The Minox MD 6x16A Monocular with Altitude, Temperature, Time, and Stopwatch displays
By Chuck Hawks
Approximately 3 years ago Minox (now owned by Leica) introduced a new miniature monocular, one measuring just 81x32x24 mm. The Minox technicians integrated an electronic module into this tiny monocular, which adds numerous functions. These include an atmospheric pressure sensor that measures the altitude down to three feet, as well as a temperature, time of day, and a stopwatch function. A large LCD display on the face of the metal housing displays the readouts and two function keys set and change the various modes of operation.
Like previous Minox products, this multi-function instrument combines miniaturization with high quality optics and mechanical precision. The MD 6x16A comes complete with a leather case and battery.
The silver metal case of the MD 6x16A is about 1/2 the size of a pack of cigarettes, so it fits easily in practically any pocket, purse or fanny pack. It is also supplied with a neck lanyard. It could hardly be handier for the traveler who wishes to travel light.
There is no on/off switch. Like a digital watch (which the MD 6x16A is, among other things), the battery drain is so low that a switch is not required. If no function keys are pressed within 5 minutes, the monocular automatically switches to time mode.
The two operating buttons below the LCD display are marked "Select" and "Units." You briefly press the Select button to toggle between the four available functions (time, altitude, temperature, and stopwatch). The Units button is used to select the units of measurement in the relevant menu.
Since there are only two buttons, the operation of so many functions is somewhat complicated. That is the result of miniaturization. I strongly suggest that the owner of an MD 6x16A monocular read and understand the owner's manual.
This is not as easy as it might be, for the instruction manual is printed in five languages. The manual prints every paragraph in each language, constantly interrupting the reader's train of thought and making it difficult to read the manual as a complete text.
The MD 6x16A focuses by means of a top mounted slider (see photo above). Focusing range is from infinity down to a distance of only 45" (by my measurement), so it can function as a semi-short range magnifier as well as a pocket telescope. The optics are good and the field of view is excellent.
The exit pupil is 2.6mm, so it is not much of a night scope. In daylight, however, it is bright enough for practically any purpose. The 6-power magnification seems to me to be about right for so compact an instrument. The MD 6x16A doesn't weigh much, so it is more difficult to hold steady than would be a larger, heavier instrument. A quick check online revealed a 2005 discount retail price of about $225.00 for the MD 6x16A in the U.S.
Minox offers the same monocular without the electronic features as the MD 6x16. There is also a similar but more powerful MD 8x16 model for those who feel the need for greater magnification.
The MD 6x16A is so handy that you can take it with you when even the smallest conventional binocular or monocular would be a burden. I feel that its tricky electronic functions are a definite asset. I can assure you that I don't travel anywhere without mine!
Copyright 2005 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.