Gift Guide - The perfect optics for enjoying views, watching boats and more

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Wellington harbour

Have you got an awesome view from your home that you want to make the most of and see in more detail? Or perhaps you have a friend or family member who loves to spend hours watching the boats in the harbour from their deck or balcony? Well, Christmas or a birthday is the perfect time to give them a present that they will get hours of enjoyment from and will allow them to see the stunning views that they’re surrounded by in more detail. But what’s the best equipment for getting a closer look and enjoying views of beautiful New Zealand? Use our helpful guide to help you decide whether to give binoculars, a spotting scope or telescope for observing views of boats on the ocean, stunning countryside or cityscapes.

What’s best for enjoying views and watching boats from the home?

Make sure you give a gift that’s fit for purpose, and answer the simple questions below to help you decide between giving your friends or loved one binoculars, a telescope or a spotting scope.

Do you want the equipment to be lightweight and portable?

Yes - Choose binoculars for enjoying the view

No, this isn’t important - Opt for a spotting scope or a telescope to get a more magnified, clearer and brighter view. Don’t forget that these optics come with tripods so will take up more room and will need to be a more permanent feature in the window of the home.

Do you also want to use the equipment for astronomy?

Yes - Choose a refractor telescope. This can be used to view the stars and planets at night, but can also be used to enjoy views of the landscape around you in day light hours. Don’t forget that refractor telescopes do produce a mirror image of the actual view; flipping images from left to right, so if you’re after a true-to-life rendition of the view then a spotting scope with a large objective lens will be more appropriate for you. Spotting scopes with larger lenses can be used for basic astronomy too, but will not perform as well as a telescope so have a think about what’s more important - enjoying the view in the day or stargazing at night.

No - Choose either a spotting scope or binoculars depending on how portable and compact you want the equipment to be. Most spotting scopes come with a zoom eyepiece which allows you to get a closer look at an object of interest, simply by zooming in. Telescopes on the other hand come with a range of different eye pieces at set magnifications, and will require you to change the eye piece if you wish to zoom in, and meaning that theirs a chance that you’ll miss the action that you wanted to get a closer view of in the first place.

Do you want to use the equipment for other activities such as bird watching or hunting?

If theres a chance that the owner of the optics will want them to be multifunctional and we able enjoy views from the home and to take them outdoors for hunting or bird watching too, then opt for a waterproof spotting scope or waterproof binoculars. Again, consider how portable the optics will need to be and consider which option would be best for the user in mind.

In summary:

  • Choose binoculars if the equipment needs to be portable. Binoculars also work well on a tripod so if you want to opt for larger lenses and a higher magnification then a tripod would make for stable viewing. 
  • Choose a spotting scope if you want to enjoy day time views (and some occasional stargazing) on a more stable, permanent tripod platform.
  • If you want to view the stars and day time views as well, and don’t mind images that are back-to-front, then a refractor telescope may be the best option. If not, then spotting scopes with a larger lens will also be great for occasional astronomy. 

Spotting scopes:


Binoculars: 

For use without a tripod:

 

For use with a tripod:  

 

Telescopes for astronomy and occasional land viewing: 

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  • Jodi Markham
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