Top 5 Best Spotting Scope Under 500 Dollar Reviews & Buying Guides

As far as getting a budget spotting scope is concerned, any that are priced under 500 is something that you should definitely consider going for.

In a nutshell, a spotting scope is an instrument that you simply use to view objects that are primarily on land hence it is specifically meant for terrestrial observations. As some like to refer to them, most spotting scopes will just function like small telescopes.

Spotting scopes normally come in both fixed and variable focal lengths. When it comes to performance and price, the ones with an adjustable length are obviously preferable. This, among other things, should be taken into consideration before you make your purchase.

That being said, this is what we’ll be looking into in this section. First of all, we’ll start off by looking at 5 of the best spotting scope under 500 dollar then we’ll move on to look at the key things you should take into consideration before you make your purchase.

Well, let’s get started, shall we?

Things to Consider Before Buy the Best Spotting Scopes under $500

There’s definitely a lot you should consider before making your purchase. Well, without further ado, let’s have a look at some of these.

Related: Here is our another top 5 scopes reviews under $1000. You can check this.

Image Product Features Price
Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A
  • The objective lens is 82mm in size which gives you the brightest images.
  • The fact that it has an angled eyepiece gives the best view for vertical objects.
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Celestron C5 Spotting Scope, 52291 Celestron C5 Spotting Scope, 52291
  • The fact that it’s camera adaptable allows you to get the best shots in addition to just making your observations.
  • An angled eyepiece for the best performance when it comes to bird watching and making lunar observations.
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Bushnell Trophy XLT Review Bushnell Trophy XLT Review
  • Fully waterproof and fog-proof for ultimate durability.
  • For the best visuals, the optics are fully multi-coated.
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Celestron 52334 TrailSeeker 100 Celestron 52334 TrailSeeker 100
  • Dual focus mechanism for the best visuals.
  • Comes with a tripod that is rotatable around 360 degrees which sets the eyepiece in any position.
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The field of view

To put it in a layman’s language, this is simply the widest dimension of a circular viewing area via a telescope or in our case a spotting scope.

The field of view is normally measured in either angular degrees or alternatively in linear feet at 100 yards. With an increase in magnification, the field of view decreases. The typical range for the spotting scopes is from one degree/ 52.2 feet to three degrees/157 feet.

At close distances, this is more critical hence it is more convenient at a medium to long distance observation. Something else that most people overlook when it comes to the field of view is the eyepiece size. Some eyepieces are made in such a way that they deliver a wider field of view which just so happens to be the best when you are following a moving object.

The eyepieces that are made for long eye relief will normally have a narrower field of view.

Which kind of focusing does it use?

A spotting scope is mainly meant to deliver a better image quality than a pair of binoculars and even though it is not as strong as the image delivered by a telescope, it is good enough for terrestrial observations.

One of the most important things on a spotting scope when it comes to giving the best images is the focusing mechanism. The 3 types of focusing mechanisms are the helical, knob and rack & pinion focusing mechanisms. Depending on how you’ll be using your spotting scope, each focusing mechanism is special in its own way.

Helical focusing: in the helical focus mechanism, there are rubberized/knurled collars around the barrel where the focus is changed fairly rapidly when you turn the focus ring. The helical focusing mechanism comes in handy when you are observing moving objects and you would like to change the near to far focus quite rapidly.

Rack and pinion: though not found in most spotting scopes, rack and pinion focusing mechanism are mostly found on astronomical telescopes and it offers both a smooth and fairly fast focusing.

Knob focusing: if you want better detail, knob focusing is definitely what you should go for if you want a more precise or more accurate focusing.

The light-gathering capacity

When choosing a spotting scope, the objective lens size greatly determines how much light will be entering via the objective lens. Normally, the larger the objective lens, the more light enters through it and therefore the brighter the images.

Though this is quite satisfying, the spotting scopes with a large objective lens are normally heavier which means that you may have a hard time if you are looking for something portable. Also, if you’ll be making your observations from one spot, it is greatly recommended that you consider getting a tripod stand for your spotting scope.

