Monoculars are becoming one of the more popular night vision devices. In many cases, they’re beginning to overtake popular binoculars in the consumer space. We’re going to look at just what they are, how they are best used, and what their advantages and disadvantages are.
What is monocular night vision?
Monocular night vision is a night vision device that only uses one eye and one lens assembly to present a low-light image to the user. They take available light and amplify it, helping the user to navigate, hunt, or simply observe during nighttime hours or other situations where there isn’t enough natural light to use other optics.
What does "monocular" mean?
You’ve heard of binoculars before, but many people haven’t heard of a monocular. Let’s break down the word. The prefix “mono” means “one” or “single,” while the term “ocular” refers to sight, vision, or simply “eye.” When we put them together, we have the term for a device that allows vision with only a single eye. Common examples of monoculars include rifle optics and telescopes.
Binoculars are devices that magnify or enhance vision in both eyes, while a monocular does the same thing for only one eye. This means they have only a single lens assembly, and they need only a single eye to operate effectively. This makes them smaller, lighter, and able to be operated more easily or efficiently than conventional binoculars.
Uses for a monocular
There are many applications that you can use monoculars for, depending on your lifestyle. The most popular applications are for outdoor activities, so we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most popular ways you can use a monocular, whether it’s a night vision mode or conventional.
Arguably one of the most popular monocular applications overall, hunting is a perfect time to use one. They can be used to great effect as a spotting scope so that the hunter doesn’t need to be constantly holding their rifle and are more easily used in conjunction with a gun than binoculars.
While they will give a much clearer image of the game or prey they are hunting, they are best used in conjunction with features like a range-finder since they only give a two-dimensional image and prevent the hunter from seeing depth in the image. That being said, they are much easier to handle in the field than a large and bulky pair of binoculars and can be set up on a tripod for increased ease of use.
Hiking & Camping
Outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking and camping can find a monocular to be a valuable addition to their gear. A quality monocular can help scout hiking trails from a vantage point, and since they only have one set of lenses, they reduce the weight added to their pack.
While on the trail, they can also be highly effective at finding ideal camping spots while still some distance away, which can save time and effort. They can also be handy while canoeing or even snowshoeing.
Even if you aren’t hunting, a monocular can still be used for expert wildlife observation from a distance. They can be used for bird-watching, which is a wildly popular pastime for many outdoor enthusiasts since they provide a large, clear image. They are also smaller than conventional binoculars, which cuts down on the weight of the gear that the bird watcher is bringing along.
Those who own large amounts of property or land also find them incredibly effective in watching for invasive animals and predatory threats. Monoculars, particularly night vision monoculars, can be used to track and monitor populations of feral hogs, coyotes, wolves, and more, which can make them highly valuable for those with livestock.
Boating involves being constantly aware of your surroundings, particularly in relation to obstacles and hazards such as land or other vessels. Having a monocular can be a crucial improvement over unaided vision and can help keep the vessel and its occupants safer while navigating larger waterways.
Monoculars are used in countless applications by the military, particularly in night operations. The lower weight and smaller size make them more efficient than binoculars in situations where three-dimensional vision isn’t necessary. Monoculars with night vision capabilities and range-finder features are incredibly common in team loadouts.
Advantages of monocular night vision
Among the many benefits of monocular night vision, some of the most commonly cited include:
- The smaller size of a monocular makes it much more portable and easier to handle than night vision binoculars.
- The single lens assembly is frequently larger than comparable binocular lens assemblies, providing a larger, clearer image.
- The focus adjustments on a monocular are often incredibly easy, making them highly user-friendly in the field.
- A monocular provides an easier and more affordable night vision solution than other binocular night vision solutions.
- When using night vision, your eyes will become fatigued, and using a monocular will allow you to switch eyes frequently. This reduces fatigue as well as helps preserve natural vision in the resting eye.
- Monocular night vision helps preserve some of your peripheral vision for emergencies.
- A night vision monocular affords the user a much greater ability to multitask than focusing both eyes on an equivalent binocular.
- Many digital night vision monoculars can be mounted to a weapon and used as, or in conjunction with, conventional scopes.
Disadvantages of monocular night vision
While there are some distinct disadvantages of using night vision monoculars, they tend to be relatively minor and few in number. Here are some of the drawbacks of monocular night vision:
- With a night vision monocular, the field of vision tends to be more narrow than binocular counterparts, which can pose a hazard in potentially dangerous situations.
- Since there is only one lens assembly, monocular night vision only gives the user a two-dimensional image, and in some situations, that lack of depth perception can be undesirable.
- The lack of depth perception can be confusing to some since larger objects will appear or be perceived to be closer than smaller objects.