Need Christmas Help!
Glad to help. Here's a couple of articles you can bookmark for future reference. What is a spotting scope? and digiscoping.
Lots of good choices at that price and by using one of the various universal digiscoping brackets on the market, you can attach a small (keep it small, too - no more than 3x or 4x optical zoom) digital camera of any brand to nearly any spotting scope.
Some good choices in a spotting scope include the Alpen 788 (forget the little table top tripod option - use a full size photo tripod), the Bushnell Ultra Legend 20-60x80 and, if you can squeeze that $500 budget just a bit, my favorite at this price, the Celestron Regal 80F -ED. It's a terrific scope, optically and nothing touches it at this price. You won't be disappointed.
Don't forget a tripod. Any spotting scope will fit any camera tripod if they already have one. Otherwise, a Bushnell Advanced Titanium is a good place to start.
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