Monocular vs Binocular

Monocular vs Binocular

Are you a lover of the outdoors? Do you love hiking, hunting, or exploring? If you do, I would suggest investing in either a monocular or a set of binoculars. Which one is the best: monocular vs binocular? In this article, I will provide details about the differences between these two optical devices. 


Monocular lens

A monocular is a one-lens optical device that aids people in seeing long distances. It is made up of one ocular lens, a twist eyecap, a focus wheel, and an objective lens. An ocular lens is where you look into using the device. A twist eyecap is a cushioning mechanism to increase the comfort of the area around your eye. A focus wheel is how you can zoom in and out or improve clarity. The objective lens is the lens that magnifies the object, person, animal, or scenery. 


The first benefit of a monocular is that it is smaller and often more compactible than binoculars. This makes it easier to pull it out quickly and easily. You can even keep it in your pocket!

The second benefit is that it is easier to adjust. The monocular only has one component that needs to be adjusted (the focus wheel). Binoculars have two (the diopter and the focus). This makes the monocular more suitable for beginners. 

The third benefit of it is that it is better suited for night-vision purposes. This isn’t due to any feature of the monocular; it is due to how it allows us to switch into our natural night-vision abilities. When only one eye is looking into the device, it adapts quicker to the darker conditions. 


Pair of binoculars

A set of binoculars is a two-lens optical device that aids people in seeing long distances. It is made up of two optical lenses, an adjustable eyecup, a diopter, a focus, and two objective lenses. An eyecup is similar to an eyecap. A diopter adjusts the magnifying power on the binoculars. A focus is how to improve clarity. 


The first benefit is a greater field of vision. We will go more in-depth into this benefit in the next section. 

The second benefit of binoculars is that it feels more natural to use. Monoculars can cause equilibrium problems and disorientation, especially when someone isn’t used to using one. Binoculars don’t have this problem because both eyes are exposed to magnification. 

The third benefit is that binoculars have reduced effects of eye fatigue. Because both of your eyes are looking through the lens, you don’t have to strain or squint as much. When you use a monocular, you need to keep one eye closed and strain your other eye. 

Major Areas of Functional Difference

There are three main areas in which there are functional differences between binoculars and monoculars. 

Field of View

Field of view is how far you can see outside of the central line of vision. In other words, it is how far you can see in your peripheral view through the optical device. 

Monoculars have a narrower field of view. It only sees a few feet to your left or right. 

Binoculars have a broader field of view. It can see multiple yards from side to side. The lower the magnification, the smaller the field of view gets. 


Magnification is the process of seeing something clearer and more focused than you could see with the naked eye. 

A monocular’s level of magnification varies depending on the size of the device. The larger the size of the monocular, the greater level of magnification can be achieved. 

For binoculars, it is best to keep the level of magnification lower. Both lenses will have the same magnification. 

Objective Lens

The objective lens (as I mentioned earlier) is the front lens of the device. 

For monoculars, it is best to go for a larger objective lens. This creates more clarity. 

There are many different sizes of objective lenses in binoculars (based on the overall size of the binoculars). Most sizes of binoculars are bigger than monoculars, which translates to better optical quality. 

Monocular vs Binocular

Person site seeing

So, which one is best to use? It depends on the situation in which you plan to use them. Here is a basic guide for which device is best for common activities. 


For hunting, it is recommended that beginners start with binoculars. This is because beginners need to be more aware of their surroundings for safety and for seeing the targeted animal. 

When you gain experience in hunting, it is best to go with a monocular, especially when you have already spotted the animal. A monocular allows for better focus and precision. 

Bird Watching

As a beginner, it is best to use a monocular because it is portable and easy to quickly pull out as well as has a clearer focus. 

When you gain some experience, it is best to use binoculars because you can steadily watch a bird for an extended period of time. This is especially true when you are observing behavior. 


For surveillance, the best device depends not on mastery, but on the objective. 

If you are surveilling an area for intruders, a set of binoculars would be best, especially if it is a large area.  

Hiking and Looking at Scenery

If you are leisurely hiking or looking at the scenery, it is best to use monoculars. They allow you to gain access to them quicker, store them easier and are more comfortable. 

If you are trying to get a look at the terrain ahead of you, it is best to use binoculars. This is because they allow you to see longer distances and have a greater field of view. 


If you are an amateur astronomer, it is best to use binoculars. This is because of the precision and comfort that binoculars offer you. 

When you advance your craft, it is best to use a monocular. You would do better to use a monocular because it allows for clearer precision and further distance. 


The main differences between monoculars and binoculars lie in their abilities relating to the field of vision, objective lenses, and magnification. When you are deciding on monocular v binocular, it is best to determine what situation you would be using them for. Different situations tip the scale in favor of different devices. 

Written by Allison Knowles

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