Binoculars vs Spotting Scope

Binoculars vs Spotting Scope | Which to Pick?

A camera lens is one of the best inventions of Science, especially in the modern age when there are so many activities in the world. People have grown fond of capturing memorable moments both at the domestic level as well as commercial level. There are so many professions and hobbies like photography, shooting, and hunting, which involve using a camera and its lens in one form or another.

Yes! Spotting scope and Binoculars are also two of such tools widely used to perform various outdoor activities. Spotting scopes and binoculars perform almost similar functions, making it difficult for new users to decide which one to use for a specific purpose. It is important to determine the fundamental differences between the two tools before we go to particular situations or activities. We can use one or the other.

Binoculars vs Spotting Scope Differences

  • Spotting scopes have only one lens and eyepiece, while binoculars have two lenses and two eyepieces.
  • Spotting scopes are longer in size, mostly taller, and sometimes wider than the binoculars which are relative compact, shorter and smaller.
  • Spotting scopes mostly have high-end magnification, while binoculars can cover only the lower end of the spectrum. Binoculars have a narrow focus and cannot magnify more than a specific range.
  • Due to high-end magnifications, Spotting scopes can hardly be used without tripods; otherwise, even a slight movement in your hand will spoil the picture. Binoculars, on the contrary, can be handled easily.
  • Spotting scopes can be used for long-distance viewing, and they are perfect for a detailed look, while binoculars are suitable for close-ups and medium distances.

Now when we are discussing these two optics, let us look at the people who can use these devices and for which activities:

For Nature-lovers:

There are two types of nature-lovers. Some people like to go out in nature and enjoy the feel, and then others want to stay at home or any stationary place where they can sit back and view the natural beauty from a distance. Spotting scope comes in handy for you if you are in a stationary position as it has the high-end magnification and can still enjoy even the minute details.

However, binoculars will be helpful if you want to track the movement of a bird or an animal, as a pair of binoculars is lighter in weight and can be handled relatively easily. You can quickly move around as you see your target moving from one spot to another. So, who wants to capture the moving outdoor nature, a pair of binoculars makes a better choice.

For hunters:

Hunting is an endearing activity, but you must be familiar with the correct use if you are a seasoned hunter. When you are going to read about spotting scope vs binoculars for hunting, you should go for the spotting scope if you prefer to stay at one position or a place, as it allows you to

  • Sit back all day long and wait for the right time and prey to feast on.
  • See from a safe distance
  • Track the movement of your target

However, you have to be mindful about:

  • The level of training and expertise you possess to make good use of the tool
  • The relevant rules and regulations about shooting in the area you are going as it may put you into trouble if you violate some prevalent law of the land

On the other hand, if you prefer to hunt on the move. For example, some people like to travel and chase their prey. In such a case, binoculars are a much better choice. It will help because you in the following ways:

  • You will not have to carry the additional weight of a tripod and spotting scope
  • You might not find a leveled surface to place your tripod so that it will serve no purpose.
  • The extra noise you make while resting the tripod and setting up your spotting scope might make your target run away.

For Hikers:

One of the widely adopted hubbies of the world is hiking. Yes! It is an effective way of getting active, but you can also explore new environments and natural beauty if you use the right accessories and supplies. Well! With the word “hiking,” the first image which comes to our mind is of someone wearing a pair of binoculars around their neck. Yes! This is because:

  • Since hiking is in itself a physical activity, a pair of binoculars are easy to handle on the go.
  • They are lighter in weight.
  • Binoculars do not require an extra casing or bag to keep it.
  • They are readily available when you wear them with a lanyard around your neck.
  • Binoculars can mostly survive tough conditions. For example, they can even stay in working order if you accidentally drop while hiking.
  • The setup time for binoculars is short if you are looking at some natural objects.

For Target-shooters:

Now let us discuss the spotting scope vs binoculars for target shooting. Target shooting requires a lot of practice and perfection. If you are fond of target shooting, you need to master the art with frequent training and practice sessions. However, you need to know about the best option when it comes to the choice of an appropriate tool.

Apart from the best quality gun, you have to be careful about what type of camera device you opt for yourself. Well! Whether you are still in training or a professional shooter, the spotting scope is the best choice. Following are some of the reasons:

  • They work for long-distance viewing.
  • As the name indicates, the “Spotting” scope is more appropriate to spot and then shoot.
  • The target shooting is done while staying at a stationary position, so it is easy to use the tripod.

For Terrestrial Photographers:

When it comes to terrestrial photography, we have to look carefully at the details of binoculars or spotting scope for wildlife viewing. Since it is the ultimate experience of viewing the wildlife, we have to make an intelligent choice which, in this case, is a spotting scope. You can enjoy the following benefits with a spotting scope if you are going for terrestrial photography:

  • The camera adaptors are mostly included in the spotting scope, which reduces the cost of an additional camera.
  • The binoculars cannot view a long distance, while spotting scope makes it easier for you to have a clear view of a wild animal from a far-away place.

For Celestial Photographers:

For all those out there who are fond of celestial photography, the spotting scope vs. binoculars astronomy is a crucial subject. It is undoubtedly a marvelous feeling to see the far-off stars and planets with your own eyes with the help of the camera lens. Still, to enjoy the ultimate experience, you have to dig deeper into the options as far as the type of camera is concerned. It would be best if you needed a tool which gives you the best view of the stars and galaxies. Although the spotting scope is the winner, here are some points why you should prefer it over binoculars.

  • A spotting scope offers you a clear long-distance view as compared to binoculars.
  • Spotting Scope is easily mounted on tripod.
  • A spotting scope is far more stable and can stand firm without any movements and jerks.
  • It has an ultimate quality that it cannot compare with a pair of binoculars.
  • The extra magnification feature of the spotting scope is the most appropriate if you want to look at the planets in the universe.
  • You can deal with the Chromatic aberrations in the best possible manner if you use the spotting scope instead of binoculars.

To sum up, we can have the following pros and cons of each binocular and spotting scope:

Pros of Spotting Scope:

  • High Zoom Power
  • Long-distance view
  • It keeps you well aware of the best condition
  • Ultimate magnification
  • Detect and track the moving of the target from a safe distance
  • Easy setup for long shots
  • Accurately spots the target
  • Variation of setups
  • View of the bullet holes from a far distance
  • Adaptive cameras according to digiscopy (Still viewing) and telephotography (moving capture)
  • Allows detailed viewing

Cons of Spotting Scopes

  • The best quality of spotting scopes is expensive
  • Extra costs for accessories which are mandatory, for example, a tripod
  • Heavy to carry

Pros of Binocular

  • Most of the binoculars have an improved perception of depth.
  • Convenient to use
  • 3D Vision is a treat
  • Can view beyond a hurdle or an obstacle
  • Easily Portable

Cons of Binoculars

  • Short view
  • Mainly have a limited focus.
  • The sophisticated mechanism makes it more prone to the disorders.


After such a detailed discussion on binoculars vs. spotting scope, we can conclude that both devices are best for their purposes. The important thing that we should keep in mind is that the uses of each tool are a bit distinct, which determines which one particular of these devices we should use for the specific purpose.

The rest, we can see that they can or cannot be interchangeably used. It all depends on the activity you want to carry out and then it becomes easier for you to make your decision. All you have to do is to weigh the pros and cons of spotting scope vs. binoculars and there you go!

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