What Are Single Lens Binoculars

What Are Single Lens Binoculars?

Technically, there’s no such thing as a single lens binocular because the word binoculars means two ocular lenses. Breaking the word down you get “bi” meaning two and “ocular” meaning connected to the eyes.

So what is a single lens binocular actually called? A single lens binocular is called a monocular. “Mono” meaning single and “ocular” connected to the eye.

What Is A Monocular?


A one lens (or single lens) binocular or to give it its correct name, a monocular is a hand held optical device which uses a single lens to magnify distant objects. Monoculars are lightweight and typically used for bird watching, hunting and hiking.

Being lightweight makes them easy to carry and due to their smaller size than binoculars, monoculars can fit into pockets easily when not in use.

Monoculars are also used as a visual aid for people that are visually impaired. They come in a variety of sizes and different magnification levels with some models including features like image stabilisation and/or night vision technology

Increased Popularity

Over recent years, monoculars have become more popular due to their convenience and portability. They can be operated using just one hand and are easy to carry around making them the ideal choice for activities on the move.

Due to their improved technological features, which includes high quality lenses and coatings that keep images clear and sharp, more and more people are choosing monoculars over binoculars. 

Plus the built in image stabilisation features offer even clearer images by reducing hand shake and blurring. Some even have thermal imaging capabilities meaning you’re not just restricted to day time use.

Monoculars are a great choice for anyone that wants to magnify distant objects without being weighed down with lots of cumbersome equipment.

SmartPhone Adaptation

Many modern monoculars are supplied with smartphone adapters which enable the user to attach their smartphone to the monocular and take clear long distance video or photo footage.

This opens up a whole new world of photography and video making allowing the user to film and photo clear images from far away distances.

Why Choose A Monocular Over Binoculars?


There are several reasons why many people are choosing a monocular over a pair of binoculars which include;

More Compact Size

Even when folded, a pair of binoculars takes up more room than a monocular. It would be difficult to put a pair of binoculars in a pocket and it would also be a struggle to get them out again.

With the more streamlined shape and design of a monocular, and the fact that it’s half the size of a pair of binoculars, you can easily slip a monocular into and out of your pocket with ease.

Plus the reduced size of a monocular makes it ideal for keeping in the glove box of your car or even in your laptop bag. And it’s always on hand whenever you spot something you want to take a closer look at.

Less Weight

Monoculars only have one barrel and no need for extra connections which means that many are less than half the weight of a pair of binoculars with a similar viewing range.

Not only does this make the monocular easy to carry around, it also means there’s no problem using a monocular over an extended period. Many come with a wrist strap for added comfort and less worry.

Easier To Focus

Before using a pair of binoculars, you need to focus each barrel separately using the dioptre. Admittedly this gives you a better 3D image than a monocular can. But, even a lockable dioptre can get knocked out of focus.

This often means the subject has gone before you ever get to focus on it. It also means it’s virtually impossible to share a pair of binoculars with others as the focus is set for your eyes.

Monoculars on the other hand, are easy to focus and as you only have to focus one lens, faster to focus as well. This makes it simple to share with others, giving everyone a chance to see that rare bird or animal in the wild.

Ideal For Digiscoping

Digiscoping is a great way to record a sighting without the need for an expensive camera and lens set up. Many monoculars can be coupled with smartphones and offer Bluetooth remote control for both IOS and Android.

Using binoculars to do similar would involve buying an expensive digiscope adapter. Plus as you’re only using a monocular it’s quick and easy to focus and set up. Which means you could potentially see lots of wildlife before the binocular digiscope could be set up.

With no need for support, a monocular digiscope is great for remaining mobile, giving you more freedom and not fixing you to one spot.

Costs Less

Due to the simplicity of the design, like just one barrel and reduced lenses, a monocular is often less than half the price of a comparable pair of binoculars. 

Obviously the more advanced the equipment, the more it will cost but many monoculars are less than half the price of a similar strength pair of binoculars.

Is It Better To Use Binoculars Or A Monocular?

child using binoculars

Whether using a pair of binoculars is better than using a monocular depends on your personal point of view. And, in all honesty, used properly, you will get a better image from a decent pair of binoculars.

However, the image produced by a decent monocular isn’t going to be far removed from that of a pair of binoculars. There are also many positive advantages to using a monocular over a pair of binoculars which include;

  • Portability
    A monocular weighs less, is smaller in size and more likely to fit in your pocket than a pair of binoculars.
  • Simplicity
    A monocular is easy to hold, easier to focus and gives you the ability to share with others without having to go through that whole refocusing process.
  • Value For Money
    Many monoculars can be purchased for far less than a comparably performing pair of binoculars. This gives you the opportunity of upgrading to a better quality monocular for less money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are monoculars as good as binoculars?

A decent monocular will give you a clear image which is comparable to that of a decent pair of binoculars. Obviously binoculars offer a more 3D image, but there are advantages to using a monocular. It is easier to carry, weighs less, is a smaller size, easier to focus and costs less than comparable binoculars.

How far can you see with a monocular?

The distance you can see with a monocular depends on a number of factors including, the magnification power, how good the lens is and the lighting conditions. But a 8X or 10X magnification power monocular should give a clear view of objects up to 1000 yards away on a clear day.

Are monoculars worth it?

Monoculars are definitely worth it if you are interested in seeing objects a fair distance away with a lightweight, easy to carry, easy to use and easy to focus piece of ocular equipment. Plus as an added bonus, a decent monocular will cost around half the price of a comparable pair of binoculars.

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