Humanity receives the most significant amount of information with the help of its vision—about 90%. Therefore, scientists and inventors worldwide have been working for centuries on the problem of improving this most informative human sense. Millions of people wear glasses, look through binoculars, microscopes, and telescopes—hunters and the military use optical and digital sights. Athletes check the results, and ornithologists watch beautiful birds.
The most accessible for the average user are binoculars and monocular. So it makes sense to figure out the difference between them and which of these devices is more convenient and reliable to use.
What are Binoculars?
Let's talk about binoculars first. Translated from Latin, the device's name means "two eyes." It's not hard to guess why that is. Binoculars are optical instrument that consists of two telescopes connected in parallel. The history of the creation of this device goes back to the 17th century when Galileo Galilei thought that looking through a telescope with one eye without using the other was impractical. Therefore, the great scientist connected two spyglasses to look into them simultaneously. But these early binoculars were very bulky, and so the inventors solved this problem by adding a set of prisms to the instrument to make the fixture shorter and flip the image back in the correct order. In the telescopes, by the way, the picture of what was happening was upside down.
Binoculars come in different types. Over 400 years of evolution, optical instruments have acquired several valuable improvements. By size, they can be distinguished into classic and compact. Depending on the scope of the application and the tasks set, each user understands what he needs, convenience or power. You can also classify binoculars according to the focusing method: central and separate. By type, these optical instruments are divided into military, marine, hunting, sports, tourist, night, children, etc.
The principle of binoculars is that if you need to consider something at a great distance, you need to take two convex lenses and look through them. The first lens collects light from the object and transfers its image to the second lens, which magnifies the image. This is a lens and an eyepiece. So binoculars are two telescopes, but with an optical prism between the lenses. If you mount these two lenses in a tube, you get a primitive telescope.
The strengths of the binoculars are that they are very comfortable for extended use. When both eyes work, they get tired much more minor. Also, these optics have independent directionality, image stabilization features, pretty powerful rangefinding, and a ballistic reticle. They come with built-in inclinometers, a wider field of view. Binoculars are more stable to use and more reliable. Suppose you lean against a tree or a wall, pressing the binoculars to your eyes, and your elbows to your body. In that case, you can view objects at a great distance through an optical device without using a tripod—the more influential the approximation of the binoculars, the more sensitive the device to vibrations. Binoculars are much stronger and more comfortable to use than monoculars.
Binoculars are well suited for sharper, more professional tasks than monoculars. They are more impressive in design, but the comfort of using binoculars gradually begins to decline with prolonged use.
What are Monoculars?
Yes, monoculars are like halves of binoculars. But at their core, these are compact telescopes used to magnify images of distant objects, usually using an optical prism to produce an upright (not inverted) image. The volume and weight are generally less than half that of binoculars with similar optical properties, making them more portable and less expensive.
Some monoculars have unique enhancements for higher performance: a built-in compass can be folded, have a night vision system, a rangefinder, a reticle, a can work like a microscope and have an ultra-close focus, have a built-in image stabilizer, and so on.
Monoculars can be classified according to the power of magnification and the diameter of the lens. Usually, these parameters are indicated on the device itself in the form of a digital index of 8x30, where 8 is the magnification power and 30 is the lens diameter, indicated in millimeters. Most monoculars have a magnification of 4 to 10, meaning the subject will appear 4 to 10 times closer than it is. And in terms of lens diameters, modern monoculars are represented by models ranging from 20 to 42 mm. The experience of using optical instruments in different conditions has shown that a magnification of 8 is more convenient. This indicator is easier to maintain for a long time, and it has a relatively broad line of sight. Using a higher magnification requires a tripod and adversely affects the field of view and image brightness.
Since the monocular is essentially the same telescope, there is a question of where the first ends and the second begins. So it is customary to call a telescope a monocular with a magnification of more than 20x and a lens diameter of more than 60mm.
Monoculars are lightweight, compact, and easy to operate. Thus, the optical device saves space and reduces the overall weight of the equipment. With the same magnification as binoculars, monoculars can be twice as light and as effective. They are cheaper to manufacture to get a high-quality monocular for less than similar binoculars. They have an impressive zoom. They have a built-in compass and rangefinder. Monoculars have a built-in image stabilizer and are very compact in design. These optical instruments can be used as telescopes for observing the night sky, as they are often equipped with a tripod and provide powerful magnification. Monoculars are very convenient for hunting and fighting because they allow for concentration and accuracy in the work.
What Is The Difference?
When comparing binoculars with a monocular, one should, first of all, ask about the scope of the device. If you need to carry a lot of equipment with you, then the monocular is easier. If you need to look into the distance for a long time, binoculars are more convenient. Often the purchase of magnifiers is associated simply with the desire to consider something in the distance. But practical use dictates the features of the selection of optics. After a lot of moving, the user usually takes the monocular with him; it is lighter and provides quick use. In conditions of long-term observation in hunting, forest protection, and fire safety, at sea, and in war, it is more logical to use binoculars. Convenience, in this case, is more important than the device's weight. There is no universal solution. It is best to try both optical instruments while solving different problems.
If we compare a monocular with binoculars in terms of essential characteristics, we can see that binoculars are still more robust and reliable. They are produced with various improvements that may not be in monoculars. But monoculars are lighter and more compact than binoculars. Due to the ease of manufacture, the monocular has an excellent price-quality ratio.
The modern market for optical instruments allows you to choose precisely what is suitable for a particular user. Thus, the debate about which is better, binoculars or monoculars, remains open because both devices are very convenient and reliable for their specific functions.
Some users may find it difficult to choose between a monocular or binoculars and prefer to have both tools. In that case, a user will be well prepared for almost any scenario. And yet, the fact is that an excellent monocular or binoculars are not necessarily the most expensive.