Monocular vs binocular?

Kevin Peacocke

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Hi all, what are your feelings, or better still experience with a monocular? I am warming to the idea - it is more compact, easier to focus without the need to synchronise left and right, less expensive and an easier carry. I cant seem to find fault.
 

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Hi all, what are your feelings, or better still experience with a monocular? I am warming to the idea - it is more compact, easier to focus without the need to synchronise left and right, less expensive and an easier carry. I cant seem to find fault.
Now, that is retro. :cool: In a word, for me at least - no. Though it would look cool with a pith helmet.

I do use a quality spotting scope mountain hunting - but it is of very high power and is mounted on a tripod. It is used for judging game that is often miles away or thousands of feet above me (no use making an all day nearly vertical climb for nothing.)

Additionally, single lens scopes are fatiguing (one eye being used for one thing and the other for something else). Even if you are good a mentally blocking out the non-use eye rather than closing it, it is still quickly fatiguing. It is why we typically can maintain a really clear sight picture for only so long through a scope. Finally, most single lens scopes have relatively narrow fields of view compared to a binocular and are relative clumsy to adjust focus unless it is equipped with a dial focus mechanism of some sort which begins to defeat the small idea. Finally, to be worth using, the "small" telescope needs an objective the size of a binocular (I would assume at least 30mm?) At some point, we are getting close to the same size instrument with inherently less usability.
 

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I use spotting scopes and binoculars. A spotting scope is like watching TV, you can zoom in. But they are best for being stationary for a while. (And not a small monocular)

Binoculars have a much wider field of view in my experience, so there is more value in a better sight picture. The added weight is a small price to pay for better vision.
 

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Interesting question. Some good explanation of why they are not in favour by hunters.
 

One Day...

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...
single lens scopes are fatiguing (one eye being used for one thing and the other for something else). Even if you are good a mentally blocking out the non-use eye rather than closing it, it is still quickly fatiguing. It is why we typically can maintain a really clear sight picture for only so long through a scope. Finally, most single lens scopes have relatively narrow fields of view compared to a binocular and are relative clumsy to adjust focus unless it is equipped with a dial focus mechanism of some sort which begins to defeat the small idea. Finally, to be worth using, the "small" telescope needs an objective the size of a binocular (I would assume at least 30mm?) At some point, we are getting close to the same size instrument with inherently less usability.
+1

Eye strain is the basic reason for choosing binoculars over monocular, because our predator eyes are designed for stereoscopic vision and strain when used otherwise.

From there, everything follows...

For long range spotting, the big monocular up to 60x scopes are a compromise between comfort and portability. They are uncomfortable but portable (I am not aware of portable 60x binoculars). However, in addition to producing eye strain, their high magnification (e.g. 60x) requires a massive objective (e.g. 85 mm) to still produce minimal light transmission (85 mm divided by 60x = 1.4 mm light beam, which is half the 3mm beam a fully contracted human pupil can use). When combining eye strain, low light transmission and extremely narrow field of view, the practical use of 60x optics is quite limited. Yes they are the only way to score a trophy 1 mile away, but you better have good light, a tripod, a very still animal, plenty of time to set up, etc. etc.

This is why folks who really spend a lot of time glassing while hunting, go to the extremes of carrying tripod-mountable big binoculars 20x or 30x in addition to the binocs around their neck, because spending a long time behind a monocular, regardless of the glass quality, creates too much eye strain. In the 1980's I used for years, when mountain hunting in France, a Nickel 15-60x56 telescopic monocular scope, and it was all but useless at 60x because light transmission was simply not good enough (0.9 mm light beam at 60x) so I rarely used it over 30x. I replaced it with 20x80 Steiner binoculars. I never missed the additional magnification, and the light transmission of the 20x80 binocs (80 mm / 20x = 4 mm light beam) was mind blowing after using the Nickel at 30x (56mm / 30x = 1.8 mm light beam). I can use them all day long, but I cannot use very long my 20-60x85 Razor Ultra HD spotting scope. It is great at the 1,000 meter range, but I much prefer the 20x80 binoculars for hunting...

