You’ve decided to invest in a spotting scope to enhance your birding and stargazing experiences, but with so many different brands and features to choose from, what are the most important factors you should be taking into account when purchasing a scope such as a Regal M2 80ED?
The type of scope
There are two different categories of telescope: reflectors and refractors, but when it comes to spotting scopes, most are reflectors. Coming with a prism to help give the user the very best image, the right way up, there a two types:
Cheap and simple to make for the manufacturers, spotting scopes with Porro prisms are cost-effective for consumers to buy, making them extremely popular.
Typically smaller and a little slimmer in size, roof prisms don’t give the user quite the same quality of image, and often don’t come with additional features such as alternative eyepieces and camera adapters, for example.
Whether it’s angled or straight
Having very little effect on the use of the scope itself, whether you choose an angled or straight spotting scope may come down to whether you plan to use it with a tripod, or not. If you do, a straight scope might prove the more suitable option, as it proffers a higher level of comfort if observing for longer periods of time.
If you’re likely to be sharing your spotting scope with someone else (or multiple people), an angled body might work better and give a higher degree of observation when looking through the eyepiece.
Its level of magnification
The maximum settings are always mentioned by the manufacturer, and if the number 40 is listed, this simply means that objects are magnified through the lens, 40 times. For beginners, it’s wise to start with a lower setting, and once you find what you want to observe, you can adjust the magnification accordingly.
The objective lens
Helping to ensure the very best quality and detail of the image, the objective lens is an important component of a spotting scope, and experts recommend choosing extra-low dispersion (ED), high-density (HD) or fluorite coated lenses.
The size of the objective lens will have a direct impact on the devices ability for gathering illumination, and units range from 50mm up to 100mm. Generally speaking, the bigger the lens, the cleared and brighter the image, although it’s worth noting that bigger lenses weight more.
Some spotting scopes have optics that are fixed, which mean that you can’t use them to zoom in, but the optics might be of a higher quality. If you’re an amateur birdwatcher or astronomer, a zoom eyepiece would be a better choice. This enables you to make adjustments to the level of magnification, and some eyepieces can even be removed and interchanged. However, most manufacturers don’t supply more than one eyepiece per scope, so you’ll need to purchase others to enhance your experience when viewing.
The focusing mechanism
Helping to ensure that an image is clear and sharp, there are two types of focusing mechanisms found on spotting scopes:
Located on the upper section of the scope, knobs enable you to find a greater level of precision when the focus is being adjusted, but it can require a little dexterity for inexperienced users.
A rubberized barrel is twisted on the scope to sharpen the image.
The weight and size
The size of the scope doesn’t matter too much, s long as you can hold it comfortably, and that it fits securely onto the tripod. When it comes to weight however, this can be a deal breaker, especially if you plan to carry your scope with you on hikes, or when walking to a spotting location. So when looking for a Regal M2 80ED offer online or in stores locally, take the weight into account before considering the other factors.
Don’t forget that you can always join forums to discuss spotting scopes with others who are already using them, or chat with experts working in local shops, or for online retailers, before buying.