A monocular helps you bring distant objects to a sharp focus. It is ideal for hikers, bird watchers, backpackers, photographers, and students. The main difference between this and binoculars is that you can only use one eye. Most of these are lightweight and compact to fit in a small hiking bag. Again, most can attach to your smartphone, allowing you to take quality photos for distant objects. With so many monoculars on the market today, it might be a challenging task to choose the best.
The Basics of a Monocular
A monocular is a small telescope. It helps you see distant objects clearly or take clear photos of faraway subjects. They are smaller than binoculars, making them appealing to travelers. A monocular shares characteristics with spotting scopes and binoculars, but it sports a more compact size. Size sets the monoculars apart with some being as small as a thumb and only a little thicker than an ink pen. The small size allows you to slip them in your pockets and take them on your next walk.
Most monoculars offer the sharpest images with a 6x or 8x magnification. They come in different types, depending on their function.
Types of Monoculars
Night Vision Monoculars
These devices help you see at night and are common with night hunters. The device can use either thermal imaging or infrared.
Infrared monoculars use different wavelength, other than light, to illuminate objects in the dark. Some units have visible red light – these might distract the animal you are hunting. Others have invisible red light, allowing you to hunt without distracting the animal.
Thermal imaging monoculars detect heat to form the image of an object. The main advantage of these monoculars is that they do not have any visible light that can distract animals at night.
These devices are only a couple of inches tall. They can fit in your pocket or purse, but they also have low magnification power and a smaller lens diameter. With their less powerful specs, these devices are inexpensive, and you can use them for simple viewing activities.
Top 10 Best Monoculars
This is a military grade monocular, offering 10x magnification. It is designed to withstand outdoor use even when the weather is rough. It is lightweight and easily attaches to your smartphone for clear shots. The unit is waterproof and fog proof. It sports a fully multi-coated green lens, a built-in compass, and a hands-free tripod socket.
The 320g monocular features high quality advanced polymer material that makes it ideal for rugged use. Further, it sports anti-skid frosted sure-grip so that you can use it even when your hands are wet. It has a BAK4 prism for crisp images – this is the same prism found in high quality monoculars that cost over $1,000.
The combination of features allows this monocular to present high quality images for photographers and students. It has an objective diameter of 50mm, exit pupil diameter of 3mm, and eye relief of 20mm. Its field of view is 114/1100m, which means you can use it in a large jungle. You can use it with any smartphone as Starscope monocular offers you the hardware to connect it to a smartphone. Outside the jungle, you can use the monocular to watch sporting events.
- The unit is compact to fit in a purse
- Sports a rugged design that makes it drop resistant, waterproof, and fog proof
- Relatively high magnification power, 10x
- Sports high-end BAK4 prism to show crisp images
- Easily attaches to smartphones, allowing you to take high quality images
- Sports high-end multicoated optical glass for clear images
- You will pay relatively more for this monocular
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This is another highly powerful monocular that allows you to see objects as far as 360 feet away. It has a 12 magnification with a 50mm objective lens diameter. Its magnification gives you clear and bright images when watching birds, hunting, camping, or watching wildlife, and scenery. Further, it has the latest optics technology with a BAK4 prism and a multi-coated leans for better light transmission. Light transmission gets to 99.5 percent for crisp clear images. Although it doesn’t show any images in complete darkness, it allows you to see objects in low light conditions.
The monocular sports a rugged construction with an ergonomic design. It sports military-grade rubber armor that protects it and makes it comfortable and easy to use. The armor also provides a non-slip grip. On the outer shell is an IPX7 Nitrogen-Filled external layer that protects the unit from moisture and dust.
With each monocular, you get a smartphone holder and tripod to connect with your smartphone when you need to take pictures. The hardware is compatible with iPhone X/XS/XR/XS Max, 8/8 Plus, 7/7 Plus, 6/6 Plus, and a long list of Samsung, LG, Sony, and HTC smartphones. It is easy to install and start taking pictures.
- Rugged construction to withstand outdoor weather
- High magnification power, 12x
- Ergonomic construction, making it easy to use
- Compatible with a long list of smartphones
- The tripod feels unstable during use
This VIVREAL Monocular offers clear images for objects as far as 1,100 yards. Its 12x magnification and 50mm objective lens diameter allow you to view distant objects or take clear pictures from your smartphone. It is ideal for camping, hunting, hiking, and birdwatching among other activities.
The unit sports high quality optics with high-end BAK4 prism and fully multi-coated leans for superior light transmittance. The unit reduces chromatic aberration and gives brighter and colourful views. At only 0.61 pounds, the unit allows single-hand focus and makes it easier to carry when you travel. Its durable rubber armor provides a comfortable grip, making the monocular easy to use.
It is waterproof and fogproof, so you can view distant subjects even in the rain. The O-ring sealed optics keep off dust and moisture so that you can have clear images at all times. It also comes with a tripod and a smartphone holder for even easier use. The smartphone holder accommodates iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Sony, and LG smartphones.
