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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/02/2006 at 17:54
samhill79 View Drop Down
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OK here is the deal, I am looking for quality advice from those of you who know and have seen (this means you, Chris and Koshkin, as I value your opinions and you have been so influential to me and others) and all those others who fall into the aforementioned category of knowing.

 

I am looking for a great spotting scope for the west etc. Idaho.  I will use it on the range, look at stars for fun, on the ranch to read numbers on ear tags, hunting in bad weather & good weather, I am a trophy type hunter and like to see the most of a set of antlers before I decide to huff and puff my way to the top of a mountain,  ranges will be from 300 to 1700+ yards. I will have it in the truck and will also be packing it, an extra pound is worth it to me if it has noticeable clarity and definition, but like we have always heard, "size does matter" to a point, lets be honest.  I am looking for the best all around scope.

 

I am price sensitive as is everyone but more quality sensitive.  I will spend the money if its worth the money but am not just trying to spend money if you get my drift.  I will not accept bauch & lomb or bushnell as they have offended me in so many ways, please do not waste any effort explaining them.

 

By owning Leica 10X50 Ultravids and a Lieca range finder I have become spoiled and seek the same type of performance. This will be a lifetime purchase.

 

From reading through the many threads already posted I have come to a few conclusions:  Leica, Swaro, Zeiss, Pentax, and Nikon are the only spotting scopes to consider. What about Minox?

 

The Pentax has been posted a few more times than the others and has caught my curiosity.  Is it really just as good as the German glass?  

 

 (1) What is the difference in warranties on these different products( Leica, Swaro, Zeiss, Minox, Nikon, and Pentax)?  (One, of the reasons I have chosen Lieca). (2) For the reasons stated above, what scope would you recommend? Why?  (3)  What power ranges should I get and what size of objective and reasons why.  The more detail and validation of your opinion the better. Opinions without validation are helpful but not useful.

 

I know this is a rather detailed thread, but I know this will be read many times and the greater depth we go into, the less times the same question will be asked.  I value all opinions and look forward to your advice on the matter.  Thank You for your time and dedicated effort in helping me and future readers.

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/02/2006 at 23:28
lucznik View Drop Down
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I suspect that one reason this topic has failed to illicit a lot of responses is that your questions revolve around issues that are largely subjective.  You have selected the very best makers (and rightly so) and are basically asking someone to tell you what to buy.  This could cause problems as all of us have different preferences and no one is going to want to steer you down the wrong path. (I am curious what B&L/Bushnell has done to "offend" you but, I suppose that's a topic for another day.)

 

However, to give you some food for thought:

 

Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss are (just like in binoculars) the "Big 3." Everything else will be compared to these. Pull out any one of these and people around you are going to "ooh and ahh" and will think you're either really rich or really knowledgeable about optics (or both.)  Either way they will feel jealous, whether or not it's warranted is another story. Optical differences in these three scopes will be minor at best and more than likely will be down right insignificant.  Warranties are all pretty much the same as is the level of customer service you can expect to receive. This also applies to Nikon, Pentax, and I suspect Minox as well. Ergonomics are another thing entirely and you will have to decide for yourself which you like best. 

 

Nikon makes their Fieldscope line which is optically fantastic.  They are at least the equal of anything made by the "Big 3" though they do lack some of the caché of the European brands. If size is a real concern there is even a new 50mm Fieldscope which is considered to be the real "cat's meow" among those who own them. It only weighs something like 16 or 17 ounces. For packing any real distance, this would be an ideal scope.

 

Pentax has spotters that also are easy rivals for the "Big 3," especially when coupled with their XW eyepeices. They also are not considered by most to be as "high end" as their European cousins though, this is not due to any lack of quality. The relatively compact 65mm ED scope is said to be a true gem among spotters. At 37 ounces it is over twice the weight of the 50mm Nikon Fieldscope but, the extra OL size would give better optical performance.

 

I don't know a lot about Minox products except that they have an awesome reputation among those who own/use them.  Minox was for a long time a division of Leica and although that connection does not technically exist in the same way it once did, the influence is still there in spades.

 

Based on your question(s), I would give the following bits of advise:

  • Decide how much you really are willing and can truly afford to spend without feeling guilty or like you've been cheated. As you do this, keep in mind that a fair portion of the cost of the "Big 3" is due to high import taxes and also badge-recognition/snob-appeal. Eliminate any scope priced above this price bracket.
  • Within this price bracket look at as many of the available scopes as possible. Pay special attention to their handling, weight, size, design, build-quality, and other ergonomic issues.
  • Assuming always that you are dealing with scopes of comparable quality; With every jump in OL size you get better optical performance but, you must make a trade-off in both greater size and weight. Buy the biggest scope you will be willing to pack around on your longest excursion. (Or resign yourself to buying two scopes: one for packing and another for "in the car" use.)
  • Remember that spotting scopes need tripods and bigger scopes require bigger tripods to provide proper stabilization.
  • For field use, anything above 30x is generally wasted due to heat mirage.  However, the higher magnifications can be very useful for astronomy so, it can't hurt to have them available.
  • Be honest with yourself.  If a Leica is the only thing you are going to be happy with (for whatever reason) than there is little use in spending money on anything else as you will just have to spend more to get the Leica later.

