Bird Watching Telescopes Best Value and Quality

Bird watching telescopes are available with a large range of specifications and features. If you understand these specifications and features you will able to choose the best bird watching telescope to match your requirements. There are a bewildering number of choices and sources of information. You can buy new or second hand bird watching telescopes. You can read thousands of bird watching telescope reviews. You will find bird watching telescopes for sale from a number of channels. This article will allow you to cut through all of this information and give you a step by step guide to buying a value for money, quality telescope. The focus will be on bird watching telescopes in the UK, but the process can be applied worldwide.

Best Bird Watching Telescope

A perfect bird watching telescope would be light and powerful. It would give a very bright image and have a wide field of view. It would be suitable for use in a hide, in the field, looking at birds in tree tops and down on them from a cliff-top. It would be easily fitted to any digital camera (digiscoping). Finally it would be very inexpensive. Unfortunately there is no such telescope. All of the most useful features are a trade-off. You have to accept that you will not find the perfect bird watching telescope. However if you go through the questions below, you may find the perfect telescope specification for you.

Telescope Components- What are the Basics?

A telescope has three components. The body, the eyepiece and a tripod (or other secure resting place). The body, which can be straight or angled, holds the objective lens. Some bodies come with a fixed eyepiece this gives less flexibility but will be less expensive than a body with an interchangeable eyepiece. The eyepiece provides magnification which can be anything from 15x to 60x or even higher. The magnification may be fixed, say 30x or zoom, say 15x to 45x. You may think that a tripod is an accessory but you will not able to get a steady view without a tripod or other secure resting place.

What Size Objective Lens?

The larger the objective lens the brighter the image. If you have a lower magnification eyepiece (see below) then a smaller objective lens (50mm - 60mm will be adequate) but if you have a high magnification eyepiece then you will need a larger objective lens (70mm - 100mm). However a telescope with a large objective lens will be heavier and less portable than one with a smaller objective lens.

What Magnification?

A magnification of 20x to 30x with a wide angled lens is acceptable for general work. For more distant views of, for example, raptors you may need 40x (or higher) magnification. Remember that the higher magnification the larger the objective lens required to give bright, clear images. In addition the field of view is restricted at higher magnifications. You may also opt for a variable zoom eyepiece of, for example, 15x to 45x magnification. Again this will require a larger objective lens.

Angled or Straight Bodied?

Most modern telescopes are angled bodied as they are more comfortable to use (especially over a long period) and may be set at a lower tripod height. However some people prefer straight-bodied telescopes for hide or other fixed position work such as from a car.

Do you want to Digiscope?

Digiscoping is the attachment of a digital camera, using a special adapter, to a telescope to take close up photographs. You need to make sure that the telescope you select can be fitted to a suitable camera to take good quality photographs. Only certain combinations of telescope and camera will give you satisfactory results. If digiscoping is important to you then you should seek advice from an experienced digiscoper or get some hands on experience at a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) "optics day" (see below).

What is you Budget?

Telescopes are not cheap but if they are well maintained and protected they should last a lifetime. The starting point for a telescope and tripod with a fixed 20x or 30x eyepiece and a 60mm objective lens is approximately £250 to £300. A similar set up with a zoom eyepiece and a larger objective lens will cost in the region £300 to £500. Top of the range telescopes cost over £500 and some of the top brand telescopes will cost £1,500 to £2,500.


You will have seen from the questions above that buying a telescope is a significant purchase, requires some technical knowledge but most importantly demands that you are clear in you own mind about how you will be using your telescope. I strongly recommend attending one of the RSPB's "optic days". You may try telescopes in the field and get excellent advice from experienced bird watchers and with no obligation or pressure to buy. The above information should enable you to ask questions with some knowledge and confidence but there is no substitute for actually trying the equipment to see what suits you. In addition you test different telescopes against each other. This is the only way for you to assess for example whether a top of the range £1,500 telescope is actually worth £1,000 more than an entry level telescope. RSPB "optic days" are held on many days throughout the year in over twenty locations in the UK.

Bird Watching Telescopes For Sale

You may buy from specialist shops, online and from the RSPB. I recommend buying from the RSPB , because all profits are ploughed back into the RSPB, you can try before you buy and you can get excellent, unbiased advice. I must declare an interest; I'm one of over 1 million RSPB members in the UK.

Bird Watching Telescope Reviews

You can read many reviews but nothing compares to hands-on experience and comparison. The choice of your telescope is down to your personal taste and requirements.

Bird Watching Telescopes UK

The above has been aimed at purchasing a bird watching telescope in the UK but the technical information and general advice can be applied in all countries.

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