- High magnification power
- Single-hand use design with compact construction
- Weather-proof construction for use outdoors
- Comes with a tripod and a smartphone holder
- The rear cover detaches from the monocular completely and might even get lost
- The soft case that comes with the monocular is too small to hold everything that it comes with
The Gosky Titan is a high-power monocular telescope ideal for outdoor adventure. It provides 12x magnification, enough to bring objects as far as 1,100 yards to closer focus. You can use it for hiking, climbing, hunting, and birdwatching among others. It comes with a smartphone adapter mount with which you can connect iPhone, Samsung, HTC, Sony, and LG smartphones.
It features a BAK-4 prism and fully multi-coated lens to allow in more light for crisp clear images. The monocular sports rugged construction with a shock-absorbing rubber armor to protect it against drops. The tight-fitting protection allows you to use the unit in tough weather condition while the rubber armor provides a tight grip. Further, the nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed waterproof optics keep dust, moisture, and debris away so that you can have clear images at all times.
Gosky 12×50 Pros
- Designed rugged for use in all weather conditions
- High-end quality BAK-4 prism and FMC lens provide crisp images
- Compact design for single-hand use
- Solid framework protect it against scratches and falls
Gosky 12×50 Cons
- Doesn’t come with a tripod
The Evershop Monocular allows you to view objects between three and 3,000 meters away. Its fixed 12x magnification allows you to see crispy clear images at all times. It comes with a smartphone adapter and tripod, which give you stability for perfect views of shoots. The smartphone adapter accommodates a long list of smartphones, including iPhones, HTC, Samsung, Huawei, and others.
The outer layer of the monocular is shockproof, thanks to the shock-absorbing rubber armor. Its construction allows it to offer clear images in all weather conditions and all temperatures. You can use the unit in low-light conditions, but not in complete darkness. It sports high-end BAK-4 prism coupled with a fully multi-coated lens to allow in maximum light for clear and bright images.
The monocular weighs only 310g, so you can bring it to your next outdoor adventure. Its compact design allows one hand operation where you can rotate the focus knob with one hand. Further, it has rotatable goggle that ensure your eyes are at an optimal distance from the monocular’s eyepieces. The rugged construction makes the unit dustproof, waterproof, and fog-proof.
- Large 50mm objective lens to bring faraway images to sharp focus
- Compact and lightweight design for single-hand use
- Comes with a tripod and smartphone adapter for ease of use
- Views objects from as far away as 3,000 meters
- The manufacturer doesn’t offer instructions, so it takes longer to set it up
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This unit offers crisp clear images, thanks to its 12×55 high definition magnification. You can bring objects from faraway to a sharp focus. Its large 55mm objective lens diameter allows in as much light as possible for clear images. You can use it for hiking, birdwatching, wildlife and scenery, watching sporting events, and climbing among others.
It sports a compact and lightweight design, so you can use it with a single hand. The rugged construction makes it effective and efficient in tough weather conditions and in all temperatures. Further, the rubber armor protects it from impact and scratches and provides a strong grip. Its long eye relief with its twist-up eye cup makes the unit stand out from the competition. The argon purging further makes the unit water, fog, dust, and debris proof.
The unit features a BAK-4 prism with fully multi-coated lens for great light transmittance. With it, you can see objects as far as 1000 yards. The unit is easy to use, thanks to the available tripod stand and hand straps. You also get a nylon carry case and a non-abrasive cleaning cloth.
Gosky 12×55 Pros
- Comes with hand straps, tripod stand, and smartphone adapter for ease of use
- High power magnification for crisp clear images
- Rugged construction for use in different weather conditions
- Easy to set up with an easy to use manual
Gosky 12×55 Cons
- Relatively heavy
This is a HD monocular telescope designed for use in all weather conditions. It offers 12x magnification with a 50mm objective lens diameter for superior light transmittance. You can use it for all outdoor activities. It offers the latest optics technology, including the BAK-4 prism and fully multi-coated lens to allow in more light for clear images at all times. Light transmittance goes up to 99.5 percent. You can see objects in low light conditions at night. However, you can see objects in total darkness.
YaNovate designed this unit to be compact for single-hand use. The mini design allows you to focus your target with ease and then slip the monocular into your pocket. It has a durable rubber armor that protects it from impact and provides a perfect grip. It has a nitrogen-filled coating that protects it from water and fog. Further, the O-ring sealed optics keep moisture, dust, and debris away.
The unit comes with a smartphone adapter and a tripod to make it easier to use. With these two, you can stabilize the phone with better shots.
