Spotting Scope VS Telescope | Which Is Better Spotting Scope or Telescope?

Last Updated on April 4, 2023

Spotting Scope VS Telescope: You’ve probably heard the terms spotting scope and telescope before but aren’t quite sure what the difference between them is. What’s the difference? Well, a spotting scope is much like binoculars.

In this scope, you look through the lenses and see what is magnified in front of you. On the other hand, a telescope allows you to use your distance vision to see things in front of you on the horizon or farther away.

Therefore, spotting scopes are suitable for terrestrial observation, such as bird watching and particular astronomical watching in low light conditions. On the other hand, telescopes are more likely to offer a good view of the sky but are less portable, durable, and slightly more complex to use than spotting scopes.

Spotting Scope VS Telescope

Spotting Scope VS Telescope: Which One to Choose?

Now, you may wonder whether to get a spotting scope or telescope. Here are the differences and how you can pick the one that best suits your viewing needs.


When it comes to spotting scopes, you have 2 -options. Scopes are available in straight and angled configurations. Usually, birders and casual users prefer the angled view.

On the other hand, hunters and sportspeople prefer the straight view due to their body position when using the scope. Straight forward seeing is helpful for sports and hunting since it makes it easier to find your objective and keep up with moving subjects.

Moreover, some telescopes are built with a right-angle viewing option. But, some are built to allow viewing while aiming upward rather than at terrestrial subjects. The Dobsonian telescope is such that you cannot use it for terrestrial viewing.


With their zoom eyepieces, most spotting scopes have a 60x magnification power. As a result, it’s like having a 3000mm (60x) lens in your hands. On the other hand, larger telescopes are meant for deep sky objects far out in the universe.

They usually have magnification levels that are more than double a spotting scope. However, you can often use ordinary telescope eyepieces with spotting scopes to increase magnification. But the overall viewing experience is usually better when you use a telescope.

Although some telescopes usually include a finderscope to help you aim, they are tough to aim at. Because it is like you’re seeking a distant object through a small soda straw, on the other contrary, to help you aim, spotting scopes may have crosshairs or dot-cross reticles.

Close Focus

The lens of a telescope focuses on distant objects. They have limited close-focusing capabilities. Therefore, telescopes are not well suited for focusing on close things.

On the other hand, a spotting scope is for terrestrial use, and you can use it to get close focusing views. Moreover, now we use spotting scopes in a variety of situations.

Light Gathering

Telescopes have optical tube assemblies (OTA) with bigger diameters. With its larger light-gathering capacity, you’ll be able to see more of the night sky.

On the contrary, a spotting scope has comparatively more minor light-gathering power than telescopes. Even the most immense spotting scopes have a minor diameter than the home reflector telescopes.

Although, spotting scopes are more portable and convenient to carry and more than sufficient for most applications a typical hunter or outdoorsman might require.

The Upside-Down

The image you view via a telescope is inverted. But spotting scopes feature prisms that flip the image before reaching your eye. It allows you to see up is up and down is down.

This reversal isn’t noticeable whether staring at birds, the moon, or the stars. But the image of the bird in the tree across the street may appear weird.

However, adding a diagonal prism to your telescope can help solve this problem, reducing image quality. On the other hand, spotting scopes avoid this problem due to built-in prisms.


Hunting, birding, and wildlife watching enthusiasts can all benefit from the waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof nature of most spotting scopes. But the most powerful telescopes aren’t meant to be moved around much. They’re not bumped against anything and exposed to the weather.


Spotting scopes are much more portable than most telescopes. While many small and portable telescopes are available, spotting scopes will often come with a “C-thru” case.

This case resists scratches and allows you to use the scope in various locations. Larger telescopes should be boxed up for moving to another place; they are not designed around portability like spotting scopes are.

Ease of Use

Even though spotting scopes and telescopes function in distinct ways, they are both simple to use. The ability to close in a distant object with a zoom eyepiece is typical on spotting scopes.

For changing magnification, telescopes use different eyepieces that need to replace. Because of this, you’ll need to bring a range of eyepieces with you to the field. On the other hand, it is easy to use a spotting scope since it is one piece of equipment.

Though some spotting scopes use tripods, telescopes are specifically designed to be mounted on them. Thus, you’ll need a pretty good tripod for your telescope.

Besides, keep in mind that larger telescopes require more specialized tripods. However, if you have both spotting scope and telescope, you can use the same tripod for both scopes.

The Choice – Spotting Scope VS Telescope

Both a telescope and a spotting scope are great tools in their ways. They are two very different pieces of kit that serve other purposes, although we frequently use them in similar ways.

Both devices use lenses to magnify distant objects. Therefore, choosing between a spotting scope and a telescope depends on your needs.

Final Verdict

However, a telescope allows you to look at stars and planets in space, while the spotting scope provides viewing objects from a short distance, such as when hunting.

Thus, a telescope is usually larger than a spotting scope and has more powerful magnification capabilities and a large lens.

And so, telescopes are pretty heavy, can only be handheld for short distances, and tend to be used at night or in dark conditions. On the other hand, spotting scopes are perfect for organizing your viewing with features such as illuminated reticles.

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