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Best Binoculars For Spying/City Viewing/Peeping – Buyer’s Guide

Best Binoculars For SpyingCity ViewingPeepingBinos are not only used for birding, astronomical viewing, wildlife viewing, and camping.

Some people use them for spying, peeping or city viewing.

Now, spying on a person from a public space or area using binos is actually illegal.

But if you are doing it from your home or apartment, technically it’s not illegal. And although some people may frown on the idea of spying on other people, some people don’t do it because they have hidden agendas.

If you know that a former convict has moved next door or to your neighborhood, trust me, you would want to keep a close eye on the person. And to see what they are up to in clear detail, you need to arm yourself with a good quality pair of binoculars.

So if you are looking for the best binoculars for spying, city viewing or peeping, you need binos that can help you see clearly even in low light conditions.

Top pick
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42

Based on a lot of research and numerous consumer reviews, we picked the Nikon 7576 MONARCH binos as our top pick and here is why:

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42

  • Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Compact and Lightweight Design
  • Waterproof and Fog Proof Construction
  • 42mm Objective Lens
  • 8x Magnification
  • 5mm Eye Relief
  • Adjustable Eye Cups

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We’ve tested 6 Binoculars and Monoculars For Spying and the winner is above!

Binoculars and Monoculars For Spying Comparison Chart

Model

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42

Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15x70

Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50

Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10x42

Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo R/T 8x36

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42

Photo

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42

Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15x70

Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50

Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10x42

Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo RT 8x36

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42

Magnification

8x

15x

10x

10x

8x

10x

Objective Lens Diameter

42 mm

70 mm

50 mm

42 mm

36 mm

42 mm

Prism System

Roof

Porro (BAK4)

Porro

Roof (BAK4)

Roof

Roof

Angle of View

6.3° (Actual)

4.4° (Actual)

n/a

n/a

7.5°

6.5°

Field of View

330 feet/1000 yards

231 feet/1000 yards

300 feet/1000 yards

345 feet/1000 yards

393 feet/1000 yards

340 feet/1000 yards

Minimum Focus Distance

8.2' / 2.5 m

42.6' / 13 m

25' / 7.62 m

5' / 1.5 m

16.4' / 4.9 m

6.5' / 1.9 m

Eye Relief

19.5 mm

18 mm

9 mm

16 mm

18 mm

15.2 mm

Exit Pupil Diameter

5.3 mm

4.7 mm

5 mm

4.2 mm

4.5 mm

4.2 mm

Weight

20.8 oz

48 oz

27 oz

24.4 oz

10.2 oz

13.2 oz

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4 Best Binoculars For Spying (as of January, 2020):

The products reviewed in this guide were chosen based on consumer and expert reviews. There are other binos that have equally good ratings and reviews.

So you have the option of checking out other binos. This is just a guide to help you make a more informed decision when choosing a bino for your undercover activities.

1. Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8×42 Binocular For Spying Review

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42

  • Extremely Portable
  • Nikon’s High-Eyepoint Design
  • Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses
  • Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating
  • Turn-and-Slide Rubber Eyecups

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The Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8×42 like its predecessor the Nikon Monarch ATB has similar characteristics. The only difference is that the Monarch 5 is slightly lighter.

Some key features the Monarch 5 sports include multicoated lenses for high-contrast and clear images.

So you won’t have trouble seeing what the people you are spying on are up to. It’s also a great option if you want to get a better view of your city. You can walk around with it since it is compact and lightweight.

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Review, Pros and Cons

The Monarch 5 also has a rubber armoring to protect it from water and shock damage. So in case you drop them by mistake, the rubber armoring can protect them from getting damaged. Unless they drop from a high height.

Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular has an eye relief of 19.5mm

Another great feature is the eye relief. These binos have an eye relief of 19.5mm, so you can use glasses with these binos. The eyecups are designed for comfort and you can, therefore, use them over an extended period of time without your eyes get tired quickly.

