Guide to Spotting Scopes

Spotting Scope : What is it?

Spotting Scopes

A spotting scope is a portable telescope used for observing terrestrial objects in hunting, nature photography, nature study, long distance microscopy, scenic observing, bird watching, and surveillance. It has a lens magnification range of 20 to 60 times the actual size as viewed by the naked eye. It commonly features a lens cap, a knob for focus control, and a range of changeable eyepieces or a variable “zoom” eyepiece that can be adjusted to different magnifications depending on its range. It can be held by the hand or attached to a tripod for more stability.

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Types of Spotting Scopes

Spotting ScopesSpotting Scopes

Kinds of Spotting Scopes include the following:


  • A straight-through spotting scope consists of an eyepiece positioned in the same axis as its body.
  • It comes in compact and waterproof designs.
  • It can come with a tripod and a carry case.


  • An angled spotting scope is built with an eyepiece angled approximately 45 degrees from its body.
  • It is ideal for tall people.
  • It can be easily shared by people of different heights.


  • A shoulder-mounted spotting scope is a more complex unit that is not easily portable.
  • It requires a shoulder mount or a tripod.

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Choosing Spotting Scopes (Buying tips)

Magnification:  Choose a spotting scope with a 20x to 60x magnification range. A magnification higher than 60x can lead to poor brightness, shaky images even with the use of a tripod, and a limited field of view. For bird watching, choose one with a magnification range of 20x to 30x.   

Objective lens:
  Look for a spotting scope with a large objective lens between 50 to 80 mm for high light gathering power and clearer images.   
  Choose a spotting scope with a rugged, rubber-armored design for better protection from the outside elements especially when hunting. The rubber armor absorbs impacts and protects the lens and body from scratches. It can be easily replaced when worn out.   

Finish: Look for a spotting scope with a rubberized finish for water resistance and secure grip.

: Choose a fog-proof spotting scope for resistance to sudden temperature changes.

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