A spotting scope is a telescope. It’s small and portable and has added optics to it which allow for an erect image to be displayed. Spotting scopes are optimized for observing terrestrial objects instead of astronomical objects. You’ll often see people who love birdwatching will break out a spotting scope so they can see the bird in greater detail. They are used whenever more magnification than a set of binoculars can provide is necessary.
What Magnification Should a Spotting Scope Have?
There are two limitations that will dictate how much magnification a new spotting scope will have for the average user. The first will always be the atmosphere where the equipment will be used. Glare, dust, humidity, and even heat waves will all degrade the image that is being seen through the equipment. Higher magnification levels will result in lower quality results. High magnification scopes typically work best in high altitude climates that are dry and lower magnification scopes work better in wetter, lower altitude environments.
The atmosphere will naturally limit the amount of magnification that can be achieved. Purchasing astronomical telescopes that magnify images by hundreds or thousands of times will still typically just achieve a standard 60x magnification during the day. This is why a spotting scope is usually the best investment to make.
The second consideration is the quality of the spotting scope. To have clear images at 60x magnification that is equal to the clarity at 40x or even 20x, you’ll need to have professional lenses in your spotting scope. Over cheaper scopes that provide a good image at 20x-30x and then begin to blur from there, you’ll be paying several hundred dollars extra for the professional-quality scope.
What Other Considerations Need to Be Taken Into Account?
Close focus. Some spotting scopes have a close focus that allows for clarity as close as 20 feet. This feature is great to use if you’re using a camera with your scope.
Eye relief. If you have glasses that have to be worn, then the eye relief for your spotting scope should be at least 14 mm. This will allow you to see the entire field of view through the scope. If you have thicker glasses, eye relief of up to 20 mm may be necessary.
Lens coating. The best lenses for a spotting scope are going to be fully multi-coated [FMC] because this helps to improve light transmission, resulting in a better overall image. Multi-coated lenses are better than fully coated lenses if you don’t want to invest into the FMC version.
Image quality. A spotting scope’s performance often has a direct translation to the amount of money that is available for the investment. The gap in image quality from entry-level scopes to the premium models is very wide. If you need long-distance magnification to meet your needs, then you won’t find a budget-friendly price waiting for you.
What is a spotting scope? It is a useful tool that can help you be able to see items at a distance when binoculars just aren’t good enough. If you expect to have long distance viewing needs in the future, then this equipment is a great option to consider today.