Spotting the Right Spotting Scope

Spotting the Right Spotting Scope

There are often moments when using a pair of binoculars is not enough to view an object or a target from afar. There are times that with a pair of binoculars, some details of the subject can be unclear when there is around 200 yards or more distance in between the viewer and the object being viewed.

For this viewing limitation, a spotting scope can pick up where binoculars leave off. For outdoor activities that entail looking at a subject from a distance, bringing a viewing instrument such as a spotting scope is necessary.

If one is interested in buying such a product, it is important to go for the best spotting scope that one’s budget would allow. But before beginning a search, it is likewise important that the spotting scope is understood properly.

So the basics of the spotting scope will be discussed in this article.

An Introduction to the Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is a portable and small kind of a telescope that is often utilized for the observance of terrestrial objects. The spotting scope has add-on optics that enable the viewing instrument to produce an erect or upright image – the opposite of the upside down or reverse images that are often produced by telescopes.

Aside from observation of terrestrial objects, the spotting scope is also known to be used for other various outdoor activities. Using the spotting scope for bird watching, viewing boat racing, hunting, and target shooting are just a few of the several ways of using the spotting scope.

Moreover, spotting scopes offered in the market now are classified into two main groups, namely: the prismatic spotting scope and the catadioptric spotting scopes. A simple refractor as well as a lens that can be found at one end of the scope while an eyepiece on the other end is what makes up the prismatic spotting scope.

On the other hand, the catadioptric spotting scope is a mix of mirrors and lenses. If a prismatic spotting scope has an erecting porro prism system that makes the images being viewed to be upright, the catadioptric spotting scope likewise has a prism that makes it possible to view an object at a 45-degree angle.

Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars

Both a spotting scope and binoculars provide magnification for viewing an object from a far distance. A spotting scope has a single optic with one eyepiece for viewing while the binoculars are made up of two optics being paired together to accommodate both left and right eyes.

When it comes to portability, binoculars are more portable than spotting scopes because they are usually smaller and lighter in weight. When it comes to magnification, the spotting scope wins over the binoculars because it has built-in zoom lenses in its construction.

A spotting scope has a variable magnification ranging around 20x to 60x whereas a pair of binoculars has a static magnification which could either one of the three options: 10x, 15x or 20x.

When it comes to the objective lens size, the spotting scope normally has a wider lens diameter which starts at around 60mm while binoculars have a lens diameter somewhere below 50mm. When it comes to viewing distance, binoculars can work well around 100 yards or more but when it reaches more than 200 yards the spotting scope is better in magnification.

When it comes to being mobile while using the instrument, binoculars can be usable even in motion while the spotting scope should be positioned on a stable ground to work effectively. When it comes to performing in low light, the spotting scope works fine, depending on the aperture of the instrument, but binoculars are ineffective in such a situation.

For specific activities, which of the two is better would depend on the preference of the user and the surrounding circumstances. For bird watching, distance should be factored in. If the creatures are far, it is bets to use a spotting scope.

However, if one needs to change places to spot a mobile bird, binoculars are easier to handle. For hunting, the size and distance are important to know which one to use.

For large to medium and close targets, binoculars are enough to do the work. But for far targets and small creatures, using a spotting scope is better and more practical. For target shooting, a spotting scope is known to be superior over binoculars for the fact that the spotting scope can be mounted on a tripod and the target can be easily viewed using few movements of the angled lens.

While when one uses binoculars, there is still a need to let go of the weapon in order to keep the device steady using two hands.

Features of a Spotting Scope

Before searching for the best spotting scope, it is necessary to be familiar with the key features of a device. So here are the things to take note of when it comes to looking for the best spotting scope:

Magnification

When it comes to magnification, there are two points to consider in determining the needed magnification for a particular spotting scope. The first is the viewing condition or the atmosphere of the surroundings.

There is a tendency to have a poor image quality when the spotting scope is adjusted to a high atmosphere where there is wind, air currents, dust, glare, heat waves and humidity interfering. A general rule in magnification is that high magnification is needed for high altitude and dry weather while low magnification is important to low altitude areas and wet atmosphere.

Also, the atmosphere also determines the amount of details one can see from a distance. The second factor is the optical system.

