Which monocular is best?
From bird-watchers to sports fans and concertgoers, monoculars provide people with a simple, no-nonsense way to get up close and personal with distant animals, people or objects. Thanks to their small size and simplicity, monoculars are easy to use, carry and store.
The JLHT 40×60 Monocular comes with a tripod and makes things seem 10 times bigger than they are. It’s an excellent choice for those in need of a high-quality, all-purpose device.
What to consider before you buy a monocular
Why choose a monocular over binoculars?
Many people struggle to use traditional binoculars. The double vision, blurred focus and finicky adjustments associated with using both eyes simultaneously can lead to a frustrating ordeal, especially for nature lovers keen to get a quick look at a bird or animal before it darts out of sight.
Monoculars, however, only require the use of one eye to view subjects under magnification. This makes for a simpler, more immediate experience. They also provide the same magnification power as a pair of equivalent binoculars while being only half the size.
Consider the primary purpose for your monocular to determine the characteristics that will let you fully enjoy using it. Bird-watchers, for example, benefit from a small, compact one that’s light and easy to carry on hikes through brush and rough terrain. Sports fans, who spend most of their time seated or in one place, may find that a larger monocular with a wider field of view will better suit to their needs.
Because you use your dominant eye to look through the device while closing the other, prolonged viewing may lead to eye strain. If you’re prone to headaches or have difficulty keeping one eye closed for long periods of time, you may be better off purchasing a pair of binoculars that let you keep both eyes open.
What to look for in a quality monocular
A monocular’s magnification power is listed as a number followed by the letter x. For example, a magnification power of 10x means it will magnify an image to 10 times its natural size.
While it may be tempting to simply select the greatest magnification available, that increase in image size comes with some drawbacks. Higher magnification requires a larger, heavier lens. It also makes it more challenging to keep what you’re seeing steady, as any subtle movement or trembling of your hand is magnified when you look through the scope.
Select a monocular that can withstand the abuse you may subject it to. Nature lovers should get a waterproof monocular. If you may drop it down stairs or onto the hard concrete floors of sports stadiums or racetracks, prioritize rubberized bumpers or coatings.
Choosing a monocular that includes a soft, rubber pad around the eyepiece will go a long way toward making long-term use easy and comfortable. A generously padded eyepiece not only protects the delicate skin around your eye, but also helps seal out light that could result in a less-than-ideal viewing experience.
You can hold and focus some monoculars with only one hand. This lets you keep your other hand free to hold guidebooks, a walking stick or a beverage.
The best size monocular for you will depend on your preferences and use. For those who want to quickly view subjects or carry their monocular discreetly in a pocket, a smaller, lighter device is superior. However, larger models allow bigger lenses, and therefore greater magnification.
Some binoculars feature a smartphone mount that lets you view the image via your phone’s display and snap photos or video using its camera. This is especially good if photography interests you or you find it uncomfortable to hold a monocular up against your eye.
How much you can expect to spend on a monocular
They come in a wide range of configurations and styles, with some basic models costing as little as $20-$30. Fully featured professional models that include night vision can cost $300 or more, but most people will find one to suit their needs at $80-$100.
Can I use a monocular to observe the stars?
A. Monoculars generally do not feature the magnification required to get a satisfactory look at the stars or planets. While you can check out the moon with a steady hand, observing the night sky is best left to telescopes.
Aren’t monoculars just tiny telescopes?
A. In some ways, yes. While both binoculars and telescopes let you look with only one eye, telescopes provide a greater degree of magnification and adjustability. They are best suited for stationary use with a tripod or stand, while monoculars are designed to be used in the field or while on the move.
How can I best care for my monocular?
A. Use a neck or wrist strap to keep it accessible and prevent accidental drops. Monocular lenses can be wiped clean with special lens cloths. Store your monocular in a dry case with its lens caps on to avoid debris and grime.
What’s the best monocular to buy?
What you need to know: Loaded with features, this 10x monocular is an excellent choice due to its robust construction and high-quality image.
What you’ll love: Its included smartphone mount lets you snap photos while using it, and its small size and wrist strap make it a snap to keep at the ready. With an included tripod and hand strap, it has everything you need to view or photograph anything, from birds to the craters on the moon.
What you should consider: It gets bulky once connected to both a smartphone and its tripod. The tripod is a bit on the flimsy side.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top monocular for the money
What you need to know: Light and simple with adjustable magnification, this is an excellent all-purpose monocular for those on a budget.
What you’ll love: Its zoom feature lets you transition from 10x to 30x magnification. It has a wide field of view, and people who wear glasses are satisfied with its performance and comfort.
What you should consider: A sadly absent smartphone mount would have made it a must-buy compared to similarly priced competitors.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Best known for cameras and lenses, Leica delivers with this premium-quality monocular.
What you’ll love: Rugged, stylish and capable of magnification up to 8x, this lightweight monocular is designed for the discriminating user. Its macro configuration can magnify small objects such as leaves or insects, and it’s available in three colors.
What you should consider: It prioritizes quality over features and is expensive for what it includes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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