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Hunting and birdwatching are enjoyable outdoor activities—but only if you have the right equipment. And by “right” we mean a piece of gadget rated as one of the top-tier performers on the market.
You wouldn’t want to work with something substandard, or anything that makes tracking a slow-moving target feel like a hassle. You’ll eventually get frustrated, and regret wasting your time and money.
In today’s guide, we’ll be looking at some of the best spotting scopes available in Canada. In the following reviews we’ll talk about what each one of them brings to the table, and more importantly, how they work. Let’s get started!
|Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope||
|SVBONY SV46 Spotting Scope HD Dual Focus||
|Nikon Prostaff 5 Spotting 82-Straight with Zoom||
|Landove 20-60X80 Spotting Scope||
|USCAMEL 20-60x80 Spotting Scope||
Vortex is a family-owned American brand that’s synonymous with the production of high-grade spotting scopes for hunting. So if you invest your money in anything Vortex, you know you’re making the right investment. This Viper 15-45×65 is a straight scope designed with features that guarantee optimal optic performance. If you take a quick look at its HD optical system, you’ll realize it’s packed with all the requisite components needed to produce crispy images.
We already knew the scope was going to deliver in low-light situations since it comes with XR anti-reflective coatings. And the built-in sunshade is meant to protect the user from any glare that might obstruct their view. The smooth helical focus feature has been tasked to ensure no hunter will complain about not being able to dial in an image, whenever they’re looking for an ultra-sharp viewing. They’ll also be allowed to rotate the scope if they feel like it, thanks to the locking collar.
Does it offer a reasonable eye relief for the guys who rely on prescription glasses? Yes, it does. And the glass won’t fog because the scope is argon purged and O-ring sealed plus the optic’s lenses have been shielded against scratches using ArborTech coatings and oil. These same coatings are the reason the scope is both dustproof and water-resistant.
Finally, we love the rubber armor that facilitates grip and durability, but the brand needs to do something about how the images distort away from the center.
SVBONY honestly surpassed our expectations with this one—the Viper 15-45×65 is everything you’d wish for, and then some. First off, it has a waterproof rating of IPX7, but it can’t be submerged deeper than 1 meter. The scope is a variable iteration with a magnification power range of 20–60x and an objective lens diameter of 80mm. So even if you’re not impressed by how versatile it is, you’ll still have to give it props for delivering a bigger lens that can generate detailed images.
Other features that make it ideal for hunting birds are the nine lenses installed inside, and the BAK4 prism. Together, they increase light transmission to guarantee all images generated are crisp—even in low light. They pumped the tubes with nitrogen gas to deal with the problem of fog, and to protect the components from the effects of moisture. Its outer rubber layer enhances grip and guards the device against shock.
Honorable mentions include the telescopic sunshade meant to reduce glare, and the carry case that helps with maintenance.
The Nikon Prostaff5 scope is for users who are passionate about optical performance and willing to spend the extra money. It comes with next-generation technology that offers not only high magnification, but precision as well.
Nikon is a big brand with enough resources to manufacture a scope like the Prostaff5, which offers an improved chromatic aberration reduction, courtesy of its multi-coated lenses. The images generated are usually high in contrast and bright, even in low-light conditions. From what we’ve observed, we think the internal texturing has also contributed to that image quality, as it reduces reflective light loss.
This model is very light, compact, and packable. The design is also ergonomic, and it has a built-in sliding sunshade to manage problems brought about by glare. We liked how fog-proof and waterproof the housing was, as it features an O-ring seal and nitrogen.
The 16–48x zooming eyepiece offers versatility, and the 82mm ocular made sure we had a decent field of view for target acquisition.
This Viper 15-45×65 comes with some cool features. Let’s start with the fully multi-coated lens, which has a superior BAK4 prism and a green film to increase the rate of light transmission and minimize the amount of stray light trying to gain access to the sensor.
It’s a variable scope with a pretty large ocular lens diameter. Speaking of, that lens is part of an intricate focusing system designed to make zooming easy, especially if you’re trying to spot a target that’s hundreds of miles away.
