Spotting scopes are usually a matter of confusion when it comes to choosing the right gear for the purpose. Zooming capacity, weight, brightness, vision and optical quality should be considered when choosing them.
Spotting scopes are essential for hunters. For example, spotting targets from afar, such as wild goats, would be the first step of the hunting activity. The scope will give the hunter a better idea of the view in which the target is located. When it comes to outdoor sports, or if you are a frequent traveler, a more portable scope within the range of 8×24 – 10×25 would be functional. If you are a seaman, then you will probably need a waterproof, tele-lens scope.
For birding, the most preferred models are usually 8×40 and 8×42. These scopes are rather small and handy; however, there is no doubt that they will give you the brightest and ‘twenty-twenty’ vision of the farthest birds.
It is widely known that spotting scopes are also used for astronomy. Well, telescopes are out there for this purpose – but nobody will stop you from watching the night skies. Basically, the design of a spotting scope has the same logic of a refractor telescope setup. Just keep in mind that the eyepiece of a typical spotting scope is angled at 45o, compared to the 90o angles of telescopes – which is essentially designed for a comfortable experience in stargazing.
Some spotting scopes are extra-complicated to use, while some are very easy. There are some spotting scopes with hard control options and complicated motion levels.
Overall, spotting scopes are useful for a wide-range of contexts with one main purpose: giving you the best magnified sight in wherever you’re gazing at.
On this issue, we have compiled the best spotting scopes on the market, with regards to functionality and budget.
As this high-class optics brand says, “If there were rules, this might be cheating.” The Razor HD spotting scope features the triplet apochromatic lens system which gives you high-definition vision from the field. Another optical feature, the high density extra-low dispersion glass is designed for a top-level resolution and color fidelity – a quality standard that Vortex has maintained for many years. The exterior lenses of the scope are protected by a special material, ArmorTek, that is highly scratch and oil resistant, perfected with a magnesium alloy body. Plus, Razor HD is waterproof and prevents moisture and debris, which delivers reliable performance in a variety of environments.
The scope is also pretty convenient – the adjustable eyecup is twistable for eyeglass use, and the rotating ring around the tripod allows rotation of the eyepiece to both sides for different view angles.
You may also be interested in some of the best trail cameras from our list. Check them out.
World’s most renowned optics brand, Swarovski has come with the straight-viewing scope with the 80mm configuration as a prominent and light vision-providing tool – perfect for birding and hunting. They are proud of the life-long quality of their spotting scopes; once you invest in one, it is going to be your hunting partner for life. The multi-coated lenses contain fluoride, which is essential for a wide range of wavelength transmission from the scope. You will find a rotating tripod ring in Swarovski models too; this will offer you the maximum flexibility in watching the target from a long distance. Not done yet – the 16 feet focus provides a sharp view of nature from both close and far distances. You can carry it with you without hesitation – the body is made of aluminum, and the SWAROCLEAN lens coating is specially designed for protection from wildlife mess such as water marks, mud and dirt.
You will also find the 20-60x eyepiece which will give you an ample alternative of viewing angles.
Celestron proudly features the Regal M2 as their new leader of the next generation o F-ED spotting scopes. The most assertive feature of this revolutionary spotting scope is its adaptable nature in providing sharp images in day or night. Great for observing birds, wildlife and the skies, this shipshape scope, compared to other more expensive scopes, has all the same remarkable features including the Extra Low Dispersion glass – which makes it a great buy. If you increase the magnification, you will see that the edges will never get shallowed out. The M2 dual focus system makes you view the subject in focus two times faster. Just like the previous brands, Celestron is equipped with a magnesium alloy body to protect to scope from corrosion and scratches.
For photographers, Regal is the best deal on the market so far. A special photo adapter is included in the purchase, which allows you capture high-quality images fresh out of your scope.
A quick hint: Celestron’s models are the most innovative scopes on the market in terms of various functionalities such as photography. It is definitely worth checking out.
