The Scoop on Scopes

Your Optics Buying Guide: UPDATED FOR HOLIDAYS 2012

Whether your hobby lies in beholding birds, following footballs or scanning the stars, there is a plethora of binoculars, spotting scopes and telescopes to meet your optical needs.

Adorama carries one of the world's most extensive selections of scopes, binoculars and telescopes in its Scopes and Optics Department. In order to help you with your scope shopping, here are a number of top-selling optics products currently out there.


Bushnell 8x40 Natureview Birder Binoculars
Adorama price: $42.95
Designed as an entry-level birding viewer, Bushnell NatureView binoculars are specially suited for the bird watcher and naturalist as well the sports fan. These all-weather resistant porro prism birding binoculars offer a 6.3 degree angle of view and a focusing distance of 14' for up close inspections of nature. They also feature convenient fold-down eyecups to accommodate eyeglass wearers.




Celestron 15x70 SkyMaster Binoculars
Adorama price: $69.95
SkyMaster 15x70 large-aperture binoculars from Celestron are said to offer out-of-this-world performance for astronomical viewing. They are also said to be a great choice for terrestrial use; especially for viewing over long distances. The feature high quality BAK-4 prisms and have multi-coatings for enhanced contrast. SkyMaster’s ergonomic design features a convenient tripod adapter slot.







Pentax 6.5x21 Papilio Binoculars
Adorama price: $99
If entomology is your bag, then Pentax 6.5x21 Papilio binoculars are the choice for you. Papilio (Latin word for butterfly) binoculars are well suited for viewing insects, flowers, birds, artwork, or other small objects at close range. They utilize a special mechanism that automatically compensates for the misalignment of right and left image fields at close ranges (parallax), allowing easy observation of insects in the field and exhibits at galleries and museums.  Called C.L.O.S.E. (Convergent Lens Optical System Engineering), this feature allows users to focus down to 1.6 feet. Also ideal for conventional binocular subjects, including spectator sports, travel and hiking, they feature multi-coated optical elements to minimize unwanted light reflections for a well-defined subject image. The combination of aspherical optical elements and high-refraction BaK4 glass prisms offer a sharp, clear image with minimal distortion. Sturdy rubber covered exterior provides a nice ergonomic grip and protection for the internal mechanisms.

Nikon 10x42 MONARCH 5 All Terrain Binocular
Adorama Price: $249.95
A popular and powerful set is the Nikon 10x42 MONARCH 5 All Terrain Binocular (Adorama Price: $249.95 ), a solid solution for users who will be taking them into what could be rugged terrain but still want clear, crisp images. They feature Nikon’s Dielectric High-Reflective Multilayer Prism Coating that helps provide a clear, true color image.  The waterproof and fogproof binocular have rubber coated armor outside to help you keep a firm grip regardless of the conditions. They also have multi-setting click stop eye cups that can be set for comfortable use even for eyeglass wearers.

Spotting Scopes

Tasco 20 – 60x80mm World Class Series Spotting Scope Kit
Adorama price: $124.95
The Tasco World Class 20-60x80mm Spotting Scope sports a large 80mm diameter objective lens that efficiently gathers light for better viewing during low light. Waterproof and fog proof, they are suited for hunting, birding, or even casual stargazing. It offers fully coated optics, BK7 prisms, convenient focusing and zoom adjustments. Kit comes with a convertible car window mount/tabletop tripod.






Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60x 80mm Spotting Scope
Adorama price: $460.42
Looking for a premium scope without breaking the bank? Then you might want to consider the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60x 80mm Spotting Scope, a scope that uses a technology called objective element of extra-low (ED) dispersion glass that is used in higher end scopes. It enables a user to get small, subtle details even when using higher magnification. The scope also has dual speed coarse/fine fingertip focusing system and is 100% waterproof for use on damp and raining days.


Pentax PF-65ED Straight 65mm ED-II Spotting Scope
Adorama price: $799
The Pentax PF-65ED incorporates porro-prism optics and a 65mm objective lens with ED optical elements to deliver sharp, high-contrast images. The PF-65ED sports a straight-line lens barrel for quick, effortless subject spotting, even when the observer is on the move. Comes with three compact, high-performance XF-series eyepieces, all of which feature a bright, high-contrast image, an American-standard 31.7mm sleeve and focal lengths said to be perfect for outdoor viewing and bird watching. The smc Pentax XF Zoom Eyepiece 6.5mm-19.5mm included in this package, features a focal-length range of 6.5mm to 19.5mm for a magnification of 20 to 60 times, with an apparent field of view of 42 to 60 degrees. For added convenience, the scope is compatible with the optional Pentax PF-CA35 camera adapter, for conversion into high-quality super-telephoto lenses.

