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July 07, 2020 3 min read

People who love outdoors and enjoy beautiful sceneries will most likely invest in a gadget that improves their viewing experience. There are many choices available, but a spotting scope is the most recommended optic to use when higher magnification is needed.

A spotting scope is a small telescope that is ideally suited for activities such as long-distance bird watching, nature study, digiscoping, scenic observation, astronomy, surveillance, hunting, and long-distance microscopy. A premium scope is extremely popular for hunters because it helps them locate and determine if an animal is worthy of pursuit from a great distance, without being sensed or wasting energy to get closer.

What Is a Good Spotting Scope?

There are plenty of spotting scopes on the market. The many choices available may, however, confuse buyers. Like with any product, there are vital features buyers should look for when shopping for a spotting scope.

Type/Design:

Most good scope models come in two configurations: straight or angled. If you are using it to locate a subject aligning the eye along the scopes’ body, use a straight scope. It is easier to view a subject from a hidden position and use it for long periods of scanning. However, if you are sharing in a group, it is easier with an angled scope, you can set the height so that the shortest person in your group can reach it, and then taller people can simply lean over a little farther. The design of the angled scope makes viewing birds flying or in high positions easier as you do not have to strain. 

Objective Lens:

When buying a spotting scope keep in mind that the bigger objective lens provides more details and better image quality when using higher magnifications. The size of the objective lens determines the amount of light that will enter the optical system, with the potential of increased image detail and clarity with increased aperture size (we recommend 80mm). 

Eyepieces and Magnification:

Selecting the right eyepiece or eyepiece configuration is an important aspect when purchasing a spotting scope. The power or magnification of the scope is determined by the eyepiece. It magnifies the image of any distant object and delivers this image at a certain distance behind the eyepiece. Some scopes come with the eyepiece permanently attached, while others have detachable eyepieces. Others are designed to give either wide field of view (wide angle) or long eye relief. Eye-relief refers to the distance between the eye lens and the point at which the pupil is positioned to obtain a full field of view; this varies between eyepieces. If you do wear glasses, you must check if the eye relief is within the right distance in order to see the full image.

Glass and Image Quality

For experts, good spotting scope gives excellent image quality. After all, the beauty of what one is viewing is best enjoyed through clear images. The quality of the image delivered to your eye has something to do with the quality of the glass used in a scope. Ordinary glass blocks a certain amount of the light passing through it resulting in poor image quality while ED glass or extra-low-dispersion glass delivers sharper images and superior color fidelity.

Lens Coatings

All good scopes now use coated lenses. Chemical coatings are often applied to the surface of lenses to reduce the amount of glare and maximize available light. The lens coating is essential since it’s the one that aids the light transmission when using high magnification. The more layers applied, the more expensive the scope and the better the image will be. High-end products will almost always be fully multi-coated (FMC).

Focusing

Some models have two-step focusing, with one knob that quickly shifts from close-up to infinity and one that makes much smaller adjustments for fine-tuned focus.  Odd as it might seem, a spotting scope’s capacity for focusing on close-up objects is important. It’s still a good idea to test it for yourself because it is all down to personal preference when choosing the type of focusing. Neither method is ‘better’ for everyone, but the two-step focusing allows sharper images.

A good spotting scope is a major investment that can add to your enjoyment of birding, hunting, target shooting or stargazing for many years so don’t be shy about taking your time and asking to compare different models. No matter how much you research the specifications for different models, there’s no substitute for trying out a scope for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to try a range of models and find your personal favorites.

Jenille A
Jenille A


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