The typical 8x or 10x hunting binoculars are a compromise of comfort, magnification, and portability. They have lower magnification that spotting scopes but are highly portable and comfortable to use all day and still provide good light transmission during daylight (40 mm / 10x = 4 mm and 30 mm / 8x = 3.75 mm light beams) and enough magnification for use up to 400 or 500 meters.

Aside from easily fitting in a shirt pocket, small low magnification monoculars (e.g. Zeiss 8x20 or 10x20) seem to combine almost all the disadvantages possible. Because they are very light and used one handedly, the image they provide is quite unsteady. Because they have a small objective, the light transmission is limited (20 mm / 10x = 2 mm and 20 mm / 8x = 2.5 mm light beam). Because they are monocular they are uncomfortable to use for long and cause eye strain.

If truly you do not glass a lot while hunting (????) and want something you can literally slip in a shirt pocket Kevin, I would recommend a pair of 8x20 mini binoculars like the 1980's Zeiss 8x20B. These are true binoculars, top quality glass, very small, but they are quite usable for a quick glance here of there. I bought a pair in the 1980's, which I thought could replace my Zeiss 10x40 BGA when I was taking along my Steiner 20x80 Chamois hunting, but I quickly discovered that this was not true... For a while I tucked them in a shirt pocket when I went upland bird hunting, and now ... it has been so long since I used them that I could not even find them for the photo line up. That tells you all you need to know about how useful they turned out to be for me in the long run... There are a few of them floating on ebay in the $200 range, which is certainly a bargain for quality they represent, but likely represent the true hunting value of mini binoculars...

Optics.jpg

From left to right:
  • 1970's Nickel telescopic15-60x56 spotting scope. Barely usable above 30x due to a "small" objective. Obsolete.
  • Steiner 20x80 binoculars. Enough magnification for spotting, still portable, all-day viewing comfort, but better used on a tripod.
  • Zeiss 10x40 BGA: this was THE reference for all around binoculars for 20 years...
  • Vortex Razor Ultra HD 20-60x85 spotting scope. Great at the 1000 meter range, but I still prefer the 20x80 Steiner for glassing/searching for hours while hunting...
  • Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-D 3000. Would be the all around binocular perfection if just a bit more compact (compare with Zeiss 10x40 BGA).
  • Swarovski 8x30 SLC. Perfect for stalking up close in dense bush or bow hunting.
 
Last edited:

Kevin Peacocke

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Great info guys. The main argument against the monocular is eye strain, but I only intend using it briefly as one would binos in Africa. So for me the advantages overcome the eye strain issues. I'll leave the final decision until trying them all in S&O
 

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+1

Eye strain is the basic reason for choosing binoculars over monocular, because our predator eyes are designed for stereoscopic vision and strain when used otherwise.

From there, everything follows...

For long range spotting, the big monocular up to 60x scopes are a compromise between comfort and portability. They are uncomfortable but portable (I am not aware of portable 60x binoculars). However, in addition to producing eye strain, their high magnification (e.g. 60x) requires a massive objective (e.g. 85 mm) to still produce minimal light transmission (85 mm divided by 60x = 1.4 mm light beam, which is half the 3mm beam a fully contracted human pupil can use). When combining eye strain, low light transmission and extremely narrow field of view, the practical use of 60x optics is quite limited. Yes they are the only way to score a trophy 1 mile away, but you better have good light, a tripod, a very still animal, plenty of time to set up, etc. etc.

This is why folks who really spend a lot of time glassing while hunting, go to the extremes of carrying tripod-mountable big binoculars 20x or 30x in addition to the binocs around their neck, because spending a long time behind a monocular, regardless of the glass quality, creates too much eye strain. In the 1980's I used for years, when mountain hunting in France, a Nickel 15-60x56 telescopic monocular scope, and it was all but useless at 60x because light transmission was simply not good enough (0.9 mm light beam at 60x) so I rarely used it over 30x. I replaced it with 20x80 Steiner binoculars. I never missed the additional magnification, and the light transmission of the 20x80 binocs (80 mm / 20x = 4 mm light beam) was mind blowing after using the Nickel at 30x (56mm / 30x = 1.8 mm light beam). I can use them all day long, but I cannot use very long my 20-60x85 Razor Ultra HD spotting scope. It is great at the 1,000 meter range, but I much prefer the 20x80 binoculars for hunting...

