The Best Spotting Scope Reviews Website

Reviews of the Best Field Spotting Scopes

I first became interested in optics whilst working as a safari guide in South Africa, where I would use binoculars every single day just as part of my job and so in my quest to get a closer and better view of birds and wildlife, spotting scopes were a natural progression. The idea for the Best Spotting Scope Reviews website came whilst I was looking for a new field scope for myself and I became frustrated at not only the lack of information on scopes on the web, but also the lack of unbiased reviews.

Thus the aim of this site is to help by providing unbiased and useful information on spotting scopes, unbiased reviews on selected scopes and brands as well as guides to buying scopes for different uses.

What's New - July 2014

New: Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO Spotting Scope Announced

Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO (20-60x80mm) Spotting ScopeSnypex LLC have recently announced the release of a high end spotting scope, the Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO Spotting Scope, that comes with a large 80mm objective lens and an included 20-60x zoom eyepiece.

The APO lens design incorporates an Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) fluorite glass element that all but eliminates chromatic aberration and thus color fringing to produce an image that is true to life with incredible clarity and color accuracy.

 

Buyers Guide: Highest Customer Rated Spotting Scopes

Vortex Razor HD 85 Spotting ScopeEagle Optics, a trusted and specialist optical retailer enable their customers to rate and review the scopes that they have purchased.

I have gone through all of them and grouped the very best together along with their main stats and features which means that you can quickly find the customer favorites and the highest rated scopes on their site. Which I thinks makes for a great way to get started on your shortlist.

 

Best Wildlife & Stargazing Spotting Scopes Under $550 / £500

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80 Spotting ScopeIn this article I discuss the considerations to take into account if you wish to get and use a spotting scope for astronomy. I also remind you to keep in mind that whilst a spotting scope is essentially a refractor telescope they are specifically designed for terrestrial uses and as such they may not be the right choice should most of your observations be towards the heavens at night.

I also take a look and offer my recommendations for some of the best wildlife and astro spotting scopes with a maximum budget of $550 / £500.

 

Birdwatching ScopesBirding Scopes:

Whilst you can enjoy birds without a scope or you may even use a pair of binoculars, but if you have never looked at a bird through a pair of spotting scopes, you are in for a treat as the level of detail is simply incredible! But which pair is right for you, I review some of the best, cheapest, lightest, smallest, strongest birding scopes on the market and what features to look out for when choosing your equipment >> Choosing Birding & Birdwatching Scopes.

 

Quality not quantity

It would be impossible for me to review every scope on the market and sometimes I feel that you can be baffled with too many options. Best Spotting Scope Reviews aims to focus on reviews of the best scopes not the most reviews.

When choosing which spotting scope to review I usually try and select a quality pair of optics, so most of the scopes on this site are some of the best in their field. If I do review a scope and I think it is rubbish, I will say so, or more likely if certain features fall short of the mark they will highlighted, which will hopefully help you to make more of an informed choice.

 

Recent Scope Reviews July 2014

Below are the most recent full and in-depth reviews that I have written:

 
Hawke Endurance ED 20-60x85 Spotting Scope

Hawke Endurance ED 20-60x85 Spotting Scope

With an included 20-60x zoom eyepiece, large 85mm objective lens with Extra Low Dispersion Glass elements, fully multi-coated optics, phase corrected BaK-4 prisms with highly reflective dielectric coatings all wrapped up in a lightweight, waterproof magnesium body it is no surprise that this Hawke Spotting Scope produces a very bright and stunning quality image.

What is really surprising to me however is the relatively low price tag especially when you consider just how much scope you are getting for your money.

 
Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope

Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope

The Endeavor HD is Vanguard's top of the range spotting scope which combines many high end features and components that includes a 100% waterproof and fog proof body made from a tough yet lightweight magnesium alloy. This body protects high end optical components, including fully multi-coated optics, ED glass elements in the lens and phase corrected BaK-4 roof prisms.

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscount Scopes: There is currently a $50 Rebate on all Vanguard Endeavor Spotting Scopes available from selected retailers in the US - click here to find out more about this offer, or
>> Check Prices
 
Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting Scope

Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting Scope

The budget friendly 80mm 20-60x Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting Scope features a lightweight magnesium body that is both water and fogproof. Good quality optical components and coatings are also used including Bak-4 glass prisms and Fully multi-coated lenses.