Take a look at some of the most popular compact binoculars from our list, as well, and pick your favorite.
Needles to say, Leica is the professor-in-ordinary in the craft of optics. Their legacy and clever optical research have been a gift to humanity for decades. Plus, Leica is now ready to gain ground upon its new spotting scopes after a few years of break.
The Apo-Televid has 82mm, pure fluorite crystal lenses, excellent for birding. The newest model has a different, six percent light yield increase – for those who are experienced in photography, this means that the Apo-Televid boosts up the image resolution in different lights. Many testers have said that the new Televid models are much brighter than other scope with 85 mm or less lenses.
In addition, the coating is done by AquaDura, which protects the scope from water and dust. If there was only one thing that Leica should be proud of – that would be the clarity and vivid colors of the image you see from the eyepiece. Leica is a master on color viewing, and the experience is just a direct hit for nature lovers: the 12 feet focus is a special feature for bird watchers. It gives you a perfect ability of focus in complex fields such as bushes and lawns.
The 30-90×90 Colorado Spotting Scope is a great deal with a reasonable price. The 30-90x range can be deemed an extraordinary one considering the classification of this spotting scope. The zoom capability makes this device a convenient helper for hunting (similar to these quality binoculars for hunting) and astronomy observations.
Barska’s Colorado series scopes have fully coated BK7 Porro prism that gives bright images with high resolution, even in low-light areas. Even though some Barska models are in the lowest range of cost on the market, the brand is considered the best step to start the adventure of optics.
Bushnell is one of the most experienced brands in American sporting optics. For over decades, Bushnell has specialized not only in spotting scopes, but also binoculars, microscopes and riflescopes – giving outdoor and nature enthusiasts their most essential needs.
The Sentry 12-36×50 mm is a compact scope that features 14mm eye-relief, multi-coated optics and a rubber armor. It is a lightweight device for backcountry sightseeing and spotting hiking tracks. The Sentry is also featuring the extra low dispersion glass that delivers a high-quality resolution with decent light transmission. The Bushnell brand houses exceptional telescopes with a variety of low budget prices – a good reason to start observing what is out there.
Founded in 1907, Leupold has been manufacturing the classiest, high-performance scopes for outdoor sporting. The iconic gold ring compact scope, Leupold GR 15-30x is an efficient rival for larger models. Covered with carbon fiber and equipped with the same glass that is used in its much more expensive models, this device is set to give you perfect, powerful range-views. The device is very lightweight; however, pretty compact and solid – which adds to its reliability. Its size shouldn’t make you change your mind – these Leupold scopes are actually designed to be small, but full of power, just like some of these night vision binoculars from our list.
Relatively a new company, but a fast growing and a high-quality brand. Vanguard manufactures photo and video accessories including tripods, camera bags and equipment, but the focus of manufacture has been growing rapidly on sporting optics for many years.
The Endeavor series is featuring the HD 82A, an angled scope with nitrogen-filled fogproof / waterproof and a built-in sunshield. The multi-coated lens and the extra low dispersion glass provide the finest catchy colors and sharp resolutions – without skipping the fact that the close focus is 14 feet. The scope also has magnesium housing and rubber armoring that provides reliable protection from damage.
Pentax has been in the industry for nearly 100 years. The affordable price of its models does not raise eyebrows – the brand has managed to maintain high-standards in many of its products. The Pentax PF ED is a straight body spotting scope that delivers high resolution and decent view ranges with a highly protective body. The model’s 20-60x lens is confined with a special sunshade, and the magnified sights still maintain the clear resolution. The scope has a 1.25”-diameter eyepiece, which reduces the compacting of the light coming from the objective lens – giving you a larger sight with depth. Pentax scopes have both straight body and angled-view options; however, this is something that depends on the viewer’s preference. Many experienced outdoor enthusiasts believe that angled scopes deliver the best experience in long durations and heights.