Man focusing Viking monocular

How To Choose The Best Monocular

With the growing popularity of high-performance binoculars, it is important to remember that compact monoculars are available. Not only do they provide excellent quality, but they gain the benefit of being easily portable. This lightweight and compact design makes them a favourite for those constantly on the move. However, with so many options being available, how do you determine which is the right choice for you?

Finding the perfect compact monocular can be tricky. There are many factors to consider before making your purchase. Thankfully, our team of experts have created this guide to help you with your decision. Choosing the best monocular for you has never been easier. This guide contains a full in-depth look at each option available and the benefits that these offer.

Design Overview

When choosing a compact monocular, it is important to know what features to look for. The majority of monoculars still maintain many key features that binoculars offer. Design features such as twist-down eyecups and focusing wheels are still present here. However, the main limitation is the fact that you are only able to use one lens. This does naturally restrict the full view that you can receive during use. Despite this, there are many fantastic benefits that using a monocular can offer.

The compact and lightweight build design is the main selling point when it comes to using a monocular. These monoculars are perfect for carrying around in your pocket due to their size. This ensures that they are extremely convenient and ready for use at any time. No matter where you go, this monocular will be ready for use. However, despite the compact build design, the monocular is able to match the same quality output as most binoculars. This is possible thanks to the design of the optics as well as a number of functional design options. For example, the Viking ED 10x25 Monocular provides features such as a focusing wheel and a close focus zoom (1.6m). These are similar features that you would expect to find on binoculars. These perform in exactly the same way and allow for easy adjustments.


Viking ED 10x25 Monocular

Furthermore, many monoculars offer a waterproof design to ensure that they are suitable for use in all conditions. A prime example of this is the Viking Cygnus monocular range which offers a rubber-armour build design. Not only does this ensure that the monocular is waterproof, but also offers fantastic protection against any damage. This helps to ensure that the monocular is able to maintain its working condition for as long as possible.

The main drawback found with compact monoculars is the limited view within the lens. This can make tasks like tracking objects much more difficult. This is where binoculars typically have the advantage. The use of two lenses creates a wider FOV and birdwatching feels more accessible. This can certainly make a monocular feel more difficult to use - especially for beginners. However, the monocular devices aim to strike a balance between convenience and being comfortable to use.

Finally, the compact size and ease of use that a monocular offers makes them perfect for children. These can be the perfect cost-effective introduction to the world of binoculars and monoculars. The compact size makes them a fantastic choice for children to both carry around and use.

Magnification and Objective Lens

Despite their compact design, the monoculars can certainly deliver high quality results. The majority of monoculars provide a magnification power of 8 or 10. This magnification power is excellent for activities such as birdwatching and wildlife observation. The truth is that a monocular can deliver the same results as binoculars which are far larger. However, it is always important to note the limitation in the field-of-view (FOV).

A magnification power of 8x is usually the best for birdwatching and will deliver fantastic results. This magnification power provides a detailed zoom without removing much of the available FOV. If you are looking for a more detailed zoom, then choosing a 10x magnification option is best. However, this can be harder to maintain and keep still as hand movements can distort the overall image. If you are a beginner to the world of optics, then I would certainly suggest starting with an 8x magnification. For more information regarding this, then check out our guide to magnification.

The next thing to consider is the objective lens diameter size available on the monocular. The size of the lens dictates how much light is able to through the monocular. As the rate of light increases, the viewable image becomes brighter. This allows for the quality of the image to improve and certain devices even perform well in low-light conditions. For example, the Viking Cygnus monocular is available in two different object lens sizes (25 and 42). Choosing the larger objective lens would therefore increase the overall light intake. This would then be able to deliver a higher quality image as a result.


Viking Cygnus 10x42 Monocular

Monoculars are extremely good at striking a balance between quality and accessibility. They offer a great deal of quality through the optics whilst maintaining their lightweight and compact design. This allows them to be incredibly versatile and accessible at all times. As a result of this, these devices are suitable for anyone regardless of their experience. The ability to easily store them and carry them around is another huge advantage that they offer. This design allows them to be suitable for both casual and experienced users.

