Monoculars: A Buyer’s Guide

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Monoculars: Introduction

Monoculars are versatile telescopic devices that provide enlarged images of distant objects. While some people describe a monocular as half of a binocular, the truth is that monoculars have numerous advantages compared to other optical tools. Monoculars are highly compact, lightweight, and portable. Moreover, professionals favor night vision monoculars overnight vision binoculars as having one eye free to examine the surroundings can be invaluable. Note that monoculars are used in a variety of settings, such as hunting, surveillance, birding, reading, and even stargazing.

Interestingly, the history of monoculars is linked to that of other magnifying devices. We should note that the first refractor telescope was invented in the 17th century, with spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey being credited with the invention of the telescope, whereas the first real binocular (as we know them today) was built in the 19th century. One of the main advancements in lens technology that fostered the design of modern monoculars was the employment of prism-erecting systems to correct image orientation, launched in 1854 by Ignazio Porro and Jean Georges Hofmann. Today, such systems are integrated part of monoculars and adopted by some of the best optical brands, such as Vortex, Celestron, Bushnell, Wingspan, Nikon, and Zeiss.


Choosing a Monocular

Although monoculars are often overlooked when searching for a magnifying instrument, the truth is that monoculars are invaluable instruments that can be used in a variety of settings, such as marine observations, surveillance, hiking, hunting, and even stargazing. Nevertheless, due to the wide variety of optical products and competitors on the market, choosing a monocular can be a daunting task, especially for beginners. Before purchasing a unit, prospective buyers should consider three main factors:

  • Requirements
  • Specifications
  • Total costs


Requirements: Before buying a telescopic device, users should decide what they’ll use it for (e.g., stargazing, hunting, etc.) and where they’ll be using it (e.g., hiking expeditions). In fact, the main choice users should make is between binoculars and monoculars. While binoculars are created for use with two eyes, monoculars are suitable for use with one eye, which is highly beneficial for people with vision problems. Furthermore, as stated above, night vision monoculars are highly favored as they do not kill one’s night vision and allow one eye to be free to examine the surroundings. Last but not least, monoculars have only one focus to adjust, which makes them easy and quick to use in different situations.

Specifications: Monoculars magnify images by focusing light through lenses and prisms, with prism systems resulting in light and compact designs. Two of the main specifications to consider are magnification and lens diameter. Interestingly, monoculars for sale come with two parameters (e.g., 6×42): one is the magnification level (e.g., 6X), the other one is the diameter of the lens (e.g., 42 mm). Note that lower magnification provides a bigger field of view.  Usually, telescopes are defined as devices with magnification over 20X and an aperture of 60-90 mm. Note that telescopes normally require a stand (e.g., tripod). On the other hand, just like binoculars, popular parameters for monoculars are 7×25, 8×30, 8×42, and 10×42.

Total costs: Given the vast variety of optical products for sale, choosing a powerful but affordable unit can be challenging. Magnification, aperture, and materials used are the three main factors that affect total costs. Usually, monoculars are cheaper than binoculars and easier to maintain. Accessories, such as the wrist or neck-straps, should be considered, especially for hiking, hunting, and any other outdoor adventure. Note that for people with arthritis or similar health problems, a neck strap can be better than a wrist strap in order to improve comfort and user experience.


Best Monoculars

With a variety of features, models, and competitors, choosing a monocular can be a difficult task. Based on different specifications, user reviews, and areas of use, we provide a list of the best monoculars on the market to help buyers make an informed decision:


1. Monoculars for hunting:

Monoculars for hunting are highly popular units. Note that such monoculars must be lightweight and waterproof, with a high magnification ratio and durable armor. Additionally, some may include night vision to allow night hunting and wildlife monitoring.


Bushnell 191142 Legend Ultra HD Monocular with Picatinny Rail Mount

Parameters: 10×42

Bushnell 191142 Legend Ultra HD Monocular with Picatinny Rail Mount is an attractive and powerful model with 10×42 parameters. This fog and waterproof unit come with a twist-up eyecup, fully multi-coated optics, a Picatinny rail mount, and a Mil-Hash reticle. Bushnell 191142 Legend Ultra HD Monocular with Picatinny Rail Mount is ideal for a wide range of activities, such as hunting, hiking, surveillance, and even stargazing.


2. Night vision monoculars:

Night vision monoculars are also highly popular units. As explained above, such monoculars are often favored overnight vision binoculars as they do not kill one’s night vision. They can be used for different activities, such as hunting, fishing, camping, or surveillance.


Barska NVX100 3X Night Vision Monocular with Built-in Camera

Parameters: 3×14.5

Barska NVX100 3x Night Vision Monocular with Built-in Camera is a powerful model equipped with a 20 mm exit pupil, 3X magnification power, a 14.5 mm lens diameter, and an infrared illuminator that allows viewing in the dark. The unit is quick to use and allows images or videos to be viewed on its internal screen or shared on an external device. With numerous features and a built-in camera, Barska NVX100 3X Night Vision Monocular with Built-in Camera is ideal for wildlife observations, hunting, and survival.


3. Thermal vision monoculars:

Thermal monoculars are sophisticated units, which are now available to all people. Such monoculars are highly popular among hunters as they can help distinguish the prey by thermally tracking it down.


ATN OTS-HD 384 2-8X Thermal Smart HD Monocular

ATN OTS-HD 384 2-8X Thermal Smart HD Monocular is a sophisticated product with a smooth zoom system, a built-in rangefinder, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The thermal sensor has 384*288 HD resolution and facilitates the capture of heat signatures, allowing users to capture their experiences on an SD card or stream them in real-time. The unit comes with 3D gyroscopic image stabilization and an e-compass. Note that ATN OTS-HD 384 2-8X Thermal Smart HD Monocular can be used during the day as well as at night.


