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Monocular

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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I have carried a monocular for decades. My original was one half of a cheap set of 10x25 binoculars which I could no longer focus. This was really good and fast to focus. I used that for 20 years or so, then lost it. My current one is a nikon 5 x 15mm. This is amazing. It is as small as they get and so useful - I always have it. It is even good for close bird watching - wrens and insects as close as .5 m. It isn't nitrogen filled and does not have the full suite of nikon coatings.

In the bush I often use it to confirm what something is. Urban is the same, even reading signs at a distance.

Anyway, it seems that nikon have stopped making that - you might be able to find it somewhere. Right now though, I'd probably get the vortex solo 8x25 - this really seems better made for outdoor use too, although bigger and heavier. I wouldn't go higher magnification than 8x; it's really more than enough. Most sales etc seem to push the 10x range in all monocular / binoculars - I'd go smaller. It's seems to be a newby's mistake, higher magnification are harder to hold steady. You can test this by trying to read a sign that is at the edge of legibility; higher magnification magnifies the effect of any movement. Higher magnification are also bigger / heavier and have a smaller field of view for the same diameter glass.

The vortex are nitrogen filled (won't fog), waterproof, rubber armored, fully multi coated, and what I'd consider good price for what you're getting. Shopping around they are from au $98 to about $150.

 
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Chigger

Ray Mears
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Those monoculars can be handy things. I have a cheap Tasco 8x21 always in the 4WD and has been handy at times to identify distant featurers and such.
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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I have the Vortex 8x36 R/T and it is fantastic, I highly recommend it.
They would be awesome - so much light and much bigger field of view. I'm kind of suggesting the virtues of smaller size - I always have mine because they are so small. They actually fit in my fist. The 8 x 25 is about the next best regards size, quality, and price; other than size they are probably better than what I have.

If I knew I was always going to use the monocular every outing, I'd probably go the 36 too.
 

Thrud

Richard Proenneke
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I tried MDUs one at the Boyup Brook meet. Then went and got one, took it all round Canada. The only thing I don't like about it is the Molle pouch it comes with; too tight a fit.
 

Thrud

Richard Proenneke
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Yup, but you wouldn’t want it. Too difficult to take the monocular out of, pushes the cap off putting it in. Put in in a pocket on my chest rig.
 

Hairyman

Ludwig Leichhardt
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A poor man's monocular can be made with an old rifle scope.
Tape a short plastic or even cardboard tube on the eyepiece end to give the correct eye relief, being
careful to leave the focus ring free to be adjusted.
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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A poor man's monocular can be made with an old rifle scope.
Tape a short plastic or even cardboard tube on the eyepiece end to give the correct eye relief, being
careful to leave the focus ring free to be adjusted.
For sure! My first monocular used to be one half of a binocular - it was awesome. The bino's went out of sync (or my eyes did). I just hold the monocular off my head with my curled index finger and thumb against my head. I hold the monocular at a good eye relief. Holding the monocular against your head also makes it very steady / solid. I turn my head and monocular as one solid unit. Rifle scopes can take a bit of getting used to; because of the long tube are hard to see out of until you align them with your eye sight. Exit pupil is another issue - I didn't get into that because 8x25mm or 5x15mm is still good for us older folk (around 3mm exit pupil). Younger folk would appreciate the 8 x 36 in low light conditions.
 
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Randall

Richard Proenneke
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An update: a comparative review between Vortex solo 8x25 and Nikon 5x15mm monoculars.

Well, for a few reasons, I ordered the vortex solo 8x25. My tiny nikon monocular is not sealed for water; something I'm always reminded of because I'm often in rain or drizzle.

So, as soon as it arrived (this morning) I compared the two. My tiny nikon out performs the vortex in several areas. I'm not an optics expert, but I do have some experience with photography.

First, and most notable, is sharpness and clarity. Trees and leaves in the distance (500m to 1km) just seemed blurred with the vortex; they are sharp and clearly defined with my nikon. Note the nikon is only a 5 x 15mm whereas the vortex is 8 x 25mm! This brings up the second glaring difference (there are a few); field of view. Although on paper the exit pupil should be the same (3mm), the field of view on the nikon is so much better. 3rd difference is apparent magnification. This is where some cheaper optics can just lie - a 10x is really a 6 or 8x. At distance there is little discernible difference in magnification. I think if someone was just using them they wouldn't notice any difference. Within closer ranges (10 - 50m) the vortex clearly has stronger magnification. 4th - the nikon is much easier to focus; it is more tolerant. The vortex needs very fine adjustment to get things in focus at any range - this isn't helped by the poor clarity (lack of sharpness) which seems very similar to being out of focus.

There are some advantages of the vortex, my main reason for buying this: "Nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed, the Solo delivers waterproof and fogproof performance in any environment". These also come with a reasonable pouch that has a belt loop, something I especially miss with my nikon.

So, my recommendation? If you can find it somewhere, get the nikon. It is literally half the overall size and has better optics by a long shot.