The build is solid. There’s no doubting that, and the tube is nitrogen-filled to keep moisture and fog at bay. The grip is not only shockproof but also non-slip. This scope includes a lifetime warranty, a metal table tripod, lens covers, and a cleaning cloth In addition, you’ll be getting a Digi-scoping cell phone adapter that allows users to record videos while they are working.
If we were asked which area needed improvements, we would say one—the lens filter. We don’t know why the supplier isn’t interested in producing filters. You could find filters through other sources, but it’s difficult to source them.
The fast dynamic focusing feature ensures the USCAMEL 20-60×80 Spotting Scope only takes a couple of seconds to capture everything there is to see on a target. It also has a stabilizing function for a better optical effect. Its objective lens’ diameter measures 80mm, and the whole thing is covered with a multi-coated layer of green film. When coupled with the superior BAK4 prism, the device increases its light transmission rate and effectively reduces the stray light that usually makes images appear unclear or dull.
To facilitate comfort, the brand gave it a 45-degree ergonomic design. They added an outer rubber layer to protect the scope from external shock and enhance grip. The retractable sunshade feature and its IPX7 waterproof rating will quiet your concerns as to whether the device can be used in extreme conditions. You’ll love everything but the poor image quality at the highest magnification.
Leica has upped their game with the Leica APO-Televid scope. The key feature in this model is the 82mm objective lens. We don’t know how they did it, but they ensured it always creates detailed, high-contrast images in both favorable lighting conditions, and unfavorable.
This lightweight spotter has aquadura coatings that promise to deliver a high-performance score rating in extreme weather. You won’t have to worry about dust, heat, or precipitation. When it comes to the adjustment feature, Leica’s dual focus system has been instrumental in making it fast and precise.
Although the image clarity was consistent throughout the magnifications, that zooming range was too small for our liking. We understand that it’s a compromise that they had to make to maintain the same image quality, but it’s still a bummer.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Trailseeker. But don’t assume that it’s among the worst performers in the market, just because it comes last on our list. It has all the important features that would help it qualify for a spot in the big leagues. One of them being the XLT fully multi-coated lenses.
A feature that typically increases light transmission to help the optic generate some crisp sight images. To top that off, it has a fast focus mode that enables users to quickly acquire targets and lock-in. If you feel the need to dial back the image, it will provide you with some fine-tuning options.
In its package, you’ll also find a small tripod. It rotates so that you can get a 360-degree view of anything you want. This model is also lightweight, compact, and very durable.
If Celestron finally replaces its flimsy case with a sturdy one, it will be a force to be reckoned with.
We will not assume that everyone who’s reading this post has used or bought a spotting scope before. Therefore, if you wish to learn more about the different features and how they influence buyer decisions, this is your section.
Numbers will represent the magnification feature on a spotting scope. We’re sure you’ve seen figures that are in this format; 10X, 20X, or 10X-20X 30mm. 10X means that any object that will be viewed through that scope, will appear 10 times closer. In addition, since it’s not written in a range format, that number implies that the scope is a fixed spotting scope.
If you find a dash in between those magnification numbers, it’s an indication that the scope you’re holding has a zooming power range. In other words, it’s a variable magnification scope. For example, any user can recalibrate our 10X-20X scope, from 10X to 20X. Hence, making the objects appear 10 times or 20 times closer. You could also tune it to give you a magnification that falls in between that range, like say, 15X.
As a beginner, you’ll be tempted to purchase a scope that has the highest magnification levels. Please resist that urge, as it might come back to bite you. Any experienced hunter or shooter will attest to the fact that various conditions of the environment normally affect picture visibility at higher magnification.
A level like 60X might give you the best sight picture on a clear sunny day, but make you want to pull all your hair out on a humid day, or in an environment plagued by air pollution. If the scope is a variable optic, you could dial it back and lock it in a lower magnification mode. But if it’s a fixed one, you’ll have to go back home and get a different scope (if you have one) or try again on a different day.
We recommend purchasing variable scopes if you are undecided and would like to play it safe. Even if you know what you’re going to use the optic for, you can’t argue with the fact that working with a fixed scope is usually limiting.
