Getting Up Close with Monoculars

1. Monoculars are small, lightweight, and effective long distance viewing tools that can easily be slipped into a purse or pocket, and used at a moment's notice.

2. Highly portable, monoculars are perfect for times when binoculars are too cumbersome. Take one along on a hike to spot rare birds, or on the street to read a faraway sign.

3. Monoculars can be used as magnifying devices. Some models offer very close focus in regular usage, but any monocle can be flipped over and used to read fine print or study small objects.

4. Practical magnification for a monocular is 5x to 6x. Monoculars with 8x to 10x magnification exist, but may restrict your field of view, and can make for shaky images.

5. The first number in a monocular rating is the magnification, and the second is the objective size (the size of the front end in millimeters). So a 6x15 monocular has a 6x zoom and a 15mm lens end.

6. In general, the larger the objective size of a monocular, the better the optical performance will be, but the larger and less compact the body will be as well.

7. A longer eye relief means a more comfortable view. Those who wear glasses, in particular, should consider monoculars with at least a 14mm eye relief for maximum comfort.

8. Lens coatings on monoculars are important for reducing glare and eyestrain. Look for lenses with multi-coating for the brightest, clearest image.

9. When choosing monoculars for bird-watching, hunting, or other activities that often take place in low-light conditions, consider a larger objective lens. These monoculars can be bulkier, but they let in more light.

10. Many golfing monoculars feature built-in range finders. Rangefinders gauge the distance to a faraway object, and make getting that perfect shot easier.