Night Vision Binoculars vs. Monoculars
Whether it’s strictly about night vision or daytime vision, it’s hard for many people to tell the difference between the performance of binoculars and monoculars.
It’s not uncommon for a monocular to look just like a pair of binoculars cut in half. However, it doesn’t mean that closing one eye and staring through a pair of binoculars would result in seeing the same image.
Binoculars and monoculars are very different in terms of design, optics, weight, ease of use, pricing, and pretty much anything else you can think of, including applications. Spoiler alert: Night vision monoculars can do a lot more than binoculars, while costing significantly less.
Night Vision Binoculars
Night vision binoculars have always been designed for the purpose of gathering information from long range. These devices vary in size and weight, depending on the prisms and the size of the objective lenses. However, most of them are still too heavy to mount on the head so they are mostly handheld devices.
This is important to keep in mind as speed, accuracy, or carrying weight may be essential in certain situations. Binoculars can weigh you down as soon as you need close-range night vision.
Now, in the event that you have to hold a position and gather as much information about an area at night, there’s nothing better than a pair of night vision binoculars. While snipers may prefer night vision scopes, they’re far less comfortable to use.
Night vision technology is more tiring on the eyes than you think. That’s why using both eyes instead of one may reduce some of the strain.
Night Vision Monoculars
Night vision monoculars have a clear disadvantage, especially for civilians. Using just one eye is not natural and takes a long time to get used to. In the case of military and law enforcement personnel, they train with them all the time so their vision is already adapted.
As a bird watcher or a hunter, the only way to get comfortable is to use your monocular enough. It may be totally worth the trouble since monoculars are the most versatile night vision gadgets available to consumers.
They’re lightweight, compact, and easy to mount. This allows them to be used for both close-range and long-range imaging. Newer generations of night vision monoculars can be attached to cameras, rifle scopes, spotting scopes, etc.
In fact, whenever goggles are not absolutely necessary, military operators prefer night vision monoculars over binoculars. Monoculars allow soldiers to use the same device for long-range scouting as well as during close engagements, as opposed to goggles which are usually not magnified.
But, how does long-range scouting work, you may ask? It’s quite simple. You can attach night vision monoculars to regular binoculars, or preferably rifle scopes, or even high resolution cameras. The long-range visibility may not be the best, but the most advanced night vision monoculars can outperform some rifle scopes.
Monoculars are lighter and smaller, and therefore a lot cheaper to build even for those that include night vision technology. A monocular is often cheaper than the equivalent binoculars, as it requires approximately half the optics and everything else.
Civilian Use vs. Military Use
Is there a clear winner here? Certainly not. Each device has its own advantages under certain circumstances. For example, hunters may find it more effective to use binoculars than monoculars. That’s because the image in binoculars usually has a much better depth perception.
On the other hand, a hiker or a camper may prefer a monocular due to the reduced weight and the fact that they’re always on the move; there’s less need to scout from many miles out.
The military is also split on this topic. Each device tilts toward certain operations. And the operators may also have their own preference when it comes to night vision equipment. Therefore, if it’s not clearly indicated in an SOP to carry specific equipment, those from the same unit may choose different devices.
A Final Thought
While monoculars can’t always replace binoculars in the field, they are considerably cheaper. A lot of civilians try them out if just for the experience, even though they’re not easy to use at first.
As for military applications, it differs from one operator to another. Monoculars seem to edge out binoculars for many reasons. Still, it’s not exactly fair to compare these two types of gadgets by military standards, considering the immense differences in image quality and versatility between military- and civilian-grade night vision devices.