Things to Think About Before Purchasing a Spotting Scope
When looking for the best spotting scope, there are a few different factors that you'll want to keep in mind. Here are a few of the most important things to think about before making your purchase:
The biggest models, with 80 to 85mm objective lenses, often weigh between three and four pounds and sometimes include their own carrying cases. They do not come with tripods, such as the Spartan Precision Ascent, which is a necessary addition to support the large optics and provide a viewing platform that is vibration-free.
Given that the cost of a new spotting scope can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, it's critical to understand what you get—and don't get—at each price point. Because everyone has a different spending limit, you should think about which of the top spotting scopes best suits your requirements and budget.
Do you desire a spotter that you can stow along in your bag for the final backcountry hunting miles? Are you interested in having a spotter watch distant skies or birds from your patio deck? Even better would be to use a pocket-sized spotter instead of a pair of small binoculars or a monocular.
Some spotting scopes come with a carrying bag, a tripod plate, a dust-resistant neoprene cover, and typically some kind of guarantee. Some, however, omit these components. And if you're looking to obtain the most value for your money, you might want to think about whether investing a lot of money in a choice necessitates purchasing these essential features. Spotting scopes have large, delicate, and pricey lenses, and the best models come with strong lifetime guarantees to safeguard your investment in the event that something goes wrong. In the long run, you might save money by purchasing a spotting scope that is more expensive but has a lifetime warranty.
Best Spotting Scopes: Our List
When it comes to finding the best spotting scopes on the market, there are a few things you need to take into account. Objective size, price, and value are all important factors to consider when making your purchase.
That's why we've put together a list of the top 10 spotting scopes available today, based on these three factors. So whether you're looking for a large scope that will give you a clear view of distant objects or a pocket-sized model for easy transportation, we've got you covered.
Top Waterproof Choice: ED50 Nikon Fieldscope
It should come as no surprise that the camera and optical company Nikon makes spotting scopes with camera attachment points so users can practice the skill of digiscoping.
Nikon does indeed have its own digital camera system. There are several options in this area, but the Nikon Fieldscope ED50 is both reasonably portable and lightweight with a 50mm objective lens (to which a 55mm filter can be fitted if necessary).
- Portable waterproof scope.
- 50mm objective lens.
- Reasonably priced.
- No tripod included.
- More compact objective lens.
Overall, the Nikon ED50 is a great waterproof scope that is perfect for those who are looking for a portable option. It's reasonably priced and offers a clear view, making it a great choice for anyone in the market for a new scope.
Expert's Choice: Celestron Ultima 22-66100
A soft carry case, objective and eyepiece covers, an off-set balancing rail, an eyepiece case, an eyepiece pouch, a cleaning cloth, and a limited lifetime guarantee are all included with the purchase of this spotting scope. You have to be prepared to start viewing as soon as it arrives with all of these extras.
Multi-coated lenses are used in this refractor spotting scope to create better images. It has an extra-large 100mm objective lens, which enables clear, brilliant photographs even in dim lighting. Using the sizable focus dial, which is smooth and simple to move, you can quickly produce photographs that are crystal clear. You can also rely on great eye relief and comfort with the soft eyepiece.
The Celestron Ultima 22-60100 is not ideal for everyone, like most equipment. It is a little heavier than other top choices on our list and might offer fewer crisp images at the highest magnification. Don't let these minor drawbacks deter you; it can still compete with other high-end scopes. The carrying case might not be as sturdy as expected.
- Superior picture quality.
- A focus-friendly dial.
- A comfy eyepiece.
- Long-lasting armoured exterior.
- Variety of accessories included.
- A little heavier than the alternatives.
- Sharpness may be reduced at higher magnifications.
- The carrying case may not be as sturdy as advertised.
Beginner's Pick: Svbony SV28 25-75x70
The eyepiece of this spotting scope is tilted for comfortable viewing. A BAK4 Porro prism is used in combination with completely multi-coated optics to increase overall brightness and clarity. It creates a field of view of 1000 yards, and the zoom lens allows for exceptionally high magnifications. It has a somewhat higher zoom range than most other scopes, at 75x.
