When we’re birding, situations often arise where greater magnification is needed than binoculars can provide. Enter the telescope, or spotting scope among birdwatchers. Spotting scopes come with magnifications above 20x, and some have zoom eyepieces that can boost the magnifying power up to 75x.
A seabird in flight over the ocean may appear as a speck to the unaided eye, but training a spotting scope on it will reveal the shape of the bird and other identifying marks.
Shorebirds, which often feed in large groups along mudflats and shorelines, can not be approached too closely for fear of chasing them off. A spotting scope becomes the essential tool for picking up the birds’ subtle differences.
Here’s a roundup of scopes we like, so if you’re in the market for greater magnification, check them out!
Vortex Razor HD 27-60×85
Engineered with an oversized objective, superior glass, and specialized coatings, the Vortex Razor HD 27-60×85 Spotting Scope provides clear and bright images at all magnifications and lighting conditions. It also minimizes light loss and maximizes image brightness with Vortex’s XRPlus anti-reflective coatings, and the Porro prisms have highly dielectric coatings designed to improve brightness, clarity, and color accuracy.
Kowa TSN-553 15-45×55
The Kowa TSN-553 15-45×55 uses the low-dispersion PROMINAR fluoride glass that reduces chromatic aberrations that, when paired with the multi-coated optics and two-speed focusing mechanism, produce bright and clear images. The impressive zoom range allows you to take in a wide field of view for general viewing purposes and the ability to draw subjects in close for more detailed observations.
Swarovski ATS-65 HD 20-60×65
The ATS-65 HD Spotting Scope with eyepiece is a rugged yet refined scope from Swarovski, and is compact, relatively lightweight, and particularly well-suited for birders on the go. Swarovski’s ATS series combines the high image quality and world-class workmanship consumers can expect from the company.
ZEISS Victory Harpia 85
With extra-low dispersion fluoride glass, the ZEISS Victory Harpia 85 Spotting Scope ensures crisp and sharp views. It is also easy to clean off oils, spots, dust, and dirt without residue due to the LotuTec coating on the exterior lens. It is engineered for superb performance for birders and outdoor enthusiasts.
Leica APO-Televid 82
Lightweight, easy-to-manage, and offering top optical performance, the APO-Televid 82 delivers brilliant views of nature that are rich in detail and contrast. In addition to conventional viewing, there is a special camera adapter that allows it to convert into a high-powered telephoto lens.