This scope kit also includes a pre-cut, foam-packed hard case for the ultimate scope protection and transport, a soft carry case and you also get a good quality, compact table top tripod with an adjustable pan head.

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscount Scopes: The Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting Scope is available at a reduced price on Amazon.com and Binoculars.com in the USA and Amazon.co.uk in the UK
>> Check Prices
 
Kowa Telephoto Lens Scope

Kowa Telephoto Lens Scope

Two products in one! Use the Kowa Telephoto Lens/Scope as a high quality telephoto camera lens & as a dedicated spotting scope.

The Kowa TP556 Telephoto Master Lens can be attached to a camera using one of three adapter mounts for 350mm, 500mm or 850mm super telephoto shooting, or use the Prism Adapter to use the lens as a straight spotting scope.

 
Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope

Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope

The highest quality optical elements and coatings enclosed in a very light, compact and waterproof body that produces an extremely good image to make this scope one of the very best.

Aimed at serious birders, general wildlife observation, target spotting even occasional astonomy, the Kowa TSN-883 is ideal for anyone who wants the the highest quality scope without any compromises.

 

Benro Travel Angel 2 Tripod ReviewBenro Travel Angel 2 Tripod Review

Whilst looking for a new camera and spotting scope tripod to take travelling with me as well as on long hikes, I recently got the chance to test out the new Benro A1682TB0 Travel Angel 2 Tripod Kit.

The new Benro Travel Angel 2 tripods are light as well as compact and come in six different variations made from both aluminium and eight-layer carbon fibre. All have legs which can be independently locked in two positions, one of which can be converted into a monopod. Once transformed, an additional attachment is also supplied to turn the monopod into a walking stick - complete with integral compass.

 

Lowepro Scope Porter 200 AW Backpack ReviewLowepro Scope Porter 200 AW Backpack Review

The innovative Lowepro Scope Porter 200 AW backpack gives both bird and general wildlife watchers a protective and supportive way to carry a spotting scope and tripod in the field and keeps your hands free at the same time.

I take a full and detailed look at this backpack from Lowepro that has been specifically designed to carry and protect your spotting scope:

 

Swarovski ATX / STX Modular Spotting Scopes

Swarovski ATX / STX spotting scopesSwarovski Optik have just announced their new modular ATX/STX spotting scopes, available through specialist Swarovski Optik dealers from September 2012.

Swarovski use an interchangeable modular ocular and objective system. With two eyepiece modules, angled (ATX) or straight (STX) and three objective modules that come with objective lens diameters of 65, 85 and 95 mm, it effectively means that in total there are six different spotting scopes to suit most peoples digiscoping and spotting scope requirements.

 

Question Answered: Vanguard Endeavour HD 82A vs Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scopes

This article is in response to a question that I received from a BSSR reader who is looking to get a spotting scope to mainly use for wildlife observation as well as for digiscoping.

They have narrowed their shortlist down to two, the Vanguard Endeavour HD 82A or the Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scope, but can't choose between them.

 

Nikon Fieldscopes

Many people wonder as to what the difference is between fieldscopes and spotting scopes. Nikon are partly to blame for this confusion as the seem to name their cheaper ranges of scope "spotting scopes" and the more expensive ones "field scopes" but essentially they are the same thing: A small portable telescope specifically designed to look at objects on earth as apposed to the solar system. What ever you want to call them, Nikon using much of their camera technology make some of the best available and are an especially good choice if you plan on getting into digiscoping. >> View all Nikon Spotting Scopes.


Nikon EDG Fieldscope 85-A
Nikon EDG 85-A FieldscopeLarge 85mm objective lens, extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and waterproof: Perfect Wildlife and Birding Scopes.

Nikon Fieldscope ED82
Nikon Fieldscope ED82 Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass for chromatic aberration compensation and brighter, clearer viewing

 

DigiscopingBest Scopes for Digiscoping

Combining your digital camera with a spotting scope (digiscoping) can offer you a cheaper way of getting a super telephoto lens, but because of the vast choice of digital cameras and scopes the decision on what equipment to get can seem daunting. I take a look at some of the best digiscoping setups.

>> Best Digiscoping Scopes


 

Target Range Spotting ScopeDifference between Fieldscopes and Spotting Scopes

Essentially they are the same thing: a small portable telescope optimized for the observation of terrestrial objects as apposed to astronomy telescopes.

