Monocular vs Spotting Scope: Which one is better?

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An optical instrument or device is a must-have tool for almost every outdoor enthusiast, hunter, or birdwatching enthusiast. It helps our eyes focus and clearly see objects up to a set distance. For this purpose, we need an optical instrument like a monocular, binoculars, or spotting scopes. 

However, here we will keep our discussion limited to a comparison of a spotting scope and a monocular. These types of devices are capable of magnifying distant objects and making them visible to us from a long distance away. Although there isn’t much difference with reference to their working principles, they do have some distinctions. 

Most of the significant differences relate to their field of use. To know which tool would be perfect for you under specific circumstances, continue reading.


This optical device is a simple and less complicated tool, which involves a single tube system. It helps to magnify distant images and provide a substantially clear image that you can see with more precision. Unlike binoculars, you need to use just one of your eyes to see through a monocular. 

Basic Components

Some of the basic components of a monocular include the following:

Objective Lens and Eyepiece

A monocular has two lenses — the objective lens and the eyepiece. You use the eyepiece to see a distant object, while the objective lens serves as a magnifier. 

Focusing System

Monoculars have different focusing mechanisms, such as a focusing ring, sliding focusing button, toggle focusing system, or external focusing wheel.

Field of View and Magnification Power

The ability to zoom in or out relates to the magnification power of an objective lens. By directly controlling the zoom knob, it is possible to magnify the image to a potential level. 

The field of view, on the other hand, is the area or specific part of an area that you can see through a monocular. It is inversely proportional to the magnifying power of the lens. For instance, if you magnify the object to see it clearly, the field of view will become shorter. When the magnification decreases, the object appears to be further away, which results in increasing the field of view.


  • Easy to use and carry along with your other gear
  • Works even without a tripod 
  • Lightweight and compact construction, best for backpacking 
  • Suitable for campers and hikers
  • Less expensive than a spotting scope 
  • Available in a variety of sizes
  • Water-resistant in most of the cases
  • Also available with night vision technology
  • Ideal for short-range hunting and birdwatching


  • Low magnifying power
  • Not a viable option long-range hunting 
  • Can’t focus moving objects

Spotting Scope Basics

This is a powerful and compact optical device, which helps us to see distant objects with more clarity and better image quality. This tool is used for a variety of outdoor activities, including ocean viewing, bird watching, astronomy, and hunting. 

You need a tripod to use a spotting scope. Furthermore, you can choose between a variety of options regarding the shape, size, and magnification of a particular spotting device. Usually, people prefer compact types of spotting scopes that work perfectly when using them for hunting.

Monocular vs Spotting Scope Which one is better

Basic Components

Usually, spotting scopes have two different body styles — straight or angled. The straight one looks similar to a monocular. However, the angled spotting scope is more efficient, and you can use it with a small tripod. 

The objective, tube, and ocular lenses are the fundamental parts of a spotting scope. Let’s take a look at each:

Tube Lens

This part contains both the objective lens and the ocular lens. Furthermore, it provides a sturdy structure for the spotting scope.

Objective Lens

This is the lens that you see at the front of the device. An objective lens does most of the work when magnifying an object. The diameter of this lens is vital to receive a perfect image through a spotting scope.

Ocular Lens

This is the lens that is nearest to the viewer’s eye; it is also known as the eyepiece. You can adjust it to achieve different magnification levels. For short-range spotting, you can also use a scope with a fixed eyepiece.


  • Powerful objective lens
  • Comes with multicoated lens
  • High magnifying power 
  • Most of the versions are waterproof 
  • Suitable for long-range spotting 
  • Ideal for target shooting, hunting, and bird watching
  • Useful in marine and astronomy setup
  • Night vision technology is also available 
  • Fits almost every budget


  • Less portable optical device 
  • It takes more time for its set up
  • Tripod is a must-have when using a spotting scope


When considering a monocular vs. a spotting scope, it can be tough to decide between them. Since most of the uses and design features of both devices are similar, it is quite challenging to suggest a winner. You can judge the benefits of each of these optical devices by using them in different scenarios. 

A monocular works flawlessly when using it for shorter-range viewing such as when hiking, hunting, and bird-watching. However, a spotting scope is a great option when you need to view objects that are much further away, such as stars, long-range hunting, and whale watching in the ocean.

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