With this spotting scope, you can focus the lens quickly thanks to an easy-to-use dial. Additionally, it has a built-in, retractable sunshade for decreasing glare when there is the most light. Due to the nitrogen fill and O ring seal, it is also safe for outdoor usage in rainy conditions. It is fog-proof and weatherproof thanks to the combination of these qualities.
The Svbony SV28 25-7570 spotting scope is packaged with a number of useful extras. Included are a travel case, a phone adaptor, a cleaning cloth, and a table tripod with a handle for simple adjustment. It's shockproof even without the shoulder bag.
- Excellent for new users.
- Included are a carry case and a cleaning cloth.
- A digiscoping phone adapter.
- An extendible sunshade.
- Weatherproof and fogproof.
- Includes a flimsier tripod.
- The lens caps can be a little challenging.
- Optics of slightly inferior grade could be used.
Even while the optics on this spotting scope may be of slightly poorer quality, especially at a distance, it is still a great option for beginners. Additionally, the accompanying tripod may be a little flimsier than anticipated, and it has been reported that it takes some effort to swiftly remove the lens caps.
Clearest View: Zeiss Victory Harpia 95 23-7095
Even in low light, the glassing of Zeiss Victory Harpia 95 23-7095 is enjoyable due to the magnificent image provided by the 23-70 power eyepiece and the 95mm objective lens's plenty of light. With only one rotation of the focus knob, you can switch the focus between close-up and distant targets. You may then feather the focus for accuracy. The fact that this weighs 4.5 pounds makes it difficult to pack, making it a better option for a base camp or back deck optic. Furthermore, most of us are unwilling to expose the Harpia to the humiliations and dings of the field because it costs almost $4,000. It's a shame because it's sturdy and balanced for practically any tripod work.
The final spotting scope you'll ever own, this expensive, luxurious, magnum-sized optic parses details better than any other spotter in its class.
- Superior fluorite glass.
- Quick, accurate focusing.
- Unexpectedly large field of view.
- 95mm objective that savors light.
- Skyrocketing cost.
- No indexing for magnification on the eyepiece.
The Harpia 85 is the smaller sister of the Harpia 95 and is only marginally cheaper while being a little more portable. But this range of Zeiss spotters merits considerable expenditure for hunters who aim to own the finest optics on the planet.
Perfect Value Pack: Vortex Diamondback HD 20-6085
Spotting scopes in their full size can cost well over $2,000 each. This Vortex provides a sufficient image in a robust, adaptable design for a fraction of that cost. For a hunter who needs a versatile spotting scope without spending a month's salary, this spotter is a great option. The objective lens has respectable high-definition glass, but experienced hunters may be dissatisfied with the clarity and brightness of the image.
The tripod system's body and rotating tripod ring allow for unlimited adjustment, and it is compatible with a wide range of mounting choices thanks to its Arca-Swiss compatibility.
- 20–60x magnification.
- 85mm objective lens.
- Support for Arca-Swiss mounts.
- Low pricing point for entry.
- Neoprene cover that fits snugly on ships.
- An extendible sunshade.
- Lifetime guarantee that is fully transferable.
- At high magnifications, the image becomes dark.
- Unimpressive visuals.
For many well-lit situations, the Diamondback HD spotter is an accessible, incredibly useable optic. In low light, its optical flaws are noticeable, but that is to be expected at this low cost. However, if it malfunctions, you won't have to worry thanks to Vortex's best-in-class warranty.
Exceptional Magnification: Zeiss Conquest Gavia 85
Choosing a Zeiss scope for wildlife and nature photography has to be a smart move because any photographer will recognize the name Zeiss as being the bee's knees for optical quality. Zeiss optics are obviously expensive, but the Zeiss Conquest Gavia 85 is adaptable thanks to a quick focus mechanism and a tight near-focus option, making it allegedly easier than ever to see smaller objects or wildlife.
