I’ve always been a monocular nut — I don’t want spotting scopes, telescopes, or binoculars as they are all too conspicuous. Give me a nice discrete monocular, and I feel like 10 year old me spying on a world in the most obvious way ever. So something like that.
I have a lot of fun carrying a monocular in my bag, or on hikes, even when traveling. Being able to make out something a bit more clearly, it’s worth it. But not all monoculars are made equally — as any photographer will tell you, when it comes to ‘glass’ you get what you pay for.
Maven is trying to buck that trend a little (and they are not the only ones) attempting to offer high quality optics, for more reasonable prices. To check out what they are making, I snagged their CM.1 Monocular which is a large 8×32 optic.
I’m a fan, but it is large.
Specs and Size
Before I get into the actual measurements and weights, I will say that anecdotally this feels like a tank. And it feels like a substantial item, but it also feels large. Sometimes it can be hard to conceptualize how large things are from product images, but this is the largest monocular I own by a good margin. That’s important, because part of the benefit of a monocular is to trim space and weight.
Having said that, Maven lists this as 1.75″x5.1″x2″ and weighing in at 8.7 oz. It’s a polymer frame, with “Extra-Low Dispersion ED Glass” and is fully multi-coated — and a bunch of other feature marketing things.
Importantly it is waterproof and fogproof, with a lifetime warranty.
More importantly it’s super crisp.
In Use / Optics
Optics can be tricky to explain, as there are many variables at play. If you know what ‘8×32’ means, then you can guess that this is a larger optic with a standard zoom to it. So all you then need to know is that the glass comes across very crisp across the view, and very bright.
If you aren’t a huge optics nerd, then I shall explain this in two ways:
- I stacked this up against three other monoculars, and one pair of cheaper binoculars, and it came out clearer than any of them. It’s by far the best quality glass of that grouping — probably of even my larger binoculars. You get what you pay for, and these hit the mark. So if you’ve read about any of the other optics I’ve bought and love, these are far better.
- Optics like this are kind of like windows. In the sense that if you have a small window you are restricting how immersive things feel when you look out the window, but make that window 10x larger and it feels immersive. It’s not just the size, you also need that glass to be very clear, and you need it not to be tinted if you really want to see out of it well. If you’ve ever tried to see something better by rolling down your car window, it’s that. Any monocular will be less immersive feeling than binoculars. However, the CM.1 is really impressive with how crisp things look through the glass, and how bright things look — as far as monoculars go: it’s impressively immersive.
Thing is, you still need to use it. So let’s talk about that.
- The focus ring is very stiff. I am not sure how much it will loosen over time, but part of me likes that it doesn’t get nudged about. But the ring can also be a little trickier to grip, so it’s not as quick to nail a quick focus adjust. However, it is easier to fine tune your focus. That’s the trade off here: when you set it, it will stay, and it’s easy to make small tweaks, but if you are hunting all over the world in front of you, snapping the focus from close to far isn’t as easy or fast.
- Because of the size, it’s really nice to hold. It also isn’t molded to be held any certain way, so you can get right to using it, without adjusting your grip. I thought it might be less comfortable than more sculpted monoculars, but it’s not.
- It’s heavy enough when I carry it, that I have to think about whether it will make it into my office bag each day. It might just be a touch too heavy for that everyday.
- The eyecup adjustment offers more offsets than any other monocular I have, which means I found that it actually works with both my eyes well, instead of just one eye like most monoculars. This might be a me thing, but more adjustment here is good and I welcome it.
- I like that this has actual lens caps, with a beefy construction as it feels like something you can toss in a backpack or pouch without a lot of worry. Not many monoculars come with nice lens covers like this.
It’s awesome to look through and use. It’s less awesome to carry. That, in a way, is the story of most good optics. It is for sure my go to when I know I’ll be using a monocular, and will certainly replace the need for me to ever toss my binoculars in my backpack — outside some very specific reason.
It’s the best monocular I’ve used, but it is also the larger of the 8x offerings — carrying this is less of an ‘just in case’ and more of a ’I will use it’. If I knew I was likely to use one, this is the one I would want with me.
At what point do you, or should you, carry binoculars instead? This is still easier to carry, but it’s not at all a small and compact item. It still beats out carrying binoculars in this price range, and brings the optical clarity within the realm of most mid-budget minded binoculars in a smaller and lighter package.
I’m a pretty big fan.