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Bushnell 20-60x65 Prime spotting scope review

The Bushnell 20-60x65 Prime is a versatile, portable spotting scope complete with tripod and ideal for nature lovers

Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 spotting scope
(Image: © Gavin Stoker)

Our Verdict

The Bushnell 20-60x65 Prime is a porro prism type spotting scope for use in the great outdoors, with the versatility of a 20-60x zoom range, married to a decent 65mm objective lens. Boasting a relatively lightweight feel yet a rugged build quality, further peace of mind comes via weather proofing features that include water resistance and anti fogging. A tripod and car window mount provided in the box are welcome extras; all ensuring this adds up to a value added package for those seeking to bring the faraway closer.

For

  • Fully featured
  • Impressive build for the price
  • Value for money
  • Weather proofed
  • Travel tripod and bag included

Against

  • Sharpness no match for pricier scopes

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Bushnell 20-60x65 Prime is a porro prism type spotting scope for use in the great outdoors, with the versatility of a 20-60x zoom range, married to a decent 65mm objective lens. Boasting a relatively lightweight feel yet a rugged build quality, further peace of mind comes via weather proofing features that include water resistance and anti fogging. A tripod and car window mount provided in the box are welcome extras; all ensuring this adds up to a value added package for those seeking to bring the faraway closer.

Pros

  • + Fully featured
  • + Impressive build for the price
  • + Value for money
  • + Weather proofed
  • + Travel tripod and bag included

Cons

  • - Sharpness no match for pricier scopes

Purporting to offer a premium build for an affordable cost, this black liveried Bushnell 20-60x65 Prime spotting scope is weather proofed for use in the great outdoors, and comes with an angled 45-degree eyepiece. Unsurprisingly, the specifications here refer to a zoom power ranging from 20x to 60x, married to a 65mm objective lens. 

Our review sample also included a Bushnell branded travel tripod, which is certainly handy, though you’ll need to be mounting it on a table or lying down in the undergrowth to use it comfortably. The tripod also has a removable car window mount built into it, useful perhaps if you’re thinking of buying this one for use on a safari – or any native wildlife park where you’re advised to remain in your vehicle and observe from within. But perhaps the biggest lure is that we’re getting all these features at a cost that is within reach of the amateur enthusiast. Read on to find out whether this has resulted in a value-for-money proposition…

Specifications

Magnification: 20-60x
Objective diameter: 65mm
Field of view at 1000m: 50m at 20x, 17m at 60x 
Closest focusing distance: 6.1 metres
Eye relief: 18mm
Weight: 1080g
Dimensions: 370mm in length

Value for money and weatherproofing are two of the key features. (Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

Key features

Like the majority of its ilk, this Bushnell device features fully multi coated lenses and protection against fogging regardless of the conditions we happen to be using it in. Furthermore, the Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 spotting scope offers IPX7 level waterproof construction with O-ring sealed optics ensuring everything stays reassuringly dry; at least when immersed in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes, claims the manufacturer. In short, it’s perfect for all weathers.

Further ticking those boxes for desirable features among the cognoscenti is the fact that its optical system comprises ED Prime Extra-low Dispersion glass and premium Bak-4 prisms, helping avoid chromatic aberration while theoretically allowing for a brighter image with it.

The Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 feels reassuringly robust and well made. (Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

Build and handling

Immediately you lift it from the box, this device looks and feels like a well made piece of kit. This unit weighs 1Kg, which ensures the Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 spotting scope feels solid in the palm, but not uncomfortably hefty. The size/weight distribution feels pretty much spot-on, in fact.

With the angled eyepiece providing comfort, if we’ve any gripe with the build, it’s that the zoom ring, which like the adjustable eyecup has a rubberised ridged surface for easy purchase, is a little on the stiff side, meaning that adjusting magnification is a tad slow. This is not uncommon, however, and in fairness it’s preferable to it being loose enough to accidentally nudge, either in operation or when retrieving it from its zip up bag provided out of the box. A smaller more subtle focus wheel is provided forward of this, its location falling just at our fingertips when an eye is pressed up against the eyepiece, ensuring that we don’t have to take our eyes away from our subject, allowing for focus adjustments to be made on the fly.

It's very pleasant to use but the Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 is visibly less sharp than premium spotting scopes from Leica and Zeiss – though the price obviously reflects that. (Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

Performance

We were faced with light drizzle during our test period – no problem for this device though, as it claims to be water resistant to IPX7 standards. Purporting to offer optimum light transmission, ultra crisp clarity and edge-to-edge detail thanks to the better than expected feature set for its price, as well as boasting colour fidelity, in fairness we’d have to say that image sharpness here doesn’t quite match up to our recent experience with Leica or Zeiss branded scopes that have, by contrast, delivered images so sharp they’re almost overwhelming. 

Compared to these top-end, expensively priced alternatives, what the Bushnell delivers can look a little cloudy by comparison in duller conditions, even when optimum focus has been visibly achieved.

You’ll be eyeing up this scope to bring the faraway closer, naturally, so perhaps it doesn’t matter so much that, alternately, the closest focus distance is a so-so 6.1 metres or 20ft, should the subject we’re tracking move closer towards us. We do however get a long-ish eye relief of 18mm and a twist up eyecup. The idea is that this is left retracted if the user is wearing glasses, or can be manually extended if they aren’t. 

Usefully, in the event that lens flare may become a problem in brighter conditions, there is a pull-out sunshade provided at the opposite lens-end of the device that is actually part of the barrel of the scope itself, as opposed to an accessory to be screwed on or off and possibly mislaid in the process.

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)

Verdict

The Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 is light enough to be used handheld – despite its relative bulk and ruggedness – indicating a tripod will be both more practical and comfortable for extended periods, this is a well made, straightforward-to-use device. OK, so optical quality may not be as pin sharp as more expensive and weightier options from the likes of Leica or Zeiss, but then many will feel the savings we’re making with this one will be worth taking the chance. Peace of mind when buying the Bushnell Prime 20-60x65 scope is offered courtesy of a full lifetime warranty described by the brand as ‘iron clad’, while the inclusion of a tripod with the scope itself is a very welcome addition.

Read more:

Best spotting scopes
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Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 year experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge he is well placed to recognise great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters, cameras straps and more.