Spotting scopes are a mix of binoculars and telescopes. You get the portability of standard binoculars as well as the longer-range viewing capability of a telescope. Spotting scopes offer high definition magnification for longer distances, and are excellent optical devices for birding or hunting. With so many choices on the market, it can be a daunting task to find the best spotting scopes.

spotting scope

To help you out, we've listed some of the things to look for:

Spotting Scope Magnification: The recommended magnification for birding or hunting should be between 20X and 40X. This will give you a good field of view, as well as sufficient image brightness.

The Objective Lens or Aperture: The objective lens or aperture relates directly to the size of the magnification. The larger the diameter of the scope's objective lens, the more light and greater clarity your object image. If you consider a spotting scope with an aperture of 50mm-80mm, it will do well for most situations.

Exit Pupil
: The exit pupil is the diameter of light visible through the scope's eyepiece. Go for an exit pupil that is 1.33mm and above. Otherwise the visible light visible will be so low, that your scope will hardly pick up anything.

: There are two types to choose from:

1. interchangeable fixed and single zoom - or

2. variable. The first is best for panorama viewing, because the fixed gives a wider field of view. The second, offers magnification from low to high, allowing for a wide field of view but then also being able to focus deep.

If you're looking for the best spotting scopes, you won't go wrong with Bushnell or Celestron or Leupold. They've been crafting quality optical gear for quite a while you can be assured that quality is not an issue!


What to buy?...To understand more, please read the difference between spotting and rifle scopes.

Difference Between Spotting Scopes & Rifle Scopes

Although they do the very same thing, rifle scopes and spotting scopes are used for entirely different reasons. Spotting scopes do what their name clearly states - Spot! You could use a spotting scope for all kinds of viewing, but they are designed, for example, to spot your target before you move on to your rifle which would have a rifle scope attached.

Spotting scopes sit between Binoculars and Telescopes in the power department. They are excellent for daytime surveillance, hunting and viewing objects at a great distance. But this greater magnification has it's limitations. You will find that weather conditions will greatly affect just how far you can see. Humidity, glare, heat currents, dust and wind can all dilute your viewing experience. Unless you are high up in a dry location and it's a clear and quiet day, you won't enjoy much more than a 60x magnification.

Other limitations in viewing through a spotting scope will be determined by the quality of the scope's lens. There is a visible difference between the premium models and your low budget models - especially if you want the same clear images at maximum magnification that you get in the lower ranges.

Typically, however, you will be working in the 30 to 40 times magnification range, so crystal clear images at high magnification shouldn't be the deciding factor. There are many low priced spotting scopes that will do just fine.

Spotting scopes mostly use porro prisms as the optics of choice basically because they are less costly to manufacture. Look for Bak-4 glass in a porro prism - it is a higher quality than the BK7 glass.

Spotting scopes can also be used with a camera and at night as well. Be aware that any spotting scope should have a tripod for mounting. The high magnification is just to difficult to manage when hand-holding a scope.