Binoculars vs Monoculars: Which Is Best?

Binoculars vs Monoculars: Which Is Best?

There is much debate surrounding whether choosing a pair of binoculars or opting for a monocular is best. This is a question which we frequently receive from both beginners and intermediate users. However, there simply is not a one size fits all response to this question. The answer to this varies from person to person. This largely comes down to personal preference as well as the environment that you are operating in.

There are many occasions where a monocular is the preferred choice. For example, the convenient compact design makes monoculars a great choice. This makes them the perfect travel companion as they can easily fit in to your pocket. Despite this, binoculars are typically the preferred option as people assume they offer the best results. However, monoculars can offer the same high quality results as binoculars can.

This article aims to compare the two devices to identify exactly which is the best option. Exploring the key similarities and differences between the two devices to help with your decision. Regardless of your preference, there is certainly something for everyone here.

Monocular Overview

Monoculars are essentially one half of a set of binoculars. They offer a single lens which the user is able to view and track objects. However, these monoculars still offer many features that you would expect from binoculars. For example, they offer similar features such as the focusing wheel and twist-down eyecups. Consider these to be binoculars that fit nicely in to your pocket.

In terms of the magnification, the monoculars are able to match binoculars. Both devices are able to offer an 8x and 10x magnification zoom. This makes them fantastic for activities such as birdwatching. The monoculars do provide an incredibly detailed zoom on any object. However, as you are only using one eye, monoculars work best for quick glimpses as opposed to full-on observations.

Viking ED 8x25 Monocular 

In addition to this, the monoculars provide the same level of image quality as binoculars do. These typically use the same lens and prism design which binoculars offer. Therefore, you will not experience any drop-off in quality if you decide to opt for a monocular. The use of a multi-coated lens and phase-coated prisms also contribute towards this. This allows for the monoculars units to be incredibly powerful despite their compact size.

Finally, the overall field-of-view (FOV) is the last point to consider. Due to the single lens available with monoculars, the overall FOV is narrower in comparison to binoculars. Whilst this does not impact the magnification, it does effect the ability to track objects. This is particularly important with activities such as birdwatching. For example, the Viking Cygnus 8x42 Monocular offers a FOV of 6.3°. In comparison, the Viking Badger 8x42 Binoculars offer an FOV of 6.4°. Whilst the FOV is similar, the binoculars gain the benefit of having two separate lenses which makes tracking easier.

Read More: Top 10 Best Monoculars

Binoculars Overview

Binoculars are the traditional choice for any outdoor activities. They gain the benefit of offering two lenses which generally makes them more accessible for activates such as birdwatching. Furthermore, they are more suitable for long-term use in comparison to a monocular.

As previously mentioned, binoculars and monoculars share many of the same features and specs. However, binoculars excel with the level of comfort that they offer the user. Using both eyes to look through the binoculars improves your overall depth and distance perception. In addition to this, using both eyes prevents any potential eyestrain - especially during long-term use.


Viking Kestrel ED 8x42 Binoculars

Binoculars and monoculars share many similarities in regards to the image quality that they offer. However, the use of two lenses really helps the binoculars shine. Being able to experience a more complete image through both lenses provides a higher image quality. Furthermore, this allows for much easier tracking of objects such as birds. If you are just beginning your birdwatching journey, then opting for binoculars is certainly a high recommendation.

A great factor which both the monoculars and binoculars share is their level of durability. The use of the rubber-armour design ensures that the binoculars and monoculars are resistant to wet conditions. This is particularly helpful for dealing with the Great British weather. Thankfully, this rubber-armour design is available with the majority of monoculars and binoculars.

Read More: Top 10 Best Binoculars for Birdwatching

Which Option Is Best?

Taking everything in consideration, the question remains of which option is the best. Both monoculars and binoculars offer many different advantages in different situations. The best option really comes down to personal preferences as well as what you intend on using them for.

Monoculars gain the benefit of being the most compact, and therefore the easiest to carry around. Their compact size makes them perfect for storing in your pocket. This is the perfect option for casual users. If you are just starting out and need a cost-effective introductory approach, then monoculars are a great choice. The level of quality that they offer is outstanding - especially models that offer ED glass. This will provide you with a crystal-clear image and a detailed zoom.

