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on September 5, 2012
I've had two of these for about two years now (car and house) and think it is the best monocular out there. I have them on neck lanyards (they weigh next to nothing) so as not to drop or lose them or have them stolen. Love to watch the hummingbirds up close thru the window with it. Also a MUST when shopping if you have old eyes like mine ... it is the ONLY visual aid that will let you actually READ the price sticker on the BOTTOM SHELF at the big box stores without crawling on your knees (tho you may look kind of silly doing it). It also works perfectly for reading all the impossibly fine print on the wall menu in the fast food joints ... also silly looking, but at 71, I don't care.

This is a high quality product and the only negative about it is that all your friends may try to steal it.
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on September 14, 2009
The Carson Close-Up Monocular is a great optical device! It has excellent optics, is easy to use, is small and light weight. It has the additional advantage of being able to focus at an extremely close distance, I believe of about 10 inches!!! This makes it great for looking not only at birds, distant mountains, etc. but also at paintings in museums, cool things I don't want to touch - like spiders or bugs, etc. It appears to be well built and sturdy too. It's quite compact and lightweight, lighter than a tiny monocular I had planned to take on an upcoming trip. This Carson monocular has replaced my old monocular and because of its small size and weight it will likely replace my binoculars for birding, hiking, etc.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon July 27, 2010
Lightweight and compact enough for a shirt pocket, with a small lightweight black nylon belt pouch and lanyard included. But I'm a little disappointed with this item despite having researched it thoroughly and having modest expectations.

Its optics are quite good at close distances; for a nature walk, you will see excellent detail on an interesting plant, leaf, etc. But don't expect it to also serve for long distance viewing.

In my experience it is NOT a viable longer distance substitute for binoculars. I can't make out street name signage or park trail signposts at a distance, for instance. It won't help with the street sign at the end of my block 100 yards away. So it's very good close up for enjoying details of a flower, a leaf, a seashell , but not very helpful as a trail-hiking navigation tool.

Birdwatcher's note: This does give pretty fair results out to about 60-80 feet, so if you're fairly close you might get a better look at a bird in a very nearby tree. But (to my eye) beyond 60-80 feet you're out of range and it's not very helpful.

It requires two hands to focus the lens.

Build quality and small carry case are fine. It feels sturdy enough, and I've dropped it once or twice and it was fine. The 'lifetime warranty' requires you send in a $12.00 check for service, LOL, which is about what the unit costs new.

As a plus, this item might also be very useful at museums, to see details of items in glass cases or hung on walls behind barrier ropes.
I give it only 3 stars because it's just not useful for the distance work I would have liked to use it for in addition to the closer work--and at close work, it's just fine.

SUMMARY: This is very good for up close details of outdoor plants, flowers, and other small close up details. Handy, compact and light enough for a shirt pocket. Good value for money. I like it. But don't buy it thinking it will also be a binoculars substitute, even occasionally, the lens is not that versatile.

Hope this is helpful. Happy viewing, everybody.
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on February 4, 2010
Highly Recommended. 4.5 Stars. Under $15. I can use it even with my safety glasses on but I lose some width looking through the scope. Works for me. Only bad point is the thin, black, string holder would make a great garrote to get yourself killed. It is not for any workplace. OSHA would never approve the string. Replace it with a safe, breakaway ribbon like I did & you have a 5 star, very sharp, mini telescope with a UNHEARD of CONTINUOUS FOCUS down to 10 inches. It only uses one focusing ring while a rival close focus monocular forces you to use a 2nd focusing ring for distances within 6 feet. If the 1st ring on the rival monocular isn't all the way back, it won't focus. Lightweight. I use the close focus end of the scope at work, (for distances between 2 - 10 feet), to read labels from a lift. I had no fogging problems.
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on February 14, 2012
I bought one of these about a year ago and found it very useful. I'm technically blind and am always on the lookout for anything that would help with my vision. Two things are of particular interest; the small size lets you hide it in your hand and, it focuses at close distances like 4 feet. When looking at a computer demo, I can look at a laptop screen over someones shoulder and read it better than if I was right in front of it. At meetings I now sit in the back of the room and can read the screen better than if I were in the front row. Naturally, the field of view is much smaller so you do a lot of scanning.

I bought two more when the price dropped to 10 dollars. Did I mention that the optics are particularly good. This is something you could carry with you all the time. I highly recommend it for anyone with low vision.
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on May 22, 2012
There are better monoculars out there, but not for this price. It's not going to give you as good as image quality as the offerings from Vanguard or Nikon, but it can hardly be expected to for the price difference. It does, however, have much better image quality than the similarly priced Brunton 7 x 18. It's one of the smaller and lighter models available, another plus. If you want something inexpensive that you don't have to worry about losing or breaking, yet with decent image quality, it's hard to beat this monocular.
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on December 20, 2015
I was surprised by how wonderful this gizmo is! I purchased this 7x18mm monocular as well as the following two 10x25mm monoculars for comparison:
Orion 08447 10x25 E-Series Monocular (Black)
Celestron UpClose G2 10x25 Monocular, Black (71213)

I liked the reported weight of the 7x18mm monocular, but wasn't sure whether I wanted the greater magnification of a 10x25mm monocular. Here is a picture comparing the sizes and my assessment of the three. I have not compared them on a dull day with less light available.