Main Features

  • Extremely Portable
  • Roof Prism
  • Nikon’s High-Eyepoint Design
  • Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses
  • Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating
  • Turn-and-Slide Rubber Eyecups
  • Smooth Central Focus Knob
  • Durable Rubber-Armored Body
  • Right Eye Dioptric Adjustment Collar
  • Lightweight & Durable Fiberglass-Reinforced Polycarbonate Chassis
  • Nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed
  • Waterproof & Fogproof
PROS:
  • ED glass lenses that help reduce chromatic aberration thereby delivering clear and sharp viewing
  • Sturdy body that is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof
  • Great eye relief making them ideal for people with poor eyesight
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Easy to use the central focus knob
  • Rubber eyecups for comfort
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for outdoor activities like birding, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing

CONS:
  • Some consumers have expressed their dissatisfaction with the binos lenses inability to control chromatic aberration
  • Poor strap quality

2. Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15×70 Binocular For Spying Review

Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15x70

  • BAK4 Porro Prisms
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • 70mm Extra-Wide Objectives
  • Wide 66° Apparent Angle of View
  • Weather & Impact Resistant

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The Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15×70 is a porro prism bino with a 15x magnification and 70mm objective lens. Yes, you read that right, 70mm.

This beauty is designed for long distance viewing and outdoor activities like stargazing and bird watching. So for activities such as spying and peeping, it’s a pretty powerful and heavy bino. So its best used for home or apartment spying.

Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Review, Pros and Cons

And because the SkyMaster is heavy, you need a tripod to use it unless you have some serious arm muscle strength.

Celestron 71009 SkyMaster Giant 15x70 is heavy, you need a tripod to use it

These porro prism binos deliver great performance in low light, which can work to your advantage if you do your spying or city viewing activities at night.

It has fully multicoated lenses that enable you to see images clearly in faint light conditions.

They have an eye relief of 18mm, which is amazing considering that they are high power binos. This means that you can use them with glasses comfortably.

Main Features

  • BAK4 Porro Prisms
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • 70mm Extra-Wide Objectives
  • Wide 66° Apparent Angle of View
  • Diopter Correction Ring is located on the right ocular
  • Ultra Sharp Focus Across the Field of View
  • Suitable for Terrestrial or Astronomical Viewing
  • Protective Rubber Covering for Ultra-Firm Grip
  • Large center focus knob for easy focusing
  • Tripod Adapter Included
  • Long Eye Relief ideal for eyeglass wearers
  • Weather & Impact Resistant
  • Carrying Case included for travel and safe storage
PROS:
  • Large objective lens that delivers high-quality viewing in dim conditions
  • Ideal astronomical viewing, spying, and birding
  • Long eye relief great for those who wear glasses
  • Solid construction that is waterproof and shockproof
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Multicoated lenses for quality viewing
  • Affordably priced given its great features

CONS:
  • It’s heavy and therefore cannot be used for an extended amount of time without the use of a tripod

3. Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10×50 Binocular For Spying Review

Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50

  • Insta-Focus Focus System
  • Auto Focusing Porro Prism
  • 25-Foot Close Focusing Distance
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Adjustable Eyecups

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The Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10×50 is a versatile bino designed for bird watching, stadium sports, and hunting. But you can also use it for spying and peeping.

These are porro prism binos so they are not lightweight, but they are cheaper than roof prism binos and are of better quality. So they are more ideal for apartment spying where you don’t need to move around much.

Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50 has Insta-focus fast-focus system

If you wear glasses, you’ll be happy to own one of these as it has a large objective lens that delivers a wide field of view.

Bushnell Falcon 10×50 also has great eye relief, which makes it ideal for long-range viewing. You can spy on a person who is yards away and see everything they are doing clearly.

Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50 Review, Pros and Cons

The Falcon optics deliver high-quality images even in low light conditions because they are coated with anti-reflective coatings.

The construct is solid and sturdy. You can go hunting with them in the rain, fog, or snow and they won’t get damaged as they are armored with a special type of rubber.

