If you are bird watching, hunting, or scanning a landscape, having the right high end best spotting scope will ensure you get the best view possible. Here are six of the best spotting scopes you can buy in 2020.
As any nature-lover knows, the world around us is brimming with beauty. It can be as obvious as a mountain-peak cutting through pillows of clouds or the sun setting beyond the horizon in a haze of cotton-candy and tangerine. Yet, other times we need help to find the beauty. Whether searching for the beating wings of a hummingbird or the shell pattern of a swimming turtle, it can be difficult to get a crystal-clear image. For situations like these, you need the best magnification a high-end spotting scope can offer.
If you want to view the fine details of a landscape without worrying about moving or repositioning, you know that a clunky pair of binoculars simply won’t cut it. When you have an eager eye, even a low-end spotting scope lacks the magnification you need. With so many options of optical range, size, weight, and price, it can be difficult knowing which is the best high-end spotting scope.
But don’t worry! In this guide, we will review six of 2020’s top high-end spotting scopes to help you get outdoors and take in every detail of the surrounding beauty.
Celestron 52305-DS Zoom Spotting Scope (Regal M2)
The Celestron 52305-DS Zoom Spotting Scope, or Regal M2, is an excellent entry model that can be used by day or night. It comes in three different optical ranges with a 27x magnification, 80mm long-eye-relief (LER) lens; a 16-48x65mm model, and a 20-60x80mm model. Starting at $460 and go up to $710, respectively, this is an excellent spotting scope for its price mark.
This scope is excellent for anyone interested in bird watching, long-range shooting, or light astronomy; the Regal M2 can even be used for photography. By attaching a T2 adapter, this spotting scope is transformed into a telephoto lens, capable of being attached to a DSLR camera.
While still maintaining a competitive price, the Regal M2 comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a higher-cost product. The lens is made of Extra-Low Dispersion glass and contains nitrogen gas to prevent fogging. The exterior is a waterproof magnesium alloy, designed for a lower weight of five pounds, and is finished in a lovely forest green, perfect for taking into the woods.
The lens of the Regal M2 helps to prevent light refraction, guaranteeing a focused and accurate image, absent of discolored peripheries. The Regal M2 also features an improved fine adjuster that works twice as fast as previous models. With the Regal M2, you’ll get a clear image without breaking your bank.
- Sensitive and accurate focus
- Competitive price point
- Well contrasted image with good clarity
- The dimensions may be bulky for some users
- May require a tripod for the best quality
- Does not work with all telescope eyepieces
Kowa TSN-773 Prominar ED 77mm Angled Spotting Scope
The Kowa TSN-773 Prominar ED 77mm Angled Spotting Scope is optimal for anyone interested in target shooting, hunting, or ornithology without the fear of getting dirty. This is a durably constructed spotting scope made of high-quality polycarbonates (including carbon fiber), ensuring a lightweight 5.3lbs without sacrificing on ruggedness.
The Prominar ED 77mm meets Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) level-7 dust and waterproof resistance, promising to withstand the effects of temporary full immersion in water and also a dustproof seal. And, like the Regal M2, the lens of the Prominar ED 77mm houses nitrogen gas to prevent lens fogging.
This scope offers an amazing viewing experience, absent of any color dispersion, thanks to its fluorite crystal extra-low-dispersion apochromatic lens. Also, thanks to C3 prisms and multi-coated electrical insulation, the Prominar ED 77mm offers sharp images with improved contrast and resolution.
And, at only 12.5in in length, and featuring a rubber-coated, ergonomically designed housing, the Prominar ED 77mm is a less cumbersome, more easily handled option than the Celestron Regal M2.
The beauty of the Kowa TSN-773 Prominar ED 77mm Angled Spotting Scope is its versatility. If you find yourself out on a rainy day, you don’t have to worry about covering up the scope. You can take it out to the desert to view the stars and moon without worrying about sand penetrating and scratching your lens. Despite a heftier price tag, the Kowa Prominar ED 77mm lives up to whatever need you to have.
- Durable materials and build
- Compact and ergonomic design
- Crystal-clear image with strong contrast and resolution
- Performance drop-off at higher magnification
- Awkward focusing
Orion Grandview Vari-Angle 20-60x80mm Zoom Spotting Scope
The next scope on our list is the Orion Grandview Vari-Angle 20-60x80mm Zoom Spotting Scope. This scope is perfect for hobbyists looking to get the most use out of a single piece of equipment. With a unique 0-90° adjustable eyepiece, the Grandview Vari-Angle lens can be used to spot targets at the shooting range, get close-up views of any stadium game, watch birds, or even observe the moon, all without having to change the eyepiece! Gone are the days of lugging around a case of equipment.
This scope features an adjustable zoom, ranging from 20x to 60x power, and is well-marked at intervals of ten for quick-and-easy switches between magnifications. At lower magnifications, the Grandview Vari-Angle views images at a 1.8-degree-field-of-view but, as magnification increases, this is reduced to a 1.0-degree-field-of-view. However, thanks to its large 80mm objective lens, the Grandview Vari-Angle can easily take in light in dark conditions so, no matter if the sun is rising or setting, you get a clear image. You will also find that this scope has multi-coated optics to increase contrast and provide a vivid image.
