binoculars vs monocular: Know the differences

Although we use both binoculars and monoculars for long-range observation, knowing which one to use in which situation is of utmost importance for whatever purpose you intend to use them. This is the reason we have written this article discussing all you need to know about binoculars vs monocular.

What Are Binoculars?

Binoculars are so common that everybody must have used them for at least once in their life. If you’re into adventure or hunting, good hunting binoculars can change the game. Two monoculars or two small telescopes actually make up a pair of binoculars that are joined together to let the user see with both eyes simultaneously. Most binoculars on the market are lightweight and portable, though there are those larger models that require tripods to use for observation.

What Are Monoculars?

In essence, a monocular is only one barrel of a pair of binoculars. This optical device is designed to see faraway objects with only one eye. A telescope can be a common example of monoculars though they can be very large in size, whereas a monocular is usually quite compact that can fit into your pocket.

Binoculars vs Monocular: What’s the Difference?

In order to understand the difference between binoculars and monoculars, we need to look into their pros and cons. So, let’s see what their advantages and disadvantages are.

Advantages of Binoculars

  • Different aperture platforms and powers
  • Lightweight, compact, and cost-effective
  • Easy to track targets that are moving
  • Wide angle and 3-Dimensional viewing
  • Acute and clear glassing setup for details
  • Easy to carry and wearable around your neck

Other than these, binocular manufacturers offer special features and accessories to make binoculars more usable in various situations. Some of those features are:

    • Built-in inclinometers
    • Rangefinder
    • Image stabilization
    • Independent focus
    • Long-distance ranging
    • Ballistic reticles

Disadvantages of Binoculars

  • Can be expensive if full with added features
  • Not so discrete and covert as monoculars to use
  • Some are bulky and heavy
  • People may get stigmatized for spying if used in public

Advantages of Monoculars

  • Increased discretion
  • Very small and lightweight
  • Cheaper than binoculars in terms of quality
  • Quick to use and easy to carry
  • Converts into a magnifying glass
  • Easy to carry and wearable around your neck
  • Easy to kept hidden
  • Perfect for any targeted applications
  • Suitable for one-eyed users

Similar to binoculars, monoculars also come with such added features like these:

  • Rangefinder
  • Zoom power
  • Built-in compass and image stabilizer
  • Foldable designs
  • Night vision
  • Gallery scope

Disadvantages of Monoculars

  • Causes eyestrain sooner than binoculars
  • Not best for aiming moving targets
  • Less acute in terms of glassing details
  • Some are less powerful than binos
  • No wide angle vision

Monocular VS Binoculars:

We will continue our binoculars vs monocular discussion keeping our focus on their activity-specific situations.

  • For Wildlife Observation & Hiking

    You will definitely need spotting scopes if you are an active participant in wildlife photography. On the other hand, if are just having a nice leisurely hike hoping to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife, a monocular will do. This is because monoculars are quick to use and since you’re not after hunting a deer that you have to spot first. So, for hiking and wildlife viewing, a monocular seems to be a better choice than a pair of binoculars.

  • For Hunting

    Binoculars are the winner here because you can increase the depth of field and focus well on big targets when you are in a low-light condition with them. You’re not a hunter without a reliable hunting knife with a good pair of binoculars. Binoculars also provide you acute details to track, stalk or watch moving targets that a monocular is unable to do. Aside from that, although monoculars are quick to use, you can get all the necessary info faster with binoculars when you are targeting a game.

  • For Birdwatching

    Both binoculars and monoculars are great for birding but you will find your choice if you know what your real purpose of birding is. To be precise, if you are just taking a stroll and looking for some bird species around, a lightweight and compact monocular would be a fine option. Since you can easily pull it out of the pocket for a quick view of a rare species flying right past you, that is an added benefit of a monocular.

    However, if you don’t consider birdwatching just as a form of recreational activity because you are quite an enthusiast about it, you need a nice pair of binoculars. This will allow you to comfortably glass for long hours without going through any eyestrain. So you can easily scan for and track birds, and watch them landing, pecking, and taking off in flight.

  • For Night Vision

    You may need night vision optics for a number of reasons, ranging from hunting or birding to military use. You will find both binoculars and monoculars of great use depending on your own purpose. Generally speaking, since you are stalking something at night, this means you are quite serious about this matter. So, you have to choose your night vision optics carefully. Night vision binoculars are suitable for birding, hunting, and tactical use at night. On the other hand, a monocular would be fine if you just want to see something ahead of your trail while hiking at night or for such other purposes.

  • For Astronomy

    There are astronomy binoculars on the market specially made for this purpose with large objective lenses that belong to the 70 to 80 mm range. They are also very high powered (e.g. 20X or even more) for viewing celestial objects clearly. Monoculars surely do not stand a chance because they are not so much powerful and do not support such top-notch accessories.

  • For Indoor Use

    The monocular wins when it’s about indoor use because, with it, you can easily read cryptic texts on an old book in the library or see the fossilized fibers of a dinosaur in the museum. In fact, people will give you a weird look when you will use a pair of binoculars in the museum whereas a monocular in the same situation will make you look like an expert.


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