Spotting scopes can be used for different types of activities that require higher magnification, such as hunting, birdwatching, night surveillance, digiscoping, and target shooting!
Because there are many different types of tripods on the market, I’m sure we have all asked ourselves if we can just use our regular camera tripods to support our spotting scopes. Well, the answer is yes and no. Like purchasing a tripod for your camera, you’ll want to keep a few things into mind, like weight load capacity, maximum and minimum height, tripod head, and leg type.
Nonetheless, a tripod is essential for your spotting because it will eliminate any shakiness and instability that can potentially blur your view. You also want to decide what type of head you would like on your tripod (although I recommend a panhead since it pans much smoothly and you can get a quite detailed shot/view). You also want a tripod with adjustable and durable legs that will keep your spotting scope on place, even on rough terrains.
The majority of the tripods on the market feature a 1/4×20 thread size which stands for all spotting scopes, DSLR cameras, and binoculars! All tripods (except for tabletop tripods) come with a centre column that can be extended to achieve more height. While this is a great feature to have, it’s important to note that elevating the centre column too high can decrease stability and lead to some wobbliness.
While you can use your regular DSLR tripod for your spotting scope, you want a sturdy, portable, and durable tripod that will provide a solid base for your spotting scope. If you’re using a scope with an objective lens between 45mm to 70mm, a compact tripod is generally recommended as for a scope with an objective lens diameter of 80mm and more, I would recommend using a heavy-duty full-size tripod. However, they tend to be on the heavier side, which is not ideal for portability. They’re ideal for activities that don’t require you to take your gear with you for extended periods of time, like target hunting and prone shooting.
A Final Note on Tripods
To summarize, a tripod stabilizes and absorbs any vibrations, while keeping your equipment solid and sturdy! Larger heavy-duty tripods provide better stability but because they are heavier, are not so easy to take along with you. Smaller compact tripods are much more easier to carry but are not as stable as heavy-duty tripods. However, you should only worry about purchasing a heavy-duty tripod if you plan on using a spotting scope that has a lens diameter of 80mm and more. The price point of your tripod will also depend on how often and for what activities you use your tripod. If you decide to opt for a budget-friendly tripod provided that you gear is not too heavy, you should be fine but you may need to upgrade in a year or 2. However, if you’re starting out with your spotting scope, a budget-friendly option is definitely a way to test if you like your activity/hobby.