How to Use a Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes can make a difference when you are hunting or out watching birds and other wildlife. Read on to learn how to use a spotting scope properly.

Spotting scopes have many similarities to telescopes. They are both used for viewing distant objects, and both can have high-quality optics. However, one of the key differentiators is that spotting scopes are designed to be mobile. They are easier to take along with you than a telescope, and this makes them a good option for a range of uses, such as hunting and bird watching. Of course, you will need to know how to use a spotting scope properly to ensure that you get the results you need.

The basics of using a spotting scope are simple, but many people never learn how to properly use the scope. They then get upset that they aren’t getting a clear image or that their scope doesn’t give them the magnification they want. Knowing the right spotting scope to get and how to use it correctly are both essential if you want to enjoy the scope.

Below, we will be looking at how to use a spotting scope, as well as some great spotting scopes and a tripod you might want to consider getting.

Tips for Using a Spotting Scope

A spotting scope can be useful in the field for hunters and birders, and even those who want to take in views of the heavenly bodies at night. As we said, it is similar to a telescope. The tips that follow can help to ensure you are making the most of your scope and getting great results. Let’s look at some of the things you will need to do.

Make Sure the Spotting Scope is Ready to Go

Always make sure that your spotting scope has been cleaned before you take it with you into the field. A clean and clear lens is essential for the best results. While you don’t need to clean the scope each time you take it out on a hunting trip or just to spot some wildlife, make sure that you look it over once you are done using your scope. If the lenses are dirty, make sure they are cared for before storing the scope.

This way, you can be sure it’s ready to go for your next trip. Ideally, you will have a carrying case for your scope that will help to keep it safe. Depending on the case, it may also be able to hold your other accessories and gear, such as a camera adapter for the scope. Always check the case before you leave to make sure it has all of your necessary equipment.

Choose a Good Location

When you are setting up your scope, whether you are glassing by hand or you are using a tripod for support, you need to be sure you are in a good location. This means you want to choose a spot that will provide you with a great view of the surrounding area that you want to view. You need to have a clear path to your goal.

Spotting scopes are not going to be as useful in the forest as they will be in the fields, a valley, or the sides of a mountain. Always think about where you are setting up the scope, or you might find that you don’t see anything of interest. Also, consider the position of the sun when you are choosing your setup location.

Use Some Type of Support

Is it possible to use a spotting scope by holding it in your hands and looking through it? It’s certainly possible, and this is something that hunters may have to do from time to time. However, you will find that it’s far easier to use the scope when you have some form of support where it can rest.

Remember, when you are using a scope like this and are looking out into the distance, even small movements in your hands will show up as massive shakiness through the lens. Having some type of rest where you can place the scope is important. Some might use the scope while prone, which can help them to steady the scope. Others might sit and try to rest the scope against their knees while they are looking through it.

Using a Tripod

The easiest and best option is to carry a tripod along with you to help support the scope. Choosing a tripod that has strong legs that can be extended to different heights is important. It allows you to set up and stabilize the tripod when you are on uneven terrain. If you need to stabilize the tripod or hold it down, you might want to hang the scope bag or another item beneath the scope. This can help to reduce the risk of it blowing over if a strong gust of wind comes along.

You must choose a high-quality tripod that has a pan and tilt feature. This will make it easier for you to smoothly move the scope from side to side and up and down. This functionality allows you to take in more of the surroundings and to track game.

Find the Targets

Once you have the scope on the tripod or another stable setting, such as a car mount, you will want to remove the lens covers. Make sure the eyecup is in the proper position for your viewing needs. You will likely want the cup in the down position if you wear glasses and the up position if you don’t. It’s now time to start finding your targets.

It’s always a good idea to start at low magnification, and then use the focus to get a sharp image. When you are at lower magnification levels, you will also have a wider field of view. This allows you to see more of the area at once.

After you find the targets at a lower magnification, you can then increase the magnification. Make sure that they are still in view when you change the magnification. If you need to refocus, do so now to improve the clarity of the image.

If you still need to get a closer look, keep increasing the magnification and trying to focus the picture to be as clear as possible. Keep in mind that with many spotting scopes, when you start to reach the highest level of magnification they offer, it will often be more challenging to get a crisp image.

