As I started to gather information about spotting scopes, I came to the conclusion that I would probably have to spend over a $1,000 to buy a good one. This was not in the budget for the time being. I decided to buy the least expensive scope I could find, knowing that I would eventually want a good one anyway. The question is-Was it worth it for me to buy this
$150 Alpen 15-45x45 Spotting scope? I would say that it does serve a purpose for me. I use it occasionally to get a closer look at waterbirds. I have used it to take a quick look at shorebirds from convenient locations. I have also used it to spot a mystery bird on the ground or in a tree. I often balance it against my truck window and use it to make a quick i.d. I can also stuff it in my vest pocket so I can use it in a pinch.
How well does it work? In terms of actually viewing a bird for the purpose of identification, it works pretty well. If lighting conditions are low, I don't bother using it. If it is windy, I don't bother using it. I have it mounted on my wife's old video camera tripod right now. I know this is just plain wong.
My next step would be to spend a little money on getting a more stable tripod that I might be able to use on a better scope down the road.
I have had the chance to look through several high end scopes. One major difference between my budget scope and one of the better ones is actually something that I hadn't considered--the size of the eyepiece. My scope has a small eyepiece. Looking though a larger eyepiece makes a huge difference! Imagine watching birds in your back yard through a paper towel tube. Now compare this to watching them through a nice clean picture window-you get the idea.
To sum it up:
- It was worth the money- but it doesn't provide a joyful viewing experience.
- I haven't tried to use it for digi-scoping yet.
- A good tripod is very important. That would be my next move.
- I hate carrying around scopes -if I had the money I would not only get a better scope, but would also hire a scope caddy (like golfers have).
- I wish that I had tried to find one with a bigger eyepiece.
- I'm going to upgrade my binoculars before I get a new scope.
Do you enjoy using a spotting scope to view birds or do you prefer birding with binoculars? What type of birds do you most enjoy viewing through a scope?