To add to that, the magnification of a pocket-friendly scope will never be the same as that of a scope that would dent your pockets. Even if both scopes have a magnification of 30X, the one that costs less will always have a problem with clarity. Your objects will appear 30 times closer, as you’d expect, but if you compare its clarity to that of the one created by the pricey scope, you’ll see there’s a clear difference.
If we’re working with our previous example (10X-20X 30mm) that last part represents the diameter of the scope’s objective lens. And this size is important because it will be the feature that regulates the light that the optic relies on to generate a decent sight picture.
It should be big enough to guarantee an ample amount of light passes through to the sensor to help anyone navigate different situations. That being said, don’t take this as a cue to go for the biggest lens available, as it gets to a point where the gains start to become marginal, and the weight unmanageable.
Anything that’s larger than 50mm will only be effective if you’re planning to be stationery.
Do not spend all your time thinking about the scope’s magnification and forget about the close capabilities. A higher optical power will sort of be useless if the device can’t focus on any target before it’s set up.
Companies rarely install the focus feature on affordable/cheaper scope models. Especially those that were only designed to work efficiently while spotting targets that are only a few feet away.
Spotting scopes come in two variations. You could either experiment with the straight-angled tube or go for the angled one. We’ve used both of them long enough to know they can be used interchangeably. So don’t think too much about this factor, as it’s not a make-or-break decision.
Regardless, we still have to talk about their distinct advantages when it boils down to the activity being undertaken, and long-term comfort. With the straight tube, it’s a lot easier to point at a target, while looking straight through it. And it won’t matter if you’ve mounted the device on a rifle, tripod, or just hold it using your hands.
With the angled tube, things are a little bit different. For you to be able to view your target, you’ll first have to view the magnifier, which has been designed to show you the image at a 45-degree or 90-degree angle. Thus, you won’t have a “laser vision” of the target.
We like to use the straight tubes while hunting, as they make tracking targets easy in a cramped-up space. Angled tubes are more efficient when viewing objects that are stationery. Like the stars in the sky, for example.
You’ve got to be 100% certain that the scope you’re hoping to buy is totally weatherproof. Kindly note we’ve used the term weather-resistant and not water-resistant. That’s because we know snow and rain are not the only weather elements that can cause an optic to malfunction. Dust can still affect it, as with extreme heat and even strong winds.
A good spotting scope should have a tube that’s well purged, and completely free of any kind of moisture—not even oxygen should be in there. If there are traces of oxygen, the internal glass will immediately fog when you move it to a warmer space from a cold one. Of course, the fog will dissipate after a while, but the hassle is not worth it.
Eye relief is the distance between the scope’s eyepiece lens and your eye. And it’s usually determined by the field of view. The further away you are from the optic, the narrower the view. If your scope’s eye relief specification is written as 18-20mm, your eye needs to be at least 18mm away from the lens, but not more than 20mm away.
But then again, the accuracy of this specification should only worry you if you’re someone who depends on prescription glasses. That distance should be wider to compensate for the recoil.
The industry standard is 18-20mm for such users, even if you rely on thick glasses.
Your zooming power will be indirectly proportional to your field of view. That’s to say, the more you zoom in on a target, the narrower the field of view becomes. Without the spotting scope or any other optical device, an average human has a field of view of 210 degrees, in the form of a horizontal arc.
Even though the scope won’t be designed to deliver that field of view, it’s important to have this number at the back of your head in case you want to make comparisons. And before we forget, this specification can be written in degree form or feet. For example, the manufacturer will describe the product’s FOV as 2.0–25 degrees @ 500 yards or 150–200 ft @ 500 yards.
Remember, the wider the field of view, the easier it will be to track your moving targets.
As usual, we’d like to sign out by reminding you guys what our top picks were. The Vortex Optics Viper HD Spotting Scope impressed us more than any other spotter on this list. It definitely catered to all our needs, including those that we never even knew existed.
The SVBONY SV46 Spotting Scope came second because it was a value-for-money product, while the Nikon Prostaff 5 Spotting scope was our premium choice.
We hope these reviews have helped to find the best spotting scope for your needs.
Featured Image Credit: Aenigmatis-3D, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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