Main Features

  • Insta-Focus Fast-Focus System
  • Auto Focusing Porro Prism
  • Field of View @ 1,000 yds: 300ft
  • 25-Foot Close Focusing Distance
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Interpupillary Distance & Diopter Setting
  • Roll-Down Eyecups
  • Push Down/Up Eyecups
  • Boasts Durable Design
  • Rubberized, Abrasion Resistant Finish
  • Case & Strap Included
PROS:
  • High-quality optics that deliver quality images
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof construct
  • 50mm objective lens that delivers a wide field of view which is great for people who wear glasses
  • Ideal for birding, stadium sports, and hunting
  • Fold-down eyecups to protect the lenses from scratching
  • Great eye relief

CONS:
  • Some customers have complained that the eyepieces are so loose that they don’t hold focus

4. Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10×42  Review

Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10x42

  • BAK-4 Roof Prism System
  • Center Focus System
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Phase Corrected Prisms
  • Twist-up Eyecups

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The Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10×42 is a multi-purpose roof prism bino that is lightweight and sturdy. Weighing 24 ounces, you can hold them for long and not feel tired.

The body is protected by rubber armoring to protect the binos from shock or water damage. So you can spy in the rain and your binos will be fine.

The rubber armoring also provides better handling. So you don’t have to worry about the binos slipping from your hands when you spying or city viewing in the rain.

Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10x42 is protected by rubber armoring

Aside from that, the Vortex Diamondback has quality optics that enable you to see clearly in low light conditions and in bad weather conditions.

Vortex Optics D241 Diamondback Classic 10x42 Review, Pros and Cons

And with a magnification of 10X42, you shouldn’t have a problem using them with glasses because they deliver a wide field of view.

Main Features

  • BAK-4 Roof Prism System
  • Center Focus System
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Phase Corrected Prisms
  • Twist-up Eyecups
  • Waterproof & Fogproof Protection
  • Tripod Adaptable
  • Comfort Neck Strap & Carry Case
PROS:
  • Multicoated lenses for sharp and clear viewing
  • Solid construct that is water, fog, and shock-resistant
  • Great optics that deliver clear viewing even in poor lighting conditions
  • Affordable
  • Comes with a comfortable neck strap and quality carry case
  • Wide field of view which makes them great for people with poor eyesight
  • Great for hunting, spying, city viewing, wildlife viewing, and hiking

CONS:
  • The lens covers are loose

2 Best Monoculars for Spying

1. Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo R/T 8×36 Monocular for Spying Review

Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo RT 8x36

  • Roof Prism Design
  • R/T Ranging Reticle
  • Fully Multicoated Lenses
  • Durable Rubber Armoring

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The Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo R/T 8×36 is a roof prism binocular with an objective lens of 36mm and 8x magnification. So they are ideal for birdwatching, sightseeing, but not recommended for hunting which requires a magnification of 10x.

They have an eye relief of 18mm which is sufficient for people with old eyes or poor eyesight.

If the field of view is a great consideration when selecting binos, the Vortex Solo R/T is a great option as it offers a wide field of view.

Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo R-T 8x36 Review, Pros and Cons

It has a compact and lightweight construct. So you can hold it for long without your hand getting tired quickly, which makes this monocular great for activities such as spying as you don’t really need a tripod.

Vortex Optics SOL-3608-RT Solo RT 8x36 has RT Ranging Reticle

When it comes to the optics, the Vortex Solo R/T sports multicoated lenses that provide great light transmission rendering the views bright and clear.  They are also nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed for fog proof and waterproof performance.

Main Features

  • R/T Ranging Reticle
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Roof Prism
  • Waterproof & Fogproof
  • Durable Rubber Armoring
  • Reticle Focus
  • Top Focus Wheel adjusts the reticle
  • Bottom Focus Wheel adjusts the image
  • Adjustable Eyecups
  • Utility Clip
PROS:
  • Multicoated lenses for clear viewing even in poor light conditions
  • Waterproof and fog proof construct
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Sufficient eye relief which makes them ideal for people with bad eyesight
  • Rubber covering for better and easy handling
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities like wildlife viewing, city viewing, spying, peeping, and sightseeing

CONS:
  • There have been complaints about the binos not being ideal for glass wearers

2. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Monocular for Spying Review

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42

  • ED Prime Glass
  • BAK4 Roof Prisms
  • Anti-Reflective Fully Multi-Coated
  • Ultra-Wide Band Coating
  • RainGuard HD

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The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 is a great monocular for hunting, particularly if you need to do some long distance viewing. It has a 42mm objective lens making it ideal for people who wear glasses or people who like a wide field of view.