As a rule, the more expensive the spotting scope is, the higher the quality of its optical system. The quality of the image is reduced every time magnification is increased and it is the optical system that determines how fast the lowering of the quality takes place.

Objective Lens.

The larger the objective lens is, the more detailed and better the image quality it produces at high magnifications. However, the size of the objective lens is not the only gauge for the quality of the lens is also important.

Between the size and quality, always go for the quality of the objective lens in order to have a better image quality.

Image Quality.

As a rule of thumb, the price of the spotting scope is equal to the quality of the image it produces. If high performance is being expected, low and medium priced spotting scopes will not make the cut.

Eye Relief.

This pertains to the distance between the eyes and the eyepiece while being able to view the entire field. Eye relief is important for those who use eye glasses.

A typical eye glass wearer would need 14mm eye relief and the value goes up the thicker the glass lens becomes.

Lens Coatings.

This can either be fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coted – the last giving the best output. The lens coating improves the light transmission at high magnification.

Looking for the best spotting scope can be a bit difficult task so it helps to look for product reviews and recommendations to keep the search rolling.

To jumpstart the search for a spotting scope, here are brief product reviews of five spotting scopes that are now best sellers and popular in the market to nudge the search in the right direction:

Gosky Porro Prism Spotting Scope

Is your pair of binoculars not enough to view objects or targets at a far distance? Then it is time to switch to a spotting scope like the Gosky Porro Prism Spotting Scope.

This product offers a lot of features such as a fully multi-coated and 80mm green film objective lens, a variable magnification ranging from 20x to 60x, a 45 degree angled eyepiece at 20mm diameter, dynamic lens central focusing system, durable Magnalium framework, rubber armor and a waterproof design. This spotting scope has the capacity to provide a 17-13.5mm eye relief, 115.2-57.6 feet at 1000 yards viewing field and an 18 ft./6 m. close focus distance.

To add, this spotting device only weighs 1230 grams and has the dimensions of 17.7 in x 4.7 in x 6.7 in. Finally, together with the spotting scope are accessories such as a digiscoping cell phone adapter, tripod, carrying case and covers for lens and eyepiece.

Pros:

  • gives brighter and clearer image quality at high magnification
  • fast transmission of light with lens coating
  • variable magnification for customized viewing experience
  • can zoom in on target for a more detailed view
  • a cell phone can be attached to record videos & save images
  • convenient to use
  • versatile and compatible with some electronic gadgets
  • durable
  • can withstand tough weather situations
  • protected eyepiece
  • waterproof design

Cons:

  • Has low light gathering
  • weak tripod construction
  • setting up can become a little fiddly and would require more time
  • attached cell phone is a little hard to adjust
  • no user manual or instructions

Emarth Angled Spotting Scope

Get rid of the old pair of binoculars and go for a better viewing experience with the help of a reliable spotting scope like the Emarth Angled Spotting Scope. This angled spotting scope is made up of a 60mm objective lens, BK-7 prism, 20x to 60x variable magnification, dynamic lens focusing system and fully multi-coated lens.

Because of such components, the spotting scope is able to offer a 17-13.5 mm eye relief, 3.2-1.10mm exit pupil, 39-19m per 1000m view field, waterproof and fogproof design and rubber armor. This device also offers an ergonomic and lightweight design with a weight of 640 g and 350 mm x 100 mm x 75 mm dimensions.

To add, the purchase of this spotting scope also entitles one to an additional tripod, carrying bag, lens cap and manual. To complete the package and ensure full customer satisfaction in using the viewing instrument, the manufacturers offer a money back guarantee for 30 days, a 12 month warranty and a lifetime support guarantee.

Pros:

  • faster transmission of light
  • high image quality at high magnification
  • clear, bright and crisp viewing
  • ideal for all weather conditions
  • waterproof & fogproof design
  • ergonomic design
  • lightweight
  • very affordable purchase price
  • backed up by 30-day money back guarantee, 1-year warranty & lifetime support guarantee

Cons:

  • has weakly constructed tripod
  • tripod’s legs does not allow for down and up adjustments
  • a little bit difficult to focus
  • high magnification will sometimes result in a cloudy and unclear image
  • color distortion during bad viewing atmosphere

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope

Enjoy maximum viewing experience for long distance viewing and outdoor activities like stargazing, bird watching, hunting and target shooting by getting rid of the old pair of binoculars and going for a good and reliable model of spotting scope such as the powerful Bushnell Trophy Xtreme Spotting Scope. This particular spotting scope offers some features like Porro prism design, fully multicoated optics, up to 60x zoom in magnification, 100% waterproof design and rubber armor construction that make the viewing instrument a class of its own and a leader when it comes to good spotting scope models.

