, it’s important to have an understanding of the different features that are available and what they can do.
The steadier you hand is while holding a monocular, the clearer your view will be. Some monoculars feature molded grips, which allow you to comfortable hold onto the viewing device and prevent slippage., which means less shaking and a clear image.
Retractable Eye Cup
A retractable eye cup can be a handy feature, particularly if you wear glasses. With this feature, you won’t have to worry about taking your glasses off to use your monocular; just adjust the eye cup as necessary and you will be able to look through the device with ease. Your glasses won’t obstruct your viewing capability.
Monoculars can also come with added accessories, which are built into the price of the device and are specifically design to fit the devices they are sold with. Some of the added accessories that are available include a tripod and a carrying case. Simply set up the tripod and attach the monocular to it for easier, less shaky viewing. When the device isn’t being used, you can slip your monocular into the handy carrying case, which will keep it safe and secure.
Best Monocular Brands
There are several manufacturers that make monoculars, which can make it difficult to find the best option for you. To help you choose the best option, we have done some extensive research and have tested out several monoculars ourselves. After our thorough assessment, we have concluded that the following monocular brands are the best of the best.
OUTERDO produces some of the highest quality monoculars that offer some of the most cutting edge designs and technologies. We particularly like their unique hand wheel bump design, which makes it much easier to hold onto their monoculars with a steady grip, thus allowing you to see images more clearly. We also like that this company offers a wide range of monoculars to suite all needs, interests and price ranges.
Polaris is a highly regarded manufacturer of outdoor equipment that is intended for use with camping, gaming and hunting. Their monoculars are top of the line and are made from the highest quality materials available. They also conduct extensive research to ensure that they are offering their customers the most innovative tools, which is something that we really found to be quite impressive.
ROXANT monoculars received great reviews online, and after testing them out ourselves, we have to say that we agree with the reviews. This company creates highly durable monoculars that are built to last and withstand tough elements. We particularly enjoyed the molded grips that the ROXANT monoculars were outfitted with, as we feel like they gave us much better control and increased our viewing abilities tremendously, as compared to other monoculars that did not feature molded hand grips.