It has a 10x magnification making it easy to bring in to close focus images that are miles away while still delivering high clarity.

And since they use ED glass and multicoated lenses, the clarity and sharpness of the views are impeccable.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 Review, Pros and Cons

These are roof prism binos, so they have a compact design and they are lightweight. This makes them ideal for undercover activities such as peeping and spying.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 has Bushnell Mil-Hash Reticle

These binos are waterproof and fog proof and therefore you can undertake your clandestine activities in unfavorable weather conditions.

Main Features

  • ED Prime Extra Low-Dispersion Glass
  • Anti-Reflective Fully Multi-Coated
  • Ultra-Wide Band Coating
  • BAK4 Roof Prisms
  • PC3 Prism Phase Coating
  • Bushnell Mil-Hash Reticle
  • Twist-up Eyecup
  • RainGuard HD Water-Repellent Coating
  • O-ring Sealed & Nitrogen-purged
  • Waterproof & Fogproof Performance
  • Picatinny Rail & Carry Clip
PROS:
  • ED glass lenses for clear viewing even in dim conditions
  • Multicoated lenses that deliver high-resolution images
  • 42mm objective lens for comfortable viewing even when you are wearing glasses
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof construction
  • Lightweight construct
  • Rubber armoring for a more solid grip
  • 2mm eye relief which is suitable for glass wearers
  • Wide field of view that makes viewing easy and more enjoyable
  • Ideal for city viewing, spying, wildlife viewing, birding, and other outdoor activities

CONS:
  • It’s more expensive than many other similar binos

Buyer’s Guide

Now that you have an idea what scope to buy for outdoor activities like spying, it’s important to know what to consider when buying a bino.

There are some key features that you need to look out for when choosing a bino, so let’s look at some of them.

Field of View

The field of view is the visible area you can see through the objective lens without moving. Some people prefer binos with a wide field of view, but when you power up the magnification, the field of view becomes smaller.

So it all boils down to what it is you want to use the binos for and at what ranges. Of course, to see views or objects that are miles away requires high magnification.

But there are binos that have powerful optics that don’t compromise on the field of view no matter how high the magnification. However, these types of binos are expensive.

Objective Lens Size and Magnification

Binos have varying lens sizes and magnification. You can find lenses with an objective lens of only 25mm and another with a lens size of 60mm. Some have 8x magnification and others have a magnification of 60x.

A bino with a large lens and high magnification is best suited for activities that require little movement like birding and astronomical viewing.

This is because they are heavy and it can be difficult to hold them with your hands for long because of the size of the lens. So you would need a tripod to use it.

Binos with small lenses and high magnification are great for hunting, wildlife viewing, and spying

Binos with small lenses and high magnification are great for stadium sports, concerts, hunting, wildlife viewing, and spying because you can hold them for an extended amount of time without tiring.

But if you are planning on doing some long distance viewing, a bino with a large lens and high magnification would be the most ideal option.

Durability and Comfort

When you scout the internet for binos, you’ll get many brands that claim their binos are durable and deliver great performance. But as you know, seeing is believing and in this case, testing is believing.

While you may not be able to test a bino unless you are buying it from a shop, you can take a look at its specs. Most binos have a rubber armoring for better handling. And it also makes the binos waterproof and shockproof.

The lenses also have a layer of protection to protect them from fogging or scratching.

So if you are buying your binos online, go through the consumer and expert reviews as they can give you an idea on which binos to consider buying.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the bino and your eye. And if you wear glasses, this feature should be at the top of your list when selecting a bino.  This is because it determines the viewing comfort of the binos.

Most binos have features that enable you to adjust the focus of your views based on your eyesight. So if you have poor eyesight or you wear glasses, get binos that have an eye relief of 15mm or more.

Prism Design

There are basically two main types of prism designs: Porro prism and Roof prism. What you need to know about the two is that porro prism binos are heavier, cheaper, and offer better performance when it comes to long distance viewing.

