Spotting Scopes vs Binoculars (Which One is Better & Why)

Spotting scope and Binoculars are great optics for outdoor enthusiasts, target shooters, birders, nature watchers, sportspersons, etc, but most of you may doubt on the purpose of owning these optics? Actually, the spotting scopes helps to see the far-away places in excellent detail.

With the balanced features on both sides, it’s gonna be tough to hold on to one choice either spotting scope or binocular.

Both the devices will magnify the far-off subjects so it’s not a big deal to analyze them closer without any discomfort. But there are some differences between them, in this blog let’s see when should you choose one over the other?

We can look deep into the differences and usefulness of both the optics and get a clear understanding of both spotting scopes and binoculars.

Spotting Scope: Overview

Spotting scopes are high magnification monocular scopes that are tripod mounted, eyepieces can be either angled or straight. In terms of magnification, power spotters stand higher than binoculars. 

Spotting scope

Spotting scopes let you see objects that are too far to see clearly with the naked eye, but not outside of our atmosphere. These scopes are convenient to use also they can be mounted to a tripod or stand for shake-free viewing.



Binoculars: Overview

Binoculars are two tiny telescopes fixed together also they are small, lightweight, and easily portable. The lenses on both sides will magnify the image you see and give more detail. 


Most binoculars can be tripod-mounted for hands-free viewing. Binoculars are built to handle adverse outdoor conditions. They’re built tough and are often fog-proof, waterproof, weather-proof, and impact-resistant.



Spotting scope vs Binoculars: Differences

  • Spotting scope comes with “one lens and eyepiece” whereas binoculars have “two lenses and eyepieces”.
  • Spotting scopes have high-end magnification, while binoculars can only cover up the lower end of the spectrum. Binoculars don’t have the ability to magnify a large range as they have a narrow focus.
  • Spotting scopes are longer and wider than binoculars. Binoculars are more compact, lightweight, and conveniently transferable.
  • For long-distance viewing, spotting scopes will be the best option as it gives a perfect and detailed look, while binoculars are suitable for close-ups and medium distances.
  • Due to high-end magnifications, Spotting scopes will be a bit tough to use without tripods; otherwise, even a slight shake in your hand will spoil the picture. Binoculars, on the contrary, can be handled easily.

Spotting Scope Vs Binoculars: Magnification

One of the major difference between spotting scopes and binoculars is magnification,

Binoculars ranges between 4x to 25x, whereas Spotting scopes ranges as low as 11x and 15 x and offer as much as 60x, 80x, 100x.

Obviously, this means that spotting scopes can offer you more detail and magnify subjects even at much farther distances for your viweing enjoyment.

The next difference to share is the Zoom ability of both optics. Binoculars are fixed power optics so it can offer magnification at one setting so it’s not possible to zoom in and out to make changes in amount of magnification.

Spotting scopes are adjustable power optics which means they can zoom in and out to either increase or decrease the amount of magnification.

Winner: Spotting Scope

Spotting Scope Vs Binoculars: Portability

Binoculars are lightweight optics that are well designed to be portable and compact. You can simply wear it around the neck and can be pocketed easily. Spotting scopes are larger and designed to be tripod mounted for attaining stable images. In general binoculars are highly compact than spotting scopes.


Objective Lens Sizes

If the objective lens is bigger the better the picture you’ll see. You could see more detailings in a picture with the help of a good quality lens. Quality matters a lot when it comes to the lens.

Spotting scopes tend to have rather large objective lenses, ranging from 45mm to 100mm but the common range is 60 -80mm. Binoculars have the objective lenses ranging from 25mm for compact binoculars to 42mm for general all-purpose outdoors binos to 100mm for giant astronomy binoculars.

Winner- Spotting Scope

Viewing Angle

Obviously binoculars are straight so you have to fix the spot and look straight into them, while Spotting scopes can be either straight or angled.

The Spotting scope can be smoothly adjusted to look through an object, if the scope is mounted to a tripod then it’s quite easier to bend down to look through an angled eyepiece than to lower your whole body to the level of the scope.

Winner- Spotting scope

Field Of View

Field of view defines the amount that you can actually see through the optic. Bigger FOV means you can see more and more. Lenses with high-powered magnification tend to have a minimal field of view.

In that case, Binoculars have a extensive field of view. On the contrary, spotting scopes produce higher magnification than binos so they have a smaller field of view.

Winner – Binoculars

Spotting Scopes VS Binoculars: Applications

Spotting scopes are commonly used in birding as well as nature watching, these scopes allow the avid nature lovers to see the distant animals very closer and that to with great detailing. This will be very helpful for them to observe the surroundings and protect from harmful situations.

Hunters make use of spotting scopes for spotting and tracking the hidden objects no matter how far the prey is.


We’ve already discussed regarding the magnification and zooming capability of both optics so you guys may have known the winner. Spotting scopes have adjustable zoom too, the lower power allows for a wider field of view meanwhile the higher power gives a closer look. Normal binoculars can’t compete with spotting scopes but big binoculars with 25x magnification and 70mm objective lens will be worth. The big binoculars compete with spotting scopes of 20-60x and 60mm lenses.

To observe moon, planets, rings, galaxies higher magnification is required so without a doubt spottting scopes will offer a better results. For amateur astronomy observation , spotting scopes stands higher than binoculars.

Winner: Spotting Scope

When To Use a Spotting Scope?

Hunters, wildlife watchers, birders will find spotting scope as the best, for surveillance purpose also it is well suitable. Spotting scopes works great when you need to see something that’s really far away. 60x magnification levels will make it possible to see things from a great distance in high levels of detail.

A Spotting Scope works best for following activities.

  • Digiscoping
  • Hunting
  • Nature study
  • Astronomy
  • Target shooting
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Surveillance of properties, people, etc.
  • Long-distance bird watching

You can place the scope on a tripod and view the scene, otherwise the image will not be clear. There may be lot of image shake when holding a spotting scope by hand, so just set up in a area and watch it slowly.

When to Use Binoculars?

If you’re not willing to carry too much weight then these are the best choice. They’re also best for viewing subjects that aren’t too distant. Binoculars usually have the magnification levels of 12x or less so they aren’t the best choice for very long-distance viewing.

This makes them perfect for hunting, watching sports games or concerts, and nature watching.

Binoculars work best for the following activities:

  • Short field hunting
  • Watching sports events or concerts
  • When taking a long look or scanning an area
  • Spotting game or tracking

Most of the time, binoculars will be tougher than spotting scopes, so they’re best for rough environments and adverse weather conditions. They are highly durable to withstand at any circumstances.

Final words

We’ve seen the detailed note on binoculars vs. spotting scope and concluded that both devices are best in their features. Each tool works in a unique way our work is choose the right tool based on the needs. Check out the pros and cons of spotting scope vs binoculars, uses of both optics and come to the final decision.

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