Best Long Range Scope under $300 / £300

Levenhuk Blaze Spotting Scope

People often write in asking for recommendations for a particular use and within a specific price range, which is perfectly understandable and a great place to start when deciding what is the best spotting scope for you.

This question relates to all those looking for higher powered scopes in what I call the Mid level price range ($130 – $300 / £130 – £300):

Have A Question For Me?Question:

We recently moved to an apartment overlooking the English Channel and my husband is keen to own a scope for looking at the ships which are around 12-30 miles out on the shipping channel and wildlife etc, with maybe an odd star or two thrown in!

I have looked at many pages of reviews and lots of different scopes online, but just wondered what you would recommend with a budget of £200-£300?

As he has to have it placed near balcony doors or on the balcony a tripod is a must though we could get that separately.

Please would you be kind enough to advise? I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks


Answer

Thank you for the question and I will try to answer it to the best of my knowledge, but it is also very important to remember that I can only fully recommend a scope that I have actually used, tested and reviewed. So obviously the will be many, many others out there that are just as suitable and possibly even better, but I have not as yet used and so whilst I may offer them as an option that I think are worth looking at, I cannot be fully committed in suggesting them to you.

What you get for your budget

Whilst from the outside most scopes within this budget look very similar and indeed almost identical to ones that cost much more, but I think it is important to stress that in order to keep the manufacturing costs down, certain compromises have to be made.

So whilst none will match the best, it also does not mean that you are certain to get poor quality scope within this budget, you just have to be realistic with your expectations and look more carefully for the hidden gems that have made these compromises in non critical areas.

Body
As far as the chassis goes, you probably wont get a magnesium frame. Instead most scopes at this level will use a polycarbonate chassis. Whilst this is not quite as tough or luxurious as a metal one, it is lighter and obviously cheaper to produce.

Even if you don’t plan on going out in the rain, I would still make sure of is that it is both water & fog proof as this a good sign that it is still of a good quality and the seals will also prevent dust from entering the system.

Optics
Whilst very few (if any) in this rage will use ED glass (extra low dispersion) elements within their lenses, ensure that the optics are still fully multi-coated optics and if they mention it, look out for ones that have phase correction coatings on their prisms that are at least silver mirror coated.

Cheap spotting scopes usually have integrated eye-pieces, but there are some within this price range that have removable ones. This not only gives you more flexibility in the future as you can change your eye piece depending on what you are using your scope for, but once again is another indicator of a better quality instrument.

To start with look for scopes with a zoom eyepiece included as the variable magnification will mean that the scope will be far more versatile right out of the box. Just make sure that the price of the scope you are looking at includes the eye-piece as well.

Configuration
For longer distance observation, you obviously need higher magnifications (60x – 90x). The problem is that this higher power brings with it a number of complications that are important to be aware of:

Firstly and especially with scopes that have lesser quality optical components, it is important to choose a scope that has a large diameter objective lens. As you will be using it from a fixed point and using it on a tripod, weight and size are not a major factor, which is good.

Larger diameter scopes capture more light and thus will potentially look to have a brighter image. Combined with a high power magnification, they will also have a larger exit pupil than those with smaller objectives, which apart from helping deliver more light to your eyes, also makes it far easier to line your eyes up with the shaft of light exiting the eye-piece and thus view the full image without any annoying black rings forming on the edges, which is often the case one cheaper high powered scopes.

So my advice is to try and go with an objective lens that is 80mm or larger.

Recommended Spotting Scopes under $350 / £300

So keeping all this in mind, below are firstly the instruments that I have reviewed and thus can recommend within this price level and then I have also added a few others that I also think may be a good choice and worth considering at the bottom of the page:

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 Spotting Scope

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90x90 Spotting ScopeCosting only $220 / £200, when I reviewed the Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 scope I thought that it was a really good buy for the money:

It has a very large 90mm objective lens and fully multi-coated optics so not only will this Levenhuk scope collect more light than smaller instruments, but more will gets transmitted to your eyes than those with fewer coatings.

What is more, it comes with a high powered and interchangeable 30-90x zoom eyepiece, so good for the longer distances that you require as well as for viewing objects at closer ranges.

Also worth noting is the included table-top tripod. Whilst not quite as good as a good quality full sized tripod, it was of comparatively higher standard than most I have come across, is simple to adjust and holds the scope steady enough to get a completely shake free view.

Main Features

  • Very large 90mm Objective Lens
  • Water & Fog Proof
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • BaK-4 Roof Prism with Silver Mirror coatings
  • Supplied & Removable 30-90x Zoom Eyepiece

Shopping BasketPrice Range
The Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 scope currently costs around $220 / £200, which I think makes for excellent value for money:

 

Acuter DS20-60x80A Spotting Scope

Acuter DS20-60X80A Spotting ScopeStrengths of this Acuter scope within this price bracket include the use of an Aluminium chassis instead of a polycarbonate one used on most others. It also has a removable 20-60 eyepiece included and a two speed focus knob that at this price is not a common feature.

The large 80mm objective and fully multi-coated optics will ensure a brighter image than smaller scopes, or those with less coatings.

Main Features

  • Large 80mm Objective Lens
  • High Quality & Waterproof Aluminium Chassis
  • Duel Speed Focus Knob
  • Supplied & removable 20x-60x (8-24mm) Zoom Eyepiece

Shopping BasketPrice Range
The Acuter DS20-60×80 scope currently costs around £260 in the UK and where available around $300 in the US:

 
 

More Options

Whilst I have not used the scopes below, to me they look to be a good option and have all the right qualities to suit your needs:

Celestron Ultima 100 Spotting Scope

Celestron Ultima 100 Spotting ScopeAccording to Celestron, the super large 100mm objective lens delver an image that is more than 50% brighter than the same scope with a 80mm lens.

However this is against the same quality scope and these come with multi coated optics and not fully multi-coated, so it probably evens out against a slightly smaller scope that is fully multi-coated.

Main Features

  • Giant 100mm Objective lens
  • Multi Coated Optics
  • 22-66x zoom eyepiece
  • Waterproof Soft carrying case

Shopping BasketPrice Range

The Celestron Ultima 100 currently costs $290 in the US and £300 in the UK and so is bang on budget:

 

Vanguard TripodTripods:

Whilst many scopes in this category will come with what is quite often a fairly decent table top tripod to get you started (obviously you will need a table on your balcony!), but ultimately you will most probably want to invest in your own full sized tripod that can more easily take the weight and keep the image perfectly still on a larger scope like this.

Over the years I have used a large number of tripods and in general my advice is not to skimp too much in this area as not only are cheap tripods less likely to hold a large scope completely steady for a completely shake free image which especially at higher powers is imperative, but are also often much more of a pain to set-up.

For more advice on which tripods I use and recommend, please take a look at this article: Best Tripod for Large Spotting Scopes

Have A Question For Me?Have a Scope Question?

Should you have any questions on a subject that I have not already covered here on BSSR please feel free to Contact Me Here.

Comments are closed.