You're at Yellowstone, and a wolf stalks out of the forest several hundred feet away. You raise your camera to take the perfect shot.
Except, you're using an iPhone. While the digital zoom is remarkable for a camera so small, not even the more recent smartphone periscope lenses would be able to catch a decent picture at a long distance.
But DSLRs are costly, as are their telescope lenses. And truth be told, you'd rather not carry around a heavy camera bag.
Enter the smartphone monocular lens.
Today you'll learn why you need a monocular telescope for a phone and how to find the best one for you.
What Is a Monocular Telescope?
To put it simply, it's a handheld, detachable, DSLR-style lens for your phone. That wolf you spotted at Yellowstone? In a matter of seconds, you can attach the lens and snap an impressive close-up shot.
To be crystal clear, this is not the sort of large, tripod-mounted telescope you'd be using to look at the stars (though some monocular telescopes will give you a decent moon shot!).
Monocular Telescopes for Phones
Smartphone cameras have advanced so rapidly in recent years that they single-handedly demolished the consumer camera market. Not only do they allow you to carry a camera with you at all times, but they also feature some of the most powerful digital camera technology on Earth.
The cameras on phones lean on software to achieve this. Further, their sensors are connected directly to the motherboard. This means the transmission is lightning-fast.
Coupled with the impressive smartphone processors on the market today, this allows for near-instant image processing. While smartphone cameras will never compare to their older DSLR brothers, they make it very hard to tell the difference sometimes.
All this said, smartphones have one glaring caveat: they're terrible at long-distance pictures. Once you go beyond 2x zoom, the only thing a phone camera can do to reduce the drop in quality is apply AI algorithms to guess the missing content.
For those who like the convenience of a smartphone but want to take long-distance shots, a solution exists: the monocular telescope.
Do You Need a Monocular Telescope?
Are you an avid smartphone photographer? Do you plan on taking shots of anything farther than 2x zoom? Then the answer is yes!
Many people might feel there's a stigma that smartphone photography is somehow less "serious" than dedicated photography. But you might be surprised how common smartphone photography is in professional productions nowadays. Smartphones can be equipped with auxiliary lights, rigs, and microphones.
Smartphone photography has the benefit of being compact compared to a basic DSLR rig. So if you find yourself regularly snapping pics, especially at distance, a monocular lens may be for you.
Monoculars for phones can be used for a range of activities like nature photography, birdwatching, sports photography, sightseeing, etc. Now read the following monocular telescope guide to know how to find one for you.
Choosing the Proper Monocular for a Cell Phone
Not all telescopes are made equal! Some monoculars will give you as little as 2x zoom. Others will give you as much as 40x.
Some feature an adjustable focus, while others are fixed. Some monoculars will need their own case, while others can fit in your pocket. Read on for some monocular telescope tips and how to choose the right one for you.
Consider your use case. Will you be taking pictures of that wolf at Yellowstone, requiring the longest zoom possible? Or will this be for birdwatching out your window? A long zoom can become a gimmick that wears out quickly once you realize you have little use for it.
7-10x zoom or above will be ideal for the stargazers among you. Anything lower will work perfectly for taking pictures of objects within a stone's throw.
It's essential to keep in mind that at long distances, it will become increasingly difficult to keep the lens steady! This can easily be solved with a telescope phone mount and tripod.
Note: When buying a scope, you will see two numbers separated by an x. For example, 7x42. The 7 in this case is the zoom.
Diameter of the Objective Lens
The objective lens refers to the lens you point at the object of your focus, rather than your view lens. As a rule of thumb, the wider the lens, the better lighting and clarity you will get.
This is the second number after the x. A 7x42 lens has 7x zoom, and a 40-millimeter objective lens (which is quite large).
However, a bigger lens will be much heavier to carry around, and costlier.
Field of View
Field of View, or FoV, refers to how wide the field of visible objects is. Generally speaking, the bigger the zoom, the less FoV you get.
If you plan to take sweeping pictures of Yellowstone's incredible mountains, you will want the widest FoV possible. But if you plan to take action shots at a football game, a narrower FoV will be preferable.
If you plan to take close-ups (within 2 meters), then you will need a monocular telescope with a shorter focus. Though the benefit of monocular telescopes for phones is that you can easily remove the scope to get those close-up shots with your camera as-is!
This may be important if you plan to take your new monocular telescope outdoors. Pay attention to whether your scope is waterproof or water-resistant. Water resistance is designed to handle light water interaction, but waterproof does not mean you can toss your scope in a river and leave it there. Your scope will tell you how much water it can handle.
Another important feature is fog proofing. Without it, you may find yourself accidentally scratching your lens while trying to clean condensation off. But that won't be an issue if you purchase a scratch-resistant lens!
For smartphone photographers who aren't satisfied with digital zoom, you'll want the best monocular telescope for a phone you can get. They are affordable, easy to use, and highly portable. There's nothing to stop you from bringing one on your next vacation.
You don't want to miss that wolf next time!