Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   


December cover image

Picture This: Optics for All

Ever-improving scopes and binoculars offer a clear eye on the outdoors.

By Earl Nottingham

As the holiday season approaches, the quandary of finding the perfect gift for the active outdoor enthusiast once again rears its ugly head. What better way to enjoy the natural world than experiencing it up close and personal through crystal-clear optics — whether looking through a camera lens, spotting scope, binoculars or rifle scope? While this column is typically devoted to photography and cameras, this month we’ll focus on spotting scopes, binoculars and rifle scopes.

One of the major trends in the optics industry is the use of more (and better) lens coatings combined with ED (extra-low-dispersion) glass, resulting in a clearer and sharper viewing experience for any type of scope. While ED glass has been offered for several years on higher-priced optics, newer proprietary lens coatings combined with lower prices are making this feature more widely available.

With many quality products from well-known optics companies to choose from, it can be difficult to find the perfect model. The first stop should be the company’s website to compare models based on your particular viewing needs. As a practical example: a Texas Hill Country hunter may need a less-powerful set of binoculars or rifle scope than a Western U.S. counterpart who needs longer-distance viewing.

So for Holiday Season 2015 (drum roll, please), here are some representative and highly rated optics that are currently available. Use these examples as starting points to explore similar product lines from various manufacturers that may be more appropriate for the lucky gift recipient.

Spotting scope

Whether you’re viewing wildlife or sighting-in a rifle, a good spotting scope can make all the difference. Alpen Optics produces a variety of high-quality spotting scopes — most notably the Alpen Rainier 856 ED HD 25-75x86 model, which recently won Outdoor Life magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award. The editors concluded that the scope’s workmanship, resolution of the ED glass and durability made it worthy of the award. Alpen also has a complete line of binoculars and rifle scopes. (www.alpenoptics.com)


Alpen Rainier 856 ED HD


Rifle scope

With the DNA of quality optics in its lineage from the Nikon name, the ProStaff line of rifle scopes complements Nikon’s premier Monarch line by offering a well-made alternative at an affordable price. Nikon says “these rifle scopes will help you bring home the big bucks without spending them.” The scope transmits up to 98 percent of available light, ensuring maximum brightness from dawn to dusk. Its unique BDC reticle (crosshair) with see-through ballistic circles allows the shooter to compensate for bullet drop and hold “dead on” at longer ranges. A generous eye relief of 3.6 inches helps ensure that kickback from recoil isn’t an issue. (www.nikonsportoptics.com)


Nikon ProStaff 3-9x40 (BDC)



The venerable Bushnell name has been around for years with a wide range of quality, affordable products. Now it ups the ante with the Legend Ultra HD series with ED prime glass and ultra-wide band coating that promises high-definition and “true-to-color” viewing. Fully waterproof with a water-repellent lens, it also has a wide field of view and long eye relief (which eyeglass wearers will appreciate). (www.bushnell.com)


Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8x42


» Like this story? If you enjoy reading articles like this, subscribe to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine.


Related stories

Picture This: Finding a New Angle

Picture This: Backing It Up

Picture This: Tips for Better Smartphone Videos

Picture This: Ambassador with a Camera

Picture This: Chasing Rainbows

Picture This: Shooting in Winter

Picture This: The Gift of Optics

Picture This: Using Scale in Landscapes

Picture This: Highlights and Shadows

Picture This: The Exposure Triangle

Picture This: Getting Exposure Right

Picture This: The New Crop of Cameras

Picture This: Kids and Cameras

Picture This: Shooting Stars

Picture This: Gifts for Shutterbugs

Picture This: Video for Everyone

Picture This: Shooting Fall Color

Picture This: The Art of Seeing

Picture This: Leading Lines

Picture This: The Rule of Thirds

Picture This: Sensors and Sensitivity

Picture This: There's an App for That

Picture This: Critter Cam

Picture This: Photo Contest Winners

Picture This: Keeping Your Camera Steady

Picture This: Retiree's Photo Sessions Reflect the Nature of the Day

For more on TP&W magazine photography, go to our Photography page


back to top ^


Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine 
Sign up for email updates
Sign up for email updates