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Conjuring the coven of Optic Mavens!!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2010 at 02:54
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BowThere is a core group of OT members who seem to have a good deal of experience with a wide range of gear.  I've gotten nothing but solid advice from them in the past so I return to pose this question to them concerning spotters: Which of these 3 mid-price scopes ($750~800)would you want to own for range and field work @200~1000yds. Weight is not an issue (that's what sons are for!).
Bushnell Elite 20-60x80ED, Leupold Kenai 25-60x80HD, or Vortex Skyline 20-60x80ED?  Perhaps you have another contender to suggest? Thanks in advance for your help.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2010 at 12:44
Chris Farris View Drop Down
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I like that....Optic Maven, maybe we should add that is a top title instead of Optics Retard.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2010 at 13:00
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I haven't looked through any of these, but I've read at least 50 posts and recommendations for the Bushnell.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2010 at 13:07
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Originally posted by Chris Farris Chris Farris wrote:

I like that....Optic Maven, maybe we should add that is a top title instead of Optics Retard.
And I've been working so hard to be an optics retard.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2010 at 19:55
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I have looked through all three, but the Kenai only in-store.  I can easily recommend both the Vortex and Bushnell in this price range, if portability is NOT an issue.

However, I would also look at the Pentax PF 80ED.  I have seen them used and occasionally discounted new in this price range.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/27/2010 at 11:47
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I agree with BB.  If you can find a used Pentax 80 ED, you could probably get one within your price range or close to it.  For new scopes, I think you are on the right track with either the Bushnell or Vortex.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/28/2010 at 03:20
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Optics GrassHopper
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Chris, feel free to lift the "maven" nomenclature for the OTF......wait, can I leverage this into some extra points to escape "optics grasshopper" status?  No? Oh well, it was worth a try. 

Thanks for the E-mail, found lotsa useful info. As recommended by BB and Rifledude, the Pentax PF-80 ED-A trounced my other choices in all categories. The Brunton Eterna 80 ED seemed to be almost as well received but I've no knowledge of their product line, so that presents a whole new set of questions.  While the Bushnell Elite seems to have walked all over the Kenai I have to wonder how it stacks up against the Vortex Skyline, and then we throw the Celestrons right back in the mix, what with that sexy 100mm objective and all the light it can grab!!

It would seem that , short of finding a bargain Pentax, the Bushnell would be the ticket (if I could just find it now on the SWFA site. AAAAGGGHHHHH!!  Oh well, thanks again for the input.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/28/2010 at 06:40
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I have no experience with the new Kenai but would like to look through one considering the specs and price. The Vortex Skyline and Skyline ED models seem to get mixed reviews especially at some of the birding review sites. I am guessing that is why Vortex came out with the Razor.
 
The Elite has always been a recommended spotting scope in this price range as has the Eterna.
 
I have owned the Pentax and the Celestron F-EDs. In my opinion the 65 mm Celestron is entirely comparable to the Pentax 65 but with better contrast. I had both the 80 mm models but not at the same time. I would expect the same comparative results though. There was an extensive thread on the Celestron that I posted over on birdforum last year. Here you go.....
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2010 at 21:49
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I own the Elite & I'll say the HD glass is super clean,the problem I have is, no fixed eye piece available and nothing to help if you wear eye glasses.With this said I can tell you this scope has served me well for the last 1 1/2 yrs.
 
Your sons will not be happy campers with the weight & size of this scope!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2010 at 01:14
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FrankD,  thanks for the info. If I read you right IYO the Celestron Regal 80F-ED should be the equal of the Pentax PF-80ED? Would it follow then that the Celestron Regal 100F-ED is a superior scope due to the increased light gathering ability of the 100mm objective?

Chris Farris sent me a comparison test conducted by Birders World. In the "Image Quality" category the testers gave the following ratings (on a scale of 5); Pentax PF-80ED~3.7,  Brunton Eterna 80ED and the Celestron 100F-ED~3.6, Celestron 80F-ED~3.5, Bushnell Elite 80-ED~3.4, and the Kenai~3.2. Would you guys agree with these values? As a reference they rated the Vortex Razor HD 85 at 3.9. In other categories the Brunton and Bushnell came to the fore while I believe the Celestrons were downgraded because of their weight and bulk.

Stickbow46, I've been getting a lot of positive feedback on this site and others about the Elite. All the sites use the same photo of the scope and it appears to have a shiny black finish as if it is painted metal. Is this true , or is the scope rubber coated and the picture is merely misleading?

Thank you again to all the Mavens for your help!!
Chris

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2010 at 09:17
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I don't know how much faith I would put in those rating numbers.  They put the Pentax .2 above the Bushnell, and they ARE pretty close.  Then they reference the Razor HD at .2 above the Pentax.  I would say the Razor and Pentax have much more separating them in performance.