At 18in in length, this spotting scope may be slightly larger than the two previous scopes but, at only 4.4lbs, it is surprisingly lighter. An aluminum carrying case with foam interior is included with your purchase, making the Grandview Vari-Angle an incredibly priced entry-level high-end spotting scope at only $399. For a product in this price range, the quality is undeniable.
- Adjustable eyepiece allows for various uses
- Lighter weight than other scopes
- Low price for high quality
- Works well in low light conditions
- Larger dimensions may make this scope bulky
- Lower field-of-view at high magnifications
- Some users may wish for stronger magnification
Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope
The fourth scope on our list is Vortex Optics’ Viper HD spotting scope. This scope is a premium piece of equipment made from the highest-quality materials, guaranteeing both durability and outstanding images. The exterior XR-antireflective lens coating helps to improve image quality in low-light conditions and, in bright conditions, the Viper HD also includes a sunshade to reduce glare. The lens of this scope is made of first-rate extra-low dispersion crystal glass to reduce distortion and improve light transmission.
Vortex Optics offers the Viper HD in four options—a straight 15-45x65mm option; an angled 15-45x65mm option; a straight 20-60x85mm option; and an angled 20-60x85mm option. Though the two 15-45x65mm options max out at a 45x zoom, you still get a wide field of view, making it perfect for up-close uses. These scopes are perfect for spotting targets at the shooting range or viewing all the action at a ball game. However, if you are looking for more range, the 20-60x85mm options give crisp and clear images with much broader capabilities.
The exterior of the Viper HD is made of rubber-coated Armortek, helping to protect against scratching, drops, dirt, sand, and grease. Additionally, the O-ring of the Viper HD is sealed and argon purged, making it completely dust and waterproof! Priced at only $899, this is an incredibly durable spotting scope, perfect for taking into the great outdoors without worrying about damage.
- High-quality materials and construction
- Extraordinarily strong and durable exterior
- Variety of optical ranges with wide fields of view
- Some users reported that the exterior coating interferes with the focusing mechanism
- Average eye relief
- Unwieldy size requires a sturdy tripod
Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope
Up next is another product from Vortex Optics. The Razor HD is a more advanced entry than the already-impressive Viper HD. It features a triplet apochromatic lens made of the same high-density, extra-low dispersion crystal glass. Like the Viper HD, the exterior of the Razor HD’s lens is coated to improve light intake, making it another perfect scope for dusk or dawn.
What makes the Razor HD more impressive than the Viper HD is its added gadgetry, ranges of magnification, and lens sizes. With the Razor HD, Vortex Optics offers a straight and an angled 11-33x50mm option, a straight and an angled 22-48x65mm option, and a straight and an angled 27-60x85mm option. As you can see, with the Razor HD, you can achieve a wider image than with the Viper HD while still maintaining a close-up view.
The Razor HD also includes a multi-position adjustable eyepiece that can be twisted to change eye-relief. This is a great option for anyone who wears eyeglasses and struggles to find perfect eye-relief. As well, the focusing dial is a smooth helix design made to accurately sharpen image quality, all while allowing for streamlined storage.
The Razor HD is, by far, a more compact option than the Viper HD, measuring 15.5in at its largest. However, despite a compact design, the Razor HD still weighs in at 5.5lbs. With a higher price tag for the most powerful option, the Razor HD might not be everyone’s first choice but, if you want all the benefits of a Viper HD with even more trappings and an improved triplet apochromatic lens, the Razor HD is exactly what you need.
- Incredibly durable design and quality materials
- Added triplet apochromatic lens
- Completely water and dustproof
- Adjustable eye-piece for customizable eye-relief
- Despite its compact size, the Razor HD is on the heavy side
- Some users report a duller image at high magnifications
Kowa TSN-880 Series Angled Body High-Performance Spotting Scope
The final entry on our list is Kowa’s TSN-880 Series Angled Body High-Performance Spotting Scope. This is by far the most premium scope on our list, but with its matching premium pricing, it may not be for everyone. Kowa pulled out all the stops on this product, building it with a high-performance 88mm full fluorite Prominar crystal lens. This is the perfect material for combatting chromatic aberration—the blurring of colors around the edge of your image.
Just like the Kowa TSN-773, featured previously on our list, the TSN-880 meets JSI level-7 water and dust proofing and the housing is charged with nitrogen gas to prevent lens fogging. It is also made of lightweight polycarbonates and a magnesium alloy to provide a strong exterior without any added burden.
The size of the 88mm lens is designed to take in as much light as possible, making this scope an excellent option for users who enjoy nighttime, dusk, or early morning viewings. Additionally, it houses an inner-focus mechanism to stabilize images and can be attached to both a 1/4in and 3/8in base tripod. With a weight of only 3.3lbs and at 13.5in long, the Kowa TSN-880 is the lightest option on our list and also one of the most compact. If you can afford the heftier price tag, the Kowa TSN-880 is a premium product without any mentionable defects
- Large 88mm lens takes in a massive amount of light
- Strong but lightweight housing
- Inner stabilization mechanism
- Does not come with a cover
Whether you are looking to improve your experience of bird watching, enjoy viewing the great outdoors in beautiful detail, or want an aid to help your target shooting, a high-end spotting scope is an essential piece of equipment. By this point, you should have enough information to make your purchase knowledgeably and to consider things such as lens composition, durability, size, weight, and power. Whichever spotting scope you choose, if you pick one of these options, you cannot go wrong!