Nikon ED 82mm 25-75x82mm Angled Body ED Spotting Scope

Adorama price: $1,349.95
From gazing at the delicate beauty of resting waterfowl to watching an eagle feed its young in a far-away nest, the Nikon 82mm ED Fieldscope gives users the ability to clearly view every detail at a respectful distance so they don’t disrupt nature at work and play. Nikon’s ED glass delivers edge-to-edge sharpness, detail resolution and clear, true color images free of flare.  From zoom to wide angle, there are six different eyepieces come with the scope to customize viewing. All eyepieces are fully multicoated and include twist-out eyecups. A sliding sunshade and vue-thru case protects the scope in virtually any situation. 


Celestron FirstScope Telescope
Adorama price: $43.95
Recently named Official Product of International Year of Astronomy 2009, FirstScope’s design pays tribute to the astronomers of the past. Offering a quality Dobsonian style stand with a 76mm reflector optical tube, the FirstScope makes an ideal entry-level scope. Portable and lightweight tabletop design makes it easy to store, transport, setup or display on a desk.








Voyager Sky Tour 800mm x 70mm Refractor Telescope
Adorama price: $158.70
A good telescope for a beginner to get their first clear views of the night sky is with the Bushnell Voyager Sky Tour 800mm x 70mm Refractor Telescope BSRVST800  (Adorama price: Approx: $158.70). With its Digital Sky Tour handset it provides users with a real-time audio tour of the night sky so that new users are not discouraged in trying to figure out what they are viewing. It also has a feature called the illuminated Smart Mount that guides stargazers to the objects that have been highlighted by the handset. It has a red dot LED finder scope that assists in rapid positioning in order to quickly and efficiently find objects in the night sky.


Bushnell Discoverer 76x500mm Starfinder Reflector Telescope
Adorama price:  $199.95
With a smaller, more focused library programmed in and ready to go, not even the sky is the limit when you peer into this addition to the Bushnell family of optics. Real Voice Output uses an actual human voice to take you on a personal tour of the galaxy's greatest treasures.  Innovative new features like the rotating eyepiece let you share a look without changing the position or focus of the telescope. Pinpoint accuracy and fine adjustment capabilities round out this complete star-finding package. It’s an ideal telescope for serious beginners and beyond.


Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope
Adorama price:  $149.95
If you are a stargazer looking for a powerful but easily portable scope, the Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope (Adorama price: $149.95) should be just what you are looking for. The 3-inch (76mm) primary mirror has the ability to gather in enough of the evening sky’s light so that you can view the rings of Saturn or the craters of the moon. The telescope has a 76mm aperture and 700mm focal length  and both the primary and finder scope each come with two interchangeable Explorer II eyepieces (1.25")-25mm (28x) and 10mm (70x)-as well as a wide-field and EZ Finder Reflex Sight to aid in locating objects.


Vixen A70LF 70mm f/12.9 Refractor Telescope
Adorama price: $269
Vixen’s A70Lf is an Achromatic Refractor with a 70mm (2.8”) of aperture. Its focal length is 900mm (3 ft.) with an f ratio of 12.9. This lightweight telescope has a maximum magnifying power of 143x and reaches a limiting visual magnitude of 11.  A smaller 6x24mm finder telescope that attaches to the main scope to help users center the object is included.  Comes with a 20mm eyepiece for general viewing as well as a 6.3mm eyepiece for those really clear nights when high-powered viewing is required.







Celestron NexStar 4" Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope (Special Edition Package with Orange Tube & XLT Coatings)
Adorama price: $499
The NexStar offers a whole new generation of computer-automated technology.  Special Edition Package combines the classic heritage of the original orange tube telescopes with the latest state-of-the-art features. The Sky Tour feature instructs the scope to find the most interesting objects in the sky. More experienced users will appreciate the comprehensive expanded database of nearly 40,000 objects, including customized lists of all the best deep-sky objects, bright double stars and variable stars. Computerized altazimuth mount offers a camera control feature and shutter release cable allows users to remotely take a series of exposures using their digital SLR.

Meade LT 6" f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

Adorama price: $999
The Meade LT-6 (1524mm focal length f/10) is a fully-featured, computer-controlled 6” Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope that sets a new high performance standard for telescopes selling under $1000. Its precision worm gear drives and sturdy die-cast tripod/altazimuth mount make this an exceptional package for high-resolution visual observation and imaging. The scope's AutoStar computer is simple to set up and operate. All you have to do is level the scope, point it North and tell the AutoStar where you are on Earth and the time and date. The AutoStar aligns the scope on the skies letting users locate dozens of deep space objects like a seasoned observer. 




Celestron CPC800 XLT Starbright H.P. 8" Schmidt Cassegrain 2032mm f/10 Telescope
Adorama price: $1,999
Celestron's CPC800 XLT, with revolutionary SkyAlign Alignment Technology redefines everything that amateur astronomers are looking for: quick and simple alignment, GPS, unsurpassed optical quality, ease of set-up and use, ergonomics and enhanced computerization. Offers fully computerized dual fork arm altazimuth mount plus an 8x50 FinderScope feature to help accurately locate objects. Ergonomic design allows users to comfortably lift and transport the telescope from location to location. Star diagonal option provides more comfortable viewing position when observing objects that are high in the sky.

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