I want to use my spotting scope to take pictures. What’s its f-number?

The f-number or focal ratio is just the focal length of the spotting scope divided by the aperture (diameter of the lens). It’s almost universally given as a quantity like f/5, f/2.8, etc., called the f-stop or photographic speed. These terms are used interchangeably.

Example: an 80mm spotting scope with a 480mm focal length has a f-number of 6 and its photographic speed is f/6.

Lower numbers mean the lens is delivering light more quickly and consequently shorter exposures can be used when taking a picture through the scope.

Updated 12/18/13