How To Choose A Birding Scope
As a bird watcher you probably already know the importance of having the right type of birding scope. Scopes can vary greatly in strength and magnifying power, so it's best to do some research before buying one. To help you out, here are a few tips to help you determine the best type for your needs. Also, if you're looking for the cheapest available option, keep reading.
For birders who don't use spotting scopes or birding binoculars, there are two main types. The first is a fixed-base telescope that sits on a stand. The second is a rotating binocular that has a hood or cover. Either way, the scope can rotate while still holding the binoculars erect for safety and easy viewing. These are often the more expensive variety of scope, but come with a many added features and accessories.
If you're looking for magnification, both fixed-base and rotating models can be adjusted. Scopes with larger objective lenses are better for increasing the amount of light that can be seen from a given distance, while smaller objective lenses are better at magnification. The biggest factor in choosing the right scope for you is your overall ability to see, including your visual clarity and field of view. A quality binocular will also have a higher level of correction, which improves image quality at the expense of needing more frequent adjustments.
A great feature to look for in a birding scope is a waterproof housing or case. Since many times birders like to bring their birding equipment into the woods or other outdoor areas, they need their birding scope to stay waterproof and free from scratches and other damage that might occur from a wet landing. However, the waterproof housing will make it easier to clean your scope without too much hassle.
Scopes range in price from inexpensive to very expensive. Your final choice will be dependent on your budget and optical quality, among other things. It's important to note that not all scopes will offer the same optical quality. Some will have more magnification, while others will have a longer focal length. For better image quality, you'll want a scope with a longer focal length; this will allow you to reach all branches of the treehouse in one glance.
Many birders opt for a scope with higher magnification in order to increase accuracy, but there are some benefits to using a lower magnification as well. With a higher magnification, you'll be able to view more detail at any given distance. However, higher magnifications also produce fatter branches, making it harder to focus on a single species or target. For this reason, many people opt for a scope with slightly lower magnification, which produces a more forgiving optical image. When using a lower magnification, you should still get plenty of power to center your shot and avoid blurry images at the far ends of your range.
Another important feature to consider when shopping for a scope is how it uses light. Birders who prefer to use digital imaging should look for a spotting scope that uses cross-focus, which means the optics automatically adjust for the refractive properties of the lens and use just the right combination of lenses in order to provide clear images. Spotting scopes that don't use cross-focus lenses tend to give clearer images and better accuracy. This is because the spotters focus on a single point in the air and bring it closer to the lens in order to provide a clear image. Digital spotting scopes that don't utilize cross-focus optics will be more sensitive to atmospheric conditions such as low air pressure and fog, and they'll also produce brighter images.
The third thing you'll want to consider is how the scope works. While accuracy is important, you may also want to consider a light-gathering system. You can get a range of different models that either use monoculars for a single point light source, or use a series of lasers for a collective light-gathering system. Some scopes have features like dual objective lenses, allowing you to quickly switch between sources if you get too close. Others may be monocular only, but feature a laser cross-focus that allows you to quickly focus while adjusting your range.