Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Welcome to our big monocular test 2022. Here we present all the monoculars we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. With this, we would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the monocular that suits you best. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a monocular.




Summary

  • Monocular means “with one eye”. The opposite, “with both eyes”, is binocular.
  • A monocular is an optical instrument that allows the viewing of a distant or even a close object.
  • Monoculars are also used in photography. Photo monoculars can, for example, be attached to the lens of a mobile phone camera.

The best Monocular in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a monocular

What is a monocular?

A monocular is a pair of binoculars with an eyepiece and a lens that allows you to look at things near or far. The special feature of a monocular is that you only look through it with one eye, so you can still keep an eye on your surroundings with the other.

What is a monocular used for?

Monoculars are used to magnify things in the distance and also close up. Hand monoculars or hand telescopes are used, for example, as an optical visual aid for people with a visual impairment. This enables them, for example, to read street signs or even small print, depending on how the monocular is used. Monoculars can also be used for observing animals, for example birds. Telescopes are particularly suitable for this. Another possibility is to use monoculars for photography. Here they are placed on the lens of the camera and serve as an extended zoom for the camera.

Blick auf Ort durch Fernrohr

With a monocular you can bring distant things close to your eye. Unlike classic binoculars, they have only one lens through which you can see. (Photo: Hans / pixabay.com)

Who is a monocular suitable for?

Monoculars in general are suitable for anyone who likes to observe something near or far. Photo monoculars are suitable for anyone who likes to take precise and beautiful snapshots, even with a mobile phone.

How is a monocular constructed?

As a rule, monoculars are built according to the Porro system. Porro is the abbreviation for porro prisms. These prisms were invented by Ignazio Porro and patented as early as 1854. Porro prisms are so-called inverted prisms, which consist of two simple right-angled reflection prisms that are rotated 90° to each other. The incoming light beam passes through these prisms one after the other, resulting in a fourfold reflection of the light beam. Due to the 90° angle of the reflection prisms, the quadruple reflection produces a 180° rotation of the image when passing the porro prism. This means that the image can be perceived the right way round again.

What does a monocular cost?

Monoculars come in a wide range of prices, from less than ten euros to thousands. As a hobby observer, however, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Good monoculars are available from around 30 euros. But if you plan to use your monocular a lot, you should expect to spend about 150 euros and get a high-quality device.

Decision: What types of monoculars are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between four different types of monoculars:

  • Monocular binoculars
  • Spotting scope
  • Monocular night vision device
  • Pirate telescope

Depending on the intended use of a monocular, a different type of monocular is suitable for you. In the following, we would like to help you find out which type of monocular is best suited for you. To do this, we will introduce you to the four types of monoculars mentioned above and clearly explain what their advantages and disadvantages are in each case.

What are the characteristics of monocular binoculars and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Monocular binoculars are small, handy and fit in any pocket. With magnifications of 5 to 10x, they are ideal for observing things in the distance.

Advantages
  • Small and handy
  • Easy to carry
Disadvantages
  • Low magnification
  • Less suitable for longer observations

Monocular binoculars are therefore generally suitable for anyone who likes to look into the distance when out and about.

What distinguishes a spotting scope and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Spotting scopes are larger than monocular binoculars and, with a magnification of 20 to 80x, are ideal for nature observation.

Advantages
  • High magnification
  • Suitable for prolonged observation
  • Waterproof and compact
Disadvantages
  • Tripod must be used for observation

Spotting scopes are often waterproof, compact and easy to carry. They are usually set up on a tripod to allow comfortable observation over a long period of time.

What are the characteristics of a monocular night vision device and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

This type of monocular is used for night vision, as the name suggests. For this purpose, the devices use residual light (hence the name residual light amplifier) or are equipped with an infrared illuminator to enable vision even in complete darkness.

