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Everything we see is really just “light” being reflected off objects in our field of view. The less light there is, the less we see. You may have seen or heard the term "light gathering". Optics nerds use this term when they use an optical device, like a Burris rifle scope, to capture as much light as possible.
It is a common misconception that magnification is what allows us to see more through a telescope. Magnification, however, only makes things bigger. In fact, magnification reduces the field of view, reducing the amount of reflected light, and letting you see less! It's like turning the volume up on your car radio to pick up a station with a weak signal and static. Your volume knob just increases all the sound—good and bad. (I am talking AM here.) Try taking a really high powered zoom rifle scope and cranking up the magnification. The higher you zoom, the darker your sight picture becomes! Generally speaking, it is true that the larger the objective (front) lens of a scope, the more light it can gather, and the more you can see.
*The moral of the story, boys and girls, is that "bigger isn't always better", and sometimes "less is more." At least when we're talking scopes.
Although it sounds like the title to a Hollywood horror flick, Chromatic Aberration is merely that distortion you see around the edges when you look through a low quality scope. That distortion combined with some parallax error will make if hard for you to hit anything except the ground.
If you don't look want chromatic aberration to muck up your shooting enjoyment, stay away from the low-priced scopes. Stick with a Burris rifle scope or comparable name brand.
Here's a little factoid to impress your friends with at your next get-together: One of Viet-Nam's major exports is sand. Apparently, Viet Nam has such exceptionally pure sand that other countries actually buy their sand rather than purify their own! As a result, there are a lot of scope lenses made from this high quality Vietnamese sand/glass. That's why we see a lot of high quality optics coming out of Asia.
Since the optical clarity of the lenses in a telescopic sight determine how much light is gathered and how much you can see, it stands to reason that the better quality glass, the greater the clarity. Poor quality glass, on the other hand, will give you distortions, distractions, and a headache.
*High quality glass will make a your Burris rifle scope cost a little more, but it won't knock your budget out of focus.
For general hunting purposes, parallax error is most critical at under 100 yard distances. And, this is why most rifle scopes are set to be parallax error free at 100 yards. At under 100 yards, wild game are large enough that parallax won't throw you too far off your aiming point. Beyond 100 yards, the error is simply less for the difference in distance.
Adjustable Parallax scopes have a lot of adjustment under 100 yards but just a little as range increases over 100 yards. So, if your scope tests parallax error-free at 100 yards, it is going to work just fine for probably 95% of all hunting situations. But, if it shows a lot of parallax error at 100 yards, it is simply not going to shoot accurately and reliably.
You might say the birders want the same thing from their birding scopes as hunters and shooters want from their rifle and pistol scopes, namely exceptional optics. Everyone loves bright, high-contrast images with true-to-life colors. Birders also appreciate rugged construction and optics that are well sealed from dust and weather, preferably nitrogen-filled, so they won't fog up, such as can be found in Burris scopes, among others.
Usability is an equally important feature. A birding scope shouldn't weigh a ton. It should be easy to focus and usable on a car window mount. Built-in, slide-out sunshades and easy-to-use lens caps are little extras that help a lot. Last but not least, a birding scope needs a good aiming device, to help you watch the birdies before they fly away.
Plumbing has its O-rings, Burris has Zee rings. These scope mounting rings have long been favorites of custom gunmakers because they are strong, look good, and fit great. Burris' innovative designs and rock-solid performance are a matter of record.
Each ring is made from a solid piece of steel with the top and bottom half perfectly mated. Zee rings (with no moving parts) are considered to be the best fitting and most positive gripping Weaver-style ring made. As a result, they are naturally the choice for customizing a Burris rifle scope.
Before any rifle scope goes out the door, manufacturers make sure it has its coat on. Lens coatings are what make high quality optics high quality optics. Because a glass lens is highly polished, it both gathers light and reflects it away. The more light that is reflected away, the less you can see through the scope. So, scopemakers coat their lenses to reduce reflection and improve light gathering.
When you look at a coated lens from the side, you will see a hue to what is reflected in the lens face. Most coating hues are blue (some are green and others are pinkish). Some manufacturers have enhanced coating systems that use multiple coating layers and materials to give even better light gathering and the least possible reflection.