6 Mistakes You’re Doing with Your Spotting Scope

Nobody’s perfect. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, you will still make mistakes. But don’t worry, we’ll show you how to correct those errors and use a spotting scope like a pro.

Immediately scanning with your scope

Scanning the terrain with your scope after finding a location would make the job difficult. This is because scopes have a narrow field of view. To avoid this mistake, first, use your binoculars to find your targets. It’s easier this way since binoculars have a wider field of view—and that’s what they’re made for.

Starting at high magnification

It’s a mortal sin to find your targets using high magnification right away. To correct this, you should set it at low magnification and adjust the sharpness of the image using the controls. You should find the widest field of view. If you’re wearing glasses, be sure to twist or fold down the eye cups until you obtain sufficient eye relief. Take note that you might not have a clear, sharp image at first, so you have to adjust the focus controls until you get one.

Once you’ve seen your target at low magnification, you should gradually increase the power by turning the zoom ring until you’ve arrived at your preferred view. Remember that as the power range increases, the field of view decreases. If you’re a beginner, read our article about what the number in magnification and objective lenses mean.

Tip: If Mr. Golden Sun is at an angle to your scope instead of being behind you, you better pull out the retractable sunshade at the end of your objective lens. Of course, this is only applicable if your scope has this built-in feature.

Not setting the tripod correctly

If you’ve been simply extending the legs of your tripod after unlocking the leg levers, locking them back, then leave it that way; you’re not giving your tripod the time it deserves. Most of the time, especially if you’re in an uneven or rocky ground, each tripod leg should be adjusted differently to achieve the appropriate height. Don’t compromise the height of your tripod; otherwise, you’ll have to fix in the middle of your viewing. If you love taking pictures, an irregularly set tripod will also compromise the image.

You might be in need of extra weight just to hold the tripod in place, too. If there’s a hook hanging from beneath the center of your tripod, then fasten a scope bag to add some weight. After doing all these things, then it’s high time to get your spotting scope out of its protective bag.

Your tripod might already be equipped with a tripod adapter or a mounting plate which can be detached from the mounting platform on your tripod. Next, thread the plate or adapter to the scope and tighten it.

Now you can mount the scope to your correctly installed tripod. If your tripod has quick release systems, then it’ll be easier to do this since you’ll just glide the plate into the mount platform until it clicks in position. Quick release systems usually come with a button which you can press to remove the scope rapidly if necessary. Just remember to always unlock it before you take out the scope.

Tip: Unlock the neck or the center column extension of your tripod if you need more height. Then, once you’ve reached the proper height, lock it back into place.

Tilting and panning the scope the wrong way

How should you pan and tilt a scope anyway? First, you have to unlock the locks (duh!). The levers and locks on the tripod will be your best friends for that task. A lot of recently developed tripods have a locking mechanism built into the handle. When you turn the knob clockwise, it will be locked in place. When you untwist it, it will loosen. Bear in mind that tilting and moving the spotting scope with the scope itself is a no-no. Use the pan handle to move it every time.

Lady looking through a scope

Canceling your glassing session because of the sun

Running away from the sun? Don’t call off your plan just because you know you’ll be dealing with heat waves that can distort your supposedly ideal view. Face your problem and deal with it. How? Zoom out. In case you didn’t know, zooming in too much can increase the chances of thermal waves to distort your view. So why give them that chance? You can enjoy your session if you zoom out anyway. Giving up, my friend, is not an option. Besides, if you sit tight and wait for the passing clouds, you’ll notice that these clouds lessen heat waves, giving you the opportunity to zoom in on the animal you’ve been waiting to analyze. Just remember to zoom out once the sun comes out again. You see? You won’t have to cancel a planned session ever again if you know the tricks!

Want to know more tips and become a spotting scope master? Read this article.

Buying camera adapters without studying them

Your spotting scope may be ready for camera adapters, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush and purchase one instantly. I’m certain you’d want to maximize the powers of your scope. So before you do something you might regret in the end, study the different sizes, forms, and shapes of camera adapters first. Then, identify which one is best for your scope, camera, and photography needs. You can begin studying these camera adapters:

  • Adapter rings
  • Compact camera adapters
  • DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) adapters
  • Point-N-Shoot adapters
  • Specific iScope iPhone adapters
  • System cameras (cross-breed of DSLR and compact camera) adapters
  • Universal phone mounting adapters

Try to check the advantages and disadvantages of each adapter, as well as the reviews regarding the best one for each type.