Monocular vs. Binocular – What’s The Difference?

When you’re outside and trying to view birds or wildlife, you’ll find two main products that can enhance your sight: monocular and binocular. You’ll find that both serve a purpose when hunting or bird watching.

But which is the best option for you?

Monocular vs. Binocular – What’s The Difference?

If you do a quick search for either of these products, you’ll quickly tell the difference between each options:

  • Monocular consists of one tube
  • Binocular consists of two tubes

You’ll find that the monocular is more compact and that there are a variety of neat options available. The Starscope Monocular, for example, attaches to your smartphone to amplify your phone’s camera.

Which is Better: Binocular or Monocular?

Most people assume two is better than one. Binoculars get most of the praise, and you can find them online and at retail stores across the world. Hunters will use both products, but just because a binocular has two tubes, that doesn’t mean that it’s better than its monocular counterpart.


When you look at a monocular, you’ll see that it’s similar to a telescope. The single tube offers powerful magnification, but they’re nowhere near the strength of a telescopes. A telescope can see into Outerspace. You don’t need to view wildlife from miles and miles away.

Most models have a range of 4x, although some can go to 10x or higher.

A monocular can be broken down into the following pieces:

  • Ocular lens
  • Focus wheel
  • Eyecup
  • Objective lens

Of course, some models have grips or other unique features, although these four are vital to the operation of the monocular.


If you want a general-purpose option, a set of binoculars is ideal. These devices allow you to look through both lenses at one time for better vision. While a little more cumbersome than their mono counterparts, a binocular is often a great choice for general optic enhancement.

The unit consists of many of the same parts that a monocular has:

  • Ocular lens
  • Focus wheel
  • Eyecup
  • Objective lens
  • Diopter

You’ll find that the binoculars are good for extended use and comfort. Applications for this product include sporting events, animal tracking and exploration.

Monocular Vs Binocular Vision 

When you close one eye, you reduce the amount of vision you have. This is the same when using a monocular, which has just a single lens for you to look through. In most cases, people find that binocular vision provides two sources of visual space, allowing for overall better vision. 

When it comes to visual depth, the binocular will outperform the monocular.

Your brain is wired to estimate distance from an object better when it has two visual sources available. When you’re using just one eye to look through a monocular, you’re reducing your ability to judge the distance you are from an object. In many cases, you don’t need to know the distance from an object. 

But for a hunter, it is important to know that distance from an animal before shooting, so binoculars are ideal.

Binoculars Vs Monoculars for Hunting

You’ll find a lot of different information on using optics when hunting. There are some hunters that do not like using binoculars because they can be cumbersome and will start banging against their rifles. But there are other hunters that state that to enhance your hunting ability, you should be using optics more often.

It’s up to you to decide which type of optics that you prefer.

Binoculars will allow you to have a better judgment of the distance between you and the animal. Monoculars will be more compact and fit much better in your backpack.

There’s really no wrong or right answer here.

If you’re going for better depth perception and zooming ability, you should probably stick with binoculars. Avid hunters, like those who are in Montana going out for a weekend, prefer binoculars. 


They state that binoculars allow for better overall stability and they’re much easier on the eyes. If you’re using optics for a long period of time, binoculars seem to offer the most comfort.

Why Would You Choose a Monocular Over a Binocular?

Since binoculars are more comfortable and provide better depth perception, you may be wondering why you would ever choose a monocular over a binocular. The main reason that people choose monoculars is that:

  • They’re smaller in size and easier to carry around 
  • You can hang them from a shoulder strap or from around your neck
  • You can pull them from your neck or from a pocket and look through them quickly versus binocular

If you’re an avid hunter or bird watcher, you’ll likely want to have both a monocular and binocular with you. There are some new devices that allow for monoculars to become even more powerful. Some of them allow you to even attach a monocular to your smartphone.

When you look to buy either of these devices, you’ll want to consider the following: 

  • Magnification. Magnification level will allow you to see further distances and is a good option for anybody that is trying to track animals. The higher the magnification, the more you’ll spend.
  • Size. The size of the monocular or binocular will not impact performance, but it may make carrying more convenient.

You also want to consider your prism and lens setup. You’ll want to trim your nails before use and then start looking for different types of prisms. A Porro model will provide better 3D sharpness at a less expensive cost. Roof prisms are more expensive, but they provide better clarity and a brighter color.

If you expect to go out in the early hours of the day or later in the evening, you may benefit more from a roof prism that allows for more light to enter the lens. The lens coating also plays a role in your overall image quality.

Premium coatings will allow you to see objects clearer and more vividly, but coatings can be very expensive.

Now that you know the difference between a monocular and binocular, which one will you buy? Most hunters or bird watchers will have one of each different type and use them both. For long periods of time, binoculars are more comfortable and provide better depth perception.