Birding (and wildlifing) with a spotting-scope

There are many amateur birders who use binoculars to pursue birding. Some of you might have also seen serious birders watching birds with spotting scopes.

The amount of light reflected by a subject to the eye, through the lenses of a scope, is far greater than the regular birding binoculars of, say,  8x40 dimension. This translates to far better visibility of a bird when seen through a scope, under comparable lighting. I personally feel seeing a bird with a spotting scope is the next level of experience in birding. I would never see a bird through binoculars, if I can see the same through my scope. 

With improved technology and production on a bigger scale,
a) the prices of optics like spotting scopes have gone south.
b) modern day spotting scopes are far lighter (mine weighs less than 2 kilos).
c) many recent scopes allow one to fix a pocket digital camera (or even DSLRs) to the scope's eye-piece. This converts the scope into a fixed focal length, long-range tele-lens. Although the quality of images might be nowhere near prime tele-lenses, the images are good for IDing birds, publishing them on blogs/ website or even using them for your or your kids' projects. The technique is referred to by many as 'digiscoping'.

Some of my own digiscoped images are on this page. All were taken by simply inserting my Canon A95 (5mp) camera's lens hand-held) into the scope eye-piece (fixed on a tripod).

There are many different types of binocs and scopes to suit you. Scopes start around US $200 with products from manufacturers like Celestron being among the least priced. As you go up there are others like Kowa, Bushnell and others at the lower end. I personally have been using the Celestron Ultima 80. 


I paid a little more than Rs. 10,000 to buy this in Canada, a couple of years ago. It is light weight and easily accompanies me as my cabin baggage during my travel to the field, on work.

You might want to use the following online web portals as reference on pricing and greater details (please read disclaimer at the end):


I would suggest those of you:
1) who are into serious birding,
2) who can afford to raise at least $200 along with a thousand Indian rupees for a tripod) and
3) ideally have some one visiting you from US/ Canada, to go for one.

Birding is fun for many of us. Doing so with a scope takes the fun to the next level.

Disclaimer: The products, manufacturers/ companies and websites/ portals mentioned above are for reference purpose only. I DO NOT in any way vouch for the quality or price of any product or manufacturer. Please do your own research carefully before investing your hard earned money in any product.

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  1. Cool Sir. Very nice pictures.

  2. Great pics and thanks for the info.....

  3. Good info. Nice pics.

  4. Thank you Ameen. This is extremely interesting and educative on a subject of which condensed knowledge is not easily available.


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