All the excitement of up-close observation is offered in our collection of spotting scopes for recreational and professional use. Straight or angled viewing options along with clear optics in most lighting situations will give you the depth of field needed for hiking, nature photography and experiencing wildlife from a distance. You can even view the night sky with many of our models. Enjoy a different view from your window seat through a high powered spotting scope, and play spy while using your high powered metal cased monocular. Give your child an up close view at the zoo and don't miss a sight on your vacation cruise with a compact monocular.
Understanding Scopes & Their Optics
When shopping for spotting scopes for your nature activities, wildlife watching, or birding, there are a number of criteria that can impact your decision. Spotting scopes are often chosen over binoculars for hard to spot birds, waterfowl, and for digiscoping, or securing a digital camera to a scope to allow close-up photography of distant birds. A good quality spotting scope can enhance your birding experience, offer interesting photography experiences, and allow you to catch a glimpse of rarely seen birds. Optics are similar in both spotting scopes and binoculars, but quality optics can ensure that you will enjoy your spotting scope and choose the one right for your personal needs.
Considerations like how and where you plan to use your spotting scope, the climatological situation, and what you are hoping to spot come into play. Birding, in particular, offers several challenges in regards to scopes. First, the scope must function in a variety of weather conditions. Then, it must allow identification and clear views over long distances, and allow them very rapidly. Thus, birders, in particular, require especially high quality binoculars and spotting scopes. The primary determining factor of quality in spotting scopes is the optics used. In spotting scopes and binoculars, quality and cost are decidedly related; however, excellent high quality optics can be found in mid-range scopes.
There are two primary types of optics used in spotting scopes and binoculars. Both focus by adjusting the space between the mirrors or prisms and the eyepiece. The first is the Porro prism. The Porro prism is an older design and consists of two mirrors or prisms mounted separately within the scope. Today, Porro prism spotting scopes and binoculars are larger, but also offer good quality optics at a lower price. Porro prism optic devices are often somewhat more delicate and less weather resistant. The roof prism design is made up of two prisms or mirrors cemented together. Roof prism optics create slimmer, more streamlined binoculars and spotting scopes. Typically, internal focusing allows for less potential for weather related problems, as well as a more durable end product. Roof prism spotting scopes and binoculars are, however, typically more expensive for the same quality optics.
In spotting scopes, a larger objective lens will improve the visual quality, particularly with lower end scopes. The additional light can help to provide clarity needed with poorer quality optics. Most birders use a 20x to 40x magnifier eyepiece on their scopes. Spotting scopes come in three types. The majority of birding scopes are refractive, meaning they use curved glass lenses to focus the image. Single knob focusing is the most common, but some scopes do use a double knob or a helical focusing mechanism on the spotting scope. The final preference issue when choosing a spotting scope is whether you prefer an angled or straight scope. Angled scopes are easier to share, may make seeing birds at high elevations easier, and allow for use of a lower tripod. Straight scopes are easier to aim and may cause less neck strain. Each of these issues, along with which type of optics you prefer, is a relevant consideration when investing in a spotting scope.
A spotting scope can be a substantial investment. One of the primary determining factors in both the cost and quality of a spotting scope is the optics. Higher optic quality will provide you with better images, but you will, without a doubt, pay for the optical quality you need. Other considerations include the objective lens, magnifier, type of scope, as well as durability and focusing. Fortunately, scopes are available in a wide variety of styles and price ranges, allowing you to find the one best suited to your birding needs.