Guide to buying the right spotting scope

If you indulge yourself in outdoor recreational activities like birding, hunting, or target shooting, you may have come across or used a spotting scope. If not, and you just heard the name “spotting scope” for the first time, worry not because we are about to tell you what this device is in a jiffy.

What is a spotting scope?

spotting scope

A spotting scope is smaller than a telescope and is primarily used to observe distance sceneries or objects. It uses enhanced lenses that add magnification to the instrument. 

Uniquely, spotting scopes are designed to be used during the day and always show an upright image. They behave differently from telescopes used for astronomy, which show images that are either upside down or reversed.

Spotting scopes are mostly fog proof and waterproof, and you can always mount them on the ordinary photography tripod. Often, you will find bird watchers, hunters, and those participating in target shooting using them.

How spotting scopes work

how spotting scope works
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Spotting scopes work the same way as telescopes by magnifying distance objects like landscape and wildlife. The high magnification lets you see those distant objects beyond the range of your naked eyes.

But high magnification does not always result in more clear images. To get clear photos, you must get a lens with a larger objective and also pay keen attention to the quality of the optics. Basically, if you want a spotting scope that produces more clear images, be ready to splash out more money.

Eye relief is another crucial feature to consider in a spotting scope. Basically, your eye’s distance from the eyepiece should be 14mm for you to see the full view while wearing glasses. Lens coating also is yet another thing you may want to consider as it improves the transmission of light.

How to buy a spotting scope

spotting scopes

Below are tips to always keep in mind when shopping for spotting scope:


Weather protection


Buying a spotting scope suitable for different weather conditions is a big plus. Always consider purchasing waterproof scopes as they are ideal for different conditions. Most scopes come equipped with rubber armor to protect from shock.




How much are you planning to splash out? Having a budget can make purchasing easier. We recommend going for pricey models as they provide premium optical performance.


Lens coating


As mentioned earlier, lens coating is a very critical factor as it not only lessen the glare from the sun but also prevents light loss hence resulting in brighter images. The coating will also prevent eyestrain.


Look for suitable magnification and lens size


To see distant objects closer, consider having a keen look at the magnification and lens size. You can know about magnification and lens size by looking at the numbers indicated on the product specifications, usually separated by the symbol x.


Angled vs. straight spotting scope


When it comes to choosing between straight and angled, your preference will be a significant part of your decision. If you consider a straight scope, your eye and the barrel of the spotting scope will be almost at the same level as the eyepiece. On the other hand, if you settle for the angled type, you will have the freedom to look at objects from below or above you as the eyepiece will be at a specific angle.


Go for a scope with a larger exit pupil


Why? Because they produce brighter images. The exit pupil refers to the light that comes out from your spotting scope. Setting the magnification high makes the pupil smaller hence you get a gloomy and dark image.


Choose one with a wide field of view


The field of view is the span of the round viewing field in your spotting scope. A wide field of view is a plus if you will be watching moving objects such as birds.


Look for an extended eye relief feature


As aforementioned, eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and your eyes that allows you to see full view. Buying a spotting scope with extended eye relief is a good idea if you wear glasses.


The right spotting scope is that which will address your needs well. If an affordable one does suit your needs, buy it. If not, go for a premium one and be ready to dig deeper into your pockets.

Now that you know what to look for make sure to purchase a device that you will be comfortable with. Good luck!