Of course, one major benefit is immediately apparent from the product name: a massive 85mm objective lens, ideal for low-light observation. You definitely have something when you combine this with a zoom-magnification range of up to 60x and a fog-proof, nitrogen-filled design.
- 85mm objective lens.
- Quick focus mechanism.
- Tight near-focus option.
- Fog-proof, nitrogen-filled design.
- Might be too large and heavy for some users.
The massive objective lens on the Zeiss Conquest Gavia 85 is its defining feature, allowing it to excel in low light.
Luxury Angled Spotting Scope: Celestron 52305 Regal M2 80ED 20-6080
Celestron 52305 Regal M2 is an unmatched representative of the angled spotting scopes. The angled zoom eyepiece on this spotting scope will accommodate your needs whether you're going to be watching birds, shooting targets, or just taking in the surroundings. It has an extra-low dispersion glass objective lens, which enhances contrast, resolution, and colour integrity while reducing chromatic aberration. Additionally, it produces brighter images with excellent clarity thanks to its larger size and exclusive XLT lens coatings.
With this spotting scope, a movable sunshade and a sightline aid in finding objects more quickly. For quick adjustments and simple fine-tuning, it also has a dual-speed focus dial, which is great for bird watchers. Additionally, it has a standard sized eyepiece mount that makes it compatible with a wide range of other astronomy tools and makes it waterproof, making it safe to use in wet environments.
- Convenient and adaptable design.
- The quick dual focus mechanism.
- Body made of a strong magnesium alloy.
- Objective lens made of ED glass.
- Exclusive XLT lens coatings.
- It may have a more challenging front lens cover.
- Designed to be a little heavier.
- The carrying case's zippers can deteriorate rapidly.
The Celestron 52305 Regal M2 80ED 20-6080 spotting scope is designed to last as long as possible thanks to a sturdy magnesium alloy body. A T adapter ring for connecting a DSLR camera is also included, as well as a soft carry case for additional protection.
Greatly Resilient Option: Leupold SX-5 Santiam HD 27-55-80
The flagship spotting scope from Leupold produces high-quality images at nearly every angle. The ideal range for spotting scope magnification and a sufficiently bright image is between 27 and 55x. This spotter weighs almost 4.3 pounds and feels like a tank, making it a better base-camp scope than a walk-around optic.
This robust one-piece construction prevents users from switching the variable-power eyepiece for a different zoom setting or a fixed-power substitute while keeping dust out of the internal components. The mid-barrel focus and grippy rubber allow users to make precise adjustments even when wearing gloves.
The Santiam is a large, sturdy, full-sized spotter that feels a little hefty for a walk-about optic but will serve you well as a base camp, shooting range, or pickup scope for years to come.
- Highly tactile controls.
- Transferable lifetime warranty.
- Tough protective gear.
- The eyepiece is fixed.
Top Astrophotography Find: Ultima 100 from Celestron
Ultima 100 from Celestron is one of the largest and bulkiest scopes on our list, weighing 2 kg, so it wouldn't be ideal for, for example, action photography. However, it's a terrific option for activities that require greater stillness, like astronomy and distant animal watching.
The 100mm Ultima, the largest aperture scope in the Ultima family, provides images that are more than 50% brighter than those of the 80mm version, making it a better choice for photography in low light. The 100mm refractor comes with with a tilted, 22-66x zoom eyepiece and offers outstanding multi-coated optics in a portable and sturdy refractor form. It also has a 45° viewing angle. Also included is a soft carrying case.
- Broad aperture.
- Bent eyepiece.
- Good value.
- Heavier than similar models.
Great Compact Straight Spotting Scope: Maven CS.1A 15-45-65
This tiny, 11.4-inch-long, 65mm spotter functions like an 80mm optic. Outdoor Life has updated Maven's original straight-barrel compact spotter with the CS.1A.This spotter has exceptional glass, and the focus and magnification rings move with the same smooth precision as its predecessor. An endless number of glassing settings are possible with the angled eyepiece and mid-barrel rotating ring, while the orange collar provides a pleasing contrast to the dark graphite armour.
