5 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Spotting Scope – ENKEEO

5 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Spotting Scope

ENKEEO Official

Posted on October 08 2019

Every spotting scope comes with a set of numbers, however, you probably don’t know how to select from those complicated ranges and indications. When choosing the right scope, there are some crucial factors that determine whether you can get a good view of the surrounding landscape. Today, ENKEEO will guide you to learn about everything about the optical instrument and make an informed decision. Let's start with the basics and then gain insight and discover how to upgrade your outdoor experience with a high magnification spotting scope.


What is a Spotting Scope?

A spotting scope is a telescope with added optics to present an erect image, especially designed to observe daytime terrestrial viewing (as opposed to astronomy viewing). Spotting scopes are in a variety of styles, similarly used for birdwatching, hunting and target shooting to verify a marksman's shot placements, as well as for land or sea viewing.



Source: Wikipedia


A spotting scope comes with massive amounts of magnification, often requires the use of tripods and stable platforms. For most situations, binoculars are useful enough to provide a long distance view for casual viewing and scanning on the move. If something goes further and you need to see it, spotting scopes are perfect tools. They tend to be heavier and bigger than binoculars, with a mounting for attaching to a tripod, usually have a ruggedized design with high magnification and better stability.


What Factors Should I Consider?

Take your time to consider the top 5 important factors when choosing a spotting scope. Magnification, objective lens, eyepieces, field of view (FOV) and the tripods that support the scope in the viewing process. We will discuss these things next by explaining what you should focus to help you choose the right scope from the maze of options you encounter.


factor of a Spotting Scope

Source: WolfBlur, Pixabay



The magnification of a spotting scope generally ranges from 20x to 60x or more. When the weather and light varies, the right magnifications for the object being observed allow you to get perfect visual experience in different environmental conditions. Below 20x, you might use your spotting scope like a conventional binocular. Use 30x-40x to get both the best field of view and image brightness for most observing. Very few locations, you can use 60x to good advantage during those clear, calm days, so most spotting scopes stop at 60x. When you're observing an object or an area, you can start with a low power eyepiece or the lowest setting on a zoom eyepiece, such as the range from 20x to 30x. Once you've located the point you want to examine closely you can switch to higher magnification. Don’t try to use an astronomy telescope to view bird, wildlife, scenery or other objects that are beyond the range of astronomy viewing. The magnification is usually too high(100x+), as well, they’re hard to identify right-side up birds and work with a too long focal length compared with a spotting scope.


Objective Lens

The light-gathering capacity and resolution of a spotting scope are both directly related to the diameter of the objective lens. According to the model, the value is typically between 50 and 80 mm (2.0 and 3.1 inches). The larger the objective lens, the more light and detail it can view, and the better image quality your scope will deliver. However, a large lens of poor quality, no matter how large, will never equal the performance of a smaller, quality lens. When deciding on the objective size for your spotting scope, it is better to choose a relatively large objective lens that you are willing to carry as well as providing with above-average quality.



The eyepiece is what determines the magnification of your spotting scope. It is usually interchangeable to give different magnifications, or consists of a single variable “zoom” eyepiece to give a range of magnifications. Most scopes offer 2 design options: a straight or an angled eyepiece. Angled eyepieces are at a 45 degree angle to the scope body, which require a little more spotting scope experience than straight ones. It is convenient to use for extended periods of time, especially while in a seated or lying down position. The straight eyepiece is usually on the same horizontal optical plane with the scope body. It is intuitive and comfortable to use for observers with different skill-levels since it is easier and faster to spot and track moving targets. You can choose angled scopes if you set your spotting scope to a certain height and don't want to raise or lower the tripod frequently. If quick target acquisition is key, straight eyepieces are better.


Field of View

The optical field of view (FOV) refers to the extent of the observable area that you can see when looking through a spotting scope. It is usually described in terms of linear field of view or angular field of view, expressed as the width in feet at 1000 yards or in degrees of field. The larger the number given to field of view, the larger the width of the area you will look through your optics. At the same time, field of view (FOV) is tightly related to magnification. Field of view decreases as the magnification increases. Think about whether you would like to view the fine detail of the area or the object being observed, or prefer to be capable of tracking the target object that moves quickly. Then you can know which optical instrument you prefer.



When you peer through a spotting scope, the higher magnifications offered by a scope gives you the excellent viewings. However, the high magnification strength can be simply limited due to hand shakiness or wind. So they are often used with tripods. Right tripods help reduce shakiness from your hands and provide a stable base for highly-focused visuals. If you own a straight one, choose an adjustable, taller tripod. If you own an angled one, a compact, shorter tripod is enough since you are sitting down to see into your spotting scope.

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