Despite the compact size, these monoculars offer a design which makes them extremely durable. The rubber-armour finish makes them ready for use in any weather condition. In addition to this, models such as the Viking Cygnus monocular offers grips to ensure they do not become slippery. This level of protection makes the monoculars suitable for use for people of all age categories.


Viking Cygnus 8x25 Monocular

There are many advantages for choosing a monocular. The convenience that they offer the user is certainly a key selling point. Furthermore, the level of quality that they offer is excellent. The optic design is great and provides fantastically detailed images at all times.

However, there are some noticeable drawbacks with using a monocular. The use of only a single lens limits the FOV and makes tracking objects more difficult. This is particularly important if you plan on using this monocular for birdwatching. In addition to this, you are more likely to experience eyestrain during long-term use when using a single lens. Therefore, the monoculars are most suitable for casual use and for making quick observations.

In contrast to this, opting for a pair of binoculars is far more suitable for long-term use. The use of both lenses not only provides more comfort for the user, but also offers a wider FOV. This helps make binoculars the best choice for any avid birdwatchers out there. The ability to easily track targets makes all the difference - especially for first-time users.

Viking Badger 8x42 Binoculars

Whilst monoculars and binoculars do offer similar levels of image quality, the binoculars certainly provide an edge. They make use of the two lenses which helps boost the understanding of perception and depth. This allows for a more complete image to form through the lenses of the binoculars. Therefore, if you are looking for the best possible results, then I would always recommend opting for binoculars.

Binoculars are perfect for all outdoor activities. Whether this is for birdwatching or for taking in the sights when hiking, you can expect high-quality results. The inclusion of multi-coated lenses and phase-coated prisms really help to maximise the overall quality. This allows the binoculars to perform even in low-light condition. An essential factor for those that want to use these binoculars all year round.

Both monoculars and binoculars will offer fantastic design features to prevent damage during use. The rubber-armour design offers great protection to the units and prevents any water damage from occurring. In addition to this, many models offer nitrogen within the lenses. This helps to prevent any fogging as well as stopping any build up of dirt.

Finally, the last point worth discussing is the comparison of the size. Monoculars provide an extremely compact design which makes them perfect for carrying around. Binoculars understandably weigh more due to the far bulkier design. However, the binoculars that we currently stock all offer a compact design. This helps to make them as portable as possible and could certainly fit in a large pocket. In addition to this, many binoculars come with additional accessories such as a carrycase. For example, the Celestron Trailseeker binoculars offer accessories including the travel case and a neck strap.

Celestron Trailseeker 8x32 Binoculars with Accessories

Whilst not everyone may use these accessories, they certainly help to add some extra value to the bundle. The inclusion of the carrycase helps bridge the gap in terms how easily portable the binoculars are. Whilst monoculars will always win due to their size, this definitely makes carrying the binoculars around much easier. If you are someone that plans on taking long trips with these binoculars, then this case can be essential.


Evaluating the best option comes down to a number of different factors. The monoculars and binoculars will provide everything you could possibly need. High-quality image optics and compact designs are available with both options.

Monoculars provide a convenient and cost-effective approach to achieving great results. The key advantage here is the convenience that they offer thanks to their small size. These are easily portable and can fit in to any pocket. Despite their size, the monoculars offer a clear and defined image. However, this compact size does carry certain limitations. This includes a narrow FOV as well as potential eyestrain during long-term use. The monoculars are much more suitable for casual use.

Binoculars offer a more all-round purpose. The inclusion of two lenses to view images provides a much better depth and perception. Tracking objects is much easier which makes them the optimal choice for birdwatching. These are heavier than monoculars though still maintain a compact design. If you are looking to achieve the best results, then choosing binoculars will certainly offer this.

The binoculars really excel in every aspect. From the overall image quality to the level of comfort that they offer during use. There are a number of different options spanning a wide range of prices. Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate user, we have the perfect pair of binoculars for you.

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