I know it is out of your given price range, but I can not recommend the Vortex Razor HD enough as a truly magnificent spotter at a better than fair price.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2010 at 21:41
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In my experience comparing the 65 mm models of both scopes I thought the Celestron was the equal of the Pentax optically and actually bettered it in the area of contrast. You do have to keep in mind which eyepieces are being used in each scope. Pentax has the SMC zoom and the XF zoom while the Celestron just has the factory supplied zoom. My comparisons were done with the P65 and the Pentax XW 20 eyepiece in comparison to the Celestron with the factory supplied zoom. The XW20 eyepiece is one of the best available from any company with a wide, flat field of view that is largely free of color fringing. In regard to edge sharpness and field of view the Pentax (with the XW20 eyepiece) beat the Celestron  but the Celestron just provided a slightly cleaner and more contrasty image. It really depends on what you want to put more weight in. I certainly thought they were directly comparable optically overall. When you consider that the Celestron actually sells for quite a bit less than the Pentax then it really is a steal.
 
Also consider two other spotters about to hit the market...a new Zen Ray model and another that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nikon Fieldscope 82.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2010 at 22:50
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Why would you not use the leupold kenai? did you not like the optics?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2010 at 00:21
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I just got done reading the Outdoor life 2010 optics test. It has the Leupold Kenai ranked highest for price and value. It tied with the Zeiss Diascope 15-45x85 for the  low light test.

Zeiss Test
http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/gear/hunting/2010/05/optics-test-2010?photo=43

Leupold Kenai Test
http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/gear/hunting/2010/05/optics-test-2010?photo=44


Over all Test

http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/gear/hunting/2010/05/optics-test-2010?photo=52
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2010 at 00:55
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Interesting.

I have never tested the Leupold Kenai, so I do not have any opinions on it.  I briefly saw it at a convention and it seemed like a nice spotter.

However, I have seen most of the optics listed in that Outdoor Life comparison, and I suspect that you were to adjust the rankings for the advertising dollars spent, the table would look a lot differently.  To be blunt, flipping a coin is likely a more productive way to choose optics than relying on Outdoor Life.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/31/2010 at 18:54
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2Tonic,the scope is a brushed black finish over metal.The sunshade has a little bit of shine to it but it's not unpleasent!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2010 at 02:39
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FrankD, it seems you're saying that the Celestron is the equal of the Pentax even though the Pentax used a superior eyepiece. Or is the Celestron factory zoom possibly a sleeper; a product that outperforms its price structure that everyones' unaware of? This is getting really interesting!
How would you judge the build quality between the two brands as far as sturdiness,fit and finish, ease of use?

It appears that rating the performance of spotters is a lot more subjective than I first imagined, but isn't that how it always is with gun guys? Ying Yang

Stickbow46, thanks for the comeback on the Elite. "Sorta shiny" black metal, not the most "tactical" of finishes but I won't let that put me off, I can always get a neoprene jacket for it in camo or OD, right? Have you by any chance used or tested any of the other optics we've been discussing here?

Craigreid-84, I haven't said I wouldn't use the Kenai. I'm preparing to buy a spotter and I'm trying to get as much useful information as I can on the subject, from guys who steered me right in the past. My comments, to date, on the Leupy are based solely on its' performance in the test I cited midway thru this thread. I'll go take a look at the links you provided and see what I find. By the way, on the reply field is an icon to insert hyperlinks so others can just click on them. And welcome to OT!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2010 at 17:23
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Well I ordered the Leupold Kenai it will arrive the first of next week. I am taking it out with some friends that spent alot more money on there spotting scopes then I did. I will let everyone know how i think they rank up. We will have a Vortex Razor HD 85mm, Swarovski HD 80mm, and a Nikon Fieldscope 82mm. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2010 at 19:31
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Looking forward to it.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/02/2010 at 21:09
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Originally posted by craigreid_84 craigreid_84 wrote:

Well I ordered the Leupold Kenai it will arrive the first of next week. I am taking it out with some friends that spent alot more money on there spotting scopes then I did. I will let everyone know how i think they rank up. We will have a Vortex Razor HD 85mm, Swarovski HD 80mm, and a Nikon Fieldscope 82mm. 

Looking forward to your report.  Those are 3 great spotters.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/06/2010 at 02:43
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Always interested in a fresh opinion. Let us know how the Kenai does against the alpha glass.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/06/2010 at 07:30
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2Tonic,the Elite comes with a cover which allows a person to use the scope without the scope itself showing any of it's skin!
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