As a newbie, I don't know much about spotting scopes. What qualities and features should I be looking at when considering a first spotter? How much magnification is needed to spot at 500-1000yds?
And what about a mil/moa reticle? I figured that would be a reasonably standard feature of spotters for LR shooters. But looking at the market, I don't actually see that many with a reticle.
Depends on what you're trying to do.
If you just want to see bullet holes in paper at great distances, then a target cam is a much better purchase.
If you're trying to spot animals or call trace on misses, then a spotter can be quite handy. Reticles are great so that you can actually call in angular units. Important detail. Otherwise you're stuck guessing based on known size relationships.
Hensoldt and Swarovski spotters rule the roost. You'll have to part with serious coin to own one. Vortex, kowa, and a few other oddball brands occupy the mid range and low end.