Roof prisms are lightweight, more expensive and are great for short distance viewing.

Lens Coating

Most standard binoculars use coated lenses because they transmit light better resulting in clear and sharp images. There are three different types of coatings: single coating, multi-coating, and full coating.

Each of these coatings offers a different level of performance. It all depends on what you need to use the binos for.

The binos with multi-coated or fully coated lenses are more ideal

But if you want binos specifically for your undercover activities, binos with multi-coated or fully coated lenses are more ideal as they enable you to see in low light conditions.

Binoculars vs Telescope

Both binoculars and telescopes have the same function. They enable you to see objects or items that are a distance away, up close. But they do differ when it comes to performance, features, and price.

Lenses and Eyepieces

Telescopes use one lens and one eyepiece. Binoculars use two lenses and two eyepieces. What so significant about this difference is that binos provide a wide field of view because they have two lenses.

On the other hand, telescopes have larger lenses which means they deliver sharper images than binos.

Magnification

Another difference is the magnification. You can get a bino with a magnification of 6x and another with a magnification of 20x. However, most standard binos have magnification that is between 6x and 12x.

Telescopes typically have 20x magnification or higher, which makes them more expensive than binos. And since telescopes are not easily portable, if you need to move around, binos are a more sensible option.

Binoculars vs. Telescope What is Better for Spying/Peeping?

Now that you know what advantages binos have over telescopes and vice versa, let’s see which one is better for spying/peeping.

If you are a double agent and your night activities require that you move around, binos would be a better option because they are portable and lightweight.

Binoculars vs. Telescope - What is Better for Spying/Peeping

Binos with 10×42 magnification are usually the most popular for many outdoor activities because the high magnification allows you to see images that are far away clearly. And the 42mm objective lens gives you a sufficient field of view of your target.

But you can choose whichever magnification you want but keep in mind that high magnification reduces the field of view. And a bino with a large objective lens is heavy and carrying it around may prove to be a challenge.

So if you plan on spying on a neighbor or any other person from different viewpoints, a bino would be the most ideal option. And preferably one that has high magnification, compact design, and is lightweight.

Also, consider the prism design of the binos. Porro prism binos are best for indoor activities like peeping and spying. Basically, activities that don’t require much movement.

Roof prism binos are great for outdoor activities like birding, hiking, and fishing. And they perform better in good lighting conditions.

Telescopes are mainly used for astronomical viewing and photography. But you can also use them for spying because they deliver clearer images than binos.

The only problem with a telescope is that it’s hard to move around with it. And because of this, they are best for apartment or house spying. Or for examining your surroundings in more detail.

So there you have it. Both devices can be used for spying, but choosing which one is better depends on your spying situation or activity.

Binoculars vs. Spotting Scope for Spying?

Binoculars and spotting scopes have similar functions but they do have some major differences. And it’s these differences that can help you get a clear picture of which one is best for spying.

Differences:

  • Spotting scopes have one lens and one eyepiece. Binos have two lenses and two eyepieces
  • Most spotting scopes are bigger in size and length than binos
  • Spotting scopes have higher magnification than binoculars
  • When it comes to long distance viewing, spotting scopes are a better choice
  • Binos focus more quickly than spotting scopes
  • You need a tripod to use a spotting scope. Most standard binos have compact designs and therefore you can move around with them more easily than you would a spotting scope

Having looked at the differences, it’s clear that if you’re spying activity requires you to move around, using a bino makes more sense. If not, a spotting scope would be a better choice because it delivers sharper viewing than a bino.

Final Verdict

Technology has in many ways made life easier. And although some people use certain tech devices for good. Others not so much.

Spying is not something that is seen as a good thing, but if you need to do it get a bino that delivers excellent performance day or night.

So whether you are looking to buy a bino for spying, peeping, or city viewing, consider factors like magnification, the field of view, lens coating, and eye relief. Also factor in your budget.

There are some great binos out there that don’t cost much and yet deliver better performance than some of their more expensive counterparts.

Best Binoculars For Spying/City Viewing/Peeping

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