- Compact and ergonomic design for ease of use
- Sports a durable rubber armor to protect it from elements and impact
- High-end lens and prism for superior light transmittance
- Provides high contrast and resolution images
- The instructions are a little vague, especially on how to attach the tripod
Simitten Professional is a 12×42 monocular telescope designed to bring objects from as far as 1000 yards into sharp focus. It is suitable for all outdoor activities such as birdwatching, concerts, wildlife, and hunting. It features high quality BAK-4 prism coupled with fully multi-coated lens for maximum light transmission. Further, it comes with a smartphone holder and tripod that further makes it easier to use. The smartphone adapter is ideal for iPhone, HTC, Samsung, Sony, LG, and other smartphones.
The compact design of this Simitten Monocular makes it easy to use. You only need one hand to operate the unit. With the tripod, it is highly stable to enhance the clarity of the images.
It has waterproof coating that also enhances its grip. The O-ring sealed optics keep away dust, moisture, and debris.
- Compact construction for single-hand use
- High light transmittance for crisp images
- Generous lifetime warranty with fast customer support
- Fits in your pocket and purse
- Takes longer to set up with a camera
This is one of the most compact monocular telescopes on the market. It is only 5.7 inches long and 1.9 inches wide on the front end. With its 8x magnification and 42mm objective lens diameter, the unit can view objects as far as 1000 yards. You can conveniently use it with one hand. The manufacturer offers you a hand strap, a carrying case, tripod, and smartphone adapter.
It sports a nitrogen-filled waterproof coating that keeps off elements, dusts, and debris. This offers you a clear view at all times. The rubber finish provides a right grip and protects the unit from shock.
Inside and outside, the unit has high quality materials for durability and efficiency. For starters, it has a BAK-4 prism and a fully multi-coated lens that increase transmission of light for clear and clean images. There is no distortion to the images, thanks to the high light transmittance to create clear images. You can use the monocular under low light conditions, but not in total darkness.
- Crisp images even with its relatively low 8x magnification
- Lightweight and compact
- Comes with needed accessories to get you started
- Rugged for outdoor use
- Relatively low magnification
- The glass cover for the back not attached to the monocular
The Aicino monocular telescope sports a 50mm objective lens to collect enough light for clear images. Its BAK-4 prism and fully multi-coated lens enhance light transmission for clear images. Further, the 20mm eyepiece lens allows you to see larger images for objects as far as 1000 yards. You can use it to watch birds, hike, climb, watch wildlife, and scenery, and do much more.
It is a compact monocular that you can use with one hand and carry it wherever you go for adventure. The unity sports a rugged construction with high quality materials to last long. Further, its outer coating protects it from moisture, dust, fog, and debris. This way, you will have a clear image at all times.
It comes with a smartphone holder and a tripod so that you can achieve stability when shooting photos and viewing scenery. You can use it in low light conditions, but not in complete darkness.
- Compact and easy to use
- Comes with the needed accessories to get you started
- High definition magnification
- Rugged construction for durability
- Tripod feels less stable
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Things to Consider When Buying the Best Monocular
When shopping for a monocular, consider the following features:
- Magnification – The ideal behind a monocular is to bring objects into sharp focus, and this is why magnification matters. The magnification should be at least 6x for you to see clear images. Most monoculars, however, have a 12x magnification.
- Lens – The quality of the lens, its diameter, and coating determines the clarity of images. Always go for fully multi-coated lens as they show clear images even in cloudy weather. Larger lens diameter, 50mm or more, allows in more light for brighter images. However, a larger lens diameter is not always a guarantee of brighter images.
- Accessories – Accessories such as tripod stand, smartphone adapter, and carry case come in handy when you are using a monocular. Other accessories you need include a cleaning cloth and a hand strap.
- Special Features – Features such as night vision mode make the unit better and versatile.
- Weatherproofing – Because you might use the monocular outdoors at all times, you need it to be water, fog, dust, and debris proof. This ensures that you get clear images even in rough weather.
- Prism – Roof prism or Porro prism are the best. These prisms generate high quality images without blur and without vertigo.
- Field of View – A narrow field of view limits what you see, but offers the images in great details. A wide field of view might offer the whole picture, but the images might be blurry. You need a monocular that offers a middle ground between narrow and wide field of view.
Frequently Asked Questions
Monoculars are compact and lightweight. You can carry them in your pocket or purse, and you can use them with one hand. A binocular only comes in handy when you need something that is easy on the eyes.
No. Most monoculars only work in high light or low light conditions, but not in total darkness. To view in the dark, you need special infrared or thermal imaging monoculars.
No, you can adjust the eyecap to get a great view from the monocular with the glasses on. Your glasses will create a space between your eyes and the monocular, this space is known as eye relief. If you do not wear sunglasses, you do not have to worry about eye relief.
We recommend the Starscope Monocular, thanks to its perfect balance of features. It is a military-grade monocular designed with the best quality materials to withstand rough weather conditions. This unit offers a medium field of view, not wide and not narrow, allowing you to see a lot of details without distorting the images. It is a long lasting unit, thanks to the high quality polymer material and rubber armor to protect it from shock and weather elements. It is simple to use and comes with the accessories you need to set it up.