Binoculars vs Spotting Scopes: Which to Choose

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

Binoculars and spotting scopes are optical devices that provide magnified views of faraway objects. They differ by their optical features such as magnification and objective lens diameter for image clarity.

The activity where you’ll be using the optic will determine if you need binoculars or spotting scopes. There would be optics that would be best for bird watching, hunting, stargazing, target shooting, wildlife or safari trips, sports, hiking, or other outdoor activities. But often enough people use either type of scope for all purposes without distinction.

Understanding the basic features of the two categories of optical aids is the first step to choosing which one suits best. While binoculars are best for close to medium range distant viewing, spotting scopes are better for long distance viewing because they come with higher magnification and larger objective lens diameter.

Our top choice for binoculars is the Celestron Outland X 10X50. This is due to its ability to provide a great viewing quality with its 10×50 magnification without breaking the bank.

Our Top Binoculars Picks Are:

ProductDetails
1. Celestron Outland X 10X50 Binoculars

  • 10X magnification quality and Objective Lens size of 50mm
  • field of view of 294 ft at 1000
  • Weight
  • Sturdy built and anti grip surface
  • Rubberized Waterproof covering and fog proof optics
  • Multi-coated optic and BaK-4 roof prism for good contrast and resolution
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2. Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 10X42 Binoculars

  • 10 times magnification and 42mm objective lens
  • Turn and slide rubber eyecup
  • Weight 21.6 ounces
  • Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and Eco Glass
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Eye relief of 18.4mm
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3. Bushnell H20 10X42 Binoculars

  • 10 times magnification and 42mm objective lens
  • Field of View of 305 ft at 1000 yards
  • 17mm Eye Relief
  • 25 ounces weight
  • Fully waterproof and fog proof
  • Fully multicoated lenses
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1. Celestron Outland X 10X50 Binoculars

Celestron - Outland X 10x50 Binoculars - Waterproof & Fogproof - Binoculars for Adults - Multi-Coated Optics and BaK-4 Prisms - Protective Rubber Armoring

These binoculars give you the best value for the money and is a great optical toolfor your Birdwatching, Hunting and other viewing experiences.

We are enthusiastic about its ruggedness, quality, and compact size while giving you. It has high contrast and resolution capacity.

Unfortunately, the use of the twist-up eyecup which calls for a frequent adjustment to find suitable focus can be overbearing to handle.

Specs

  • 10X magnification quality and Objective Lens size of 50mm
  • Field of view of 294 ft at 1000
  • Weight
  • Sturdy built and anti grip surface
  • Rubberized Waterproof covering and fog proof optics
  • Multi-coated optic and BaK-4 roof prism for good contrast and resolution
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Eye relief of 14mm

Pros

  • Tripod adaptable
  • Flexible to use
  • Affordable
  • Good image quality
  • High range of view
  • Good light gathering and brighter view
  • Limited lifetime
  • Compact and durable

Cons

  • Short eye relief

Summary

This product is demanded by many buyers who wish to get good value for money. Introduced by one of the best brands in the market and possess a variety of features that suits simple outdoor usage

Rating – 4.6/5

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 2. Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 10X42 Binoculars

Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 10x42 Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binoculars Bundle Lens Pen & Essential Accessories (5 Items)

A great piece from the Nikon brand that offers the best use for hunting, wildlife, birdwatching, hiking, and others. One of the best-selling binoculars.

It is built with Extra-low Dispersion glass lens for high clarity. We like it for its superior image quality, natural color display, and ruggedness.

On the other hand, the product may not be suitable for use at heat temperatures due to its rubberized exterior.

Specs

  • 10 times magnification and 42mm objective lens
  • Turn and slide rubber eyecup
  • Weight 21.6 ounces
  • Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and Eco Glass
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Eye relief of 18.4mm
  • Dielectric multi-layer prism lens coating
  • Rubberized armor exterior

Pros

  • Tripod adaptable
  • Eye friendly as well as comfortable for use for those wearing glasses
  • Durable and flexible to use
  • Great light transmission capacity due to its multilayered prism coating
  • Works well at extreme weather conditions
  • Sharp and clear image view due to it’s ED and Eco glass lens.

