I’ve recently learned to play a great board game called Wingspan. I’ve played it over 50 times in the past couple of months. So when I found the Wingspan 10×50 monocular from Wingspan Optics (formerly Polaris Optics), it seemed a natural fit for me to snap one up.
The price, which was only about a third of the monocular I had been looking at, was too good to pass up. It wasn’t so low that I thought I was getting a toy, but it wasn’t so high that I had to check with “the boss” before making the purchase.
A monocular is not a difficult piece of equipment to figure out how to use. So it was no real surprise that it doesn’t come with any sort of directions sheet or booklet other than a paper that explains monoculars in general – nothing specific about the Wingspan 10×50 in particular. At least that sheet was written in good English. The device itself was made in China where it could be made cheaply and sold at the price point I got it for.
If you’re in a hurry or are just curious at this point what the Amazon price is, you can click (tap) the link below.
Wingspan Monocular Packaging: Basic and Functional
The Wingspan monocular comes in a sturdy, cardboard box. There’s no extra packing material inside because it’s filled with the carrying case that has the monocular (in a plastic bag), the lanyard, and the cleaning cloth within.
The case is nicely made. It doesn’t feel cheap like it’s going to fall apart any time soon. The main flap seals with Velcro. There’s an open mesh pocket all along one of the sides. You can’t quite fit the eyepiece lens cover into it though. Maybe it’s intended for pens or pencils.
On what I’d call the back of the case is a loop that you could use to attach it to a belt. Personally, I’ll probably never use it like that, since I don’t go on long nature walks where that feature could be useful. I’ll mostly be using this to peer out our French doors into the backyard. I’ll just use the case to store the cleaning cloth and maybe the eyepiece lens cover. (See more below on that lens cap though.)
Wingspan Monocular Tube: Hefty, Solid, Well-Made
I’m sorry I don’t have a really clear picture of the focus dial, but that’s where you can find all the specs you need to know about the Wingspan. They call this the Nature model, but you won’t find that designation anywhere in the packaging or on the equipment itself.
It’s a 10×50 power device. That means it magnifies 10 times (10x) what you see in “real life”; that is, without the aid of the monocular. The objective lens measures 50 millimeters. That allows plenty of light in to give you a nice, clear image.
Combining the lens size with the length of the tube, you’ll get the Field of View (FOV) of 304 feet at 1000 yards noted on the focus dial. That is a great span for birdwatching – or birding, if you prefer, as diehard birders seem to. A wide FOV makes it easier to spot those birds far away in the trees or even just in the air.
Both lenses are fully multi-coated and have a green tint to them. No other coatings are mentioned, so I don’t think this is ED glass or anything similar. To me it looks fine.
The eyepiece has a diopter; that is, you can twist it through a series of one to three clicks to adjust your view. I often wondered in the past why a monocular would have such a feature. On a pair of binoculars, you use the diopter to compensate for the difference in your eyes’ ability to focus on a target. With a monocular, only one eye is involved, so what’s the point?
The point is that, when you have the diopter twisted fully inward (giving you the shortest tube possible), the FOV is at its widest. So why would you ever twist it outward? For me at least, if I take my glasses off, the extended tube eliminates the black “framing” around the edges of the viewing area.
The Wingspan is waterproof and fogproof. I haven’t tested the durability of the tube in either of these respects. Fogproof means that the insides of the lenses won’t get cloudy. The outside still may, due to temperature differences. I don’t plan on exposing my monocular to water on purpose any time soon.
Wingspan Nature’s Measurements: Light But Not Too Light
The Wingspan weighs just 15 ounces. This includes the objective lens cap (which you cannot remove without cutting it off) and the lanyard.
Speaking of the lanyard, it seems like you should be able to attach the eyepiece lens cap to it, but you can’t. I’m not sure what’s intended with the “side piece” hole on this cap then.
The lanyard that came with my Wingspan looks durable and lightweight. Even though the tube weighs less than an ounce, I don’t know how long you’d want it dangling from your neck on this strap. It’s not thick enough to provide any cushioning.
I had to loop the lanyard through the “hole” on the bottom of the tube when I first got it. That was easy enough to do. You can also easily remove the strap using the “butterfly” clip just over an inch away from the device, so you never have to unthread it from the tube itself.
My lanyard was pieced together at the factory with a half-twist to it, so I can’t make it look “right” no matter which way I twist it now. This is obviously a very minor (OCD?) annoyance.
The tube (with objective lens cap, but not eyepiece lens cap) measures 6 ¾ inches long with the diopter twisted fully in. It measures 6 ⅞ inches twisted fully out. The height is roughly 3 ½ inches, and the width is about 2 ¼ inches.
I can easily hold it in one hand and work the focus dial with the forefinger of the same hand. The close focus distance is a mere 2.5 meters, which is just over 8 feet. This is great for my purposes because I often sit about 10 feet from the back door.
Digiscoping with the Wingspan Nature 10×50 Monocular: It Works!
Digiscoping is holding your mobile phone camera lens up to the eyepiece lens of your monocular (or binoculars) and snapping pictures. You can get special attachments to hold your phone in place, but I’ve found that I don’t even need one when I have my monocular mounted on a tripod.
With the tripod I currently have, I do have to hold my phone sideways (landscape orientation), but that’s not really a problem.
What many people don’t realize, even if they have one of those special attachments, is that you have to zoom in on your phone camera to get rid of the black border. After doing so, you should get a nice clear picture, just as if you were looking with your eye directly.
Below is one of my first attempts at such digiscoping.
Warranty and Guarantee from Wingspan
Wingspan Optics offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner of their products, whether you bought it directly from them or via Amazon. You do have to activate the warranty on their website, though – a fact which isn’t mentioned anywhere in the product materials. I just happened upon it when visiting their site.
They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee. A very few people, according to other reviews I’ve seen, probably have availed themselves of this guarantee due to defective products that they received. These seem to be extremely rare problems though.
Happy Bird Watcher Here!
I’ve only had my Wingspan Nature a short time, but I’m very happy with it so far. (I would have said “Happy Camper” just above, but I don’t camp.) I think you’ll be very pleased when you get one too. It’s a really good deal for the low expenditure required.
One final note: Wingspan makes no claims that this is to be used for anything other than bird and (other) nature viewing. It’s not meant to be used at night, for example. For virtually all daytime activities, I think you’ll find it extremely useful.