The term "spotting scope" probably comes from the sport of shooting on the target range as a spotter uses a scope to avoid walking to the target to verify the placement of hits. Nikon have added to the confusion in that they call their top-end scopes "Fieldscopes" and their cheaper scopes "Spotting Scopes".

 

Swarovski Spotting ScopeWhere to buy Spotting Scopes

I have found that especially with optics, it can really pay to shop around a little and so whether you are in the US, or the UK I take a look at some of the best places on the web that I have found that sell spotting scopes. This section will also make it much easier for you to quickly compare prices and deals making sure that you get the best price possible.

>> Spotting Scopes Shop

 

Streight & Angled Spotting ScopesStraight Through vs Angled Spotting Scopes

Refractor spotting scopes come in two basic types of body design: angled and straight. Straight-through scopes have the eyepiece and barrel in the same horizontal plane. Whilst with an angled scope, the eyepiece is at at an angle, usually 45 or 90 degrees from the barrel. I take a look at why the are differences and at the advantages and disadvantages between each design.

>> Angled or Straight Spotting Scopes


Spotting Scopes for AstronomySpotting Scope vs. Telescope

A lot of people ask what the difference is between a spotting scope and if they can use their scope for astronomy. In this article I take a look at the differences, the strengths and weaknesses of each and if you can effectively use a spotting scope to look at the stars and planets in the night sky.

>> Spotting scopes for Astronomy


Waterproof Spotting ScopesWaterproof Spotting Scopes

Spotting scopes designed for all weather conditions and environments must not only be tough, but waterproof as well. One of the most asked for features of a spotting scope is waterproofing which is often called ‘weather proofing’. Here’s my guide to: Waterproof Spotting Scopes

 

 

Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope Review

Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting ScopeWith a large 82mm objective lens that utilizes ED glass elements that help to almost completely eliminate color fringing, as well as fully multi-coated optics and high quality phase corrected BaK-4 glass prisms the Vanguard Endeavor HD has the capability to produce as goo an image as some of the best.

Combine these and other high end optical features with their completely waterproof and fogproof magnesium alloy body and detachable 20-60x zoom eyepiece, for a wide field of view, with loads of eye-relief and you have a very high spotting scope that will perform very well in a wide range of uses and scenarios.

 

Celestron Regal 100 F-ED Spotting Scope Review

Celestron Regal 100 F-ED Spotting ScopeI was lucky enough to get the chance to enjoy Celestron's top of the range Regal 100 F-ED Spotting Scope, that as the name suggests features the highest quality air-spaced doublet achromatic lens, one element of which uses fluorite extra low dispersion glass (ED) to produce incredible quality razor sharp images with virtually no chromatic aberration (color fringing).

This angled Celestron spotting scope also has a rubber armored tough and waterproof body and comes with a dual speed focussing mechanism. The scope also comes with an excellent quality 22x-67x (8-24mm) Zoom Eyepiece, but because it attaches to the body using the standard 1.25" push-fit socket, you have the greatest flexibility in choosing further eyepieces to suit your needs.

This combined with the very large 100mm objective lens makes this scope ideal for a variety of uses including birding, wildlife observation and general astronomy. It also makes a great scope for digiscoping as it comes with a T-Mount adapter for your SLR camera.

 

Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope Review

Kowa TSN-883 Spotting ScopeI recently got the chance to try out the top of the range angled TSN-883 spotting scope from Kowa.

Part of the TSN-880 series of large 88mm diameter scopes, the 883, comes with a host of the highest quality features including a very lightweight magnesium housing that is as light and compact as many 60mm scopes.

The quality does not end with the body, as Kowa use the highest quality pure fluorite crystal lenses as part of their achromatic lens design to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberrations. On top of this they have a whole host of lens and prism coatings to ensure that the scope produces the best quality image possible.

 

Kowa Telephoto Lens / Scope Review

Kowa Telephoto Lens ScopeUnlike digiscoping where you are converting a spotting scope for the use of photography, the Kowa telephoto lens for super telephoto shooting (350mm, 500mm or 850mm), that can also be used as a spotting scope. This means that you can use this high-performance telephoto camera lens as a spotting scope as well. This is achieved by simply connecting it to the optional prism unit and eyepiece using a bayonet mounting system, making the switch between photography and observation a fairly quick simple operation.

What is more, the Kowa Lens/Scope is smaller, weighs less and is cheaper than the equivalent "standard" SLR telephoto lenses on the market. For more details: