Difference between Prismatic Compass and Surveyor Compass

A compass is a tool used to find directions. There are two types of compasses – the prismatic compass and the surveyor compass.

The main difference is that the prismatic compass is portable and primarily used for field work while the surveyor compass is larger and more accurate, and is used for surveying and mapping land.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Prismatic Compass and Surveyor Compass:

  • Prismatic Compass: A prismatic compass is a small, hand-held compass that is used to find directions in the field. It is often used by hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Surveyor Compass: A surveyor compass, also known as a transit compass, is a larger, more accurate compass that is used by surveyors to measure and map land. It has a telescope and a rotating magnetized needle, and is mounted on a tripod for stability.

Prismatic Compass vs Surveyor Compass

Now, let’s move to Prismatic Compass vs Surveyor Compass:

Major differences between Prismatic Compass and Surveyor Compass

Prismatic Compass Surveyor Compass
The prismatic compass is portable and can be carried in a pocket or bag. The surveyor compass is larger and requires a tripod for stability.
The prismatic compass has a simple magnetic needle and a rotating bezel (ring), The surveyor compass has a more advanced magnetized needle and a telescope for measuring angles.
The prismatic compass is primarily used for recreational purposes and general direction-finding. The surveyor compass is used for professional surveying and mapping work.
The prismatic compass is less expensive than the surveyor compass. The surveyor compass is more expensive than the prismatic compass.
The prismatic compass is smaller and lighter than the surveyor compass The surveyor compass is bigger and heavier than the prismatic compass


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That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Prismatic Compass and Surveyor Compass”.

Also see:

Final words

Both the prismatic compass and the surveyor compass are useful tools for finding directions, but they are designed for different purposes and offer different levels of accuracy and convenience.

You can view other “differences between” posts by clicking here.

If you have a related query, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

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09/25/2023 11:08 am GMT


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