What to Expect from a $500 Spotting Scope

Spotting scopes have a wide range of price going from around $100 up to couple of thousands. You may wonder what makes them very different and what $500 can get you?

Well, the quality of optics on spotting scopes is very sensitive and good optics cost a fortune but mid-range scopes can compensate the absolute perfect quality and still give you a convincing optical performance for less than 500 dollars.

In this article, I will show you the great aspects of a $500 spotting scope and what it is able to do. You will definitely need to read this if you are going low on budget.

Magnification power

The first thing everyone checks before buying a spotting scope is the magnification power, that’s why I went straight to it. Actually, $500 is still a considerable amount of money, then you will ask for a considerable magnification, and you will get it!

Generally, these scopes can provide crisp images at 45X, but if you are looking further than that, you will need to add some cash. Some scopes at this range have up to 60X magnification power; the problem here is that you will get blurry images full of chromatic aberrations.

Objective lens

This item defines the light gathering capacity of the scope; if you are looking for brighter images and more light, you will need a wide objective lens, if it is not the case, then a usual objective lens can do the job.

$500 spotting scopes include 80mm wide objective lenses and that is good enough to get crisp and clear images. What is missed on these lenses is usually the quality of glass therefore the light won’t be totally transmitted and you will get upsetting reflections.


While some high-end scopes don’t include an eyepiece, these 500 USD products include a great eyepiece with features that will give you the opportunity to enjoy your day out whether for hunting or birding…

The eyepiece you will get on your 500 dollar spotting scope includes a convincing quality of glass that will provide you with a relatively large field of view. Anyway, you still must check the exit pupil, go for a 3-5 mm exit pupil to get the best results otherwise, you will have a narrow FOV and face some trouble if your target is moving.

The eye relief is also important since you must care for your comfort especially if you will be looking inside your scope for long hours. 15-18mm will do the job.

What else to consider?

  • Before buying such spotting scopes, put in mind that the quality of glass is not top-notch, you will have chromatic aberrations and scratches at a very high magnification because you won’t get many prism coatings for $500 and the multicoated system is responsible for transmitting light and reducing aberrations.
  • Whether you are looking for straight or angled body, $500 will get you a variety of shapes. The quality is usually the same on both designs.
  • If the product you are purchasing does not include a tripod, then expect a greater quality than those which include additional accessories. For this purpose, you will need to add some cash for an adaptable tripod as well as a case and lens caps.
  • $500 spotting scopes are also water and fog proof, and are made of strong material that guarantees durability and resistance to shocks.