Furthermore, the spotting scope is not alone when quality and performance are the issues to be tackled for its accessories complement the device on such aspects. The spotting scope also comes with a compact tripod and window mount as well as a waterproof hard side and compact soft side case.

To make things better, the spotting scope is backed up with a lifetime warranty for full customer satisfaction.

Pros:

  • offers good image quality even at high magnification
  • fully multi-coated optics for crisp & bright image viewing
  • creates an erect and upright image instead of a reverse
  • can be exposed to various weather elements
  • perfect outdoor device
  • protected from pressure or blow
  • durable and long lasting
  • cost effective for sparing from additional replacement expenses
  • comes with quality tripod & waterproof carrier case
  • backed up by a lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • expensive purchase price
  • cheaply constructed feel
  • can only handle up to 48x magnification range

BARSKA Colorado Spotting Scope

Whether it be stargazing, birth watching, target shooting or even hunting, having a reliable stopping scope, instead of binoculars, makes the viewing experience better. If one is interested in buying a spotting scope, one could not go wrong in getting hold of a BARSKA Colorado Spotting Scope.

The device is made up of a 60mm large objective lens, BK-7 prism glass and has a 100% waterproof and fogproof design. Moreover, the spotting scope is capable of showing 91/30 feet at 1000 yards or 45/15 meters at 1000 meters viewing field, 7m close eye focus, 18.1-15.2mm eye relief, variable 20x-60x zoom magnification, and a quick access focus.

The device only weighs 2.6 lbs. and has 15.3 in x 6.5 in x 4 in for dimensions. Finally, aside from coming with a pan-head tripod, carrying case & neckstrap, the spotting scope is also backed up by a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • large size of the objective lens
  • delivers a clear and crisp view
  • high light transmission
  • has adjustable zoom magnification
  • has quick access focus
  • high powered zoom feature
  • 100 % waterproof & fogproof design
  • can withstand all weather conditions
  • lightweight design
  • accompanied by a pan-head tripod for stability, a carrying case for protection & storage & neck strap for transportation
  • backed up by a limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • does not perform well when adjusted to high magnification
  • eye relief of the spotting scope is so limited
  • can cause a problem for those wearing eyeglasses
  • not made of very high quality
  • inner parts start to fall off when being juggled around constantly

Celestron 52248 Ultima Spotting Scope

In times when using a pair of binoculars is not enough to view objects from a far distance, going for a viewing instrument that has wider magnification range solves the problem. To address such problems, having a spotting scope is important to continue enjoying one’s outdoor hobbies like constellation observation, bird watching, and hunting, as well as target shooting.

There is nothing better than to find a reliable spotting scope like the Celestron 52248 Ultima Spotting Scope. This spotting scope has nice features such as multi-coated optics, 18x to 55x zoom eyepiece and a sight tube that paves the way for quick and easy targeting.

The gray spotting scope is lightweight at 3 lbs. and has the dimensions of 6 in x 7 in 18 in. Aside from the soft carrying case that comes together with the purchase of the spotting scope, the device is also backed by limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • smallest and most affordable model in Ultima series
  • has multi-layer & anti-reflection on eyepiece & objective lens
  • increase in light transmission
  • adjustment of focus can be easily done
  • has a good zoom eyepiece
  • wide magnification range
  • good outdoor viewing instrument
  • lightweight design
  • small device
  • portable
  • has waterproof feature
  • comes at a fairly affordable purchase price
  • has a lifetime “no fault” warranty

Cons:

  • produces blue fringing or achromatic aberration at high magnification
  • has a narrow field of view
  • good for low magnification but not for high magnification
  • mounting the spotting scope would limit viewing
  • has sun flares on a sunny day