1. Carson 7x18mm: 2.75" long, 46 grams incl. strap. Includes case, neck strap, and cleaning cloth.Surprisingly easy to focus. Nice bright images. I found it very easy to follow a hawk flying overhead and could identify it as a red-tailed hawk through the monocular. I also really liked the close-focus feature for looking at stuff on the ground.
2. Celestron 10x25mm: 4.45" long, 106 grams incl strap. Includes case, wrist strap, and cleaning cloth. I preferred this monocular to the Orion. I found it easier to focus. However, the field of view seems less than the Carson, perhaps because of the greater magnification. When I tried following the hawk, it felt shaky. Although the magnification of the bird was greater, I think I would have had a harder time identifying it in motion.
3. Orion 10x25mm: 4.25" long, 88 grams incl. strap. Includes case, wrist strap, and cleaning cloth. Orion had the best documentation, explaining how to understand the differences in optics. However, I found the focusing mechanism to be stiffer than the other two monoculars.

I am keeping the Carson monocular to use for a 525 mile hike next year. I like the size and weight, but more importantly, I felt it was actually the easiest one to use, with a smooth action and sufficient magnification for my purpose. I will use it in the field and also within buildings to look at ceiling details. The four stars reflects that I haven't used it at length yet. Once I have, I'll update my review if needed.
review image
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on April 13, 2013
Sitting back in the theatre, my eyes no longer let me focus in on the performers. I need help and this little guy is amazing.
So tiny and yet I can easily see a beauty mark from the back row. Imagine that! So far I haven't found any actress with a beauty mark, but I see them well enough so I would recognize them if I met them up close. Who knows, maybe there's a beauty mark coming up in one of the next musicals I see. Tiny enough to fit in my palm, nice cord for around my neck so I don't have to hang on to it when not in use (and not dropping it between the seats). At home it's great for watching the birds at feeders both close to the house and those a bit farther out in the yard.
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on September 17, 2014
Was considering buying a replica mini telescope for bug-out bag at $65, Decided instead to gamble on three separate $15 scopes just to see if I could get one to meet my minimal requirements (mostly being small and lightweight). The three I ordered were:

HDE® 15x - 55x Zoom 21mm Compact Monocular, Sold by: HDE
Carson CloseUp 7x18mm Close-Focus Monocular (CF-718), Sold by: LLC
Celestron UpClose G2 10x25 Monocular, Black (71213)

In a nutshell, I was pleasantly surprised with all three. None of them were the cat's meow, but for ~$15 I didn't expect them to be (and you shouldn't either). For my own purposes, they were all surprisingly acceptable. The HDE did indeed have the best magnification and like other posters said, needs a tripod to really use anything at the upper levels, but it looked pretty darn good at the lowest level (15x). The Celestron had the best quality feel to it, which I expected, being a name brand, but the optics were no better than others. The Carson, which is half the size of the other two (you can't tell by the graphics) is my favorite. Tiny, lightweight, clear picture, enough magnification to just look out there and say, "What is that?" The Carson also has a Macro function, which is pretty cool. I used to check out a tiny splinter in my hand and could see it! My only complaint is the Carson looked like it had been returned by someone else (one of my pet peeves on Amazon when I'm buying 'NEW').

I can't give any of them five stars because they each do have small issues, but I thought four stars was fair because you are getting so much (materially) for so little (cost). Hope that helps.
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on December 20, 2012
I like this monocular so much, I'm starting to carry it with me all the time.

The close focus is especially handy. I'm able to check the small print on items on grocery store bottom shelves without getting down on my knees. Similarly, I can see items in store windows when they are closed. I've also found it useful for reading occasional small print on my computer screen without getting up to find a 'zoom-in' key.

Plus, except in very dim light, it seems to do all things my regular 7X binoculars do for birdwatching, reading street signs, undersized PowerPoint presentations, etc. As expected, the closer the object, the more you have to crank the focus to get the image sharp. Distant objects focus quickly, however. The thick grease in the focus slows it down in cold weather.

It has a decent enough eye relief for wearing glasses. And the field of view seems equal to my 7.5 degree 7X20 Pentax field binoculars and to my 8.6 degree7X35 Nikon's -- both which seem to overrate their stated fields of view.

Simple construction. If a lens did break loose from a fall, it looks like something you could probably glue back together without much trouble. It was well packed with a soft belt case, cleaning cloth and lanyard.

Since I wear it on my belt or keep it in my pocket, I replaced the neck lanyard with a much shorter loop off of small LED flashlight. It's light enough that using the lanyard is not annoying, but you may want to drop it in a shirt pocket to keep it from swinging around.

Weight and size make it seem like a natural for backpacking or airplane travel. At this price think about buying two up front to save on the shipping, or to use as a gift.
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