A spotting scope could be described as a combination between a telescope and binoculars. It is nearly as powerful as a telescope and almost as small as a set of binoculars.
Spotting scopes can be used for everything from bird watching to hunting and surveillance. Each spotting scope might have slightly different features – each intended to meet a specific need or requirement. Everything from the size of the length and strength of the magnification to the angle of the eyepiece should be taken into consideration when you are looking for the scope that is perfect for you.
In this article, we will give you some information on what to consider when looking at purchasing a spotting scope. At the end, we will give you a summary of the precision-crafted Vortex spotting scopes.
What to Look for in a Spotting Scope
What do the numbers on a spotting scope mean?
Each spotting scope has a specific set of numbers attached, like 20-60X80. The first part of the number (in this case, 20-60) indicates the magnification range. These numbers could indicate a range (like 20-60) for single zoom eyepieces or single numbers (like 20) for fixed-length eyepieces. The second part of the set of numbers (80) refers to the size of the objective lens, measured along the diameter in millimeters. This is the front lens that faces away from you and towards your target. In this case, the objective lens size is 80mm.
Angled vs. Straight Scopes
The difference between an angled and straight scope is relatively straight forward. Straight scopes have the lens and eyepiece in one straight line. On an angled scope, the eyepiece end curves up at an angle. Angled scopes generally make for more comfortable viewing, especially when you are sitting or laying down. It is also helpful when you need to look slightly up or down. Using an angled eyepiece scope in these positions places less strain on your neck.
Most spotting scopes have large lenses that allow in a lot of light, creating clear images. The thing that differs the glassing that you get from one scope to the next is the strength of its magnification – and the differences can be significant. The strength of magnification dictates how well you can see targets that are far away. Magnification on spotting scopes can range between 10X and 60X. The number represents how many times closer to you the object that you are viewing will appear when using your scope at that setting. Thus 10X means the object will appear 10 times closer.
The benefits that you lose with increased magnification are balanced out with a loss of field of view. As the magnification of a spotting scope increases, the field of view decreases. Although more powerful magnification means that you can see targets further off. It also means that the scope is much more sensitive to even the slightest movement. This could make viewing difficult unless you have a tripod to keep your scope steady. More magnifying power also means that your scope is more likely to pick up haze and heat distortion over long distances or bodies of water.
There are two different options to adjust the magnifying power of your spotting scope. You could have fixed-length eyepieces that are interchangeable and need to be swapped out each time you want to change the magnification of your scope. Or you could opt for a single zoom eyepiece. Single zoom eyepieces work well to quickly and easily adjust the magnification of your scope without fiddling too much and needing to change out pieces. They don’t, however, gather light as efficiently as fixed lenses.
The size of the lens controls the amount of light that comes in. The larger the lens, the more light will be drawn into your view. Having said that, a lens that is too big could wash out your image. On the other hand, a lens that is too small will not bring in enough light. Larger lenses also increase the field of view on any given magnification setting.
Most spotting scopes have lenses between 50 and 80 millimeters. Larger lenses add both bulk and weight to your spotting scope.
The eye relief on a scope is the distance between the eyepiece lens of the scope and where your eye rests, usually given in millimeters. The focal point of scopes with longer eye reliefs sits further back, creating more space between the focal point (where you want your eye to be when viewing) and the lens. This is important to consider if you wear glasses or use goggles for viewing as you will need more space in this area.
Best Scopes for Target Shooting and Hunting
A straight spotting scope gives you a straight line of sight to your target. That makes tracking moving targets while hunting easier than angled spotting scopes.
You will also need a decent magnification on your spotting scope if you plan on using it for hunting. This allows you to get a good view of your target without getting too close. Keep in mind that larger magnification means that the scope will be more sensitive to movement. Too much magnification would make it more challenging to track a moving target through your spotting scope.
Single zoom eyepieces are convenient for hunting and can assist you in initially spotting the animal while having your scope on a lower magnification setting. It helps you find your target through the scope – with a larger field of view. Once you have located your target, you can then easily zoom in to see whether it has trophy quality features.
When considering the lens for a spotting scope to use for hunting, keep in mind that the larger the lens, the more light it will draw in. That could make tracking and hunting animals across a plain difficult. For this purpose, spotting scopes with a lens size of around 80 millimeters or smaller are better.
Vortex is an American optics company that produces some of the finest spotting scopes, rifle scopes, binoculars, and monoculars. They have also demonstrated precision craftsmanship in their range of red dots, rangefinders, and tripods. They also offer carry cases and reticle eyepieces to complete your spotting scope kit. Their HD lens elements consist of extra-low dispersion glass that offers excellent resolution and color fidelity that results in high-definition images.
Besides producing fine quality products, they offer an excellent VIP (as in Very Important Promise) warranty. Their products come with a lifetime warranty that offers repair or replacement of any Vortex product free of charge – unless it gets lost or stolen or damaged on purpose.
Vortex has three ranges of spotting scopes: Razor HD, Viper HD, and Diamondback HD. Each range gives you similar scope options in both straight or angled configurations.
Vortex Razor HD spotting scope models include:·
- Gives a linear field of view of 191 to 96 feet at 1000 yards.
- Gives an angular field of view of 3.6-1.8 degrees.
- Close focus of 6.6 feet .
- Gives a linear field of view of 138 to 84 feet at 1000 yards.
- Gives an angular field of view of 2.7-1.6 degrees.
- Close focus of 26.2 feet.
- Gives a linear field of view of 117 to 68 feet at 1000 yards.
- Gives an angular field of view of 2.2-1.3 degrees.
- Close focus of 16.4 feet.
All Viper HD models have an eye relief of 17.8 to 19.6 mm.
Vortex Diamondback HD spotting scope models include:
- Gives a linear field of view of 108 to 60 feet at 1000 yards.
- Gives an angular field of view of 2.1 to 1.1 degrees.
- Close focus of 24.6 feet.
- Gives a linear field of view of 138 to 72 feet at 1000 yards.
- Gives an angular field of view of 2.6 to 1.4 degrees.
- Close focus of 16.4 feet.
All Diamondback HD models have an eye relief of 20.3 to 18.3 mm.
There are many things to consider when you are looking at purchasing a spotting scope. Everything from the magnification to the lens and the eye relief will affect how well that specific scope meets your needs. Vortex is a reputable company that is willing to stand by its goods. Although spotting scopes have become more affordable in recent years, purchasing a quality product from a company with a reputation like theirs goes a long way to securing peace of mind along with your top-quality spotting scope.