How to Choose the Right Monocular for You – Clarity Scopes

How to Choose the Right Monocular for You


The best way to describe a monocular in one sentence is to compare it with other optical devices. A smaller and more compact telescope with less magnification; half a pair of binoculars; a spotting scope that can be held in one hand – this is what a monocular is. A device frequently used by golf players and outdoor enthusiasts who value lightness. Monoculars tend to be underestimated and often skipped for one of their bigger relatives, but convictions like that are groundlessly harsh. A monocular can become a great companion for those who are content with what they have to offer. When ultimate magnification is not a priority and every ounce matters, you won’t find a better optical device. Let’s take a look at what binoculars are and why you might want to own one. 


History of the Monocular:

The historical path of monoculars is inseparable from that of a telescope. After all, the invention of a telescope marked the beginning of the optical device era. Though glass was discovered around 3500 BC, it wasn’t until the 16th century that a lens was invented. 

The unfair thing about history is that many people may come up with the same inventions, some even earlier than others, but only one of them will be remembered as the father of a device. The same thing happened to the telescope. Hans Lippershey of Holland wasn’t the first person to make one, but it is he who went down into history as the original inventor. 

Truth be told, he is not the most famous person associated with a telescope. Galileo Galilei introduced the telescope to astronomy in 1609 and was the first to see the moon craters with a 30x magnification device. The telescope’s revised version saw the light of day in 1704 when Isaac Newton replaced glass lenses with a curved mirror to gather light. This novelty opened the door for boundless magnification capabilities, the curved mirror’s size being the only limiter.

Binoculars were invented not long after the telescope by the same Hans Lippershey, who got this request from a patent-granting institution. They weren’t spectacularly different from telescopes, with two such devices mounted on a single frame being the very invention. The next editions weren’t particularly successful, and for almost three centuries, binoculars weren’t in the spotlight. The first real binoculars were patented in 1825 by J. P. Lumiere. The progenitor of modern prism binoculars was introduced almost twenty years later in 1854 and is attributed to Ignazio Porro.

 The earliest records of monoculars as modified versions of a telescope date back to the 17th century. At the time, they were used primarily for defensive purposes for spotting riders and distinguishing banner colors from afar. Monoculars went through many modifications throughout the centuries and now look only vaguely familiar to their former selves. 


Different Types of Monoculars:

All monoculars work similarly: they magnify the perceived image with the help of prism lenses. In that regard, there are not that many types to talk about. However, modern monoculars include many other useful features, and that’s where the differences come into play.

Certainly! Monoculars are optical devices used for viewing distant objects with one eye. They come in various types optimized for different purposes, including night vision, thermal imaging, and daytime use. Here's a brief description of each type:

  1. Night Vision Monocular: Night vision monoculars are designed to amplify ambient light, such as moonlight or starlight, or to use infrared illumination to allow users to see in low-light conditions or even total darkness. They typically employ image intensifier tubes to enhance available light, providing a green-hued image. Night vision monoculars are widely used in military, law enforcement, surveillance, and wildlife observation.

  2. Thermal Monocular: Thermal monoculars detect heat emitted by objects rather than relying on ambient light. They capture the infrared radiation emitted by objects and create a digital image based on the temperature differences. These devices are effective in total darkness and adverse weather conditions like fog, smoke, or dust. Thermal monoculars are used in applications such as search and rescue, hunting, law enforcement, and military operations.

  3. Daylight Monocular: Daylight monoculars are designed for use in well-lit conditions, such as during the day or in brightly lit environments. They are similar to traditional binoculars but compacted into a single eyepiece. Daylight monoculars are used for various purposes, including birdwatching, hiking, camping, surveillance, and general outdoor observation.

 Each type of monocular has its advantages and is optimized for specific applications. Night vision monoculars excel in low-light conditions, thermal monoculars are effective in total darkness and adverse weather, while daylight monoculars are suitable for well-lit environments and daytime activities.


Telescope vs. Monocular:

Telescopes and monoculars are both optical devices used for viewing distant objects, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics:

  1. Telescope:

    • Magnification: Telescopes typically offer higher magnification than monoculars, allowing users to observe distant objects in greater detail.

