Note: Prices change over time and some of the products named below may cost more than $100 at the time of reading. To know the exact price, click on the images to see the current price on Amazon.
Spotting scopes are a great help for people engaging in hunting, bird watching, target shooting or any other activities wherein you will need to enhance your vision. Spotting scopes are specially designed to be used with a tripod, and are rarely used handheld. For long distance, they are much preferred to using a pair of binoculars as they can give you great magnification paired with clarity, though they are not as portable as a pair of binoculars.
Spotting scopes can be quite expensive though. Thankfully, there are now products, albeit mediocre, that you can buy for just a hundred dollars or less. Here are the best spotting scopes which you can buy for under $100.
With a vast market of affordable spotter scopes today, it was a difficult task for us to choose the best one. However, there is one that seems to have an excellent price-to-quality ratio:
According to spec, it can deliver a magnification of up to 75x. Don’t count on bright, stable and clear images at that magnification for that price, though. This spotting scope can be held by hand and also comes with a tripod for a more comfortable and stable viewing experience. Its lenses are also fully coated to allow enough light to pass through, giving you a clearer and brighter image.
This scope has an angled eyepiece to make it easier and more comfortable to use when standing. It will ease the pain you experience in your neck every time you tilt it in tracking flying animals or watching stars at night. The tripod included is capable of rotating 360 degrees.
- Good price-to-quality ratio
- Easy on the neck
- Tripod included can rotate up to 360 degrees
- Cannot be connected to a smartphone to take photos
- Unclear images when magnified in the maximum level
- BK-7 prism is not as good as BAK-4
Binoculars are sometimes not enough to view objects at far distances. If you need something that has a greater magnification power, then you will need a spotting scope.
First, there are two types of spotting scopes: angled and straight. What type to choose is somewhat commonly neglected. However, choosing the right one is very important. There is no difference in weight but a straight spotter is a bit longer than an angled one.
Using an angled spotting scope means that you can use a much shorter tripod, it’s easier on the neck, and easier to switch when two or more people use it. However, it can be difficult to pack in your bag because of its size.
When using a straight spotting scope, however, can make your targeting much easier and faster, can still be used even in extreme conditions, it’s easier to pack in your bag and is the perfect one for newbies and starters in the world of distance viewing. It’s also easier to use from within a car or other tight quarters. Disadvantages include pain in the neck and your tripod need to be taller to avoid crouching to use it.
When choosing a spotting scope, there are several factors you need to consider. These include magnification power and the diameter of lens.
A spotting scope’s specification is composed of two numbers. The first number is its magnification power, and the second one is its lens diameter. These two numbers determine the spotting scope’s performance as well as its size.
For example, say we have a spotting scope that has a specification of 30-80 x 65mm.
As described in the last paragraph, the first number determines the magnification power. In this case, our spotting scope has an adjustable magnification power of 30-80. This means that upon viewing on the spotting scope’s eyepiece, you get to view object 30 to 80 times closer than your naked eye. Spotting scopes with a higher magnification level will enable you to see farther things clearer.
The second number determines the diameter of the lens. Our hypothetical spotting scope has lens with a diameter of 65mm. Typically the diameter is between 50 and 100mm. The diameter of the lens defines the amount of light that can enter the objective. While having a larger lens diameter for your spotting scope can mean brighter and clearer images, this also means that your spotting scope can be much heavier and bulkier, and it can be more difficult to bring it with you to different places.
Budget Spotting Scopes Reviewed
This product has been regarded by most outdoor enthusiasts as one of the best spotting scopes because of its capability to provide a bright, clear and detailed view during bird watching and hunting, while being friendly on your budget.
It also comes with a digiscoping adapter so that you can take photos of the view using your smartphone. To do this, you just have to place the camera to the scope’s eyepiece. This scope also has good durability as it is covered with a high-quality shock absorbing rubber armor and is fully fog and waterproof.
- Water proof and fog proof
- Very portable and user friendly
- High durability
- Can be used with your smartphone
- Decent quality images
- Very cheap
- The tripod that comes with it is somewhat weak
This spotting scope is perfect for shooting and hunting purposes. Aside from the clarity and powerful magnification, the Visionking is also very comfortable to use. It is perfect for use by people who wear any eyewear such as eye protection googles, prescription glasses, or sunglasses.
The tripod that comes with it also complements the scope well. It has a very sturdy build and a very good spread that allows the scope to angle up to a 90-degree position. Overall, it has great features with a great tripod for a very reasonable price.
- Produces stable and clear images
- Perfect for shooting and hunting
- Quality construction
- Sturdy and durable tripod
- Lightweight and very portable
- Not good for very large distances
- Relatively little-known brand
The ROXANT Blackbird is one of the best spotting scopes which can be used for every kind of outdoor activity.
Ergonomics is the main strongpoint of this scope. Its rugged non-slip armor makes it very comfortable and remains static when it is being held by hand. Its retractable eyepiece makes it also usable with or without glasses. A sunshade on the main barrel is also there to reduce the glare by the sun.
Its BAK-4 prism design and multi coated lenses also enable it to provide better, brighter and sharper imagery compared to many optics in the same price range. There is also a tripod that comes with the package.
This is a fairly compact product and is very portable, but doesn’t go as high in terms of magnification and lens size.
- A sunshade that reduces glare
- BAK-4 prism design and multi coated lenses for better images
- Compact and portable
- Very affordable despite good specs
- Irking sound is made when the eyepiece is turned
The Barska Colorado is a great choice for those who spend a lot of time in nature like hunters and bird watchers. Its carrying case is fully water proof, so you can bring and use it regardless of the weather. Its 60mm lens can produce bright and sharp images even in low light conditions. Its BK-7 prism design and fully coated lenses makes the images even clearer, though the prism is not as good as a BAK-4 would be.
The package also comes with a mounting tripod and double lens cap. The enclosed tripod is durable and easy to set up. Its height can be also freely and easily adjusted depending on your preferences.
- Waterproof casing
- BK-7 prism design and fully coated lenses
- Durable and easy to use tripod
- The eye relief is bad – beware, eyeglass wearers
- BK-7 not as good as BAK-4
To sum up, it should be said that a $100 optical instrument will never match up with a $500 one – you get what you pay for, especially in optics. However, the affordable yet pretty powerful and feature rich spotting scopes don’t cost much and will fulfill most basic maginifcation needs. You can enjoy hunting, bird viewing, stargazing and shooting without going broke. I hope that this guide has helped you make the right choice for a good spotter scope under 100 dollars.