Spotting Scopes vs. Binoculars

spotting scope and binocularsBinoculars and spotting scopes are two different tools used for almost the same purpose; they all bring objects closer to you. Those who are unfamiliar with what these tools are, why don’t we start off by introducing them.

Spotting scopes for hunting are high magnifying monocular scopes normally mounted on a tripod. This tool is somewhat a level higher than binoculars when it comes to magnifying objects. The eyepieces of this tool are sometimes angled or straight

Binoculars, on the other hand, is the most versatile and most common. It is hand-held and used with both eyes; perhaps the reason why it is so popular. Technology has given birth to new binoculars that have a huge array of features, magnification ranges, and uses.

Now you understand what these two tools do. But which one works best and which one should you order to enhance your viewing experience? Here is a comparison of the two.

Spotting Scopes vs Binoculars for Hunting

Generally, if you own a spotting scope for hunting, you own a pair of binoculars as well. But not every time a pair of binoculars are owned, a spotting scope is owned. This is because for things like deer hunting, a compact bow hunting rangefinder is used in the place of a spotting scope.

We see spotting scopes used in Western big mountain applications, like Elk Hunting. They’re used to glass wildlife from a distance, before stalking closer for a clean shot.

Related: Angled or Straight Spotting Scope

Image stability

This is a feature customers really consider when buying these tools. Since binoculars are hand-held, the more you magnify the image the more you magnify the movement. So you better have the steadiest hands if you intend to use binoculars with 10x-12x magnification power. Since binoculars are designed to be portable, you will mostly find them ranging at 10x-12x.

Spotting scopes, on the other hand, are tripod held. So they will give you more stable images than binoculars. But there are users who still hold this tool in the hand. If you do that, you will still have shaky images. A tripod held binoculars and spotting scopes give the same image stability. So when it comes to image stability, it’s a draw.

Portability and weight

When it comes weight, it is not very clear which one weighs more than the other. This is because different brands manufacture products with different weights. However, when it comes to portability, binoculars are quite portable since they can be worn on the neck. So binoculars win when it comes to portability.

Magnification power

As mentioned earlier, the magnification power of spotting scopes is on another level. There are those that go up to 60x magnification. However, it becomes a challenge to use this tool in different weather conditions. It is important to understand that this tool is designed to be used in the day. And although it can view distant objects nearing and above 60x, the conditions in the atmosphere can affect your view. These include dust particles, heat waves, air currents and other changes in the atmosphere. Such conditions make images blurry even with powerful spotting scopes.

Binoculars, on the other hand, have a magnification power that ranges from 1x to 12x. But still, there are specialist binoculars that can hit 15x to 100x magnification power. Such powerful binoculars are tripod-mounted. But even with such powerful magnification power, a typical spotting scope will be much powerful than typical binoculars. So spotting scopes win in this case.

Close focus

The minimum distance away from your eye and the object is what is referred to as the close focus. Both of these tools are designed to view objects at a distance. However, there are different uses like bird-watching or birding that will make an observer chose either of the two. But there are times when you only need to focus on an object that’s 6 feet away. So as the level of available magnification increases, the closest available focal point does too. Since general-purpose binoculars have a lower magnification level that spotting scopes, they have nearer close focus point which makes them win close focus contest.

Field of view

The amount of object you can view through the optic is what define s the field of view. This is very important for viewers who want a tool that will help them see more. The magnification power affects the field of view. So the more powerful the lens is the smaller the field of view becomes. So it goes without saying that binoculars will take this challenge.


With that said, it is clear one of this tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Those users who want something more powerful will opt for a spotting scope. Those who want effectiveness will prefer binoculars. So it will depend on what you want from these two.

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