A Object Lesson in Scope Optics

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What's the relationship between object size and magnification?

A Object Lesson in Scope Optics

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.



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