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A monocular is a handheld optical device that lets you see objects at a distance by looking through it with one eye. There are many different types and features, so learning about them before you get one allows you to obtain the right monocular that meets your needs for an optics device. A great place to start is by asking questions about them.

What do the numbers on monoculars mean?

Typically, monoculars are sold with numbers like 10X47 printed on them. The first number indicates the magnification, with numbers ranging from 4 to 10 being common, but manufacturers make a wide range. Those with larger numbers have more magnification, but they usually have a smaller viewing area. The second number indicates the lens diameter in millimetres, with larger numbers letting in more light than those with smaller numbers.

What are the types of lens coatings found on monoculars?

Different manufacturers choose to coat their product with different substances. There are a variety of coatings commonly found on these items, including the following:

  • Coated: A thin coating is applied to the front and rear lenses.
  • Fully coated: All the glass on these will have a thin layer of coating.
  • Multi-coated: Some of the glass has more than one layer of coating. Usually, it's only the front and rear glasses and this increases the transmittance of light.
  • Fully multi-coated: All glass has received multiple layers of coating, cutting down on the amount of glare and increasing the amount of available light.

What type of prisms are available? 

There are three basic types found in these units, as discussed below:

  • Roof prisms: These units have a shorter light path, resulting in some loss of light, but they are usually more compact, which makes them easier to carry.
  • Porro prisms: These have bent optical paths taking up more space within the unit, usually resulting in a heavier option.
  • Galilean prisms: Convex objective and concave eyepiece lenses provide a very narrow field of view.

What are some available features?

Manufacturers make these units with many different features. Therefore, choose the options most helpful to you from among the following and more:

  • Built-in compass: Find your way easily by using directions provided by the compass.
  • Folding: Usually, this option allows the unit to fold in half, making it easier to carry in a pocket or backpack.
  • Night vision: Manufacturers rely on either light-amplification technology or thermal imaging to allow users to see in the dark.
  • Rangefinder: Identify how far away an object is with this option.
  • Gallery scope: This allows close-up inspection and viewing of nearby objects.
  • Built-in image stabilisation: Eliminate worry about hands shaking when you use choices with this option.
  • Waterproof: Count on your unit regardless of the weather when it's waterproof.
  • Fogproof: Eliminate the hassles of fog building up inside or outside on the lenses.