Practice Makes Close to Perfect

That’s all there is when it comes to using a spotting scope. It is quite simple, but it will take some practice to get accustomed to making the changes needed to zoom, focusing, and using the pan and tilt feature on the tripod. However, you will become adept at this before too long.

You might even find that you want to take things a step further with digiscoping.

What is Digiscoping?

Some of the spotting scopes can be adapted to work with cameras, such as SLR cameras and phone cameras. They have mounts that will allow you to connect a camera, so you can take video and pictures of what the scope sees. This can provide you with some incredible images of wildlife that never even know you are watching.

There are several different types of adapters, so you will want to make sure that you are choosing an option that will work with your spotting scope and your camera of choice. Some of the spotting scopes even come with adapters.

Although not everyone will care about getting videos and photos through their spotting scope, it’s a nice feature and can be a lot of fun.

Should You Choose a Straight or Angled Spotting Scope?

One of the main considerations when buying a spotting scope is whether you want a straight or angled scope. Angled spotting scopes are a good choice when there may be multiple people who are sharing the scope, and for those who are going to be using a tripod. It’s often easier to use the angled spotting scopes. They work well for spotting up steep inclines, and it tends to be easier to use a digiscoping setup with the angled spotting scopes.

Still, straight spotting scopes can work well for many. Solo hunters, for example, might find that it works well for their needs. They are convenient and easy to carry, and you will find that you can often use these to get eyes on the objects faster. They are easier to use on a steep downgrade, too.

There are pros and cons to both of these types of spotting scopes. Think about how and where you will be using the spotting scope and then make your decision.

Consider These Spotting Scopes and a Quality Tripod

Below, you will find two options for spotting scopes, as well as a nice tripod that you might want to add to your gear.

Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope

Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope

Those who want to get up-close images of their targets will find that the Ultima 80 from Celestron could be a good fit. The scope has variable magnification from 20x to 60x, and it features an 80 mm objective lens diameter. This ensures that there is plenty of light transmission to ensure that you are getting a bright and clear view. The multi-coated optics help with this, as well.

This spotting scope features a 45-degree eyepiece, which is common for angled spotting scopes. The company also makes a range of other spotting scopes, including one that comes with a smartphone adapter.

The spotting scope is easy to use, and it is durable. Hunters, birders, and others can rest easy knowing that it is capable of holding up in the field.

The Ultima 80 also comes with a zoom eyepiece, an extended tripod mounting plate, and a T-ring adapter that’s been integrated for digiscoping. The scope also comes with a soft carrying case, a pouch for the eyepieces, an eyepiece port cover, a lens cloth, and a manual.

Gosky 2019 Updated Spotting Scope

Gosky 2019 Updated Spotting Scope

Another angled spotting scope option to consider comes from Gosky. The company also makes a range of other spotting scopes in addition to this option that has 20x to 60x magnification with an 80 mm objective lens. The scope has quality optics and a dynamic lens focusing system. The fully multi-coated lenses provide clear and bright images, which is helped by the 80 mm objective lens.

The durable scope features rubber armor that can help to absorb shock. It works well regardless of the weather, thanks to the sealed O-rings and the nitrogen gas purging. The spotting scope also has a range of accessories included, such as a digiscoping adapter for smartphones, a T-ring mount and M42 T mount that works with Nikon cameras. It also includes a tripod, cleaning cloth, lens covers, and a carrying case.

Amazon Basics Tripod

Amazon Basics Tripod

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent tripod. This option from Amazon Basics works quite well. It is lightweight and will work not only with your spotting scope but also with many other types of cameras and optics gear.

The tripod can extend from 25” to 60” depending on your needs, and the legs are individually adjustable. It features two bubble levels that are built into it to help you ensure that it’s level. The tripod also has tilt and pan functionality, and it comes with a carrying case

Conclusion: Get Out and Enjoy Your Spotting Scope

Now that you know how to use a spotting scope, it’s time to find one that you like if you haven’t already. The options we’ve included are a great place to start looking. The spotting scope can be a great option for those who want to go hunting, watch birds, enjoy the scenery, and even those who may want to take images and videos of their day in the great outdoors.

It’s time that you got out into nature and put your scope to good use. They are easy to use, and they can provide you with the information you need regarding your targets even when they are thousands of yards away.

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