Quality of Optics

The level of image quality that a monocular can offer is certainly the most important factor to consider. This helps highlight which monocular will deliver the best possible results for use. As previously mentioned, models such as the Viking ED Monocular utilise ED glass for the clearest image possible. Whilst this is not available on all models, it certainly takes nothing away from their quality. Both Viking and Celestron offer fantastic products which are suitable for all occasions.

However, the Viking ED 8x25 Monocular remains the highest performing monocular available. The use of the ED glass removes all colour fringing and helps to create a perfect image. This pairs well with the inclusion of the multi-coated lens which help increase how bright the image appears. You can certainly guarantee excellent results at any time with this option. If you are looking for the best possible results, then you will definitely want to pick this monocular up.

Models such as the Viking Cygnus and the Celestron Nature monocular still offer a high standard of performance. Despite not having ED glass, both of these devices still provide fantastic results. These are considerably more cost-effective as well thanks to the price that they are available at. Therefore, if you are operating on a stricter budget, then these are excellent alternatives to consider.

Celestron Nature 10x25 Monocular

Both the Viking Cygnus and the Celestron Nature offer a multi-coated lens for increased brightness. This is certainly enough to deliver crystal-clear images though you may experience some colour fringing occasionally. Overall this really is not noticeable and does not take away from the viewable image. These are great options for those that are just starting out and need to get to grips with a monocular.

Regardless of which option you settle on, you can be sure that you are picking up a high-quality monocular. Both Viking and Celestron deliver crystal-clear results in a compact build design. Each monocular is a perfect blend between high-performance optics and a convenient build design.

What About Spotting Scopes?

Spotting Scopes are the next step up from monoculars. They perfectly slot in between binoculars and a telescope with how they operate. The spotting scopes offer a more powerful magnification with their zoom. These are still suitable for activities such as birdwatching and stargazing. However, due to the magnification zoom, they will be more suited to an experienced user.

Furthermore, the spotting scopes are much heavier and less compact in their overall design in comparison. Combining this with the intense magnification, it can be difficult to hold this steady without a tripod. This is why we would always recommend using a tripod alongside a spotting scope for the best possible results.

The Viking 12-36x50mm Swallow Spotting Scope is a great example of this. This scope is ideal for birdwatching and general observation from a far distance. Pairing high quality optics with a powerful magnification zoom makes this a serious piece of kit. Designed to maximise light transmission, resolution, and colour contrast ensures the highest quality of image.


Viking 12-36x50mm Swallow Spotting Scope

The spotting scope offers a complete weatherproof design to help offer protection during use. Furthermore, this scope also makes use of nitrogen in the lens to prevent fogging and remove any dirt. This helps to maintain the condition of the scope over time and ensures that this remains functional.

This makes the spotting scope a great alternative to both monocular devices and binoculars.  The increase in overall image quality and magnification zoom is certainly noticeable. This provides more opportunities in comparison and suits more activities. However, due to the size of the scopes, you will lose the practicality and convenience of a compact monocular.

Finally, the Viking 12-36x50mm Spotting Scope comes available with a tripod as part of an additional bundle. This provides support when setting the scope up and allows for pin-point accurate results. This addresses many of the potential issues of using a scope, though does limit how practical this can sometimes be.


There are a number of excellent monoculars currently available. These provide the perfect balance between quality images and offering a compact design. Opting for a monocular is great if you need something easily portable. There is a real balance between high-performance and convenience when choosing a monocular.

The Viking ED 8x25 Monocular certainly provides the highest possible quality. The inclusion of ED glass is really what separates this from the other monoculars. Pairing the ED glass with a multi-coated lens and phase-coated prism ensures great results at all times. Furthermore, the focusing ring available here works smoothly and without any problems.

Alternatively, the Viking Cygnus range is perfect for those operating on a slightly small budget. Whilst this does not offer ED glass, the multi-coated lens still provides excellent visuals. These monoculars perform extremely well and provide an incredibly durable build design. This monocular offers full protection from all conditions thanks to the rubber-armour finish.

Read More: Top 10 Best Monoculars