Space might be the final frontier but – let’s face it – not all telescopes are used for gazing at the stars – so what is the best telescope for spying?
- EDITORs TOP3
- Orion 10135 SkyQuest XT10g – EDITOR’s PICK
- Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular Telescope – EDITOR’s PICK
- Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular – EDITOR’s PICK
- Koolertron 5.0 inch LCD Digital Monocular
- Aomekie 234X Magnification Telescope
There are some forms of spying with a telescope that are not right and could get you into a lot of very serious trouble. We definitely aren’t encouraging that here.
What we are talking about here is maybe you are an investigator and you need a telescope for spying on cheaters. Another legitimate use is that there is a dispute you are gathering evidence on and you need the telescope for spying on neighbors or the best telescope for apartment spying.
Phew. Now we have the legal disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump straight into our top 3 candidates for the best telescope for spying. Now pay attention 007!
Buying criteria for the best telescope for apartment spying
When you are looking for the top rated telescope for apartment spying, the choice splits between a static refractor telescope for spying or a small telescope, such as a portable spying scope, which are more affordable.
Internet Surveillance is already a topical and controversial area and there are strict privacy laws against ‘peeping tom’ activities. However, anyone can buy a famous stargazing brand like Orion or a lower cost portable hunting scope.
So, we have recommended examples of both on our list. As well as popular models we looked during more than 70 hours of research at different price points, well-rated models with top reviews but also less well-known options.
Best Telescopes for Spying in 2022
Now, let’s look at five candidates in detail.
1. Orion 10135 SkyQuest XT10g
Best refractor telescope
The Orion 10135 Skyquest is a fantastic telescope for stargazing but will also easily do the job if you are interested in what bodies are up to in apartments rather than heavy bodies. This is a really powerful model with a whopping 10” aperture and an incredible 300 x useable magnification. It will fit easily into a Van or other vehicle for mobile surveillance and it’s long-distance performance means it will be highly effective.
If you want an incredible close-up detail in an apartment and maybe even read text inside a room from a distance, then this ultra-powerful refractor model from Orion is for you. Book that apartment in Monaco and check out what the arms dealer’s wife is up to in that Hotel.
- It has an incredible resolving power of fine detail
- Great for long-distance surveillance
- Plenty of light captured for early morning or early evening viewing via 10” aperture
- Perfect camouflage for surveillance – you are just stargazing, right?
- For pure performance, beats any handheld telescope by many orders of magnitude
- Big and bulky
- Higher cost than portable models
- Lots of features for astronomy that you don’t need for spying
Verdict: The Orion Skyquest blows away any and every handheld telescope for sheer resolving power. If you don’t need something compact, it’s a logical choice.
2. Gosky 12×55 High Definition Monocular Telescope
Best portable telescope
On the other hand, if you are working close up and are looking for something compact, portable and discreet, the Gosky could be the right solution for you – especially as it allows you to capture images directly to your phone.
If there’s any risk or hazard to your spying the Gosky is very affordable, so you won’t be too worried about it being broken, stolen or confiscated. If things do get rough it’s reassuring to know that it is also waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. Magnification is a useable 12x which is fine for up-close work. The Gosky is small and light enough you can carry it in a big coat, or small bag, rucksack etc. and no one will notice.
We really like the mount for a mobile phone. you can attach your smartphone camera to the monocular and you can instantly capture evidence, store it or send it.
- Very light and portable – great if you have to make a run for it
- Easy to conceal
- Ruggedized against water, dust etc
- Captures images direct to phone
- A good carry case would have been welcome
Verdict: A great little model for up-close spying. By model we don’t mean international glamour model, just to be clear.
3. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular
Best affordable portable scope
The Bushnell is another even more discreet and portable telescope, this time with really thorough full waterproofing. That’s handy when you are dropped off by submarine in the Caribbean and swimming up to the supervillain’s island hideout.
Magnification is 10x which is fine for up close and personal spying work out to about 150 yards.
This makes the Bushnell ideal if it’s a spying job of a home or an apartment and you are out in the snow and rain. At just 13.3 ounces it’s the definition of portability.
- Very lightweight and portable
- Simple but well built
- Very affordable
- Does the job up to about 150 yards
- Some rivals will work up to 200 yards or more 🙂
Verdict: Another great choice for mobile apartment spying when you are undercover.
4. Koolertron 5.0 inch LCD Digital Monocular
Best dedicated spy scope
Ok, we now come to a dedicated spy scope. If you buy this Koolertron you really are buying it for surveillance – so don’t expect to fool anyone. That said, it does the job of spying very well. It’s a digital camera style design with a built-in screen and is good for up to about 1,000 yards. Of course, you will need a much bigger screen than the 5” supplied to appreciate the full HD (1920 x 1080) detail. It records motion too at up to 30 FPS.
The kit comes with almost everything you need, including a small tripod and you can plug in up to 64 GB of memory via optional SD cards (you buy these yourself). Keep a big bottle of water handy though, if you need to swallow one of the SD cards to hide the evidence.
- Good magnification
- Records stills or moving images as you watch
- Built-in memory card slots for memory expansion
- Basic tripod supplied
- Only HD resolution, not 4K
Verdict: We decided to add the Koolertron to our list because it’s a different ‘take’ on the idea of a telescope for apartment spying. It’s not exactly a telescope but not exactly a camera either. It’s a useful hybrid that might well be what you are looking for.
5. Aomekie 234X Magnification Telescope
Best budget fixed telescope
For our final model, moving back to the fixed models, we recommend the Aomekie if you need something basic in the static field, with a lot of magnification for a low cost. The Aomekie is very simple to operate (it has very few features, unlike the Orion and is intended for beginners to astronomy) but delivers up to 234x magnification. That means you can be a long way away from your target – for example in another apartment – and still get a lot of detail.
What’s cool about the Aomekie too is that it also has a smartphone interface – just mount your mobile phone camera against the eyepiece and capture the magnified image. What’s especially handy is that there is a separate finderscope too, so you can set things up without having to go back to the main lens.
There’s even a handy carrying case and tripod – so everything you need to get set up in that apartment across the block.
If you are a private eye on a budget, for the money it’s a hard package to beat.
- Huge magnification
- Hook up your mobile phone camera easily
- Finderscope makes adjustments and new setups hassle-free
- At this price you are going to get the quality of the lens you expect – so be prepared for slight edge and other aberrations
Verdict: With the Aomeike you get the performance of a basic static telescope at the price of a hand-held plus a bunch of useful accessories.
OK, so that’s our line-up of suspects for the role of spying scopes for today. You can see we have looked at five quite different designs. We could have looked at many more but each of these fits a different niche and a different use case.
We hope you have found this provokes some ideas of your own. Let us know what you think in the comments section, Thanks for reading.
Oh and remember Bond, please bring the equipment back to Q in one piece – not like all the other times.
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I was expecting more models like the Koolertron. How about looking at more?
That’s a good question, so let’s explain our thinking. Any good DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a powerful zoom lens could also be regarded as a telescope for spying – because they magnify the image and then (unlike a straight telescope) can store it too. So the Koolertron is a bit of a strange idea – it’s not exactly a camera and it’s not exactly a telescope. If it’s a great digital camera you are after, take a look at some of our other reviews where we look at those in detail.
Which spy telescope do you think James Bond would use?
We discussed this in the iTechCluster office and decided it would either be one designed by Q or a luxury model from a discreet shop in Mayfair, London that also sold suits. Like the one in Kingsman.