Took a class today by Sharon Stiteler, "The Bird Chick", a t Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. It was a beautiful day, cool but sunny. Sharon presented several of her photos to the group and talked us through equipment we could use. She is very knowledgeable about the subject, passionate about birds and likes to have fun. After the presentation, we got to go out and look for birds and try it out.
The Osprey were hanging out around their nest near the parking lot so we had something to see and then I compared equipment. I have an old, inexpensive scope and it made things look like I was looking through a scope (the center was in focus but the edges were distorted). The more expensive equipment had greater clarity, let through more light allowing for brighter colors, and lighter weight (important when lugging around place to place) and very little distortion (if any).
Here is Sharon's web page for more information about her stuff.