Would you prefer a straight-through or an angled spotting scope?

Regarding why you need a spotting scope, either design has got its own advantages and disadvantages. Normally, you will have to consider which suits you best between the straight view eyepiece lens and the angled eyepiece lens.

For the angled spotting scopes, the eyepiece lens is normally tilted at an angle so that you look down on it while pointing towards the focus object straight ahead of you. The upside of having an angled spotting scope is that you are more relaxed while using it. This is even made better if you have a tripod stand since you will set it in a lower position so that both short people and tall people can use it without making any height adjustments.

For the straight through spotting scope design, you just use it as you would a pair of binoculars. When it comes to activities such as hunting, this one just so happens to be the best since you’ll be able to stalk your prey easily. Something else that makes this one preferable to the angled spotting scope is that you can comfortably and conveniently be able to use it when you are looking down at something from an elevated position.

The magnification power.

As far as spotting scopes, binoculars and telescopes are concerned, the magnification power is one of the most important features in all of them.

Though they are not as good as telescopes, spotting scopes have got a better magnification power than the binoculars and are therefore preferred if you want to have the best zoom.

So as to understand magnification, you also need to understand what the numbers on the spotting scope mean. On a spotting scope, you will find 2 sets of numbers, for instance, the numbers 20-60×80.

The first set of numbers before the ‘x’ normally refers to the zoom and in our case, the object under observation will appear to be 20-60 times closer as compared to you seeing it with the naked eye. The second number is just the diameter of the spotting scope which is measured in mm in which case ours is 80.

The eye relief.

What would happen if you’d like to use a spotting scope but you normally use a pair of glasses?

This is simply the distance the spotting scope can be away from the eye and you still are able to get the full field of view. The benefit of eye relief is so that there is reduced eye strain.

For the glass wearers, the eye relief is more important since, with a longer eye relief, the focal point is directed further back behind the eyepiece by the optics so that you get to see a full field of view. It is normally given in millimeters and the adequate distance for most glass wearers is 12-15mm

Top 5 Best Spotting Scope under 500 Dollar Reviews

Having had a look at the key things you should have in mind before making your purchase, it’s now time to take a look at the best of 2018 spotting scopes. Well, let’s get started then…


#1- Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A

Coming first on our list is the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A. for a spotting scope that is priced at less than $500, it surely has got a lot to offer you.

First of all, it comes with the extra-low dispersion glass that gives you the best when it comes to accurate color rendering as well as minimal fringing. In addition to this, the prism is BAK-4 coated and the lenses are multicoated which means that

As for the eyepiece, it is detachable and angled with a soft and comfortable eyecup with a long eye relief hence you won’t have to worry about eye strain whatsoever.

Owing to the fact that it’s got a zoom magnification of 20-60x and an objective lens diameter, you get to have the brightest images and in addition to this, even the tiniest detail is made visible by the outstanding zoom capability.

  • The objective lens is 82mm in size which gives you the brightest images.
  • The fact that it has an angled eyepiece gives the best view for vertical objects.
  • For utmost durability, it comes with a rubber armored magnesium body with a built-in sun shield for added comfort.
  • It may take some time before you get a clear and crisp focus at high power.

#2- Celestron C5 Spotting Scope, 52291

If you really love to take part in bird watching or you really love observing nature, this one’s definitely a spotting scope that you should consider having a look at.

The first feature that makes it deserving of being labeled the best spotting scope under 500 is the fact that it comes with a 5” (127mm) aperture. This means that it will let in a lot of light for the brightest images.

Something else that’s unique about it is its ability to be camera adaptable. So as to get professional and quality sots, all you have to do is attach the correct optional T-Adapter and T-ring for your 35 mm SLR camera to the back of the C5 and your good to go.

For utmost comfort, the eyepiece is angled. This also makes it easier for you to have a perfect view of vertical objects.

Comes with an amazing carrying case. With this, you’ll conveniently be able to take it with you anywhere.

