There are quite a few terms and values about spotting scopes. What types are there? What do all those terms mean? Is there a difference between a spotting scope and a telescope? In this spotting scope explanation we try to make it all a bit clearer. Compiled by our experts Raymond and Marloes. They have visited several factories and are well versed in the world of spotting scopes.

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What is a spotting scope / telescope?

There are situations in which binoculars fall short of the magnification required. In such situations, the spotting scope comes into the picture. A spotting scope is very suitable for spotting birds, game or planes. A spotting scope is also called a telescope.

A spotting scope offers larger magnifications than binoculars. Sometimes up to 70x. A spotting scope also has a larger objective lens. This allows enough light to enter the camera. To keep the image stable, it is recommended to put the spotting scope on a tripod.

Construction of the spotting scope

In many cases, a spotting scope consists of two separate parts: a body and an eyepiece. This makes different configurations possible. For example, you can put a different ocular on a body for a different magnification value.

There are also spotting scopes that are not modular. Here it is not possible to combine another ocular.

What do all those numbers about spotting scopes mean?


A spotting scope usually has the possibility to zoom in. That is why more numbers are mentioned. For example 20-60x60. The magnification is then at least 20x and maximum 60x. Between these two magnifications it is often possible to zoom in smoothly. For example, it is possible to view a bird first at 20x magnification and then slowly zoom in to 60x. Please note that at higher magnifications there is more vibration in the air or movement of the spotting scope. To minimise this, it is recommended that the spotting scope be mounted on a sturdy and stable tripod.

Lens diameter

In addition to the magnification, each spotting scope also states the objective diameter. Looking at the previous example, the numbers are 20-60x60. The last 60, the number behind the magnification, stands for the objective diameter in millimetres. The larger this number is, the more light will fall through the spotting scope. However, a larger lens diameter has the disadvantage that there is more glass in the spotting scope, which increases the weight. An optimal balance can therefore be difficult to find. When you choose to use the spotting scope at a fixed location, we recommend choosing a lens diameter larger than 75mm. These lenses catch a lot of light and the weight does not play a major role in this scenario. If you plan to carry the spotting scope around a lot, weight does play a role. For this purpose, we recommend a lens diameter of up to 65mm. These are relatively compact and often lightweight.

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Angled / straight spotting scope

Many spotting scopes are available in angled or straight versions. With an angled spotting scope, you look into the spotting scope from above. With a straight spotting scope, you look straight into the spotting scope from behind.

Rechte of gehoekte spottingscope

Both variants have advantages and disadvantages. The angled version is the most widely used in Europe.

The advantages of the angled spotting scope:

  • When the subject is moving, it is easier to move with it.
  • More convenient when sharing with other observers. If the angled spotting scope is set at a certain height, most people will still be able to look through the eyepiece without having to adjust the position of the scope.

Advantages of a straight viewer:

  • The sight is aligned with your field of vision. It ensures a straight "point and shoot" alignment when hunting.
  • Easier position when mounted on a car window.
  • Easier to use when on the ground (e.g. during hunting).