The typical 8x or 10x hunting binoculars are a compromise of comfort, magnification, and portability. They have lower magnification that spotting scopes but are highly portable and comfortable to use all day and still provide good light transmission during daylight (40 mm / 10x = 4 mm and 30 mm / 8x = 3.75 mm light beams) and enough magnification for use up to 400 or 500 meters.

Aside from easily fitting in a shirt pocket, small low magnification monoculars (e.g. Zeiss 8x20 or 10x20) seem to combine almost all the disadvantages possible. Because they are very light and used one handedly, the image they provide is quite unsteady. Because they have a small objective, the light transmission is limited (20 mm / 10x = 2 mm and 20 mm / 8x = 2.5 mm light beam). Because they are monocular they are uncomfortable to use for long and cause eye strain.

If truly you do not glass a lot while hunting (????) and want something you can literally slip in a shirt pocket Kevin, I would recommend a pair of 8x20 mini binoculars like the 1980's Zeiss 8x20B. These are true binoculars, top quality glass, very small, but they are quite usable for a quick glance here of there. I bought a pair in the 1980's, which I thought could replace my Zeiss 10x40 BGA when I was taking along my Steiner 20x80 Chamois hunting, but I quickly discovered that this was not true... For a while I tucked them in a shirt pocket when I went upland bird hunting, and now ... it has been so long since I used them that I could not even find them for the photo line up. That tells you all you need to know about how useful they turned out to be for me in the long run... There are a few of them floating on ebay in the $200 range, which is certainly a bargain for quality they represent, but likely represent the true hunting value of mini binoculars...

View attachment 372659
From left to right:
  • 1970's Nickel telescopic15-60x56 spotting scope. Barely usable above 30x due to a "small" objective. Obsolete.
  • Steiner 20x80 binoculars. Enough magnification for spotting, still portable, all-day viewing comfort, but better used on a tripod.
  • Zeiss 10x40 BGA: this was THE reference for all around binoculars for 20 years...
  • Vortex Razor Ultra HD 20-60x85 spotting scope. Great at the 1000 meter range, but I still prefer the 20x80 Steiner for glassing/searching for hours while hunting...
  • Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-D 3000. Would be the all around binocular perfection if just a bit more compact (compare with Zeiss 10x40 BGA).
  • Swarovski 8x30 SLC. Perfect for stalking up close in dense bush or bow hunting.
OneDay, thank you for this very in depth and thought out response. This is why I love this site, people really care.
 

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OneDay, thank you for this very in depth and thought out response. This is why I love this site, people really care.
My pleasure Kevin :)

This is your choice entirely, but I really suggest you also try something like this (pic here under). They literally are no bigger than 2 small monoculars, they fit in the palm of the hand and in a shirt pocket, and they are immeasurably more useful than a 8x20 monocular. Not to mention that a pair of used ones from ebay in as-new shape is also cheaper than a new monocular...

1603397714549.png


Along the caring line, please allow me to add that:
I only intend using it briefly as one would binos in Africa.
To me this is a fascinating comment. I am literally glued to my binocs in Africa (as in Europe or America) when I hunt. To me it feels that leaving the finding, evaluating, selecting, strategizing to the PH alone, and not hush discussing all the above with him, and making the decision together, would be taking away most of the pleasure of hunting, reducing it to just shooting.
 
Last edited:

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I have a monocular and several binoculars, I find the monocular limits my field of view also, I prefer a binocular.
 

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I have Strabismus. Basically my eyes don't work well in sync although I see just fine. Looking through binoculars with both eyes at once is a challenge for me. So I actually like a monocular.
 

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I read an article that emphasized the benefits of a monocular for still-hunting, especially in thick forests. So I got an 8x one and tried it but couldn’t really get used to it. I use pocket 8x20 binoculars for that kind of hunting instead, and use bigger binoculars or a spotting scope for longer-range glassing.
 

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