Nature presents you with so many beautiful and exotic creatures that can only be fully appreciated when viewed closely. To get the best view of an eye-catching bird or a striking landscape, you will need an outdoor optical instrument that has the capacity to magnify such images. There are different outdoor optic instruments such as binoculars
, telescopes and monoculars, but for the purpose of this review, we would be focusing solely on the monoculars.
Monoculars are portable alternatives to binoculars and telescopes
and have a single lens with a compact body. They can be used by both adults and children and are very popular with people that enjoy bird watching, landscape viewing, terrain scouting, concerts and sports events. Because they are comprised of a single lens, they are usually smaller and less bulky than binoculars. Additionally, monoculars also offer less eye variation and distortion when compared to binoculars.
There are several types of monoculars which are distinguishable by their features. These features, such as magnification power, lens diameter, lens coating, size and weight determine its performance level. Moreover, the outdoor activity in which the monocular would be used must also be considered. For example, a monocular for watching exotic birds, like the Golden Pheasant, would not be suitable for scouting a terrain. Temperature is also an important factor in selecting an activity appropriate monocular, as those used in extreme weather conditions must have the proper features that would enhance image regardless of weather type.
Monoculars can easily be held with one hand and, more often than not, do not require a carrying case. Most monoculars come with neck straps, belt clips or hand straps that keep the hands free when not in use. This is important for hikers as they are already carrying their hiking backpack
and don’t want to be hampered by additional baggage.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast then you’ll understand how vital it is to have a durable, dependable monocular that won’t let you down. So, the next time you’re standing just a few feet away from a beautiful peacock, Paris Louvre masterpiece, monarch butterfly, or Metallica live in concert, do not miss out on a single breathtaking detail and just pull out your trusty monocular. Bring the beauty closer to you without having to move a muscle! Now let’s get to the important details needed to make a right choice of monocular…
There are various types of monoculars with different features, and this plays a big role in their price. The magnification power and lens diameter (specification), coating on the lens, prism count and size are some of the features that affect the prices of monoculars. A fully multi-coated lens with an antiglare property would cost more than a lens that has a partial coating or none at all. In the same manner, a monocular with a higher specification would cost more than one with a lower specification.
From our research, we discovered that a good monocular with sufficient features to ensure a memorable viewing experience costs between $30 and $500. We also discovered some cheap monoculars but we decided not to feature them because a cheap product doesn’t always mean a good product. So, rest assured that all the monoculars we have featured offer a good value for money.
Before purchasing a monocular, it is important to note its features to avoid selecting the wrong one. Apart from wasting your money, the wrong monocular would leave you disappointed and frustrated. There are few important aspects that should be considered when selecting a good monocular and they include:
- Magnification Power
- Lens Coating
- Lens Diameter and Design
- Size and Weight
- Type of Use
- Extras – Night vision, eye protection cover, tripod stand
Let’s now take a look at these features in detail.
Construction and Design
A monocular’s specification is one of its most important features and it is usually indicated by two numbers. An example of a specification is 4x25. In this case, 4x, which is the first number, stands for the monocular’s magnification power while 25, the second number, stands for the lens diameter. The monocular’s magnification power determines how much closer the image viewed would be. In this case, a power of 4 means that the object being viewed would appear 4 times closer than it normally would without using the monocular. This magnification usually ranges from 4x to 25x with 4x being the smallest magnification and 25x being the largest. It is important to note that monoculars with small magnification will produce larger viewing fields while one with a very large magnification will produce a lower viewing field. So, if you are interested in landscape viewing and terrain scouting, a monocular with a large viewing field would be more suitable. But if you intend to view a specific object, such as a small bird or animal, a very high magnification monocular with a small viewing field would be ideal.
The lens diameter is another key feature as this determines the quantity of light that can be gathered by the monocular. Generally, a larger lens diameter would gather more light while a smaller lens diameter would gather less light. If the quantity of light captured is high, it means that the monocular would be suitable for regions with poor light conditions. Also, if the monocular is basically for daytime use or in sunny conditions, a smaller lens diameter would suffice. However, it is important to note that monoculars with larger lens diameter tend to be bulkier and less compact than those with smaller lens diameter. Monoculars with a lens diameter of 35mm or more can be used to view objects in the dark or nighttime conditions.
The degree of coating on the monocular’s lens determines how bright the image viewed would be. A monocular’s lens could be fully multi-coated, multi-coated, fully coated or coated. A fully multi-coated lens with anti-glare and waterproof coatings usually produces the brightest and clearest image. A monocular with a fully multi-coated lens is usually more expensive than one with the other forms of coatings. The multi-coated lens monocular is a less expensive alternative that also produces a higher resolution when compared to monoculars with fully coated and coated lens. Monoculars with fully coated and coated lens have just one coating and the produced image quality is reduced. However, these are affordable monoculars and are suitable for novices.
Performance and Ease of Use
The size and weight of a monocular is what makes it different from binoculars. Because it has a single lens and body, it is smaller and less bulky than binoculars. It comes in different sizes, with some as small as 10 cm in length. Because of its lightweight and compact nature, most monoculars, especially those with lower magnifications are usually portable and can slip into a pocket. They can also be held in one hand and do not require an extra carrying bag. This is important if you intend to purchase one for hunting or hiking purposes.
A monocular would be largely used outside, so it is necessary for it to be durable and able to withstand outdoor conditions. There are certain features that improve the monocular’s performance and durability and they include the fog-proof, waterproof and night vision features. Some monoculars come with an AquaDura coating on all exposed lens surfaces, which helps repel both water and dirt. This is important if you intend to use your monocular near water. There are also monoculars with a neutral pressure nitrogen gas purging which makes them fogproof at any elevation. Monoculars with night vision features allow you to view objects in the dark, however, these extra features usually make these types of monoculars more expensive.
Some monoculars come with a tripod stand for hands-free steady viewing while others have an ergonomically non-slip grip for easy handling. There are several monoculars, especially those with improved magnifications, which come with a nylon mesh carrying case for easy portability. When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, an eyepiece and lens protection cover is necessary as it helps prevent damage to the lens when not in use. Also, a non-abrasive microfiber lens cleaning cloth can be used to clean the lens before and after each use. The external construction of a monocular is also a chief concern as it is the framework that protects the inner lens. To be on the safe side, avoid monoculars made from plastic and go for those with sturdy rubber construction.
To get the best viewing experience from bird watching, hunting and even concerts, you will need the finest monocular available. You may not necessarily need to dish out top dollar for top quality, there’s plenty of excellent models to choose from that won’t break the bank. But, to find the ideal one for your viewing needs, you’ll have to consider several factors, such as magnification, lense, diameter, size and weight. If you’ve carefully gone through this buying guide, you should be able to select the monocular that delivers the exact features you need. Now let’s take a look at individual products and brands.
Did you see the brand that has all you need in a monocular? Now that you’ve read our review of various monoculars from top brands, we hope you have enough information to confidently purchase that monocular that will give you the best viewing experience.