For this size spotter, a magnification range of 15–45x is ideal. The device produces an extremely wide and bright image at 15x, and at 45x, the image darkens but is not degraded. The remainder of the features seem to be almost perfect, and its size and performance make it an important piece of equipment for virtually any type of hunt. My only requests are for a better tripod mount and a retractable sunshade.
- Packable with ease.
- A flexible range of magnification.
- Textured armour that is easy to grip, even with gloves on.
- Tripod feet need their own mounting plates.
Ultimate Set: GoSky 20-60x80
To provide you with excellent image quality, this angled spotting scope is constructed with a multi-coated objective lens and BAK 4 prism optics. You can expect exceptional, color-true photographs even in low light because of the big objective lens, which lets in a lot of light. All of this is made possible with the aid of a focus adjustment knob.
This spotting scope has an adjustable eyecup that creates eye relief for persons wearing and not wearing glasses for the convenience of the user. It is great for bird watching and other uses because it also contains an adjustable elevation knob for a more personalised viewing experience and a sight bead for quicker target acquisition.
Also, the GoSky 20- 60-80 spotting scope is waterproof, so feel free to use it in wet conditions. Along with the actual scope, you also get a phone adapter, a carrying case, and a tripod to stabilize images during more stationary activities.
- Large-aperture lenses.
- Effective in dim lighting.
- Waterproof construction.
- Availability of eye relief.
- A great value choice.
- Its eyepiece is a little bit smaller.
- It might not be the best option for seasoned users.
- A phone adaptor of lesser quality.
Portable Monocular-Style Champion: Hummingbird 9-27x56 ED by Celestron
The Celestron Hummingbird 9-27x56 ED spotting scope is compact and portable, with a very manageable weight of 590g, just like the Hummingbird from which it gets its name. This makes it the perfect item to bring along on trips. It may be stowed in carry-on luggage and will fit into a roomy jacket pocket, a rucksack, or a shoulder bag.
It can also serve as a substitute for a monocular at its lowest 9x magnification level, giving you, in essence, two goods in one, albeit the tilted viewfinder might not be optimal for handheld spotting. This gadget has further adaptability in that it may be mounted on a tripod, a monopod, or a window and it is waterproof and nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging. In conclusion, this 'bird is tough to beat if you're searching for a more portable option to a full-sized spotting scope. Additionally, it can be used with a camera if you enjoy digiscoping.
- Suitable for travel.
- Not fogged.
- Can be attached to a tripod or monopod.
- It may also be used as a monocular.
- A narrower range of magnification.
- More compact objective lens.
Hot Crossover Choice: Tract Toric UHD 27-55-80
Tract Toric UHD 27-55-80 is a strong, adaptable machine. Silky precision is used in the movement of the focus, magnification ring, and retractable sunshade. Additionally, the 27-55 power zoom range covers the majority of hunting situations, and the 80mm extra-low dispersion glass objective lens provides enough of light. The fixed 22-power lens with a milling PRS reticle, which enables users to make exact calls when spotting for a long-distance shooter, will be appreciated by precision rifle shooters.
- Comes with a neoprene jacket that resists dust.
- Smooth controls.
- A 22-power eyepiece with an interchangeable MRAD PRS reticle is offered.
- A tripod mounting shoe that is balanced.
- A removable eyepiece may let grit and dust into the body.
Tight Budget Pick: Sentry 18-36x50 by Bushnell
This stylish spotting scope option has a straight eyepiece and is reasonably priced. Despite its low cost, the Bushnell Sentry 18-36x50 is remarkably waterproof. It has excellent O-ring sealed optics, which ensure that even when the Bushnell is submerged in water, the internal workings remain completely dry.
Regarding optical performance, several coatings work to prevent reflections and offer bright, high-contrast images on all 'air to glass' surfaces. A comfortable 16mm eye relief and twist-up eyecups are further features of the Porro prism system. This spotting scope weighs 877g, which is still manageable and portable despite its moisture-sealed construction.
