Bushnell spotting scopes: The perfect choice for bird watching
Looking for the perfect spotting scope for bird watching? Bushnell has several top-quality spotting scopes, ranging from the most economical Prime model to the premium Forge model. Each available in a straight or a 45-degree viewing variant. We go into the details of the different scopes to help you make the best choice.
Which Bushnell spotting scope is the most suitable?
For more than 75 years, Bushnell has built an excellent reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality binoculars and spotting scopes, offering unbeatable value for money. What not everyone knows, however, is that Bushnell has also been offering various models of spotting scopes for birding, wildlife and nature observation for decades.
There are currently four different series available, each available in a straight or 45-degree viewing variant. These series share the same names as the binoculars, and range from the top-of-the-line Bushnell Forge 20-60x80 ED, the Bushnell Nitro 20-60x65 ED, the Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x80, to the entry-level Bushnell Prime 20-60x65. With these various choices, there is a suitable spotting scope available in Bushnell's range for every bird and nature lover.
The view of the spotting scope
When choosing the right spotting scope, there are some other important aspects to consider besides the obvious good image quality. The view of the spotting scope is one of four most essential considerations to include in your choice. The 45-degree view is popular among birders for its comfortable viewing while standing or sitting, but a spotting scope with straight view is also available if you are sitting and don't want to tilt your head.
Bushnell Prime 20-60x 65 spotting scope
The Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 is the perfect spotting scope for novice birdwatchers as it comes very complete. It comes in a hard carrying case with a soft protective case. The soft protective case also includes a table tripod, the top part of which can also be used as a window tripod for use in the car. The built-in lens hood ensures a clear image in bright sunlight or rain. Rubber lens caps protect the front lens and eyepiece during transport.
Bushnell's EXO Barrier technology protects the lenses from moisture and dirt, while the argon gas-filled housing prevents the scope from condensing inside. The spotting scope has an adjustable tripod nacelle and focus knob, and offers 20-60x magnification with a 65mm front lens and 45-degree eyepiece view. A version with a straight view is also available.
Bushnell Prime 20-60x 65 features
- Bushnell's exclusive EXO Barrier technology repels moisture and dirt from the lenses
- Multi-coating on all air-glass surfaces ensures bright and high-contrast images.
- Argon gas-filled housing prevents condensation on the inside and moisture from penetrating;
- IPX7 waterproof construction; up to 30 minutes at 1 metre depth.
- Adjustable tripod nacelle for viewing at any angle.
- One focus knob for adjusting distance
- 20-60x magnification at 65mm front lens diameter
- 20-year warranty
Bushnell Nitro 20-60x 65 spotting scope
The Bushnell Nitro 20-60x65 ED is a compact spotting scope with an unobtrusive rubber body. The use of special ED Prime lens elements ensures a clear and sharp image without chromatic aberration, which prevents white birds from turning purple or green in bright sunlight. This ensures an optimal viewing experience during birdwatching or other activities where a razor-sharp and colour-fidelity image is important. Focusing with the Nitro is done with two dials: the large knob for coarse focusing and the front knob for fine tuning.
"This ensures an optimal viewing experience while birding."
The eyepiece shell snaps in in three positions and the image is also manageable for spectacle wearers. For very prolonged observations, it is slightly less suitable because you have to press your eye close to the eyepiece for a full image. But so excellent when the sunlight is bright. Although Bushnell's Nitro spotting scope has a relatively compact size, the fact remains that spotting scopes are usually not very light. It is therefore advisable to place the scope on a tripod to make bird watching more comfortable. The Leofoto Mamba carbon tripod is an excellent choice, as it is lightweight yet sturdy enough to support the spotting scope.
Features Bushnell Nitro 20-60x 65 ED Prime
- ED Prime glass provides a fantastically clear image without chromatic aberration, increases brightness and improves colour reproduction
- Compact size with 40 cm length and lightweight 1.6 kg
- Angled 45-degree eyepiece view for easy viewing under different conditions, such as standing, sitting or from a hide
- Dual Speed Focus: quick and precise focusing with two knobs for long distances and then fine-tuning
- A rugged magnesium housing with rubber covering for extra protection of the optical system
- Bushnell EXO™ Barrier coating on the outer lens surfaces protects against water, oil and dirt for an always clear and crisp image
- Nitrogen-filled to prevent condensation inside the scope.
