Let’s see that who comes out the winner in the battle between Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars. Are you someone who says, “I enjoy watching birds from my backyard” or “I enjoy hiking and hunting in the mountains?” It is up to each optics user to determine which optical devices best fit their needs.
Any outdoor enthusiast, be they a hunter, target shooter, birder, or nature observer, will need the ability to see distant places and things in great detail. There are many ways to accomplish this today, but spotting scopes and binoculars are the two most popular ones.
If you have to choose between the two, it can be as simple as a walk in the park or as difficult as a long, tiresome walk where all paths lead to nowhere. Using either of these devices allows you to examine distant objects without getting too close. But, how do they differ, and when should you pick one over the other?
We aim to answer that very question, and we hope that this article will help guide you so that you do not get lost among the trees!
Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars
Spotting scopes and binoculars are very different, but we need to understand each one before getting into the nitty-gritty of their differences.
Spotting scopes are smaller telescopes with an extended field of view for use on land. With shorter focal lengths and higher magnification than typical binoculars, you can use these devices to locate and evaluate game from a great distance without being detected by the prey. Additionally, you can use spotting scopes to see if an animal is worth pursuing before pursuing it.
Binoculars are, in essence, two small telescopes mounted together so that each of your eyes sees through one of the lenses of the other. The image you see will be magnified by the lenses on either side of the binoculars, allowing you to see as you would usually, only heightened by the binoculars’ lenses.
Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars-Types
Types of Spotting Scopes
The refractor and the catadioptric are the two most common optical types in spotting scopes. The material used to focus the image differs between the two. The refractor bends light using optical glass lenses, whereas the catadioptric primarily uses mirrors to reflect light.
A simple refractor type of spotting scope is a long tube with an objective lens and an eyepiece. In the optical tube between these two lenses, those designed for hunting will have an image-erecting prism system (either Porro or Roof prism). Refractors produce sharp, high-contrast images, and you can widely use them in hunting and other outdoor activities.
The catadioptric type focuses on an image by combining a corrector lens and a pair of mirrors. Typically, this optical system has a long focal length compressed into a compact optical tube by mirrors. Catadioptric scopes are usually equipped with a 45-degree or 90-degree erecting prism, making them unsuitable for hunting. In contrast, you can view objects above the horizon at a 45-degree angle and make astronomical observations with a 90-degree angle binocular.
Types of Binoculars
You can classify Binoculars into roof prism, Porro prism, and monoculars.
Roof prism binoculars have lenses and prisms that are directly behind each other. As a result, roof prism binoculars are small in size. Another benefit of this type is that you can focus by moving the lenses rather than the eyepiece.
The lens and eyepiece of binoculars with Porro prism are not aligned. Instead, an N-shaped bend transports the images. As a result, the housing of these binoculars is more expansive. The Porro prism provides better depth perception.
A monocular is binocular that only has one eyepiece and lens. As a result, these viewers are much smaller and lighter than other types of binoculars. However, you can only look through the lens with one eye with this viewer, and you can keep a close eye on the environment with your other eye.
Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars- Magnification
Spotting scopes and binoculars have a noticeable difference in their magnification range. You can find the magnification power of a pair of binoculars somewhere between 4x and 25x. Magnification in spotting scopes can range from as low as 11x to as high as 100x, depending on the model.
The ability to ‘zoom’ is the next significant difference. There is only one magnification setting available with binoculars. Therefore, magnification cannot be increased or decreased by zooming. You can increase and decrease the magnification with spotting scopes as they have adjustable power optics.
Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars- Ease of Use
Binoculars are lightweight optics that you can use for various tasks and are portable and compact. The low power consumption and handheld design make it possible to achieve good image stability. However, Spotting scopes are bigger and tripod-mounted for the best image stability possible.
There are always exceptions to the general rule that binoculars are more portable and compact than spotting scopes, even though this is the case in most cases.
You should mount large binoculars, 15x, 18x, 20x, typically heavier than 2 lbs, on a tripod to get the best image quality.
Compact spotting scopes are an exception because they can be much lighter and smaller than large binoculars. Therefore, you can use them freehand in the field effectively.
Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars- Uses
Uses For Spotting Scope
- Evaluating the quality of your shot
- To identify targets and determine their distance by military use spotters and long-range snipers
- Long-range tracking and shooting by hunters
- Providing a clear view of birds from a distance
- Observing wildlife
- Surveillance of properties, individuals, and so forth
- To see the moon and other celestial bodies – cheaper than a dedicated telephoto lens
Uses For Binoculars
- Short-range hunting
- When scanning an area or taking a long look
- Tracking or spotting game
- Attending sporting events or concerts
Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars- Design
Binoculars have a wider field of view, whereas spotting scopes have a narrower field of view but allow you to focus on details.
Binoculars tend to be smaller, lighter, and easier to transport, whereas a spotting scope is less comfortable when traveling because it requires support. Because of their lightweight design, binoculars are generally more portable than spotting scopes. You can even wear the smaller models around your neck or keep them in your pocket when you’re on the go.
Even a spotting scope in a carrying case cannot be as portable as binoculars. However, some manufacturers are becoming more inventive in finding ways to provide spotting scope users with greater mobility than in the past.
Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars – Durability
Many spotting scopes are waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-resistant like their binocular cousins. They are made for you if you are a hunter, birder, or wildlife observer.
Nonetheless, because binoculars are more portable, they are easier to store. For example, you can wear them around your neck or put some in your pockets. In addition, binoculars can withstand extreme weather. While Straight spotting scopes are easier to store in your backpack than angled spotting scopes, they are challenging to carry or store, reducing their durability.
Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars – Which Is Better for Hunting?
Choosing between large binoculars and spotting scopes when hunting can be a challenge depending on your preferences and the type of hunting. To get the best view, especially at long distances, you need to fix the best position to use a spotting scope.
To participate in traditional hunting activities, you must be able to remain silent and still, but you must also be stealthy. It’s not always possible to use a tripod to help you get the perfect shot, but you can deploy your optics quickly and quietly if you have a pair of high-magnification binoculars. So, for example, if you can set up a tripod, you might want to look into the Nitro 15-45×65 spotter, which is small, light, and easy to carry.
A high-quality pair of binoculars is a popular choice for portability. If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight and high-magnification binoculars, you’ll need to research.
A typical spotting scope is an excellent tool for long-distance shooting hunting large game in the West or open areas. A pair of high-quality binoculars are better suited for hunting in wooded and confined spaces or for spot-and-stalk hunting, which necessitates more movement on the part of the hunter.
Things to Consider When Buying a Spotting Scope
- Magnification Ranges: Spotting scopes have greater magnification powers ranging from 15x to 60x, making them ideal for standard size telescopes like binoculars. The magnification power can be adjusted by switching between different fixed-length eyepieces or using a single zoom eyepiece. Observing birds is made easier by using a magnifying glass. Compared to a pair of binoculars, they have more magnification power.
- Objective Lens: It is possible to increase magnification power from 20x to 60x with a simple adjustment of the zoom of the objective lens. Their ability to quickly switch from low-power scanning to high-power inspection is a major advantage when bird watching. It’s also important to keep in mind that as the magnification increases, the field of view becomes smaller and more vibration occurs. You will need a bigger objective lens to get a better picture.
- Quality of Glass: Coated with Fluorite, HD (high density), or ED (extra-low scattering) glass is used in the best spotting scope lenses. You should buy a high-quality, expensive glass based on the type of birding you plan to do with it.
- Capacity for Light Gathering: The objective lens size of a spotting scope, like that of a pair of binoculars, serves as a measure of its ability to gather light (the one farthest from your eye). Between 50 and 100 mm is the typical range for this measurement.
- Eye Comfort: The scope’s eye relief should be taken into consideration by eyeglass wearers. Specification millimeters are used to measure eye relief. Most eyeglass wearers can get by with 12–15 mm of eye relief.
- Mechanism of Concentration: One of the most common methods of focusing with a spotting scope is to use one of two methods. Using a focusing collar, the scope’s entire barrel is knurled or rubber coated, allowing you to twist the entire barrel to focus. Alternatively, a smaller focus knob can be found near the eyepiece on top of the scope. Allows for greater precision but takes more time to use. Experiment with each style to find the one that works best for your hand size and agility.
Things to Consider When Buying Binoculars
- Magnification Capability: The number denoted by the x represents the magnification of a binocular. In other words, if the binocular says 10x, it magnifies the subject ten times. The best magnifications for regular use are between 7x and 12x; anything higher will be difficult to manage without a tripod magnifier.
- Diameter of the Objective Lens: The objective lens is the one on the other side of the eyepiece. The size of this lens is important because it determines how much light enters the binoculars. A larger diameter objective lens provides better images in low light. A magnification-to-magnification ratio of 5 is ideal. An 8×40 lens has a brighter and better picture than an 8×25 lens with its larger diameter.
- Coating and Lens Quality: The lens coating is necessary because it reduces the amount of light reflected while allowing the most light to enter. Meanwhile, the lens’s quality ensures that the image is free of aberrations and has higher contrast. Because they transmit more light, the best lenses perform better in low-light conditions. They also ensure that the colors do not become washed out or distorted. Therefore, if you wear glasses, look for a high eyepoint.
- Weight and Strain on the Eyes: Before purchasing a binocular, one should consider its weight. Consider whether using the binoculars for an extended period tires your eyes out. While regular binoculars are challenging to use for more than a few minutes, high-end binoculars cause slight eye strain and can be used for long periods if necessary.
- Waterproofing: While you will usually have compact binoculars which are easier to store, you will use them primarily outdoors. They must have some degree of waterproofing, usually denoted as “WP.” So, while you can submerge regular models in water for a few minutes, you will find that high-end model are unharmed even after several hours.
Final Words – Spotting Scope vs. Binoculars
The information above should help you decide between a spotting scope and a pair of binoculars. Both can offer distinct advantages and be game-changers for hunting or wildlife viewing.
Both of these optics are essential tools that can be pricey, so take your time to decide which one you need the most. To find the best tool to meet your needs, you must first identify what those needs are.
Also, make sure to check out our list of the best binoculars for hunting, to ensure you have the best equipment at hand when trying to hunt down game!