How to Choose a Monocular [A Brief Guide]

What kind of monocular should I choose? There are lots of options out there, from high quality binoculars to compact ones. Which one should I pick?

In general, a monocular (also known as a single lens reflex camera) is a type of optical device that allows the user to see through a single lens or prism into the viewfinder of a camera. This makes them very versatile devices, allowing the user to take photos at long distances, even at night, without having to carry around multiple lenses.

There are several types of monoculars, each offering different benefits. Some are designed for photography, some for nature observation. The choice depends on personal preference and budget. Here are some things to consider before picking yours.

What is a monocular?

A monocular is an optical instrument used by photographers to capture images with their cameras. It consists of a single lens or prism which allows you to look through it and see what’s happening in your viewfinder. Most monoculars have a built-in light meter so you can easily measure the brightness of objects.

The most common use of monoculars is to photograph landscapes and wildlife. They’re also useful when taking pictures at night because they allow you to shoot at longer distances than using a regular camera.

The best monoculars for landscape photography are those that offer good image quality and a wide field of view. You want something that will let you get close enough to the subject while still being able to see everything in front of you.

Why Choose a Monocular?

The main reason why people buy monoculars is because they want to be able to photograph wildlife in their backyard or travel places where it’s not possible to bring along a DSLR. They can also be used by hikers and birdwatchers who want to get closer to their favorite birds.

Handheld Monocular [without night vision], image credit: Maven CM1 8X32 mm ED Monocular

A monocular is an excellent tool for taking pictures of animals at close range. It has a wider field of vision than binoculars, which means you can get much closer to your subject. You can use it to capture images of small details like insects, flowers, and other plants.

A Night Vision Monocular
A Night Vision Monocular

A monocular is also great for observing landscapes and natural wonders. With its wide angle of view, you can easily spot interesting objects in the distance.

Way to choose a monocular

When choosing a monocular, here are some factors to keep in mind:

Field of View

Field of view refers to how large the area of the sky visible through the eyepiece appears. The larger the field of view, the more distant objects you can see.


Monoculars weigh less than binoculars, so they are easier to hold and transport. But this comes at the cost of reduced magnification power.

Magnification Power

Magnification power refers to how many times the object appears bigger when viewed through the eyepiece. Higher magnifications allow you to see smaller details.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the amount of space between the eyepiece and your eye. When using a monocular, you must ensure that your eyes are far enough away from the eyepiece to avoid getting scratched.

Lens Type

You can find monoculars with both refracting and reflective lenses. Refractive lenses are made up of glass prisms, while reflective lenses are coated with metal. Both types work equally well, but reflective lenses are lighter and more durable.


Eyecups are the part of the monocular that holds the eyepiece. There are two types of eyecups – fixed and adjustable. Fixed eyecups are attached permanently to the body of the monocular. Adjustable ones can be moved forward or backward to change the viewing position.

Close Focus Range

Close focus range refers to how close an object needs to be in order for the lens to achieve its maximum focusing ability. This is measured in millimeters (mm). For example, a 100 mm lens has a close focus range of 50 mm.

Night Vision Monocular

If you plan to take night photos, then you should look for a monocular with a high-quality infrared filter. These filters block out light below 700 nm wavelength. This allows you to shoot at night without disturbing any nocturnal creatures.

Battery Life

Battery life refers to how long the battery lasts before needing recharging. You should also check whether the batteries are rechargeable or replaceable.

Monocular Size and Weight

The weight of the monocular should feel comfortable in your hands. The larger the monocular, the heavier it will be. However, some photographers prefer heavy monoculars because they are easier to hold steady during use.

If you are planning to use the monocular outdoors, make sure that its weight does not cause discomfort. Also, choose a monocular that has an ergonomic design so that it fits comfortably in your hands.

If you are carrying the monocular around all day, opt for a model that is light and compact. This way, you won’t tire easily.


Monoculars come in all price ranges, but if you have a limited budget, you may need to compromise on features. If you don’t care about image stabilization, then you can go with cheaper models. However, if you want to make sure your equipment works well, then you will need to spend more money.


Warranties vary depending on the manufacturer. Some manufacturers provide lifetime warranties, while others only cover repairs.

What is the Right Lens Size?

Lens sizes range from 2mm to 8mm. Lenses with focal lengths greater than 10mm are called telephoto lenses. These are used for taking close-up photos. Lenses with focal length less than 10mm are known as wide angle lenses. They are used for landscapes and general photography.

Choosing the right lens depends on what kind of photography you intend to do. For example, if you want to take pictures of people, then you need a wider angle lens. On the other hand, if you want to capture large objects, then you will require a longer focal length.

Monocular Vs Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is a type of binocular that focuses on one point. It is usually smaller than a standard pair of binoculars. Spotting scopes are ideal for bird watching and wildlife observation.

Spotting Scope
Spotting Scope

The Spotting scopes are designed to give you a better view of small details such as insects, birds, reptiles, etc. They are also useful when you want to see things up close.

Spotting scopes are typically lighter than monoculars. They are also portable and easy to carry around. However, they lack the magnification power of a monocular.

Pros & Cons of a Monocular

There are many advantages to using a monocular instead of a spotting scope. Here are some of them:

Lightweight – Monoculars are much lighter than spotting scopes. This makes them easier to handle.

Compact – Monoculars are smaller than spotting scopes. Therefore, they are easier to store and transport.

Ergonomics – Monoculars tend to be more ergonomic than spotting scopes. They are easier to hold steady and focus quickly.

Image Stabilization – Monoculars offer superior image stabilization compared to spotting scopes. This means that you get sharper images even when shooting handheld.

Magnification Power – Monoculars are capable of providing higher magnifications than spotting scopes.

However, there are disadvantages too:

No Field of View (FOV) – Monoculars have no field of view. This means that you cannot look at anything outside the frame.

Limited Focal Length – Monoculars have shorter focal lengths than spotting scopes. You cannot zoom into distant subjects.

Learn more on the optics guide.


If you want to capture detailed shots of animals or plants, then you should consider buying a spotting scope. Otherwise, you can choose between a monocular and a spotting scope. Both options have their pros and cons. The best option for you will depend on your needs and preferences. is supported by its readers. When you buy through our links, we may receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Check disclaimer and about us.