Review: Opticron Trailfinder II Monocular. Small is beautiful.
I’ve been using the Opticron Trailfinder II Monocular for a few months now, and it’s really impressed me.
When out and about, walking, I was finding my compact binoculars were just too heavy — they’d often get left at home and forgotten. Hence my search for something lightweight, water proof and cheap, that I could sling in my pocket. I immediately disregarded the ultra-cheap binoculars, I’ve used a really cheap pair and, frankly, you could hardly see through them.
A bit of searching on the internet, and I stumbled upon a recommendation for buying one of these monoculars — I didn’t even know they existed. The advantage of a monocular is it immediately cuts half the weight of a comparable binocular. The disadvantage is a narrower field of view, but I can easily live with that for the sheer convenience.
I bought a 10×25 unit from Sherwoods Photo, for £30 (free delivery is always a selling feature!) Neither too cheap, or too expensive. The monocular arrived in a couple of days. Once the extra tie-on end cap and strap were fitted, you’re ready to go.
Weighing in at a featherweight 125 grams, with a rubberised case, the build feels solid, and should resist knocks and water. They’re supplied with a case, but it’s frankly a pain to get them in and out of, and rather defeats the ‘grabbable’ purpose. The lens caps fit tightly, defending them from dust and splashes.
Optically, the unit is pretty impressive, with good clarity. Focus is a bit tricky, as it’s by means of a lever arrangement, rather than a wheel. This tends to stick if you haven’t used it for a while, stopping you focussing with one finger. A tiny bit more force, with two fingers, frees it up and then it works very well. The technique I use is to put both middle fingers either side of the lever, allowing a fine degree of control. Focus can still be tricky, but you soon get used to it.
The monocular has a twisting eyepiece, to accommodate spectacle wearers, and this must be twisted out for non-spectacle use. It helps to have fixed the ‘drop-down’ lens caps at the right rotation (see top photo), so that they both hand down when the unit is untwisted.
The neck strap is adequately long, and adjustable. It’s a bit thin, but perfectly usable. The monocular slips nicely into your shirt pocked, with the strap around your neck, for convenient access.
In all, very good value for money and very easy to take out on walks to provide that bit of extra magnification.
Overall, 8/10. Definitely recommended.