Spotting Scope Vs Binoculars


If you are a hunter, outdoorsman, birder, or someone whose hobbies require viewing things from a far distance, then you must have been stuck between either choosing a spotting scope or binoculars before. Both of them are the essential long-range viewing tools, and debates continue to rage on about which one is better among these tools.

While these instruments seem like small instruments, you can’t overemphasize their importance. As an outdoors enthusiast, a spotting scope or binoculars can make or break your outdoor trip. These tools can be the difference between a stunning view and a missed golden moment that you may never see again
But if you are trying to find out which one is better with these tools, you have come to the right place. While we aren’t going to tell you which one is better, we will allow you to make that decision by yourself. Spotting scope or binoculars? There is only one way to find out!

Spotting scope or Binoculars?

There may never be a clear winner, but if you want to find out the differences and similarities about this tools, we are going to discuss them below.


Depending on the activities and the users, the usages of these tools vary. While both tools can do almost the same things, they are more suitable for different tasks than each other.

Bird Watching – If you are looking to observe or watch the birds, then a binocular would be ideal for you. But if you are passionate about birding, that would mean you want to know about the different bird species. Thus, you would have to observe and watch them to learn every possible thing about them. In this case, what you will be needing is a spotting scope.

Astronomy – You need to have some know-how before you can use spotting scopes. Thus, if you don’t know much about spotting scopes, you should opt for binoculars instead. But binoculars can allow you to view constellations. But they will be ineffective if you want to view other cosmic objects, such as the asteroids. This is because binoculars usually come with limited aperture size and magnification power.
But spotting scopes are built for long-range viewing, and if compared with any binocular in the world, they will emerge as winners. They can enable you to see the star clusters, or other planets (and the wonderful moon sometimes). Ensure you remember these tips before choosing the best instrument for your needs.

Target Shooting – A binocular is ideal for hunters who only shoot within 200 yards. Binoculars are stable, simple, and very portable, making them perfect for such hunters. But if you are someone who shoots beyond 200 yds, the perfect instrument for you would be a spotting scope. It will allow you to capture every detail due to its higher magnification. Spotting scopes are becoming more and more popular among snipers as a result of this.

Hunting – It is easier to carry a pair of binoculars in the woods than a spotting scope. Normally, hunters don’t need to scan hundreds of yards, so they usually don’t need more than binoculars.
But in some situations where a hunter needs to scan through hundreds of yards, a spotting scope with a tripod would be the ideal instrument in this sort of situation. Besides, the area sometimes determines the hunter’s inclination.


Also, both tools come with different features that make them fit for different things. Below is the analysis of each of their features.

Magnification power– If you are looking for higher magnification, then you should definitely go for a spotting scope. They have in-built zoom in lenses and they usually come with high magnifications varying from 20x to 60x. But binoculars come with fixed magnification and usually not above 20x.
Image stability– Binoculars are usable while on the move or while standing due to their lower magnifications. Meanwhile, spotting scopes have a high sensitivity to movement, and you will need to settle down and put them on a tripod/limb/stationary rock before you can use them.

Portability & compactness– Without any doubt, binoculars win when it comes to portability and compactness. They can be slung around your neck for easy movability (the smaller models may even fit in your coat pocket). Spotting scopes, on the other hand, are heavier and you need to carry them in a large cargo pocket or rucksack. If it is the former case, you may find the weight of the scope a little awkward after some time.

Price–A pair of advanced binoculars with several features can be costly. But a regular pair of binoculars with decent features is usually less expensive than a spotting scope. Although they aren’t as powerful as spotting scopes, binoculars come with impressive functionalities for a price that many hunters can afford.

Hunters who only hunt once in a while or who aren’t ready to spend a lot of money on a hunting equipment will probably see this as a huge plus and opt for a pair of binoculars. But, avid hunters who often go to the forests in search of a game will most likely opt for a spotting scope.

Spotting Scopes Vs Telescopes

If you are an avid birdwatcher or stargazer who is looking to upgrade his game, you may be stuck between either choosing a spotting scope and a telescope. The primary difference between these two instruments depends on what it is originally built for.

Spotting Scope – Spotting scopes are used for land viewing. Usually, they don’t come with as many features as telescopes, which makes them easier to use. If you are looking for a viewing tool to watch the wildlife, or watch boats from the beach, a spotting scope will probably do the job better than a telescope. If you will be majorly watching things on land, you should definitely opt for a spotting scope.

Telescope – Telescopes aren’t designed for viewing things on land. The myriad of adjustment choices makes it more difficult to use but stargazers love these capabilities once they learn how to use them. If you do use a telescope for land viewing, you may get a lot of distorted, sometimes upside down images, but you can purchase accessories that can fix this for you.

On the other hand, telescopes are not really designed for land viewing. They are very adjustable, which makes them less user-friendly than spotting scopes, but astronomers love what they are capable of doing once they have gotten used to them. While telescopes may perform terribly and deliver distorted images when used for land viewing, there are accessories you can purchase to fix them to an extent.


It is very difficult to declare a winner between a spotting scope and binoculars. Both instruments have their advantages and disadvantages, and most times, it always winds down to what you are intending to do with the optic. But having provided several tips and discussed several things that should aid your decision, you must have jumped on either ship by now. But if you are still undecided, why not go for both devices? It wouldn’t be a bad idea, provided your pocket is deep enough.


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