I know, I know, this isn't all that helpful and it doesn't give real cut-and-dry answers to your questions but, you are asking questions for which there are no hard and fast rules.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/03/2006 at 16:01
anweis View Drop Down
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As you get older, spotting scopes get heavier. I suggest a 20 oz. Nikon Fieldscope

50 mm ED angled body with a 20x wide angle eyepiece. Mate it with a lightweight

1-2 lb Manfrotto tripod or monopod. Their optical performance will leave you gasping, their portability will leave you smiling.

What you loose because of the 50 mm objectives is 5-10 minutes of light at dawn and dusk.

  

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/03/2006 at 17:31
samhill79 View Drop Down
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I know I asked allot in this thread and want to thank those who have already contributed.  Your opinions are appreciated. Lucznik your post is very helpful, do not discredit yourself so easily.  anweis, thank you for suggesting the tri-pods, an equally important question when considering spotting scopes.

 

Please feel free to state what you like and why, its not a fashion show around here. 

 

I will agree that I know the big three will make me happy but then I hear about the Nikon and the Pentax and i think to myself..."hey, I don't give a rats about a name if it can perform the same".     I guess I really should have asked, Does the Pentax and the Nikon really match up, in terms of warranty, clarity, durablity....etc.  Price, well, we all know.  I am willing to spend $600 to 1500.  I would like to spend less as the extra could be used to add one more firearm to the cache.

 

I feel that I need a little more power than 20X to fully "qualify" a particular animal.  Heat wont be a problem most times as generally speaking you can freeze your wazoo off in Idaho.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/03/2006 at 18:30
koshkin View Drop Down
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I am not really the right guy for this one since I am fairly new to spotters, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

I just went through an exersize of picking a spotter.  I ended up with angled Pentax 65mm ED.  Originally, I wanted something really cheap.  Then I looked around and decided that I want Nikon 50mm ED Fieldscope, price be damned.  Then I looked at my credit card bills and decided that price is an issue.

While I was doing all the looking around, I looked at a lot of scopes.

I think ED offerings from Nikon, Pentax and Minox are sufficiently close to the big 3 to permanently remove Zeiss, Swaro and Leica from my consideration.

I ended up with a Pentax 65mm ED.  I bought a variable XF eye piece for the time being.  I'll probably also get a fixed XW eyepiece at some point as well.

If your use involves a LOT of walking around with it, I would suggest you look at the 50mm ED Fieldscope.  That thing is pretty remarkable considering how smal and light it is.  If my primary use was packing it on a hunt, I would get the Nikon.  If my primary use was stationary observation I would get something with an 80mm or bigger objecive lens.  For an allround piece, 65mm is about right.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/05/2006 at 22:34
mikerabe View Drop Down
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If you are looking for a good review of the best spotting scopes than check this out www.alula.fi/gb/optics.htm  Out of all the big scopes I recommend the nikon fieldscope 82mm with the 25-75x zoom eyepiece. This setup is as good or better than anything Europe has to offer for less money IMHO. You will find the 75x very useful out to the 1700 yards you mentioned. Although if you wear glasses then you may want to look at the somthing with a little more eye relief. Nikon optics are as good as anything else on the market for less money! Just my 2 cents.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/06/2006 at 17:01
samhill79 View Drop Down
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I stopped by a Cabelas over the weekend.  I took a look at the Nikon ED class they seem to be very durable and look very clear in the store which means nothing but to me they look very rugged and well built.  I also looked at the Leica, it doesnt feel as well built(scope body) but was very clear in the store which still means nothing.  The one thing I thought about the Lieca was that its eye peice seemd to be of much better craftsmanship and looked to be more durable than that of the Nikon  That is what I have seen so far, cant wait to check out a pentax.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/07/2006 at 10:31
FrankD View Drop Down
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Quote The Pentax has been posted a few more times than the others and has caught my curiosity.  Is it really just as good as the German glass? 

 

In my experience, yes it is...at least to the point where most folks cannot or do not care to notice a difference. I tend to agree with everything that lucznik posted (as usual ) as well as what most of the other "regulars" have posted thus far.

 

Like koshkin I own the Pentax 65 mm scope but with the Pentax XW eyepieces (a 20 mm [19.5x] and a 10 mm[39x]). Optical quality is superb. Pentax eyepieces have long been held as the best, or one of the best in the astronomy world. They finally decided to design a spotting scope around that eyepiece when they built the 80 mm ED model. It is very highly regarded and is actually the "Reference Standard" for 80 mm spotting scopes over on better view desired. Since that time they developed and introduced the 65 mm version and it has been very well received.