    • Objective Lens or Mirror: Telescopes use large objective lenses or mirrors to gather and focus light from distant objects, providing brighter and clearer images.

    • Field of View: Telescopes generally have a narrower field of view compared to monoculars, which means they are better suited for observing specific objects like celestial bodies or terrestrial landmarks in detail.

    • Mounting: Telescopes often come with mounts or tripods for stability and ease of use, especially for prolonged observation sessions.

    • Specialized Types: Telescopes come in various specialized types such as refractors, reflectors, and compound telescopes, each with unique optical designs optimized for specific purposes like astronomy, terrestrial observation, or astrophotography.

  1. Monocular:

  • Portability: Monoculars are compact and lightweight, making them highly portable and suitable for on-the-go use. They can easily fit into a pocket or a small bag.

  • Single Eyepiece: Monoculars have a single eyepiece, allowing for quick and easy one-handed operation.

  • Lower Magnification: While monoculars offer lower magnification compared to telescopes, they are still capable of providing magnified views of distant objects.

  • Versatility: Monoculars are versatile tools suitable for a wide range of activities, including birdwatching, hiking, camping, wildlife observation, sports events, concerts, and surveillance.

  • Affordability: Monoculars are often more affordable than telescopes, making them accessible to a broader range of users.

  • Day/Night Use: Depending on the type (e.g., night vision monoculars), some monoculars can be used in both daytime and low-light or nighttime conditions.

To sum it up, a telescope boasts greater magnification capabilities at the cost of a smaller field of view and additional set-up complications. They are also much more expensive. Monoculars are cheaper spotting devices that are easier to exploit, though they are only suitable for short-to-medium distances. 


 Benefits of Owning a Monocular:

 Owning a monocular won’t fix your life or change the world order, but it comes with its own pleasant, even if less significant, advantages. First of all, you gain an eyesight extender that allows you to get closer to wildlife without actually getting closer. Animals are very perceptive, and even the slightest rustle can scare them off. Some picturesque places might be hard or simply dangerous to reach. With a monocular by your side, you take a peek at places far away. That is the biggest benefit of owning a monocular.

Some benefits arise when you compare monoculars to other optical devices. They are much easier to exploit than telescopes and are less bulky. Truth be told, compactness and lightness are the advantages that monoculars have over spotting scopes and even binoculars. Some monoculars can boast night vision lacking in telescopes and spotting scopes. They also require only one hand to operate. All in all, it can be your go-to optical device that can fit comfortably in a pocket.

 How to Choose a Monocular:

 The main thing to determine when choosing a monocular is how powerful you want it to be. You are not choosing among thousands of variants, as only a few monoculars boast magnification power higher than 10x. The thing is, they have smaller lenses, and image quality suffers as magnification goes up. The picture is still quite clear below 10x zoom, but everything above would be blurrier than you’d want. You might opt for monoculars with adjustable zooming range as they offer more versatility or stick to those with a fixed range as they provide a clearer image. 

If magnification is of secondary importance and you look for a night vision monocular, determine the conditions in which you plan to use it. An intensifier-tube monocular may be great for walks in twilight when light is still present. A thermal imaging monocular will work even in complete darkness and is effective even if you are not trying to spot animals.


Best Places to Use a Monocular:

Monoculars are quite universal in their application, in the sense that you can use them anywhere you want. However, there are things monoculars are good or not so good at. If you want to observe a stationary or very slow object, monoculars will serve you well. They aren’t too good at capturing fast-moving targets, though. Nonetheless, it’s not a bad idea to use monoculars for bird watching. Keeping a device like that in your pocket might actually provide many unexpected opportunities for observing birds. Spotting scopes are quite hefty, and you won’t keep them on your person all the time. The same goes for binoculars. Other than that, monoculars are suitable for everything from observing nature to admiring cityscapes.

Monoculars are unjustly overlooked by many outdoor enthusiasts. Despite that, many leading outdoor optics brands like Clarity Scopes. Monoculars cannot boast the superior magnification of spotting scopes and might not be the best choice for watching fast-moving targets, but they offer many other benefits. They are affordable and compact alternatives to spotters and binoculars. Give them a chance – and you won’t regret it.