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Best Bird Watching Spotting Scopes
Below are considered some of the best bird watching spotting scopes currently on the market by price range.
If you want to learn more about choosing spotting scopes for birding and their features, go to Spotting Scopes, Part I.
Most of the scopes listed below come in both angled and straight models. Its up to you and the kind of viewing you mostly do. Click here for reviewing the pros and cons of
Angled or Straight bird watching spotting scopes.
Also, most scope models are available in several different objective lens sizes. It all depends on your personal needs. Click here to review objective lens sizes for bird watching spotting scopes.
Super-Budget (Under $500)
Alpen 20-60x80 Spotting Scope Kit
is an angled spotting scope with an 80mm objective lens and a 20-60x zoom
eyepiece. This is a great budget birdwatching scope for under $400.
Fully, multi-coated BaK-4 glass prisms for superior brightness,
resolution, and edge clarity
Close focus of 20-25 ft and 113 ft FOV (field of view) at 1,000 yards
Extendable lens hood for flare reduction on barrel end
Waterproof, fogproof and rubber-armored
45-degree angled eyepiece; waterproof, fogproof, and shock-resistant
Includes micro-adjustable tabletop tripod and foam-filled aluminum case
Measures 17 inches long; weighs 56 oz
Unconditional lifetime manufacturer's warranty
Kit includes tabletop tripod and foam-filled aluminum case
A customer review
My wife and I are avid, avocational birders, and we have just returned from a three-week driving trip to Florida and back, during which time we gave our Alpen 20-60X80 Spotting Scope its maiden voyage in many diverse birding habitats. We
found everything about this instrument to check out perfeectly with all of its advertising and reviews. I can't imagine a better birding scope in its price range, and I would bet it rivals those that are nearly twice as expensive.
Even though the lens size is only 50mm, it gives extremely bright, razor sharp, true-color images that are free of flare. Birders have been impressed with this one and love that it's light and compact for on-the-go birding adventures. Features include:
High quality eyepieces and Extra-low dispersion (ED) objective lens deliver unbelievable colors and bright, high contrast images.
100% waterproof, nitrogen-filled, for reliable in rain, sleet or snow.
100% fogproof to prevent fogging on the interior of
lenses with sudden temperature changes.
Pentax PF-65ED AII Spotting Scope w/Zoom Eyepiece
body also available) is in same model line as the Pentax 80ED above, but with a smaller objective lens which cuts the price a little. An excellent choice for a bird watching spotting scope, especially if you don't need the bigger lens. Features include:
Super multi-coating maximizes light transmission, clarity
Larger objective lenses provides bright viewing under all
Waterproof, fog proof, and nitrogen filled
Built-in lens shade
This scope is also popular and hard to find in stock.
Tip: Make sure you get the ED II-A or AII. This is the new model. The ED-A is still available and on the market for a slightly cheaper price, but really not worth the savings compared to the improved features of the new model.
The Nikon Fieldscope ED 25-75x82
(angled and straight bodies available) is
at the low-end of the high-performance ED-glass scope in terms of price, but
still is a high-quality bird watching spotting scope and an excellent value at
Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass for exceptional viewing
in low light conditions.
Premium glass for the most distinct details possible.
Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements for optimum optical resolution.
Large 80mm objective lenses for bright viewing under all light
Special "O" ring assembly, which allows the body of the scope to be
filled with nitrogen, making it fog proof and JIS Class 6 waterproof.
Built-in lens shade cuts excessive light and helps to prevent rain and
other weather elements from interfering with viewing.
Extra wide focusing knob is incorporated for effortless focusing.
Famous Pentax Super-Multi-Coating maximizes light transmission, clarity
An extendable eyecup on the XL eyepieces allows variable adjustment for
up to a full 20mm of eye relief, allowing those wearing eyeglasses the same view
as non-eyeglass wearers.
Lanthanum Crown (rare earth) glass elements.
A customer review
Pentax runs with Swaro on this one. Before I purchased this scope, I gave it a good test drive versus the Swaro. I'm not going to qualify my rating by saying that it's a good scope "for the price." Rather, this scope beats the Swaro. No
qualification. Period." - Michael
Both scopes have large 88mm Pure Fluorite Crystal objective lens crafted of fully C3 multi-coated optics. This ensures maximum light gathering, clear visual range and sharp images that traditional glass lenses can not attain in the field.
Prominar pure fluorite crystal lens eliminates chromatic
C3 Coating is a highly reflective multi-coating of
dielectrics for a much higher reflectivity than with coatings of silver or
optically-enhanced aluminum, offering a reflectance of 99% or higher across
the entire visible spectrum.
Inner focus system decreases image movement when
Quick focus knob gives you the ability to focus from 16
feet and out to infinity in just two revolutions.
Large exit pupil provides bright images and ease of
Waterproof and fogproof (to JIS Protection Class 7) with
nitrogen purging for reliable use in any weather.
Magnesium alloy body is rugged, and increases durability
and reduces weight.
Eyepiece locking mechanism prevents the eyepiece from
falling out or being lost.
Eco-glass lenses are made with an
Scope Cost: $2,300....
Seeing your life-bird as a crystal-clear, razor-sharp image, even in low light: Priceless!
Some other well reviewed bird watching spotting scopes at cheaper price levels, except for the Zeiss: