Basically they are a type of telescope that is designed to view objects on Earth and not in space. Many times a spotting scope is used by birdwatchers to get a close-up view of birds in the distance. Spotting scopes are also used by people who are “plane spotters.” The magnification range varies but the range usually falls between astronomy telescopes and binoculars. You can purchase spotting scopes at many bird watching and optical stores along with accessories like camera mounts and tripods. A spotting scope is designed to have a wide field of view to make it easier to spot objects in visual field. In the outdoors they are designed to stand up to rugged use.
The magnification of a spotting scope is usually rated between twenty and sixty times magnification but it all depends on the type of product you purchase. One thing to note is that the higher the magnifications the more useful it will be in the field but you do not want a magnification that is so high that it can make the product hard to use. You also want to make sure that is not below twenty magnifications because if it is you might as well just purchase a regular pair of binoculars.
• To be a good spotting scope it should be extremely lightweight so it is easy to carry when working in the field.
• They should also be weather resistant so the optical tools can be used in inclement weather.
• You can also get such scopes that have the ability to interface with cameras so you can photograph the objects they are looking at. Being able to use a camera is very useful for bird watchers who want photographs of the birds they have seen.
• Some even have mounts for telescopes
Types of spotting scope optics
There are two basic types which are:
• Catadioptric scopes – this catadioptric scopes uses mirrors to reflect light to create the image. Although this type creates clearer images they are more fragile. This type of product is also more expensive
• Refractor scopes – the refractor scopes uses an optical glass to bend the light to allow you to see the images. It is a lightweight product and is less expensive.
There are many different design variations which can include:
• Hinged so it can be mounted to a tripod but at the same time allowing the viewing aperture to be moved for shorter or taller people.
• No flexibility which can be easier to use when you want to track something in your visual field.
• Focusing mechanisms
• Weather protection
These products are a great alternative to usual binoculars but not many people know how these great gadgets work. If you are planning on buying the best spotting scopes then I recommend that you first read a few spotting scope reviews so that the decision making is an informed one.