How To Buy A Spotting Scope
You may have been told that seeking out a spotting scope for birding, hunting, and other wildlife viewing and observing is your best bet if you truly want to maximize your outdoor experience. Spotting scopes are similar to both binoculars and telescopes, combining the convenient portability of the standard binoculars, with the longer-range viewing capabilities of the star-gazing telescope.
Spotting scopes can give you the high definition magnification capabilities required from longer distances, and so are the perfect optical device for your birding or hunting adventure. However, sometimes it can be quite overwhelming trying to find the best spotting scope, sifting through technical jargon and industry terms. That's why we have outlined the most important aspects of the spotting scope, definitions of specifications, and recommendations on what to look for.
Finding the best magnification in your prospective spotting scope relies on how large the objective lens is; i.e. the higher the magnification, the larger the objective lens should be for resolute image quality. The best magnification for birding/hunting endeavors should be between 20X and 40X. This range offers a good field of view, as well as necessary image brightness.
Objective Lens or Aperture:
As previously discussed, the objective lens or aperture is directly related to the size of the magnification. The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light and subsequent clarity your object will receive. Depending on where you will be using your spotting scope, you'll want to find a scope with an aperture of 50mm-80mm.
The exit pupil is very similar to, and works in conjunction with, the objective lens. It is the diameter of light visible through the eyepiece. If these specs are not available at the time, just divide the objective lens specs by the magnification, and this will give you the exit pupil dimension. Make sure your new spotting scope has an exit pupil that isn't below 1.33mm, otherwise the light visible will be so minimal that seeing anything in any conditions will be almost impossible.
Eyepieces help with your magnification depending on the type you prefer in any given situation. They come in two basic types: interchangeable fixed and single zoom or variable. The former is best applied for mountain and ocean panorama viewing, as the fixed will give you a wider field of view. The latter offers a varying magnification from low to high, which enables the viewer to both have a wider field of view but then also be able to focus in with higher magnification.
Field of View:
The field of view is basically the width of the area visible 1000 yards from the viewer. It is inversely proportional to the magnification: the larger the magnification, the narrower the field of view. A fixed eyepiece will give you a wider field of view, and the variable eyepiece will give you both wide field of view and more intense magnification. Depending on your outdoor hobby, you should probably opt for a wider field of view (fixed eyepiece) if your scoping is predominantly deals with panorama; and a combination field of view/magnification (single zoom or variable eyepiece) for surveying both panorama and object detail.
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