The ABCs of Spotting Scopes

What is a spotting scope? A spotting scope is similar to a telescope and is used for observing animals that are near the earth. This is in contrast to a telescope that is generally used to view stars and other objects in space. A spotting scope is compact and portable, making it ideal for nature lovers to take along on their explorations for observing birds, plants, and more.

Common Features of a Spotting Scope

The magnification of a spotting scope is usually around 20x to 60x. It typically has a strong, rugged design and can mount easily on a tripod for convenience of use. It has a range of eyepieces to allow you various magnifications or a variable zoom eyepiece for a similar purpose. It allows for focus control, as well, with a located knobs and an ergonomic design. There are three types of spotting scopes available for nature lovers. The straight-through scope has an eyepiece that is on the same axis as the body of the scope. The angled scope has the eyepiece at a 45 degree angle to the body of the scope. Finally, there is a shoulder-mounted design that is not used as often. Most people find that the straight-through scopes are the most convenient to use inside a car and the angled scopes are the most convenient and comfortable for people who are taller and for being out in the field.

Spotting Scope Or Telescope?

So, why not just purchase a telescope if you're interested in zooming in on living creatures and items on earth? A spotting scope has certain features that make it particularly useful for the nature-lover's task. It has a low magnification, a wide field of view and an easy portability and mobility. When observing birds, you don't usually need an intense, astronomy-level magnification. The magnification on the spotting scope is plenty to get a good look at the bird. Similarly, the spotting scope creates a larger field of view, allowing the user to have an easier time spotting the bird to begin with.

Spotting Scope Or Binoculars?

You're convinced that it's better to get a spotting scope than a telescope, but what about binoculars? Why not just dust off your old pair of binoculars and bring them out into the wild with you? Spotting scopes are designed for long-distance bird watching. Their magnification allows you to hone in on a bird and to see all of its features as if you were at close range. It has a higher magnification than most binoculars, therefore, and is better for bird watching. Similarly, if you're out in low lighting conditions, the spotting scopes will create a bright, clear image and will help you to see more details. These scopes also feature a tripod so that you can mount your scope for more stability and clarity.

Most optics companies with rifle scopes, binoculars and telescopes also sell spotting scopes. The price ranges a great deal, as it does for any similar item. There are a number of companies that make high quality, trusted spotting scopes including Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss. Many other companies make them as well. It is important to decide what your ultimate purpose will be with the scope and to target the features you most desire. Then, find a company name you trust and a scope that will fit your lifestyle and your outdoor goals.