What is a Spotting Scope? – Full Analysis, Tips & More

what is a spotting scope

A scope (or scopes) helps you get better shots because they allow you to see your targets clearly even if you’re shooting from far away.

But what is a spotting scope?

Let’s find out together!

Spotting Scopes Introduction

What is a Spotting Scope?

Refractors were invented before reflectors or catadioptrics. Whereas, spectacles were created in the 17th century.

However, in the early 20th century, advances in lens technology led to creating the first spotting scope. Prism-erecting systems corrected image orientation.

  • Telescopes are used for spotting purposes.
  • These scopes are portable and erectable.
  • They are used for observing celestial bodies and terrestrial objects.

Telescopes are very useful tools for astronomers. Large-scale telescopes are usually used by professional astronomers. On the other hand, portable telescopes are ideal for terrestrial views or for outdoor activities.

Monoculars are smaller than binoculars, but they still need to be held up to your eye. Moreover, a monocular is a type of telescope that is used when you want to see something close up without having to hold anything up to your eye and binoculars are larger than monoculars but are more expensive.

Straight Spotting Scope

A straight spotting scope is a telescope that has no optical elements other than the objective lens. This means that the image formed at the eyepiece is directly from the object being viewed.

The advantage of using a straight spotting scope is that it allows for greater magnification and clarity than a refractor telescope.

Angled Spotting Scope

Angled spotting scopes are used for hunting, bird watching, and other outdoor activities. They are also known as “field glasses” or “binoculars”. The main advantage of using an angled spotting scope is that it allows you to view objects at a distance.

Choosing a Spotting Scope

A spotting scope is a great way to see the stars at night. It has two lenses, one wide-angle lens, and one long focal length lens.

The wide-angle lens allows you to see a wider area than the long focal length lens. This means you can see farther away objects. If you want to see the moon, look for a spotting scope with a magnification of around 20x.


Binoculars are more powerful than spotting scopes because they give you a wider field of view. Spotting scopes are less expensive than binoculars but they aren’t as powerful.

Binoculars are great for seeing things up close. You can get them in different sizes depending on what you want to do. You should buy binoculars that are easy to carry around.

Magnification power

Spotting scopes are used to scan large areas for wildlife. They are useful when looking for rare species. You should use a lower power first, then move up as needed.

Zoom lenses

Zoom lenses are great for bird watching because you can get a close-up shot without having to move your body around too much. You can scan quickly at low power and then up the magnification when you want to see more detail.

However, zoom lenses don’t collect as much light as fixed lenses do. As magnification increases, your binoculars or scope will experience less light, a narrow field of view, and increased vibrations. High powers also magnify the effects of haze and heat distortion seen over water.

Mid-range zooms are good enough for most purposes. High-end zooms are better than lower-end ones. Buy the highest-quality scope your budget allows.

Binoculars can get you closer than a scope but not as close as a telescope. A scope gives you a wider view of distant objects. You can see more detail with binoculars.

Glass quality

Top spotting scope lenses are made using fluorite coated, HD (high density), or ED (extra-Low Dispersion) glass. Fluorite-coated lenses are used for birds in low light conditions. High-density glass is used for birds at close range. Extra-low dispersion glass is used for birds up to 100 yards away.

Light Gathering Capacity

Spotting scopes are used for observing distant objects. Binoculars are used for close-up observation. Binoculars are lighter than spotting scopes.

Eyepiece placement

A 45-degree eyepiece is better than a straight-through eyepiece because it allows you to see above the horizon. It also helps when you are in a crowd of people of different heights since you can easily see over everyone else’s head.

Eye relief

Eyeglasses wearers should be aware of how much eye relief is provided by the scope. Longer eye relief means the optic directs the focal point further back behind the eyepieces so the eyeglass user can see a complete field.

Most scopes provide 12–15mm of eye relief. Some models offer adjustable eyecups to accommodate users who wear glasses.

Objective Lens Diameter

Objective lens diameter is basically the size of the viewing window you get out of your telescope. A lightweight backpacking telescope may be as small as 40 mm, while a bigger stargazing telescope could be up to 100 mm.

Larger glass lets in more light but usually costs more and weighs more. You should know what kind of view you want before buying a telescope.

Binoculars are great for seeing things far away. A larger lens means more light gets into your eyes, making objects appear brighter. You can also zoom in closer without losing clarity or detail.

Note: Low light performance can be improved by the usage of bigger objective lenses. Larger diameters are becoming popular as they provide higher magnification power. 

Focusing mechanism

A focusing collar is used to sharpen the image. Focusing knobs are used to adjust the sharpness of the image. Hand size and dexterity may be issues when using either method. Image quality is improved by these knobs as they help in producing crisp images.


A lightweight spotting scope is ideal for those who hike long distances to hunt.

Lightweights are usually three pounds or under. Standard spotting scopes are usually five pounds or over. You’ll need a tripod to stabilize the scope. A cheap tripod will weigh 4 or more pounds. Carbon fiber tripods are light but expensive.

Shopping Tips

A fixed eyepiece is recommended for general purposes. However, Zoom lenses are better for birding.

You should know that a good quality spotting scope should be around 85 mm.

Pro Tip: You need to avoid cheap ones. Don’t buy a cheap spotting scope because it might break down after a while. Take care of your spotting scope and it will last a long time.

A good tripod is important for any camera. Tripods should be rigid and Taking sturdy, and they shouldn’t have many leg adjustments. Flip locks are a good spotting way to extend and retract your tripod. It is a viable option.

Expensive spotting scopes are also available in the market but we recommend that you choose which suits your needs and price range. A larger scope does mean that it is a powerful scope, they come in a range of sizes. Its magnification level is higher and magnification capabilities are unmatched. 

Scopes also come with interchangeable eyepieces. Despite some optical advantages to a single power eyepiece, most people prefer the convenience of a zoom eyepiece.        


We hope that you now have a better understanding of Spotting Scopes.

Pick your best spotting scope for yourself now and happy shooting. Expensive spotting scopes are also available in the market but we recommend that you choose which suits your needs and price range.

For any further information, please feel free to contact us.      

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