Getting into outdoor activities is a very good choice for a hobby. From hiking to hunting, the general rule is that better gear will allow the user to have a more enjoyable experience. Optical devices can really take the outdoor experience to a whole new level. Spotting scopes, in particular, are easy to use, but exploring the different spotting scope brands can get confusing.
Beginners might find it hard to pick the right brand for their personal needs and budgets, especially since this niche is so hard to get into. Below, those interested are able to go through a summarized list of the top optics manufacturers and a description of their offers. These are judged by the quality of their products and the market they’re aiming for.
In short, the list will contain all-level manufacturers. From entry-level spotting scopes to seasoned veteran binoculars, this is an attempt to paint a brief, but the full picture of the optics manufacturer market.
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Founded in 1994, Barska has strong brand recognition among sport optics companies; they are a company recognized for their very affordable prices. It is one of the go-to brands for entry-level gear. They provide customers with an impressive product range, from binoculars to rifle scopes. Moreover, depending on each individual’s needs, one can either go for the very basic of them or pick a product that would impress even the most fastidious hunter.
Their product selection is so wide that it can seem overwhelming for the inexperienced eye. Users would be wise to spend a couple of hours browsing their offer. Mostly recommended for those who are only starting out, customers can find a wide variety of fully weather resistant spotting scopes, entry-level binoculars, and long-range rifle aims.
Those interested in cheap entry level optics should take a look at Barska’s offer. As stated before, they provide optics for a high number of outdoor activities, like hunting, spotting, and birdwatching.
Out of all sport optics companies on the market, Bushnell has to be one of those that are instantly recognized by the initiated. With a history of over 65 years, they are known for their high-quality products as well as affordable prices and very good customer support.
A subsidiary of Vista Outdoor, Bushnell Corporation has offered a wide variety of enthusiast-level optics. Among other products, their offer includes rangefinders, a tool that’s used for determining the range between the user and the target, information that’s then used to calculate ballistics (bullet drop) when hunting.
Binocular and spotting scopes are their bread and butter. The quality of their products does depend on the amount of money the buyers is prepared to spend. While that’s understandable, even their entry level products are superior in quality to the competition’s offer.
While Bushnell and Barska are manufacturing products for all types of optics markets, Celestron is a company that’s best known for their naturist selection. Few can say that they have a better offer for the outdoor fanatic when it comes to spotting scopes and binoculars.
Founded in 1960 in California, the company has originally produced and distributed telescopes, something that was more fitting for the 1960’s space obsession. Having strong market experience and brand recognition, Celestron has slowly started to dabble in other areas of optics, now thriving after taking a jab at the outdoor optics market.
Leupold & Stevens
Leupold & Stevens is another American optics manufacturer. Originally started as a telescopic sight and red dot sight producer, the company now has a wider offer. While they do manufacture spotting scopes, it’s not exactly the company’s forte.
L&S’s main focus is producing combat and hunting optics. Their offer mainly compiled by sniper scopes, assault rifle sights, and sport hunting binoculars. While this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of their naturist offer, it is probably best if users stick to the pros when it comes to recreational products.
It’s about time we take a look at our Eastern peers for some quality, enthusiast-level optics. Nikon is notoriously known on the market for their DSLR cameras and different camera lenses. Now, Nikon provides high-end optics for different types of activity, so it should be a bit more reserved for more experienced users.
Their field scopes and spotting scopes are a bit more complicated than some more low to mid-range priced products from the competition. Furthermore, most of their products are designed to work in unison with a camera, so it’s important to factor this information before making a decision in regards to purchasing a Nikon spotting/field scope.
Sure, if the buyer doesn’t mind spending a premium price and would also like to capture some high-quality landscape details, then Nikon is really the only way to go.
Choosing the Right Spotting Scope
When browsing through all the different spotting scope brands options, it’s important for shoppers to manage their expectations. Manufacturers often make somewhat misleading claims, as with any other industry, which might cause harm to the overall user experience.
Something that buyers should do is to be aware of the market’s practices. For instance, low to medium-range spotting scope will often be advertised as x45 or x60 (even as high as x80) zoom. This doesn’t describe its performance accurately; it rather states its maximum setting. That being said, the real zoom will be something along the lines of x25, which is considerably lower than the advertised spec.
Some very useful features that will certainly make spotting more enjoyable are anti-fog lenses, big sun shields, and lens coating. Lenses are treated with chemical layers that allow them to filter part of the light, improving the overall image quality.
There is a lot of spotting scope brands and optics brands in general, but newbies should take note that every one of the above-mentioned manufacturers has a hefty portfolio to back up their products. New buyers should go for low to mid-end products before going into the more premium options.
Companies like Celestron, Bushnell, and Barska have products matching all price points, making it easier for the uninitiated to get on board the naturist hobby. Spotting scopes are ideal for exploring since they provide a good image and plenty of zooms, but binoculars aren’t a bad choice either. Just make sure to scope out the market before making a final decision.