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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Pocket binoculars or larger monocular for spotting? (1 Viewer)

euanmax

New member
Hi there,

I’m interested in what you are using in the field when you have your heavy camera gear with you? A set of full sized binoculars at 8x42 or 10x42 aren’t that light, and even the 32’s are quite large to have around your neck when you also have the camera out. Smaller options could either go in your pocket or in a belt case easily.

At around the 300-350g mark, you could either carry a top quality 8x42 monocular such as the Opticron DBA which is an 8x42, or opt for a top end pair of pocket binoculars such as the Zeiss Victory Pocket 8x25’s or the Swarovski CL Pocket 8x25.

The limitations of the smaller binoculars would be their low light performance, but I’m not sure how much of a handicap that would be to a photographer, given our gear also suffers when the light goes!

I’ve heard that monoculars can cause a bit more eye strain and are harder to stabilise than a pair of bins.

When I’m out with the camera, I wouldn’t be using them for hours to watch birds, but would probably just use them for a few minutes at a time at most to ID a bird or watch their behaviour.

I’d appreciate your thoughts,

Euan.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
It also depends on how you work in the field.
If birds and animals are a big element in your shooting, you would be better served by binoculars, whereas if you mostly target landscapes and plants, a monocular might be adequate.
As it is a lot more comfortable looking through binoculars than a monocular, one of the 8x25s you mentioned may be a good compromise.
 

PhilR.

Well-known member
I carry my camera on a harness across my chest (way too much weight to be hanging from my neck), and a 32mm or 42mm bino on a longer cross-body (aka “archer style”) strap. This way, my hands are always free, but both instruments are instantly accessible, without getting in the way of each other.

I have pocket binos I could use, but I prefer the utility of larger binos when going after birds, and also prefer not having to dig a bino out of a pocket when need arises.
 
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Rob from Texas

Well-known member
Hi Ueanmax!

I played around a bit with sampling monoculars. Here's what I found.

1) Their advantage (besides being lighter and smaller) is that you get to always use your stronger eye. This becomes important if one eye is a lot worse than the other. The single view through a monocular can be easier to get in perfect focus. Detail becomes even better than a binocular in that particular case.

2) You may lose a bit of subject orientation. The field of view can be less than a full pair of binoculars, but it's more than that. The scanning ability is not as precise on a single axis.

3) They simply are not as stable. No matter how you hold them, that single axis point is more delicate than the two eyes/two hands face plant of binoculars.

So it really depends on what you enjoy. If you are after identifying a subject and getting great detail, I think they would be wonderful for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy scanning the scenery or watching your subject for minutes on end, then binoculars are worth the weight.

Rob
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Hi Euan! Would just like to jump in here and wish you a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum!

Hope you enjoy your visits ;)
 

yarrellii

Well-known member
Supporter
Hi Euan, welcome to the forum :)
I played around with the idea of bringing a very light and portable solution, a small scope, but just as Rob mentioned, it simply wasn't right for me. Especially the shaking was unbearable (and it was a 8x) compared with a 8x pair of binoculars, that basically ruled it out. Then, as Rob also points out, for me it was way more difficult to "navigate" the landscape with the small scope. Maybe it only has to do with the fact that I've been using binoculars for years and I didn't invest enough time to get the hang of it, but it wasn't as second nature as placing your binoculars in front of your eyes and, bang! there it is. I guess with time you can become better at this the same way you get better at pointing with a scope on a tripod (when I started using one even x15 was a bit of a pain, but after some time I found reasonably easy to locate something using a fixed x30 eyepiece).
As I said, personally I'd opt for any of your two other options, a compact x25 or a very light bigger format. Since you mention Opticron, they have the 8x32 Discovery which is 390 g and really tiny for a 8x32, for example. I definitely wouldn't rule out a smallish 8x32 or 8x30 like the Nikon Monarch 7 or the Maven B3, which are simply in another league compared to the Opticron Discovery and are just a hair heavier.
I hope this can give you some ideas :)
 

Essex Tern

🦆🥋🏃🏻‍♂️📷🎹🎸
Supporter
England
Welcome to the forum!

I think the answer depends on how big and heavy your camera setup is, and what kind of movement across the landscape you may do.

I carry a m43 setup in a holster, strap over my head on my side (G9 + PL100-400, in a Manfrotto holster plus 50), have a set of 7x42 binoculars round my neck always, and either carry a 50mm scope and lightweight tripod with a Kata backpack, or an 82mm scope (or sometimes the 50mm) on a full size tripod/Cley Spy Mulepack. I don’t generally climb anything more than a stile.

I personally couldn’t get on with a monocular, finding binoculars far easier to use - but my setup does also enable two hands free for the binoculars - the camera is quick draw, but the scope requires stopping and unloading, unless I happen to be carrying it already setup leaning on my shoulder.
 

14Goudvink

Well-known member
1) Their advantage (besides being lighter and smaller) is that you get to always use your stronger eye. This becomes important if one eye is a lot worse than the other. The single view through a monocular can be easier to get in perfect focus. Detail becomes even better than a binocular in that particular case.

Hi Rob,

That's right if your stronger eye is also your dominant eye. My left eye is stronger than my right eye, but my right eye is my dominant eye, so for me it's much more comfortable to use my right eye when looking through a scope or monocular. In my situation with bins I get to use my stronger eye too, with a monocular only my weaker eye.