  • The fact that it’s camera adaptable allows you to get the best shots in addition to just making your observations.
  • An angled eyepiece for the best performance when it comes to bird watching and making lunar observations.
  • The 5” aperture gives you the brightest images as compared to the 80mm or 60mm objective lenses.
  • Ensure that you get a stable tripod since, at high magnification, even the slightest touch makes it shake.

#3- ALPEN Waterproof Fogproof Spotting Scopes

As far as performance is concerned, this might just be the best spotting scope under 500 for you. Well, let’s have a look at what it’s got in store for us…

Durability: so as to get the best experience from the spotting scope, it comes with both fogproof and waterproof capabilities. In addition to getting the best visuals from the lenses, there is an added bonus of having the inner components of the spotting scope protected from corrosion especially if used near the ocean.

Out of the box, you get a micro-adjustable tabletop tripod which makes it easier to use the scope. There is also a carry bag included for portability purposes.

With the BAK-4 fully multi-coated optics, you get to have the superior brightness which is also backed up by the 80mm objective lens. With the BAK-4 lens, you also get to have a better resolution and image quality.

  • 45-degree eyepiece lens for a more comfortable view.
  • Comes with a micro-adjustable table-top tripod which eliminates fatigue and gives you a more stable observation.
  • I did not find anything. LOL.

#4- Bushnell Trophy XLT Review

best spotting scope

We’re almost done with our list and we’re doing great so far. Coming up second last is the Bushnell Trophy XTL.

Here’s what you should expect from it…

Utmost durability: considering that you’ll be using your spotting scope outdoors in most cases, it is important that you get ultimate durability from what you pay for. In our case, you get to have a rubber armored housing which eliminates any chances of the scope getting damaged from shock. In addition to this, there is also a 100% waterproofing and fog-proofing that is made possible by the nitrogen purging and the O-ring seal. Even when completely immersed in water, this model will still perform flawlessly.

Has got fully multi-coated optics: something else that is worth pointing out about this spotting scope is that it comes with fully multi-coated optics. All the air-to-glass surfaces have got multiple layers of anti-reflective coating. With the multi-coating on the lenses, you get to have the brightest images with the highest contrast. At the same time, there is very little eyestrain since most of the light reaches your eye.

Outstanding zoom capability. Considering that the Bushnell Trophy XTL has got a zoom of 20-60x, you’ll have outstanding and detailed observations.

  • Fully waterproof and fog-proof for ultimate durability.
  • For the best visuals, the optics are fully multi-coated.
  • At high zoom, getting a clear picture is difficult.

#5- Celestron 52334 TrailSeeker 100

Coming last on our list is the Celestron 52334TrailSeeker. If you want a balance between price and performance, then this one’s definitely something worth taking a look at.

Let’s see what it packs under the hood…

First of all, it comes with Celestron’s proprietary XTL fully multi-coated optics. With these, there is an increased light transmission via the optical path so that you only get to have a crisp and high-contrast image.

The dual focus mechanism- this is not something that you’ll find in your everyday spotting scope. You can quickly focus on your target then fine tune the image with both the coarse and fine adjustments.

Out of the box, you’ll get a tripod stand. This is however not just any tripod stand, it’s rotatable 360 degrees hence allowing you to set the eyepiece in any viewing position without having to turn the whole tripod stand.

The zoom is 22-67x. If you want a wide field of view, zoom out approaching the 20x and if you want a closer look at your target, simply zoom in.

With the 100mm objective, plenty of light is allowed into the scope while keeping its overall size to a minimum.

  • Dual focus mechanism for the best visuals.
  • Comes with a tripod that is rotatable around 360 degrees which sets the eyepiece in any position.
  • 100mm objective for the brightest images.
  • The case does not have a pocket for caps and other accessories.

Final Verdict:

Coming to the end of our review, there’s definitely more than meets the eye if you are looking for the best spotting scope under 500. First of all, before you get one based on the model and price criteria, consider having a closer look at what it packs under the hood first.

Secondly, determine whether or not it will be comfortable enough for you to use. This can simply be done based on the eye relief, the weight and the physical design (angled or straight view) of the spotting scope; if need be, you can get a tripod as well.

Last Updated on 20/12/2019

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