Angled or Straight Spotting Scope

When choosing the best spotting scope for your needs, one of the first decisions that you have to make is to choose between a straight or an angled scope.

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. Both have their advantages as well as disadvantages and it is a matter of deciding how you will mostly be using your scope to best decide which type to get:

Straight Spotting Scopes

Advantages

  • Easier to quickly find and track moving targets like birds
  • Easier to use if you do most of your birding or game viewing from hides or using a car window clamp
  • Easier to view objects below your own level eg at the bottom of a cliff

Disadvantages

  • Can get uncomfortable during prolonged observation periods
  • Digiscoping: depending on the weight of your camera and adapter, gravity can make the set-up less stable and there could be more chance of harming the eyepiece
  • If you’re above average height, it can be more expensive to buy a tripod that needs to be stable at 170cm high and above. The larger tripod is also harder to carry about.
  • Harder to view birds in the sky
  • Harder to use if you also plan to use your scope for astronomy

Angled Spotting Scopes

Advantages

  • Generally more comfortable for prolonged observation periods
  • Easier to view birds in the sky
  • You don’t need to raise the tripod so high and often depending on which tripod you have, you don’t even need to raise the centre column which makes a big difference regarding stability
  • Many prefer an angled for digiscoping, as you can set it at a lower height on your tripod, making it easier to keep it stable, especially in windy conditions
  • Gravity helps keep the camera in place for digiscoping making it more stable and so there is less chance of harming the eyepiece
  • Easier to use if you also plan to use your scope for astronomy

Disadvantages

  • Initially an angled scope can make it harder to find and track moving targets like birds, but over time you will get used to it and better at it
  • Harder to use if you do most of your birding or game viewing from hides or using a car window clamp
  • Harder to view birds or anything else that is below your own level eg at the bottom of a cliff

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