- Rotatable tripod ring for comfortable viewing from e.g. a car
- Eye-Relief of 18 mm ensures a comfortable distance between eye and eyepiece
- 20-60x magnification at 65 mm front lens diameter
- Includes a storage case and SPUDZ cleaning cloth
- 20-year warranty
Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x 80 spotting scope
With its large 80mm front lens and eyepiece, the Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x80 is a very suitable spotting scope for long-term bird watching. The sharp, clear image is easy to see even with glasses or sunglasses on. The gas filling and O-rings ensure that the spotting scope can be used in various weather conditions. Overall, this is an excellent scope if you want to observe in grey weather or at dusk. It comes with a hard storage case and a neoprene protective cover for ease of use.
Features Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x 80
- Bushnell's exclusieve EXO Barrier technologie weert vocht en vuil van de lenzen;
- Volledige Multi coating op alle lucht-glas oppervlakken zorgen voor heldere en contrastrijke beelden;
- De Argon-gasvulling van de behuizing zorgt ervoor dat er geen condensatie optreedt aan de binnenzijde en dat er geen vocht kan binnendringen;
- IPX7 waterdichte constructie; tot maximaal 30 minuten op 1 meter diepte;
- Verstelbare statiefgondel voor het kijken onder iedere hoek;
- Een draaiknop voor het verstellen van de scherpstelafstand;
- 20-60x vergroting bij 80mm doorsnede van de frontlens
- Inclusief een opbergkoffer, neopreen beschermhoes en SPUDZ reinigingsdoekje;
- 20 jaar garantie.
Bushnell Forge 20-60x 80 spotting scope
The Bushnell Forge 20-60x80 is the top model in Bushnell's spotting scope series and offers a luxury upgrade over the Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x80. The eyepiece has a large viewing aperture and features non-slip and protective rubber coating, making this spotting scope ideal for long-term bird watching.
"The eyepiece is also very comfortable to look through."
Despite the high-end quality of the scope, the price falls in the "middle class" compared to other brands. The eyepiece is also very comfortable to look through, even with glasses or sunglasses on. The image remains sharp at all magnifications and is free of chromatic aberrations. All in all, the Bushnell Forge 20-60x80 is highly recommended for the serious birder.
Features Bushnell Forge 20-60x 80
- ED Prime glass gives a very sharp, clear and colour-fast image, without chromatic aberrations
- Sturdy rubber coating provides good housing protection
- Dual Speed Focus: fast and accurate focusing with two long-range knobs, then fine-tune
- Bushnell EXO™ Barrier coating on the outer lens surfaces protects against water, oil and dirt for an always crisp, clear image
- Nitrogen-filled to prevent condensation inside the scope
- Tripod ring allows it to be rotated, making it possible to observe comfortably from multiple angles
- Eye-Relief of 18mm, plus wide eyepiece aperture, provides a very pleasant distance between eye and eyepiece
- 20-60x magnification at 80mm front lens diameter
- Includes a storage case, neoprene protective cover and SPUDZ cleaning cloth
- 30-year warranty
All four Bushnell spotting scopes are suitable for observing birds in their natural habitats, but which one best suits your personal preference depends on several factors. These can include weather conditions, whether you wear glasses and what time of day you will be observing.
Daytime, or fair to good weather, or without glasses
If you primarily observe birds during the day and without glasses, the Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 and the Bushnell Nitro 20-60x65 ED are good options. With 20-60x magnification, you can easily view and recognise birds at long distances. The 65mm front lens offers sufficient brightness at daylight and moderate magnifications. Both scopes have a built-in lens hood and are waterproof, so you can keep watching even in rain or snow.
Long-term observation, or low light, or glasses wearer
When studying bird behaviour on a regular and prolonged basis or if you want to see fine details at higher magnifications and wear (sun)glasses, opt for the Bushnell Forge 20-60x80 ED or the Bushnell Engage DX 20-60x80. With their large 80mm front lens and eyepieces, they are very comfortable to look through for long periods of time. These scopes offer a clear image at higher magnifications and in different light conditions, making them suitable for more specialised bird watching. For example, in grey weather, the image remains clear at 40x and 60x magnifications, while even in very low light, the 20x magnification still offers a clear and bright image.