How to Buy the Best Binoculars for Use With One Eye Only

It’s very common to be in a situation where you want binoculars for one eye only. Maybe you have good sight only in a single eye, or you just want a smaller lighter device. Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t make sense to get full-blown binoculars in that case.

So you basically need binoculars for one eye – that’s not a thing though. What you are really looking for is a monocular, such as this one:

What’s a monocular? How do you buy one?

In most cases, a monocular is quite literally half of a binocular. It’s basically one optical tube, sometimes with a protruding bit with a focusing wheel. They are produced the same way as binoculars and most of the stuff that describes the optics is analogous to binoculars.

Let’s have a look at what you need to know to buy the best one-eye binocular for yourself:

Magnification

For most products, the magnification is fixed, for example 8x. This means that the device will magnify things 8 times, or in other words, bring things 8 times closer. A bird that is 80 yards away will look like it’s 8 yards away. Don’t go over overboard with magnification. 15x may sound amazing, but it really means that:

  1. You will have a very hard time keeping the view steady without support.
  2. You will have a very narrow field of view.
  3. The image will be dim because you’re essentially collecting light from a very small area.

So, go for 8x or 10x, maybe 12x max. That’s just about right for the vast majority of situations.

Objective lens size

That’s the diameter of the big lens in front, in millimeters. What you need to know is: the bigger the lens, the better light gathering capabilities the product will have and the bigger and heavier it will be. It’s a tradeoff.

The Gosky 12×55 HD Monocular is a great example of a device with a big objective and powerful magnification. By the way, it includes a smartphone adapter, so you can use it to take pictures with your phone – essentially like a high-powered camera lens.

Price

You know the cliché – you get what you pay for. Frankly, if you want your optics to be actually useful, you’ll need to spend a bit. It all depends. Cheap Chinese models may work, but they will give you nowhere near the viewing pleasure of a higher quality product with good optics.

Let’s give you some idea of what to expect.

The Bushnell below is a superb monocular. It has ED glass, multi-coated optics, BaK-4 prisms etc. You don’t need to know what this all means, just know that it’s a tool for people who take their viewing seriously – avid birders, hunters, wildlife trackers, or even people who want to enjoy a sports game at the arena in full glory. It’s not even a high-end item like those made by top European optics brands (Zeiss, Swarovski or Leica), but it’s solid upper mid-range:

Here, for comparison, is a lower mid-range product from Wingspan. This is a brand that makes optics exclusively for birders. Birders are fairly demanding people because viewing small quick birds while seeing the full detail of their plumage is what their hobby/job is all about. Wingspan manages to deliver decent optics for a very affordable price:

You will be able to use this mono for almost everything, though don’t expect the same brilliant optics as somewhat more expensive items on the market.

A Word on Spotting Scopes

When you’re looking for the best binoculars for one eye, it’s possible that what you really want is actually a bigger device called a spotting scope and you just didn’t know the name.

Bigger monoculars are usually called spotting scopes. They have higher magnification, larger objectives and are generally significantly bulkier tools – don’t expect to drop these in your pocket and set off on a trek.

A good spotting scope is a fantastic tool for long distance observation, and as such it will usually require support, such as a tripod.

The prices for these go from really cheap all the way to the four digit range for top-of-the-line pro tools. Let’s leave the latter ones to the pros and instead have a look at some affordable spotters:

Big and powerful, with an 80mm lens, the Ultima above will take your long range viewing to a whole different level. Okay, it’s not some hotshot super-expensive product, but it’s very highly rated for its price and a very nice device overall. Have a look at people’s reviews over at Amazon, they reveal quite a bit about the products in question.

If, one the other hand, you want something smaller, cheaper, then have a look at this Roxant below. Sizewise it lands pretty much in the middle between a typical spotting scope and a typical monocular and it’s certainly a very affordable device as well. It’s hugely popular too and very well-received (read the reviews):


If you came here looking for one-eyed binoculars, I hope I have given you a decent overview of what options you have and what you need to know to get the best deal for your money. There’s of course a lot more that could be covered, but I think, with this knowledge you’ll be well on your way towards getting some nice optics that suit your needs.