Advantages
  • Observation possible in poor light conditions
Disadvantages
  • Pure residual light amplifier
  • Cannot be used in complete darkness without infrared illuminator

This monocular is for you if you like to observe things in the evening or at night.

What are the characteristics of a pirate telescope and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Pirate telescopes are simple telescopes for children that are usually made of plastic. They do not have a particularly high magnification and are more suitable for playing with than for real observation.

Advantages
  • Suitable from a very young age
Disadvantages
  • More for playing and imitating
  • magnification not very high

These telescopes can already be bought for a few euros at various toy retailers.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate monoculars

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate monoculars. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective product. In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Lens diameter
  • Magnification number
  • Brightness
  • Distance setting
  • Twilight factor
  • Coating
  • Waterproofness
  • Accessories

Below you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a device with this function or not.

Lens diameter

The lens diameter is given in millimetres and gives you an indication of the area through which the light enters the monocular. The larger this area, the more light can enter, which can be particularly advantageous in low light conditions, such as at dusk or at night. You should therefore consider when and in what light conditions you want to use your monocular and choose the lens diameter accordingly.

Fernrohr auf Aussichtsplattform

Monoculars come in a wide variety of designs and with a wide variety of functions. (Photo: James Frid / pexels.com)

Magnification number

The magnification number indicates the factor by which an object is seen closer or larger when you look through the monocular. The magnification can be determined by dividing the lens diameter by the measured exit pupil. With a magnification of 6, for example, an object that is 60 m away looks through the monocular as if it were only 10 m away. In general, it makes sense to have a magnification of 7 to 8x, as it allows for a wide range of uses. When choosing the magnification, bear in mind that the higher the number, the more likely it is that the image will be blurred, as slight movements with the hand become more obvious. This is where a tripod helps. The higher the magnification of your monocular, the smaller the field of view! So if you want to observe things in motion, like flying birds, you should choose a monocular with a large field of view, i.e. a small magnification.

Brightness

The brightness of the monocular depends on the lens diameter. The larger the diameter, the more light can enter.

Distance setting

Many monoculars now allow you to switch the magnification. This means that the distance to the object can also be chosen relatively freely.
In general, you should observe the magnification setting and then proceed according to the following pattern: 10x magnification = 100m distance to the object, then perceive it at 10m distance

Twilight factor

The twilight factor provides information about the performance the monocular is capable of at twilight. This number should ideally be between 12 and 25. Multiplying the magnification and the objective lens diameter together and taking the square root of the result gives the twilight factor of the monocular. The rule is: the higher, the brighter.

Coating

Coating is a special coating on the lens that serves to reduce reflections and is therefore also called anti-reflective coating. You should be careful not to clean the lens too roughly, as the coating is extremely sensitive and can get scratched immediately.

Waterproofness

Many monoculars are waterproof, especially spotting scopes, but not all. You should therefore make sure that the monocular of your choice is waterproof to avoid unpleasant situations.

Accessories

There are also many accessories for monoculars. Depending on the type of monocular you use, you may need other things in addition. Basically, however, the following things are useful:

  • A protective case to keep your monocular safe and sound
  • A backpack to carry your monocular and whatever else you need when you are out and about
  • Cleaning cloths to carefully clean the lens and the lens itself
  • Compressed air spray to remove sand or other small particles. Do not wipe off with the lens cleaning cloth! Otherwise the lens will get scratched.
  • A carrying strap to attach your monocular to your wrist, for example
  • A tripod so that you can observe comfortably for a long time

Facts worth knowing about monoculars

What are monocular double images?

When the incident rays of light refract differently at the lens, for example, two images are created. This is called a monocular double image. The easiest way to understand this phenomenon is to cover both eyes alternately.

What is monocular vision?

The monocular field of vision is 20°-30° smaller than the binocular field of vision. This means that only a limited spatial perception of the environment is possible. To expand the field of vision and perceive more, the head must be moved. Cover one eye and try it out!

Picture credits: James Frid / pexels.com

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