The vortex looks good on paper, and it is possible that there isn't much around that is better optically. Having the two side by side makes me realise how important this sort of comparison is. If someone just buys the vortex and that is their only optic, they simply have nothing to compare it with; it is the same with the nikon. I believe that many owners of this nikon would simply not know how good this optic is, because it is the only experience they have.

After further thought, I'm returning them. The focus adjustment is just too finicky. I have pentax 10x50mm binoculars which are much more tolerant (as is the nikon) when it comes to focusing, so it isn't to do with the increased magnification.

With this particular vortex the image degrades with distance. It seems logical that poor lens quality will be magnified over distance. If you're able to test several monoculars in a shop for example, I'd try the focus at near and far objects - far being 500m +. Look for detail on something in particular for the comparison.

I'm now also wary of monocular / binocular reviews. For example, with camera lenses you'll find accurate reviews of the actual lens quality; this does not appear to be the same with monocular / binoculars. It's possible of course that I just have a poor sample. However I would be more inclined to look at reviews from say bird watching forums - those guys are very dependent on clarity and detail of image.

Oh, one more huge advantage of the nikon is the close focussing distance - 22" (56cm). The closest the vortex can focus is 16' 4", nearly 5m.
 
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Randall

Richard Proenneke
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I'm actually considering a range finder now. I'm definitely sold on low magnification - if you have good quality optics, higher magnification really does seem to have quickly diminishing results. Range finders are low magnification and have the advantage of giving distance to an object. The nikon rangefinders even have image stabilisation. Because these things are aimed at hunters and golfers, they're generally waterproof.
 

Thrud

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Aldi have ones on special once a year. I've got one and although not waterproof, works very well at a fraction of the price for some of the longer range Vortex/Nikon/leica/Leupold ones.

I don't know when they are next on special.
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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Aldi have ones on special once a year. I've got one and although not waterproof, works very well at a fraction of the price for some of the longer range Vortex/Nikon/leica/Leupold ones.

I don't know when they are next on special.
Thanks. The idea is growing on me. I've been looking at leupold, specifically the Leupold Rx-1400i. I'm in Tassie - no Aldi :(. It has a bow feature out to 175 yards, apparently. I think that would work well with .22. Also a ballistic hoodicky - enter muzzle velocity and projectile weight and it will give you holdover? And waterproof. Around $300. And wind hold! Update: just bought off amazon, along with some tiny molle pouches for the nikon monocular - I can mount these on the front harness of my two packs :). Just for giggles it can also give the height of things (a trig mode).
 
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mungo

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I've had one of the Aldi Range Finders for over a year now. I've used it for scouting and hunting in the bush. 6x25 magnification. It's light, weatherproof,(not waterproof), and seems to range accurately enough for distances much further than I can shoot. I haven't used it in low light conditions, and I wouldn't expect it to be as good as my Leupold binos. But it's a handy little monocular, and works well for the price. About $160 at the time I think.
 

Randall

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6x25 magnification
That sounds awesome - it's a really good range. Most seem to be 6x20. With 6x25 you have just over a 4mm exit pupil. This should be better than many rangefinders in low light. I've made my move, and don't have aldi - but recommendations from you and Thrud should help others who have aldi nearby :). I know I can't get the exact specs for whatever I'm shooting into the leupold rf, but I'm hoping it will be close. I'm interested to compare holdover and windage with it. It is always hard to argue with simplicity though.
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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I've come up with an alternative idea for the monocular. Canon make image stabilized binoculars - they're awesome but pricey. Sony have a small camera with a 1" sensor and a 24-200 lens! It's has awesome stabilization and auto focus. There are lots of advantages to this; use it at 24mm for huge field of view, center the object, then zoom in; all the time with focus lock. At full optical zoom it is easier to see detail because of the stabilization. The added bonus is you can take a photo or video while you're at it. They're pricey though, $1600 in Australia from reputable camera stores. The optics are awesome - carl zeiss glass. This particular camera comes with a pop up viewfinder and a tiltable display for low to the ground or overhead shots. Also a close focus of 8cm.

It's not waterproof.


Update: 200mm isn't any where near enough zoom for a monocular function. I'm guessing it needs to be about double that :(. Just tried one out.
 
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Randall

Richard Proenneke
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Received the leupold rx1400i rangefinder. I took a chance on it because I have an amazon membership (free); this makes it easy to return, post free.

Awesome optics. It's a 5x21mm, so slightly bigger than a 4mm exit pupil. For my age that means my eyes will be the limit in low light, not the range finder (optically speaking). There is some fogginess toward the edges - I've found this with all binos etc that I've tried, even swarovski binos.

The view is clear and sharp, very easy to focus, and it stays in focus for a fair range. The range finder function, just giving it a quick test seems to work accurately too. I started from 600m away and worked back to about 280m, measuring at different ranges toward me. What I thought would be 50m gaps - the rangefinder supported my guesstimations.

I might take it out walking a few times to check it out and do some ranging. It's the same magnification as my nikon, although with a larger aperture (21mm vs 15mm).
 
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