Spotting Scope – No one model or brand of spotting scope will provide the perfect viewing solution in every habitat, climate, terrain, weather, or light condition. So the most important consideration in selecting the best spotting scope is to first determine your primary needs and then consider how its optical characteristics will directly affect its flexibility for use in other applications. Before you can properly determine what type of spotting scope that you will need, familiarize yourself with the information provided in the Spotting Scope Terms and Prism Systems postings. Anti reflective coating, eyepieces, eye relief, exit pupil, field of view, focus systems, prism systems, magnification, objective lens, and twilight factor are all issues to take into consideration when selecting the perfect spotting scope.
A spotting scope is typically used for bird watching, nature studies, long range target shooting, beginning astronomy, and covert surveillance. A spotting scope will utilize magnifications that start where conventional binoculars leave off. A spotting scope differs from a telescope in that it always produces an upright image, provides a greater field of view, and utilizes a lower magnification due to the more unstable daytime atmospheric conditions. A spotting scope is much smaller in size for the sake of portability and can be mounted on an ordinary photo tripod. Depending on the type and design, the useful magnification will range from about 10X to 250X, using either fixed or zoom eyepieces.
Eyepiece placement is usually a personal preference with the straight-through design being preferred by most nature observers. This design makes it easy to sight an object and follow as it moves and is also convenient to use with a car window mount. A spotting scope with an offset forty-five or ninety degree placement is easier to use for viewing above the horizon (close-in observing at tree-top level or for celestial observation) and does not require a tall tripod (stability can be a factor here). Also, this configuration is convenient for sharing your observations with others.
Bird Watching: A straight design spotting scope is easier to use from elevated positions and is the best option for those users fond of bird watching from cars. Many types of window mounts are available in the market. Many bird watchers prefer a zoom eyepiece which allows the users to easily switch from lower to higher magnifications. A magnification of 20X is considered good for digital photography, while 60X is very useful for identifying birds.
Target Shooting: If you are considering purchasing a spotting scope to assist with target shooting – be prepared to invest in a premium-quality to ensure greatest accuracy. The quality of the eyepiece is a prime concern because if the eyepiece is of inferior quality, the target will almost always appear distorted or blurred. A target spotting scope should have an eye relief length that provides maximum relaxation to the eye. The prism system should also be made from premium quality glass and coatings. One very important factor to keep in mind while using a target spotting scope, is that the surrounding environmental conditions (e.g. dust, heat, humidity, and dirt) can greatly affect the quality of the performance of the spotting scope. Another consideration is a digital laser rangefinder which can quickly measure distances within 0.1 yard increments out to 1000 yards and calculates incline angle, line-of-sight, and projectile ballistics.