How much magnification do you need?
Do you need waterproof binoculars?
Use a waterproof and fogproof binocular for protection of the optics in any weather. Waterproof binoculars are sealed to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the optics. Fogproof binoculars are filled with nitrogen or argon gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.
Will you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses?
Choose a binocular with a minimum eye relief of 15mm for comfortable viewing with eyeglasses or sunglasses.
Spotting scopes allow you to focus on the details of nature at long distances.
Objective lens size
The last number (20–60 x 80) refers to the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. Spotting scopes are available in:
If you bird in low light conditions such as early morning and late evening, light gathering is essential. The larger the size of the objective lens, the more light is gathered and the brighter your image will be.
If you're birding at long distances, high magnifications may be necessary to capture details. The first numbers (20–60x 80 or 30 x 80) refer to the magnification, or how many times larger an object will appear.
Spotting scope bodies are often packaged with an eyepiece. Some manufacturers sell eyepieces separately.
Spotting scope durability and design
Use a waterproof and fogproof spotting scope for protection in any season. Waterproof scopes are sealed to prevent moisture, dust, and debris from getting inside the optics. Fogproof scopes are filled with nitrogen or argon gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.
Spotting scope bodies come in either angled or straight designs. Angled scope bodies make it easy to bird with people of different heights and can be positioned lower on a tripod for added stability. Straight scope bodies are comfortable to use and especially beneficial when viewing at downward angles.
Go to our definitive guide to understanding optics to clear up misconceptions like more is better when it comes to magnification or bigger objective lenses give a wider field of view. You'll also find glass quality and close focus covered in the guide.