Buyer's Guide 2003 - Spotting Scopes

These 4 scopes will give you an advantage in the field.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. Optolyth l Compact S80-HD
Not as well known as it should be, this scope delivers sharp, true colors at great distances. The latest Optolyth compact is still a bit heavy, but it's 20 percent smaller than its predecessors. Available with a range of fixed-power and variable eyepieces, the S80-HD has a polycarbonate body and fluorite-coated lenses up front. The tripod collar rotates 360 degrees._ $1,349 (not including eyepiece); 800-225-9407; www.deutscheoptik.com_

2. Nikon | Fieldscope 82 ED
The brilliant, tack-sharp images of the 82 ED will spoil you. And on top of getting such excellent resolution, you can focus this 56-ounce optic as close as 161/2 feet. It comes in straight or angled eyepiece versions, and you can buy the whole kit-with case, tripod, window mount, and 25X¿¿¿56X ocular included. $1,000¿¿¿$1,300; 800-645-6687;

3. Swarovski | STS 80 HD
As compact as a full-size spotting scope can be, this porro-prism Swarovski is reasonably lightweight (under 47 ounces), a major plus when you're carrying it a long way. Optically, it's just about flawless. It's also beautifully built (with detachable sight) and very easy to use. Eyepieces, angled or straight, come separately. $2,131; 401-734-1800;

4. Leica | APO Televid 62
This is a true hunter's spotting scope, because it really comes through in low-light conditions. It's small and light enough (about 35 ounces) for a daypack, but delivers high resolution with a 16X¿¿¿48X eyepiece (angled or straight) and has a front lens that can probe the shadows. $1,325¿¿¿$1,375; $475 for the eyepiece; 800-222-0118; www.