Binoculars vs. Monoculars 2
For example, Opticron do an 8x24 pair of BGA binos or an 8x42 BGA mono for a similar price...
Does anyone have any thoughts?
Thanks in advance
Monoculars are great for a quick peek, but are not suited for serious birding. Binoculars are much easier to use in terms of getting the bird in the field of view, getting focused, following the bird as it moves and also as far as steadiness. After all, you are using two hands with a bino. Monocular also produce much more eye fatigue than a binocular over extended viewing sessions. I use a monocular as back up for those times when I don't carry a binocular, but trying to use a monocular for birding is a handicap, even if you only have one good eye. Get a binocular, first, and add a monocular as a back up, later. This is from someone who has used both for birding for over forty years.
For the basics of monoculars, see my article, What is a monocular?
For the basics on birding binoculars, see my article at
I already have a pair or 'proper' binos for when I'm out specifically bird-watching...
What I'm thinking about is something small I can carry in my pocket for those 'just in case' type situations at other times. As you say in your article "I've seen and recorded a great number of birds simply because I happened to have my monocular in my purse"...
What I'm wondering is if a compact pair of binoculars would be a better option... I've seen 40mm monoculars, or 24mm binoculars, both of which fit easily in a pocket... ?
Again, keep that quick peek in mind. Anything more, go with a binocular. You will also find that a bino is easier to use in terms of locating birds and in terms of steadiness, but if space is an issue, the monocular will work. Just a matter of how much you want to carry and how much performance you want. I own and use, both. Just a matter of where I am going as to which I carry. If these is a likely chance of seeing birds, the bino gets the nod. If not, I carry the monocular, just in case.
The last number on a bino is the size of the front lens in mm. A 24 is a compact and will fit in a purse or pocket. A 40 is a full size binocular, no way to make it a compact.
That's why I tend to keep the magnification down to a 5 or 6x on my monoculars. Even 8x is difficult to steady on a monocular.
Yes, the double hinged pocket bino is one that we binocular nuts struggle with for years. I like to have something with me that is half way decent. But I also like to leave it in coat pockets or back packs or carry on luggage and not worry. That is why I do not want to spend 400 on it.
So it comes down to an 8x25 or a 8x20, as 10x at the lower prices really is junk. Pentax also makes some phase coated 8x25s and a 9x28, both fold nicely to a small size. I have carried my Sportstar in a belt pouch for hot weather casual walks.
But these really are best tested in person in a store. Eye cups, eye relief etc become major issues in small size.
For canoe trips and back packing etc I use a waterproof 8x32 as it really is much better in hand. I do have a Bushnell Excursion 8x28 that gets some use.
Really, you just have to get ONE and then try to improve on that.
Out in London, Opticron taiga is a favorite reverse porro, but that already gets bigger, winter coat pocket size.
Seems like some hinged compact binos are the way to go then...
Nikon L series a bit out of my price range... Sportstar 8x25 much more like it... I notice the EX version seems to have a different design to the basic model and I can't find a picture of them folded... Do they fold as small ?
Are the Nikons the one's to get then? Or should I look at any others... The Pentax ones that ET mentions look alright... Could go up a bit in price if the gain was worth it...?
Nor sure what you mean by Nikon EX, but price is always the best inidicator of qualiy, though never a direct relationship - you pay much more for smaller gains in performance beyond a certain point.
In a roof prism, if you are concerned with performance, you should try to step up to a phase-corrected model, such as the Pentax DCF SW, Bruton Eterna, Kowa BD-25 and so on. If you just want something to carry that is useable, a non-PC model, such as the Sportsar is fine.
As always, there is a trade-off with any design. Double-hinge compacts do fold up tighter than single hinge compacts, but they are also slower to pull out and get correctly aligned when you need them in a hurry and double-hinged compacts also tend to get the barrels knocked back out of alignment when they are hanging around your neck than single-hinge compacts.
As for roofs versus reverse porro compacts, you get more for your optical dollar with the reverse porro, but, of course, not the more compact size. Your call as to whether size or performance is more important for you if you are trying to keep the budget down.
I do not remember much about them except they are waterproof.