Cons

  • Not so affordable for an average buyer

Summary

Good for buyers who enjoy luxury as well as quality to go with it. Its features are worth the value. It also comes with additional accessories.

Rating – 4.6/5

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3. Bushnell H20 10X42 Binoculars

Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 42-mm, Black

The Bushnell brand has cut a niche for itself with their entries into the optical world, and this model of their binocular caught our attention with its features and affordability. Best use for wildlife, hiking, marine trips, and others.

It is both waterproof and fog proof and is built to adapt to extreme weather conditions.

On the downside, the image quality is not as good as can be obtained from more priced binocular models

Specs

  • 10 times magnification and 42mm objective lens
  • Field of View of 305 ft at 1000 yards
  • 17mm Eye Relief
  • 25 ounces weight
  • Fully waterproof and fog proof
  • Fully multicoated lenses
  • Roof and Bak4 prisms layered glass
  • Nitrogen charged and O- ring sealed

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Efficient in light transmission
  • Strong and durable
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Not so good when used at low light environment
  • Image quality is not as fantastic when compared to more high valued Binos

Summary

This product offers good viewing features at an affordable price. Its limited lifetime warranty is an added boost.

Rating – 4.5/5

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Our pick for the spotting scope is the Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope because of its image quality and clarity. It has a great zooming feature due to its enhanced camera adaptability and comes at an affordable price.

Our Top Spotting Scopes Are:

ProductDetails
1. Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope

  • 20-60X Magnification and 80mm refractor objective lens
  • T-mount and camera adapter
  • Zoom eyepiece for smooth fixation
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Multicoated optics lenses
  • Sight tube knob for quick targeting
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2. Vortex Diamondback 20-60X60 Spotting Scope

  • 20-60 magnification and 60mm objective lens
  • Fully multi-coated lens and dielectric prism
  • Eye relief of 20-16.5mm
  • Field view if 105-5 at 1000 yards
  • 47.1-ounce weight.
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty
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3. Gorky 20-60X60 HD Spotting Scope

  • 20X Magnification and 60mm large Objective lens
  • High Definition Optics
  • 52 ounces weight
  • Waterproof, Shockproof and Fog proof
  • BaK4 Prism
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
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1. Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope

Celestron - Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope - 20 to 60x80mm Zoom Eyepiece - Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching, Wildlife, Scenery and Hunting - Waterproof and Fogproof - Includes Soft Carrying Case

This spotting scope delivers quality views at an affordable monetary value. ideal for target shooting, hunting, long-distance birdwatching, astronomical view and other activities of nature.

It’s a great piece for long-distance viewing with its 80mm refractive objective lens that gives quality image focus. We also love it’s zooming quality and It’s 45° angled view enables one to see more than just the target.

Specs

  • 20-60X Magnification and 80mm refractor objective lens
  • T-mount and camera adapter
  • Zoom eyepiece for smooth fixation
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Multicoated optics lenses
  • Sight tube knob for quick targeting
  • 45° viewing angle

Pros

  • Built for camera adaptability
  • Good for extreme weather conditions
  • Great light gathering capacity for image clarity
  • Great for mid-range distances and focus
  • Good lens and magnification capacity
  • Quality Zooming feature for smooth focus while retaining image clarity
  • Easy mounting and dismantling

Cons

  • Not so light in weight
  • High objective lens may require the use of a sunshade

Summary

The product is flexible, durable also comes with other accessories like a T-adapter, T-mount ring, eyepiece cover, eyepiece case, and cleaning cloth

If you are looking not to break the bank and still have quality, this product is ideal for you and that is why it’s our top choice for spotting scopes.

Rating – 4.6/5

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2. Vortex Diamondback 20-60X60 Spotting Scope

Vortex Optics Diamondback Spotting Scope 20-60x80 Angled

This Vortex Optic spotting scope model offers great value. Best use for long-distance Birdwatching, Hunting, Target Shooting, and Stargazing.

It has an unlimited unconditional lifetime warranty that guarantees you get repairs and replacements at any time. It also comes in straight or angled balance to choose from.  

At its monetary value range, it does not offer as many features as expected but the embedded features have maximum efficiency.

