Spotting scopes, what do you need them for ? well just about anything. Got a house with a view ? if you have an ocean view you should have a spotting scope, how about Nature watching, target shooting, birdwatching, hunting, security, watching ships and whales go by. Most spotting scopes start off at a magnification of 20x and zoom through to around 60x. That means that if you set your scope at 20x and were looking at something 200 metres away it would look like it was only 10 metres away through the scope. Seeing that a standard binocular is 7x that is quite a difference so you need a tripod to mount the spotting scope on to hold it still. Generally anything over 10x cannot be hand held still enough to see the image clearly.
Like everything there is poor quality, medium quality and good (really good) quality. Prices reflect the differences from $150 through to $2500 and mind you the magnifications and sizes are about the same so it can be confusing. The difference is in the clarity in what you see. In cheap scopes the image might be slightly blurry, the colour might be off, the area you see which is called the field of view can be smaller. There can be many differences. Some are camera adaptable, some are small enough to put in a back pack when you go hiking. Check them out and talk to your dealer. If you are a birdwatcher you would go for the high end because you would be fussy, if you just want to check out what’s going on across the road maybe a cheapie will do.