How Does a Spotting Scope Work?

Have you ever wondered how the wildlife photographers click those amazing shots? Do you think they used their camera lenses for hours of observations, thus draining the battery life? If you assumed that, then you are wrong.

Wildlife photographers, hunters, athletes who focus on shooting uses an object called a spotting scope. As the name implies, people use this scope predominately for spotting far away objects that are not visible to the naked eye.

Many other products work similarly like a scope, such as a telescope or binocular. However, a spotting scope is a more modern approach to magnifying lenses. It is an equipment that fits well with rifle scopes, a camera, and, most importantly, tripods.

Hence, spotting scopes have gained much popularity over the years among travelers, photographers, and rifle shooters. But how does the device work?

Image Formation

Like any other magnifying mirror, a spotting scope also uses the basics of the Galilean telescope. In a telescope or a binocular, a convex lens plays the role of the first lens that captures the image, and the light rays pass through the central focus creating an inverted image.


But there is another concave lens at the farthest end of the eye that reverses the image and forms an accurate picture. So, the result is a bigger version of the object that is far away.

In a spotting scope, the convex lens is called the objective lens, which plays the most critical part in forming the picture. You will notice that all scopes have dimensions such as 80mm or 70mm scribbled at the side of the cylinder. This specification denotes the diameter of the lens at the very end, farthest from the eye.

So, by combining two lenses, a hollow cylinder, and the power of physics, a spotting scope can generate an upright image every time. However, other factors contribute to the quality of the end image. Those factors are:

Magnification Range

Manufacturers have curated spotting scopes by keeping the perfect range in mind. Most hunters or rifle shooters do not need to see beyond 500 yards. For such a distance, 20-60x magnification works beautifully. Although you will get premium quality scopes that offer a more significant range.

While a bigger lens would be helpful, if the body and the lenses inside the object are not well made, then the scope will be worthless. So, it is better to work with a 20-60x range and effortlessly maintain accuracy.

Another reason why you would prefer the magnification range of scopes over telescopes is that it is daytime friendly. You can also focus with ease when you use this product. An easy tip to smooth focusing is to glide the magnification range to the max and adjust the focus.

Supporting Body and Tripod

Body of the product and its stabilizing capability helps a lot in curating sharp and pristine images. Scopes are durable, and they often come in camouflage shade. So, you can hunt in discreet.


Its Cylindrical body restricts air or light from entering and disrupting the process of image formation. Moreover, you also have a faux shade at the very end that can be used to prevent sun flares.

The scope also has different designs, such as straight-line shape and angled shape. Although both models are great, you should choose an angled scope as it is more comfortable to use and also versatile. You can even adjust it with a camera.

An essential step of setting the scope is to fix it on a tripod, and without that step, the image will be very blurry and unreadable. Only the best spotting scope tripod can assure you that the product will not have a shaky support system.

Modifications and Maintenance

Cooler features are added to scopes nowadays that optimize the overall experience. The lenses have fully coated or multicoated protection layers that help against the wind, dust, and harsh sun-rays.

Since you are using the device to see far away, you have to consider factors in the atmospheric hindrances. But with a scope, you have to worry less, as they have high-quality convex or objective lenses.

Moreover, these products are also waterproof. However, it is still better to keep the device away from extreme humidity. Otherwise, steam and fog will blur the vision from inside the tunnel. You cannot even clean the lenses since they are out of reach.

So, the more accessible approach is to pack the device in a spotting scope case carefully. Most brands offer a container with the purchase. If your brand does not, you can always purchase an extra one.


The mechanism of scopes is basic physics, but the construction is not. Hence, these items are valuable and worth the price. A spotting scope can make your observation task more fun and exciting!

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