Orion 80mm ED Semi-Apo Binocular Spotting Scope Review


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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 Do you feel more comfortable using two eyes to see the awesomeness of the night sky?

Would you prefer less moving parts in your telescope?

This unique Orion optic is a binocular and spotting scope in one design that provides telescope-style observation for stargazing.

Lacking nothing, this binocular spotter could easily be your go-to optic for seeking out DSOs to sighting in your rifle at the range.

Zooming in…

✔️ Best Feature: Binocular Spotting Scope

Worst Feature: Price

👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Terrestrial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, Beginners, Intermediates, Experts

  • Optical Design: Refractor
  • Aperture: 80 mm
  • Focal Length: 500 mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/6.25
  • Eyepieces Included: 2x 12.5 mm

Our Verdict: The Orion ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope combines the design of both a binocular and spotting scope into one optic. Used for telescope-style viewing of both celestial and terrestrial objects, it’s a unique optic ready for any observational purpose you have in mind.

Orion 80mm Ed Semi Apo Binocular Spotting Scope
Image Credit: telescope.com

Who is the Orion 80mm ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope Best Suited to?

The Orion Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope is best suited to those who prefer the comfort and ease that comes with using two eyes for astronomy. Because of its hybrid design, it’s naturally suited to terrestrial use for birdwatching, spotting groupings at the range, and observing wildlife with a 72.2 ft/1000 yd linear FOV (field of view).

Since some beginners may be more familiar with binoculars versus telescopes, it’s likely easier to use to transition into astronomy with. Advanced users will see value in its interchangeable eyepiece system and excellent optical quality. It is expensive, but it’s a telescope alternative that is best suited to all users of all skill levels.

How Does the Orion 80mm ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope Perform?

The semi-APO bino spotter is one of a kind. The spotting scope has a 500 mm focal length and f/6.25 focal ratio that lends itself to wide fields of views and with ED glass, it has semi-APO optical quality.

It’s incredibly comfortable to use because of the binocular vision, and with astronomical eyepieces, you’re not missing out on anything that a regular telescope could offer. In fact, it may be easier to use the bino spotter because it offers great eye relief, an easy to use helical focusing ring, and the entire assembly weighs less than 10 lbs.

You can use the Orion binocular spotting scope for getting close-ups of Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings, or you can turn to larger DSOs like Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy with its 1.4° angular FOV.

Features & Benefits

Binocular Spotting Scope

This Orion refractor spotting scope is an interesting piece of work with its spotting scope body and binocular head. Instead of using 80 mm or 100 mm binoculars for astronomy, you can save weight and space with this hybrid optic that weighs approximately 5 lbs.

Unlike telescopes that have a focuser attachment, the spotting scope features a helical ring that does the focusing. Obviously, you have two astronomical eyepieces that are based on the interchangeable eyepiece system – so, yes you can change out the eyepieces with some shorter focal length ones for even more magnification.

The eyepieces are 12.5 mm, are threaded for filters, and the right eyepiece has a diopter to help fine-tune the bino spotting scope for your vision. With 20 mm of eye relief, it’s very forgiving for those who wear glasses.

The binocular head swivels in place 360-degrees to allow comfortable and convenient observation regardless of the telescope’s position. This is especially useful when using it on an EQ mount, and just like binoculars, you have an adjustable IPD (interpupillary distance) to achieve a true fit for your eyes and face.

Semi-APO Optics

It wasn’t enough for Orion to piece together an interchangeable eyepiece binocular with a spotting scope. They went the extra mile to make sure it had optics that would make this hybrid design even better.

It has double element optics with one element with FPL-53 glass – ED (extra-low dispersion) glass. This provides the semi-APO quality that significantly minimizes CA (chromatic aberration).

Both the objective optics and the eyepieces are fully multi-coated, so the entire telescope system offers great light transmission, contrast, and brightness.

Instead of using a prism in this refractor-style telescope, the optics consist of a dielectric-coated mirror. This helps to improve optical quality free of CA with increased contrast since mirrors do not split wavelengths. With this design, it does not introduce aberrations that would normally be present and would be visible through the eyepieces. This also means there is less of a demand to use high-end eyepieces that provide corrective optical benefits.  

Mounting Options

The Orion Binocular Spotting Scope does not come with a mount and tripod. However, it does offer mounting versatility.

The spotting scope base has threading to mount directly to a standard photo tripod. As long as the tripod can hold the weight of the scope, it’s good to go. This is one example of how its spotting scope design lends itself naturally to terrestrial use.

However, if you want to mount the bino spotter to an equatorial mount, a Vixen-style dovetail bar is included in the buy.

Accessories Included

If you know anything about high-end binoculars and spotting scopes with interchangeable eyepiece systems, you’ll know that they’re incredibly expensive and often come without eyepieces included.

This Orion spotting scope-style telescope comes with two Edge-On Planetary 12.5 mm eyepieces and a waterproof, hardshell, foam-fitted carry case. The case fits the binocular spotter with both pieces fitted together, the two included eyepieces, and room for two more sets of 1.25” eyepieces.

Orion 80mm Ed Semi Apo Optic And Accessories
Image Credit: telescope.com

Limitations

Price

The price may be out of your budget, especially so if you’re a beginner, but if you truly understand optics, you’ll know that this is a great buy. Not only are you getting a spotting scope and binocular married into one system, you’re also getting the eyepieces, Vixen dovetail bar, and hardshell carry case that holds everything.

However, you will need to purchase a mount or have one available for use with the binocular spotting scope. Like with all telescope purchases, additional eyepieces must be bought separately.

Popular Questions

Can you use the Orion 80 mm Binocular Spotting Scope for Astrophotography?

The Orion Binocular Spotting Scope is not designed for astrophotography. However, you can take photos through the astronomy eyepieces in the same way you can take photos through a binocular.

You can use a smartphone and an adapter to attach to one eyepiece to take snapshots. While there are ways to work around using DSLR digiscoping kits, the bino spotter is not camera adaptable, and focusing issues may be a primary complaint.

What is the Close Focus Distance on the Binocular Spotting Scope?

The Orion 80 mm ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope has a close focus distance of 26 feet. This is not a relevant feature for astronomy, but it is relevant for terrestrial observation. You will be unable to focus the optic at distances less than 26 feet.

What Eyepieces can be used with the Orion Binocular Telescope?

The binocular head is threaded to receive 1.25” astronomy eyepieces. The included 1.25” 12.5 mm eyepieces provide 40x magnification. You can attach 1.25” 6 mm eyepieces to reach 83x power for even more magnification.

Close Up Of Eyepieces On Orion Binocular Spotting Scope
Image Credit: telescope.com

How Long is the Warranty on the Orion 80 mm ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope?

The Orion 80 mm ED Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope comes with a 1-year warranty covered by Orion.

Where is the Orion Semi-APO Binocular Telescope Made?

The 80 mm Semi-APO Binocular Spotting Scope is made in Taiwan.

Conclusion

It’s easy to call this a spotting scope, but its doublet objective, mirror optics that replaces a prism, and astronomy eyepieces really makes it a refractor with binocular-style vision.

Not only is the design appealing to many, it also provides semi-APO optical quality – very little to no color fringing, great color fidelity, and excellent sharpness and contrast.

If you want one telescope for everything from the stars, planets, and DSOs to birds, animals, and shooting targets, the Orion Binocular Spotting Scope is the tool that’s right for the job.

Further Reading:

About Fern

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