4. Monoculars for surveillance:

Monoculars for surveillance are popular optical instruments. Note that they should be equipped with durable armor to resist harsh weather conditions and changing environments.


Gosky 12×55 High Definition

Parameters: 12×55

Gosky 12×55 High Definition is a wonderful water and shockproof monocular, ideal for surveillance, camping, birding, climbing, and hunting. It is equipped with a BAK-4 prism, a green-film objective lens, a long eye relief, 12×55 magnification power, and rubber armor. It’s no surprise that Gosky 12×55 High Definition makes a great present for any outdoor enthusiast. Additionally, the unit comes with a smartphone adapter allowing users to take photos of the area they are surveilling or simply observing.


5. Monoculars for bird watching:

Bird watching is a popular activity, making monoculars for bird watching highly popular. Note that such units should come with reasonable magnification power and a large aperture. At the same time, they have to be compact to improve user comfort and portability.


Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered 12×50 Monocular

Parameters: 12×50

Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered 12×50 Monocular is one of the most powerful models on the market, ideal for bird watching and other outdoor activities. The unit comes with BAK-4 prisms, a 14 mm eye relief, and 12×50 magnification power. Its 50 mm lens diameter ensures high light-gathering and a large field of view. Note that Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered 12×50 Monocular is fog and waterproof, which makes it a great addition to any travel adventure.


6. Marine monoculars:

Marine monoculars are ideal for marine observations, boating, fishing, and water sports. Note that they should be light and durable at the same time. It’s self-explanatory that waterproof models are a must.


Opticron Marine 3

Parameters: 7×50

Opticron Marine 3 is a great marine unit. It features Porro prisms, anti-reflective multi-coatings, and cross-field resolution. Additionally, the unit has a long eye relief (ideal for eyeglasses wearers), 7X magnification power, and a 50 mm aperture. With a full nitrogen gas-filled structure, this waterproof and durable Opticron Marine 3 monocular is easily protected from harsh weather and bumps.


7. Travel monoculars:

As monoculars are lighter than binoculars, portable and compact monoculars are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Note that travel and hiking monoculars should be waterproof and shockproof to resist different environments and harsh weather.


Orion 10×42 Waterproof

Parameters: 10×42

Orion 10×42 Waterproof is a compact and portable unit weighing less than 11 ounces (310 grams). At the same time, this monocular has 10X magnification power and a fully multi-coated 42 mm lens. The unit is ideal for people who wear glasses as it has a 17 mm long eye relief, as well as a twist-up rubber eye guard. With its waterproof rubber armor, Orion 10×42 Waterproof Monocular is ideal for observing birds, wildlife, and scenery.


8. Mini/Pocket monoculars:

As pocket monoculars are lightweight and compact, such units are ideal for everyday use. In fact, mini monoculars can easily fit in your pocket. Note that close focus units can also support low vision reading.


Carson CloseUp CF-718

Parameters: 6×18

Carson CloseUp CF-718 is a beautiful mini model with 6×18 magnifying power. Note that it weighs only 2.8 ounces (79 grams), which makes it ideal for day-to-day life and numerous hobbies. In addition, Carson CloseUp CF-718 comes with a comfortable soft pouch, a wrist strap, and a lens cloth.


9. Monoculars for stargazing:

While monoculars are not particularly popular among amateur astronomers, there are some powerful models suitable for stargazing. Such units can help users view different bright and deep-sky objects.


Opticron BGA WP 10×42 Monocular

Parameters: 10×42

Opticron BGA WP 10×42 Monocular is a compact unit with roof prism design, waterproof construction, and fully multi-coated optics. The unit provides 10×42 magnification power and a close focus of up to 6.6 ft (2 m). With its compact design and high-quality optics, Opticron BGA WP 10×42 Monocular is simply great for exploring the secrets of the universe.


Taking Care of Monoculars

Buying a monocular can be challenging. Prospective buyers should also have in mind that taking care of monoculars is essential to guarantee long and accurate use. Although monoculars are easier to use and maintain than other telescopic devices, proper storing, cleaning, and handling is a must. Always consult your user manual and familiarize yourself with the basics of lens technology. Consider additional accessories, such as carry bags and straps. A wrist or a neck strap, for instance, is a must-have accessory for traveling and hiking. Whether it’s a pair of binoculars or a monocular, use a special cloth, wipes, compressed air, or solution to clean your telescopic device. Do not disable your unit. Last but not least, store your monoculars accordingly to reduce any possible adverse effects caused by moisture, sunlight, and excessive heat.


Monoculars: Conclusion

Monoculars are light and compact telescopic devices that provide enlarged images of distant objects. While there’s a wild variety of products and competitors on the market, prospective buyers should consider three main factors: requirements, specifications, and total costs. Magnification, lens diameter, and the materials used should also be considered. Note that monoculars for sale come with two parameters: one is the magnification level, and the other one is the diameter of the lens, with 7×25, 8×30, 8×42, and 10×42 models being highly popular. Interestingly, some of the most notable monocular brands include optical leaders such as Celestron, Nikon, Barska, Zeiss, and Bushnell.

Although monoculars are sometimes overlooked, such units can benefit numerous daily activities and hobbies, such as hunting, marine observations, watching wildlife, birding, surveillance, tactical use, and amateur astronomy. With their compact design, pocket and close focus monoculars can also benefit everyday activities and low vision reading. In the end, monoculars are wonderful and versatile products worth investing in.

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