Specs

  • 20-60 magnification and 60mm objective lens
  • Fully multi-coated lens and dielectric prism
  • Eye relief of 20-16.5mm
  • Field view if 105-5 at 1000 yards
  • 1-ounce weight.
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty

Pros

  • Sturdy with great stability
  • A good field of view
  • Very durable and reliable with good quality for its price
  • Good image quality due to high light gathering capacity
  • Great for day and night viewing
  • Tripod adaptability with ease of mount and dismantling
  • Maximum focus capability

Cons

  • When zoomed at maximum magnification produces poor image quality
  • Not so light and compact
  • Not so budget-friendly

Summary

This product among others delivers a good viewing experience with its features. Strong and reliable associated with an unlimited lifetime warranty.

Rating – 4.5/5

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3. Gosky 20-60X60 HD Spotting Scope

Gosky 20-60x60 HD Spotting Scope with Tripod, Carrying Bag and Scope Phone Adapter - BAK4 45 Degree Angled Eyepiece Telescope for Target Shooting Hunting Bird Watching Wildlife Scenery

This is an all-round spotting scope. Ideal for Ranging, Birdwatching, Hunting, Target shooting, wildlife, and other outdoor viewings.

This product offers quality at an affordable price. Adaptable with many smartphone series and is accompanied by additional accessories for convenience.

Specs

  • 20X Magnification and 60mm large Objective lens
  • High Definition Optics
  • 52 ounces weight
  • Waterproof, Shockproof and Fog proof
  • BaK4 Prism
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • Powerful Zooming
  • 45° angled Eyepiece

Pros

  • Reasonably affordable
  • Compatible with all tripods
  • Good for all weather conditions
  • Durable
  • None slip grip due to built with rubber armor
  • Water, shock and fog resistance
  • Great Image Quality and clarity

Cons

  • Not so eye-friendly
  • Less Compact and flexible
  • Heavier than most Spotting Scopes

Summary

As one of our top choices, this offers good quality with its High definition feature that ensures great image quality. Sturdy enough for maximum focus and can be used at all weather conditions

Rating – 4.5/5

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Buying Guide for Choosing Between Binoculars and Spotting Scopes

Having reviewed some of our top choices for both binos and scopes, we have a few tips that should be considered when choosing to buy either binos or scopes

Functionality / Best Uses

Getting a bino or a scope should have to be based on what the need for it is. Such as considering if the need is for long-range and distance focus or close distances such as stargazing or sporting view.

While spotting scopes will be better for stargazing due to long-distance viewing, binoculars might just be ideal for sports view

Portability and Size

Binos come in more portable sizes and efficient for compact lovers. Spotting scopes are usually heavier and bigger in size. Size and weight will definitely matter when considering desirable comfort

Ergonomics

Binos and spotting scopes have inbuilt features that target special needs ranging from degree of focus and magnifications, the field of view, eye relief feature, etc.

So depending on the desired activity, attention should be paid to the different features each of the two categories possess.

Mobility

Binos are built essentially for ease of mobility and might be ideal for viewing activities that are best enjoyed while on the move such as safari adventure.

Ease of Use

Binos are usually smaller and lighter than scopes and hence are considered to be easier to use. Spotting scopes will in most cases require mounting and dismantling for use. But depending on the need, both can be very, ease of use may not necessarily apply.

 

Weather Proofing

Be it binos or scopes, they should have features designed to withstand harsh weather conditions though there are ones specifically built for such conditions, there are quite a few that may not be specifically mentioned to withstand strong weather conditions.

Quality and Durability

All binos and scopes introduced into the market usually come with the promise of quality and durability but it’s usually ideal to suggest that products with high valued prices may tend to deliver better in quality and durability hence their prices but it is also worthy to note that may not be the case at all times.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, choosing between binoculars and spotting scopes is no easy job. They basically do the same thing while excelling in their own way. The major difference is that binoculars use 2 eyepieces and 2 lenses while spotting scopes use a single eyepiece and eye lense.

If you’re looking at a long distance viewing, spotting scopes do a better job with it’s higher magnification while binoculars excel at shorter distance.

If you’re looking for good binoculars we recommend Celestron Outland X 10X50. It offer a decent 10x magnification with a wonderful brightness level. And as for a spotting scope, do check out the Celestron Ultima 80 which gives you quality and affordability.

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