Why are binoculars better than monoculars or telescopes?

why are binoculars better than monoculars or telescopes

If you are a binocular lover you may have a pair of binoculars, and you may also consider having a better experience when watching through binoculars rather than any other optical devices such as monoculars and telescopes. Why is that?

Why are binoculars better than monoculars or telescopes for general observations? Binoculars provide a wider field of view since it delivers the optical results to both of your eyes, and the manufacturers are focusing on creating weather and water-resistant binoculars as they tend to be used in all weather conditions where the monoculars and telescopes can be used only under certain conditions.

Now have a quick try and cover with your hand one of your eyes for a minute or two, and watch the environment around you. How do you perceive as your experience observing the world through one eye?

And now you can be pleased that you are seeing the world through both eyes. The same is the experience of observing nature, wildlife and even astronomical observations through both of your eyes rather than one eye.

Table Of Contents

Binoculars are better than monoculars or telescopes for general usage.

This is not just an assumption to consider but a real fact, as people will always prefer binoculars over monoculars or telescopes for general observations and there may be some reasons behind rather than observing through both of your eyes.

Now let’s create a table of content where we can create a real usage of all three types of optical devices and how one can be advantageous over the other ones, where a +1 means advantage, 0 – neutral and -1 disadvantage

Portability & weight+10-1
User Experience-1+10
Outdoor Observations0+1-1
Deep-sky observations-10+1
Planetary Observations-10+1
Observing the moon-1+10
Wildlife observations0+1-1
Camping & Hiking+10-1
Ships on the sea-10+1
Night vision observations+10-1

As you can see from the table I have had created by combining my personal experience with some research I’ve done on monoculars, binoculars and telescopes, where they can fit in the table and which one can create a better experience when highlighting the type of observation and some other factors.

The above table is just informative and should not be the way you are deciding to buy an optical device for a specific type or general observations, but is it as accurate at it can be.

When binoculars are better than monoculars and telescopes

At the time you perform nature observations, birdwatching and wildlife observations, observing the night sky and moon, and in general, any outdoor observations, a pair of binoculars create a way much better experience than any other two optical devices because you’re using twice as many lenses and the image is delivered to both of your eyes.

You may not be able to do wildlife observations with a telescope but you can do it with monoculars, because of the portability and medium magnification required to perform such observations

In general, you may not need a tripod for your binoculars if the magnification is under 10x (which the majority of the binoculars manufacturers are focusing on this range), and they are made to be portable, waterproof and weatherproof, resistant to shock in most cases and some other advantages.

As an instance, you often may see binoculars filled in with dry nitrogen gas, created for extreme weather conditions to avoid condensation inside and the forming of mould or fungus in time. Those binoculars are made to last for many years.

A pair of binoculars can be taken anywhere if they are lightweight and portable enough, same as monoculars but not the telescopes (even if they are terrestrial ones)

In the case of astronomical observation and observing the night sky, some people prefer to have a good pair of binoculars with a large lens diameter, as the sky appears to be more beautiful when observed with both of your eyes. The same the moon, it looks absolutely amazing through 25×100 (you may need a tripod for that) and seen with both of your eyes.

Considering the lens objective diameters, binoculars sit somewhere in the middle between the underperforming monoculars and outperforming telescopes. Rarely you may see a pair of binoculars with the objective lens diameter over 100mm which is considered to be huge.

Binocular advantages:

  • Great experience observing with both of your eyes
  • Good portability in general
  • Weather-resistant and waterproof (in general, but check the documentation before buying)
  • Amazing to observe the moon or an eclipse (with FILTERS ON, NEVER WATCH THE SUN WITHOUT ANY SOLAR FILTERS)
  • Best experience it can provide on birdwatching

When monoculars are better than binoculars and telescopes

If your main focus is portability then a monocular will outperform binoculars and telescopes. You can take the monoculars anywhere with you, and smaller they are, more portable they can be, of course.

Also, monoculars can outperform binoculars and telescopes when it is about the infrared night observations. More often you can find monoculars or scopes with infrared which are great for night time wildlife observations rather than binoculars which can be hard to find, bulky and more expensive. You won’t ever find any telescopes with infrared (not as far as I am aware of)

One disadvantage I have to mention in the case of monoculars is that the lens diameter and the exit pupil may be very small, therefore, they are not practical to be used for low-light (without IR) or astronomical observations.

As well, there may be two terms you often come across such as monoculars and scopes. In general, monoculars are used for short-distance observations whilst scopes are used for relatively long distance viewing

Monocular advantages:

  • Very portable and very small in general
  • Can often be found with IR (infrared) for nocturn observations.
  • They are usually cheaper than binoculars and telescopes.

When telescopes are better than monoculars and binoculars.

The answer is very simple: when your main focus is astronomical observations and observing the planets and deep-sky objects (outbound link). You can see more details of the moon because of the higher magnifications, you can perform amazing astronomical observations with a telescope.

With binoculars, you are limited not on the visual field but on magnification and lens diameter (a.k.a. aperture)

Whilst I mentioned above that rarely you may find binoculars with the lens diameter over 100mm, a telescope can be limitless, as large as it can be manufactured.

They are bulky and they are expensive. But you never can outperform the night sky observations with a monocular and binoculars in general. One another disadvantage is that you can watch only through one eye the night sky, but now always.

Anyway, there are two types of telescopes – for astronomical observations and terrestrial ones. There may not be differences between rather than you often find terrestrial telescopes to be either refractors or Maksutov Cassegrain models, whilst the astronomic telescopes are often to be refractors because of the larger mirror size.

Telescopes advantages:

  • The best choice for astronomical and deep-sky observations
  • Highest magnification ratio you can achieve
  • Largest aperture you may be able to obtain
  • Can provide a whole new experience for any stargazers.

In the past decade, the quality of binoculars in general, but also of the telescopes and monoculars has been improved, therefore, now you may often find on the market optical devices as those three with ED glass elements, all types of coating for improving the contrast and clarity, and filled-in with nitrogen gas.

But more often binoculars are outperforming in the case of quality vs price, where the same telescope quality optics can cost many times more than the binoculars.

It is expected that you may often see for sale online and/or in shops, retails and general markets binoculars as they are more popular. Also, beware what you are going to buy for your type of observations you are going to perform (Check this article for more info)

Binoculars are used and more popular than telescopes or monoculars in day-to-day life. Even by the military, the binoculars are often used, also monoculars or scopes in some situations.


It would be great if you leave a comment with your opinion and which one would you prefer and often use and for what type of observations. This would add great value to the post and to help others.

I hope you found this article to be informative and please stick around for more posts related to binoculars, monoculars/scopes and telescopes. For now, I have to say goodbye.

Gabriel Mihalcea

Passionate about binoculars, photography and blogging with years experience behind, I love to split my time and observe the beauty of this world with different eyes.

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