 

Earlier this year I posted a thread on BF asking what everyone thought was the least expensive, decent quality ED scope on the market. The response was almost uniformly in favor of the Pentax 65 mm. Comments in terms of its optical quality and its build quality were all extremely favorable. The price was probably the most attractive aspect though. I have seen the scope body, w/o eyepiece, to go for just over $400.

 

Eyepieces are another huge aspect of what makes this scope attractive though. The scopes are designed to accept any 1.75 inch astronomical eyepieces. There are literally hundreds of different eyepieces to choose from which range in price from $20 a piece all the way up to $400. I initially chose to order three eyepieces from a local company based on specs and prices. They worked beautifully but I eventually decided to upgrade to Pentax's own XW series. I could not be happier with them.

 

If you are looking for the best performance versus cost scope out there then it is, in my opinion, the Pentax ED series.

 

The Nikon Fieldscope series is also highly regarded and in my experience rightly so. They are less expensive than the big 3 but more expensive than equivalent Pentax models. I have looked through both the 65 mm ED model and the 82 mm ED model and was extremely impressed by the image quality.

 

So, if you want the optical performance, or close to it, of the big 3 without paying the prices of them then I would suggest either the Pentax or the Nikon.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2006 at 07:34
anweis View Drop Down
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Originally posted by samhill79 samhill79 wrote:

 

I feel that I need a little more power than 20X to fully "qualify" a particular animal. 

 

No, you don't. Them elks are big as an outhouse. A stable wide angle image in a quality scope is more important than magnification. If there is extra $ to spend, get a high quality tripod.

 

I had a good day of birding with a $2000 20x scope mounted on a $700 tripod the other day. I could see clearly and identify sparrow sized birds from 500 yards or more.

 

Magnification is not a substitute for quality. You'd be amazed how many spotting scopes are not used to their full potential because people choose zoom eyepieces or shoddy tripods.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2006 at 11:07
FrankD View Drop Down
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Quote

Magnification is not a substitute for quality. You'd be amazed how many spotting scopes are not used to their full potential because people choose zoom eyepieces or shoddy tripods.

 

Amen to that!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/09/2006 at 23:19
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Samhill 79, I went through this same decision that you are having to make about 2 years ago.  I also use Leica binos and have been spoiled by the high end glass.  I have a great deal of experience with mid and high end binos over the years but I certainly am no expert with spotting scopes due to lack of experience.  I finally bought a Leica APO rubber amormed w 16-48x eyepiece.  I can't tell you how they compare with Zeiss & Swaro because I have only viewed them in the store.  I will tell you that I have been extremely pleased with the Leica scope.  Optically its everything you expect from Leica.  I have taken a few photos through it, used it on 2 short hunts, but mostly I have used it at the range and have no complaints.  It is amazingly sharp when looking at bullet holes from long distance.  The build quality with the rubber armor is very rugged and it has a great course and fine focus.  I debated over the larger size but I am glad I decided on the 62mm.  It is compact and also streamlined and fits nicely in the side sleeve of my backpack.  My only complaint about the big three is the price.  They have gotten extremely high.  I had just about made up my mind to go with the Zeiss because it was a good bit cheaper and came with FL glass as standard instead of an upgrade.  Then I found a deal to good to pass up and bought the Leica extremely cheap with lifetime warranty. 

 

I did own a pair of Minox binos and I can tell you that the were not nearly as good as my Leica and I ended up selling them and getting a second pair of Leica binos.  I wish I had more experience with the other scopes and could give you a fair comparsion but I hope this helps.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2006 at 00:59
samhill79 View Drop Down
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Thanks for the great input FrankD. 

 

Tbone1, good to hear from you again my freind.  You were very instrumental a few years back when I was upgrading to the Leica Ultravids, thanks again!

 

Thanks everyone for the great posts, I feel like we are really getting somewhere with this thread....

 

I want to make sure I do the right thing again.  I am going to check out the Pentax and when I do, I will tell you what I think, which of course will mean nothing as I will have to check it out in the store....hardly the ideal test range.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2006 at 07:34
FrankD View Drop Down
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Quote I want to make sure I do the right thing again.  I am going to check out the Pentax and when I do, I will tell you what I think, which of course will mean nothing as I will have to check it out in the store....hardly the ideal test range.

 

I look forward to hearing your comments.

 

When in the store try to pick out some challenging subjects/areas to look at. If it is a fairly large store then try to pick out a shaded area or just an area with poor lighting. If they have windows or skylights then try to put the edge of the window/skylight in the middle of the field of view and try to pick up color fringing (CA). Though somewhat limited there are still some great tests you can run in a store.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/10/2006 at 22:54
tbone1 View Drop Down
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I'm glad I could help.  Are you glad you went with the Ultravids?  I didn't want to steer you wrong.
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