On the topic of bins vs monocular: I find monoculars fine for plants or insects, but not comfortable for birds, because of more shake and more difficult pointing. In addition when looking at a bird in the sky I get blinded in the eye that doesn't look through the monocular. I keep the unused eye open (more comfortable than squinting it close) but in this situation all the light comes in unchecked.

George

PS
The Zeiss Victory 8x25 are very good, almost as easy in use as midsize bins.
 
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edwincjones

Well-known member
ease of use decreases with smaller size

zeiss 8x32FL or kowa 6.5x32 > zeiss 8x25 >> leica 8x20 monovid

Since I got the Kowa I have little used the compact terra,
have not yet found a good use for the high quality monovid

edj
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I agree with edj. I would generally stay with an 8x32 for ease of use but an 8x30 like the Swarovski CL B or Nikon HG could work also. The Swarovski CL 8x30 is pretty easy to use for an 8x30 because of its optical box technology. It is not quite the EL 8x32 though because mainly it has a smaller FOV.
 
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sillyak

Well-known member
Of course a midsize binocular is easier to use, and generally better. They they are also twice the weight and significantly larger than the small pockets, which themselves are 2-4× as heavy and large as a monocular.

I find my 8x32s are large enough I will only take them with me if I am doing an activity that is centered on optics (birding, hunting, scouting ect.) I'd rather have an optically inferior and finicky to use pocket binocular or monocular that is on me than a 32mm bino that is sitting on the shelf at home.
 

euanmax

New member
Thanks!

Thanks for the warm welcome and all the advice, I really appreciate it!

I am definitely put off the Monoculars now and am considering a lightweight set of 8x30s as my primary set of binoculars.

Looking at reviews etc, it seems to be between the Monarch HG 8x30s and the CL Companion B’s.

The Swarovski’s seem to review better overall even although they’re slightly heavier so I’m swaying in that direction at the moment.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
In terms of image I find the difference between a 30mm and 25mm instrument significant and, unlike smaller bins (esp. double hinged models), a lot more ergonomic in use. At 495g Kite Lynx 8x30 binoculars are well over your 300-350g limit but they have nice optics & with a good neck strap you hardly know they're there whilst the deficiencies of a monocular or pocket binoculars are apparent every time you lift them to your eyes. Nikon Monarch 7 8x30 Binoculars are marginally less good optically but slightly lighter (435g) and come with a very good strap. There are other 8x30s which are lighter still (e.g. Avalon 8×32 MINI HD Binoculars 416g) but I've no idea of the optical quality.
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Thanks for the warm welcome and all the advice, I really appreciate it!

I am definitely put off the Monoculars now and am considering a lightweight set of 8x30s as my primary set of binoculars.

Looking at reviews etc, it seems to be between the Monarch HG 8x30s and the CL Companion B’s.

The Swarovski’s seem to review better overall even although they’re slightly heavier so I’m swaying in that direction at the moment.

Those are certainly the cream of the crop for the 8x30mm class which are, as others have said the smallest binoculars that still give a view that feels "full sized."

The cream of the crop from the pocket bins is definitely the Zeiss Victory 8x25, and some folks report that it's good enough / easy enough to use that they don't miss 30-32mm bins.

Any of the three are excellent and you're not likely to disappointed with your choice no matter how you decide. However, trying them before committing would be helpful as the differences are as much in ergonomics as anything else.
 

[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
I have found 8x30's better than 8x25's and 8x32's better than 8x30's and 8x42's better than 8x32's but the difference between them as you go up in aperture follows the law of diminishing returns. In other words, there is more difference between the 8x25 and the 8x30 than there is between the 8x32 and 8x42. The sweet spot is 8x32 to 8x42. In the Swarovski line, the binoculars are very similar but the 8x30 CL is better than the 8x25 CL compact and the 8x32 EL is better than the 8x30 CL and the EL 8.5x42 is a little better than EL 8x32 but the difference becomes smaller in the daytime. The advantage of the 42mm is mostly low light and easy eye placement because of the bigger exit pupil.
 
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Kammerdiner

Well-known member
Since your primary interest is photography and a compact, lightweight bino, you might even consider a little 8x20. I recently took out my Leica Ultravid 8x20 and was surprised (again) just how good it is (I hadn't used it in a few years). You won't find anything smaller or lighter that's worth using, and neither Swaro nor Zeiss even make that format anymore. The Leica is a little "spendy" as my midwestern relatives say, but I wouldn't try to cut corners on an 8x20.

Just a thought,

Mark
 

iveljay

Well-known member
I kept a monocular on hand mainly for insect and plant identification, but also for the occasional bird. Since I bought a Pentax Papilio I can view my insects and plants in stereo too. Lightweight and inexpensive. I use the 6.5x21 rather than the 8.5x. So my monocular days are over. Brisol cameras seem to be selling off the Papilios they have in stock for less than £100 at the moment.

I must admit I prefer an the Zeiss 8x32 FL or the Nikon 8x30 EII for most other occasions when I don't want to be weighed down.
 
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eronald

Well-known member
There's also the Nikon Mikron 6x15 and 7x15 as tiny pocket instruments.
The Zeiss 8x25 is very very very good - a few seconds at a time :)
The Leica 8x20 Ultravids are nice.

But I don't think there's any real substitute for a decent sized exit pupil.

Edmund
 

LucaPCP

Registered User
Supporter
I would prefer binoculars when birding (and the 8x25 Victory Pocket are excellent).
I prefer monoculars when looking at plant/insect details (the Leica Monovid with its close-up attachment is fantastic), and also when skiing, as a monocular fits in my front jacket pocket and is accessible in any weather.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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