- Decent value.
- Completely waterproof.
- High-quality optics.
- 16mm eye relief.
- Twist-up eyecups.
- A straight eyepiece might not be to everyone's liking.
- On the heavier side.
Birding Ultimate: Praktica 20-60x77
The Praktica 20-6077 is the greatest spotting scope for birdwatching, in our opinion. Given that birds often don't stay in one spot for very long, its wide objective lens and quick focus feature are particularly useful.
This spotting scope has multi-coated lenses and a angled design. Because of its bigger objective lens, which lets in more light than comparable spotting scopes, you may anticipate brighter photos with superior clarity. Additionally, the focus dial is slick and simple to use on the fly. Simply aim, concentrate, and have fun.
Because nitrogen was expelled during manufacture and an O-ring was used to seal the device, this spotting scope is also waterproof and fog-proof. Even though it has a somewhat bigger overall size, this scope is also lightweight by design for portability. Because of its superior structure, it is nevertheless tough and resilient.
- Durable and lightweight construction.
- The fast focus dial is fantastic for watching birds.
- A wide-angle lens for low-light situations.
- Fogproof and waterproof.
- Optics with a full multi-coating for sharp photos.
- At the highest magnification setting, it might be less sharp.
- It might not be suitable for experienced users.
- Its design is somewhat thicker.
For advanced users, the Praktica 20-6077 might not be the greatest option because the sharpness may suffer even at the highest magnification setting. We advise obtaining a tripod so you can use it more conveniently because it is also a little bit heavier in design.
Tactical Option Winner: Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS2 8-4060
The straight-style Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS2 8-4060 is constructed like a tank, with double-tough protection and Picatinny rail connection points, so you can supplement the optic with extras like thermals or lights. The LMSS2 may also be mounted on a standard tripod or rails thanks to rails. The ED glass performs admirably, but the Horus reticle within and the tactical bling outside are what really catch the eye.
- The reticle is identical to that of a precision riflescope.
- The throw lever quickly changes the magnification.
- Slim construction fits into backpack sleeve with ease.
- Makes use of the best coatings and glass from Bushnell.
- Too heavy for a 60mm walk-around spotter.
Best Spotting Scopes: Our Verdict
After researching and testing the best spotting scopes on the market, we came up with a list of the most convenient models available.
Waterproof and handy: The Bushnell Sentry 18-36x50 is a good option for those looking for an affordable and waterproof spotting scope. It has excellent optics, with coatings that prevent reflections and offer bright, high-contrast images on all 'air to glass' surfaces. It also has a comfortable 16mm eye relief and twist-up eyecups. However, it might not be suitable for experienced users because the sharpness may suffer even at the highest magnification setting.
Top Birding Choice: Praktica 20-60x77. Given that birds often don't stay in one spot for very long, its wide objective lens and quick focus feature are particularly useful. This spotting scope also has multi-coated lenses and an angled design. Because of its bigger objective lens, which lets in more light than comparable spotting scopes, you may anticipate brighter photos with superior clarity. Additionally, the focus dial is slick and simple to use on the fly. Simply aim, concentrate, and have fun.
Best tactical option: The straight-style Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS2 8-4060 is constructed like a tank, with double-tough protection and Picatinny rail connection points, so you can supplement the optic with extras like thermals or lights. The LMSS2 may also be mounted on a standard tripod or rails thanks to rails. The ED glass performs admirably, but the Horus reticle within and the tactical bling outside are what really catch the eye.
If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Bushnell Sentry 18-36x50 is a good choice. It has excellent optics and is waterproof. However, it's not suitable for experienced users as the sharpness may suffer at high magnifications.
Our top pick for the best spotting scope is the Praktica 20-60x77. It's a great option for birding because of its wide objective lens and quick focus feature. The angled design also makes it easier to use for extended periods of time. However, it's important to note that the sharpness may suffer at the highest magnification setting.
We hope that this article is helpful in finding the high quality spotting scope to fit your needs!