Monocular vs binocular for birding

When choosing between binocular and monocular when going birding it could be a hard choice as many people have their own opinion as to which one of the two is better but the truth is that although you may think binoculars could be the way to go you would be amazed on the features that can come on a monocular version of it.

Read more: Best superzoom camera for birding

Both of these are tools to magnify many times the object so they both will work well when birding. The main difference could lay in the size which at the same time translates to weight. If you are looking to carry your equipment and you will have to be moving around then probably a monocular will be the best option for you as this item could easily put away in a backpack without taking any much-needed space, now on the other hand if what you are looking for is a fuller visual experience and don’t mind the extra space and weight then the binoculars are the way to go.

Once you get out on the field, depending on what you are looking for you are going to be better with one or the other option, for instance, if depth and field of view are a priority then a good pair of binoculars will do the trick. You can capture a wider image than the monocular but they of course are heavier and bulky which makes them harder to be carrying around. Many users go with the harness strap to make these binoculars easier to carry. There are many occasions where you may feel a monocular is a better option but unfortunately, monoculars are underrated as the binoculars are the most desirable ones when choosing between the two comes along.

Magnification wise, you can find form regular ones to the top of the line with all types of magnification. To avoid moisture build they both can withstand the elements without any problem whatsoever, this helps avoid fog on the lenses or better view.

Here we are going to take a closer look at each one of them so that when it comes to deciding which one is your better option, you will have good knowledge of both.

We will start then with the monocular view. As its name implies these are pretty much a pair of binoculars right in the middle. They come with only one tube kind of like a telescope only a telescope has different ways to process light. This is a grey area as they are neither considered binoculars nor telescopes.

Monocular can be pretty small even some fit in your pocket, this makes a perfect choice if you are going to be flying around to many places, its smaller size also makes it less prone to drops and bumps. Its lightweight construction and easy carry-on size are just enough if simple is what you are looking for.

Monoculars often use something called the Porro prism design which was invented in 1854 by Ignatio Porro and consists basically of a prism acting with a curved lens.

The lens’ function is to amplify the captured light and invert it. When the light is amplified, thanks to the lens shape the image turns upside down which then has to be inverted. These components are the most expensive ones when it comes to monoculars is the reason why a pair of binoculars of the same characteristics and materials is more expensive than the monocular counterpart.

When it comes to magnification both options will pretty much give you the same, only with the monocular some effects can happen for example using a monocular for long periods will put more strain on your eyes than a regular set of binoculars. Having only one eye do the viewing, quickly they will get tired this is the reason why monoculars are best when quick glimpses are required.

Twin tubes in a binocular give a greater field of view or a wider range of vision but that same issue gives the monocular a great advantage, especially during nighttime. When you use only one eye at night, it is much easier for it to readjust to light conditions than when using a binocular.

As far as the field of view is concerned, monoculars have pretty much the same as a telescope while binoculars give a wider viewing angle. Since monoculars are used for precision spotting of targets then the less field of view the better since this is not a concern when trying to spot a particular bird.

Now moving into binoculars, these are best for general purpose optic and when the field of view is important. Now, binoculars of course are going to feel more natural as you are using both eyes which reduces eye fatigue. These binoculars are just good in any type of situation when you need an optic.

As optic enhancement binoculars are just very versatile. These can be used for long periods when for example watching sporting games or events, tracking dear, or just exploring what is going on outside your apartment.

Of course, all the perks could not come without a drawback, these can get pretty heavy due to the components used, both crystals, etc adding up. Most of these come with either a shoulder strap or a neck strap but even with these they can be somewhat heavy and they can weigh you down pretty quick.

There are three systems when it comes to binoculars, Galilean, Porro, or Roof prisms. The first one that was used was the Galilean monoculars as they were developed first and then the other two evolved to become what they are now.

Since the set of lenses and prism are the most expensive components of the optic enhancement, whether mono or bi, monocular has the upper hand in this regard as you are purchasing only one instead of two like on the binoculars.

As far as magnification goes, we must say both are pretty equal, usually, they come with the same amplification level, they both amplify enough but nothing compared with a telescope for instance.

Since magnifying objects for long periods can cause eye fatigue, this is where the binoculars come into play since you are using both eyes unlike the monocular where only one eye does all the work which allows for eye fatigue to be stronger. All binoculars no matter which quality, price, or brand are going to have a better field of view than any monocular, and the simple reason why is because basically, you are using both eyes, two tubes will allow a user to have a much greater field of view so for things like watching live events or scouting, these are the option to go for.

Another drawback that comes with the binoculars is the fact that they do not perform well under low-light conditions as using both eyes will disable your body’s adjustment to low light levels, this is the reason why most military night vision equipment only is used through one eye.

So, which one is the best for you? Here we have 2 options of each to help you decide based on your needs, budget, and versatility.

Monocular vs binocular for birding

1. Zeiss Conquest HD Binocular

Monocular vs binocular for birding

Zeiss’s amazing quality is outstanding although it is still on the high-price side of binoculars. With an outstanding sturdy design yet quite light, the grip fits your hands just right. The whole design is made for comfort, even the eyecups feel great around the eyes.

It comes with its signature T* coating to allow for better light transmission. The extra clear image comes from the extra-low dispersion HD lenses which guarantee a perfect crystal-clear view. The images on these binoculars appear to be in high definition, the contrast and clarity are just outstanding.

As far as optical performance, they come with over 90% of light transmission, and thanks to the ED glass, HD lens, and Lotutec coating it is assured to get the clearest image possible.

2. Nikon 7657 MONARCH M5 binocular

Nikon 7657 MONARCH M5 binocular

The brand Nikon is one of the most popular amongst the top of the name brands. These binoculars are one of the best ones on the market if you are into bird watching, at a very affordable price these pair of binoculars could not have been left out of this list.

These could very well compete against binoculars of double the price. Its brightness and resolution are top quality.

It only weighs about 21.5 ounces and it comes with the Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass which could only be found on high-end binoculars. The color fringing is reduced massively with the ED glass, this is noticeable as the image appears to be blurry or colors like green, red, yellow, and blue appear around the edges.

3. Hawke endurance ED 8×42

Hawke endurance ED 8x42

Hawke has gained its reputation among bird watchers for many years now so it is no surprise to find the Hawke endurance ED as one of the choices when it comes to monocular for birdwatching.

With magnesium alloy on the housing and such a compact design weighs in at only 652gr. This material usually reserved for high-end models is now available at an affordable price. Its compact size makes it perfect when traveling is involved and not much space is available.

It comes with a focus knob with 2 turns, a high-resolution phase corrected BAK 4, and rubber-coated chassis.

4. Gosky monocular

At a great price, we have the Gosky endurance ED. Its ocular lens has a blue coating and its objective lens has a multi-green coating to reduce reflection. This technology ensures that the lenses are as efficient as possible reducing glare from being transferred to the lens and reflection is minimized. The blue coating helps with protecting the eye from all the rays that come through the lens when using the monocular for extended periods.

You can take this monocular pretty much to any environment, from rainfall to snow or deserts it is waterproof and shockproof. Argon purging method is used and it consists of filing the monocular with inert gas argon which helps prevent fogging. It is also filled with nitrogen gas as it reduces leakage from the other gasses in the chamber.

In conslusion

Any option you which to go for will certainly do the job when being outdoors birdwatching. Depending on your needs and budget you can find one that adjusts perfectly. Binoculars will always be a better choice, especially for the field of view that they give which lacks on the monocular, but then the latter has the benefits of being very versatile so you can carry it around without even noticing it is there.


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