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My brain might be getting me in trouble!!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/18/2007 at 12:52
Big Whip View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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Joined: November/03/2005
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I've been looking at getting a new spotting scope to upgrade from a Bushnell Elite 20-60x80, and wanted to keep my budget somewhere around $800.  With that in mind, I came up with this list:

 

Pentax ED                                               20-60x65         $800

Nikon Fieldscope III Non-ED               20-60x60         $800

Kowa 662 Non-ED                              20-60x66         $812

Minox 62mm Non-ED                           20-45x62         $766

 

This is the order in which I ranked each spotter, and was pretty much set on getting the Pentax.  Then, just for S&G, I kept reading this and other forums.  Time and time again it has been suggested to save up just a bit more than the original budget and step up to a whole new level of optics.  With that in mind, I figured I could swallow the pain and save up to about the $1200 mark.  I then ranked these more expensive scopes like this:

 

Pentax ED                                               20-60x80         $1050

Nikon Fieldscope III ED                         20-60x60         $1200

Kowa 663 ED                                       20-60x66         $1192

Meopta Meostar APO                         20-60x75         $1205

Zeiss Diascope (Sample List)               15-45x65         $1300

Leica Televid (Sample List)                 16-48x62         $1220

Minox 62mm ED                                 21-42x62         $1126

 

Once again, I put the Pentax highest on the list because of the price being so much lower, being the only 80mm scope, and my bias towards Pentax after owning the DCF SP binos.  I put the Zeiss, Leica and Minox lower on the list mainly because of the lower magnification available.  I have noticed a tendancy for me to use higher magnifications when evaluating game, and want to keep that option there. 

 

I've looked thru both Pentax, both Nikon, the Zeiss and the Leica and thought the girl at the cash register at the front of the store was equally hot in all of them.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to take the scopes outside to do a real test, so that's where I'd like opinions.  I know firsthand experience is the best judge, but secondhand information from the right source can be helpful too.  I've been lurking here and reading long enough to know which posters to listen to and which seem to talk out their derriere, so I think I'll be able to make the right choice.

 

Before I get down to the questions I have, I guess I should tell you about the uses.  The main use is deer/elk hunting in Utah, so the distance I'm looking can be several thousand yards.  I also will use it for pronghorn and coyotes in Nevada (even further distances), and am starting to get interested in digiscoping.  Portability is not a major concern for me - I spent several years in the military marching with a 60 pound pack on m

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/18/2007 at 20:33
FrankD View Drop Down
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I vote for door number 4.

 

But then I am biased.

 

I want to start off by saying that I think you put together a very articulate post. It was easy to step into your shoes and see this decision from your standpoint. I wish I could help you with this quest but, in all honesty, my experience with the high end spotters is extremely limited. I have looked through many of them in the store and have actually tried one or two of them, briefly, in the field but I have, in no way, done any type of extensive comparisons between one and the other. The closest I came, in that regard, was my comparison the other week between my Pentax 65 with the 20 mm XW eyepiece and a Leica 77 mm Televue with its zoom eyepiece. It wasn't a fair comparison for a variety of reasons not the least of which being the objective size difference, the fixed versus zoom eyepiece difference, etc... However, if I could compare one to the other I would say the image quality was practically identical. Brightness was a hair better on the Leica but then it should be with a 12 mm larger objective. Apparent resolution and level of edge distortion were identical. The XW eyepiece's 70 degree apparent field of view blew the Leica's zoom away though....as should be expected when considering what we are comparing.

 

There are alot of good scopes you have listed. I have a hard time believing you would be disappointed with any of them really. It all comes down to the age old argument of wanting the best or wanting the best bang for the dollar. The high end Euro scopes might have a slight edge over the Pentax under the most extreme conditions but only you can decide if that is worth the large increase in cost. And, no offense, I don't care if you don't care about portability. Why would you want to carry extra weight or extra size when you don't really have to in 95% of the conditions you would encounter. The Pentax 65 ED's low light capability is very respectable. Only by going with a 75-80 mm scope are you really going to see an improvement and even then we might only be talking about a few minutes for a few yards depending on how you want to look at it.

 

...and just for s....s and giggles. I was tinkering around with digiscoping some pics through my Meopta and Vortex today. At the same time I snapped a shot of a nice RedBellied Woodpecker back at one of my feeders with the Pentax. Considering this was VGA level of resolution I am not disappointed. I should have checked the resolution setting though before taking the pic.

 

For whatever reason the picture won't post. Here is the url... http://members.aol.com:/at12midngt/rbwp

 



Edited by FrankD
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2007 at 10:15
anweis View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Big Whip Big Whip wrote:

4.  Should I just shut up, get the Pentax 65 and be done with it? 

 

Yes, but get the best eyepiece for it (the ones selling for $250-$300).



Edited by anweis
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2007 at 13:11
Big Whip View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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Thanks guys.  That is still the most likely scope I will get, plus there'll be money left over for a good tripod and an extra eyepiece.  That brings up a question I have about the Pentax - How easy is it to swap eyepieces?  Is it something that can be done quickly in the field so I wouldn't even miss a zoom EP, or would I be stuck with having to choose just one?  Also, are the extra eyepieces packaged in a case suitable for carrying in a pocket in my hunting pack? 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2007 at 14:05
anweis View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Big Whip Big Whip wrote:

 

1. good tripod

 

2. How easy is it to swap eyepieces? 

 

3. Also, are the extra eyepieces packaged in a case suitable for carrying in a pocket in my hunting pack? 

 

1. That would be a Manfrotto

2. My 7 year old started doing it at the age of 4.

3. No. You may buy some neoprene mini-cases for the extra eyepieces, made buy OpTech USA. But, with the premium SMC zoom you will not need extras. I prefer the XW 20 eyepiece, it gives 19.5x in the 65 mm scopes.

 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2007 at 14:52
Big Whip View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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So the SMC zoom that comes with the PF80 is a much better eyepiece?  If so, wouldn't the extra $200 make sense to move up to the PF80? 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2007 at 15:17
anweis View Drop Down
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Any Pentax eyepiece fits any Pentax scope. Aditionally, any astronomic 1.25" eyepiece fits the Pentax scopes - and there are some really awesome ones out there. However, the magnification of an eyepiece will depend on the size of the scope (65/80/100 mm). You can buy scope bodies and eyepieces separately. I've seen scope bodies as low as $550 and eyepieces at $200.

My xw 20 eyepiece is 19.5x in a 65mm scope, but it is 26x in a 80mm and 32x in a 100mm scope. There is a formula somewhere (you divide the size of the objective to the focal length of the eyepiece or something like that, but i don't remember).  Now, a 20x eyepiece or a 30x eyepiece will show you everything there is to see, with a wider field of view than the zoom eyepiece. Fixed power eyepieces have at least one lens less in their construction, so they are brighter and often sharper. The zoom eyepiece by Pentax is as good as it gets. I don't think that you need to spend money on multiple eyepieces.  Just decide what you want. 

 

Whether you want a 80mm: the Pentax scopes are awesome, but they are on the heavy side for their size. It is up to you if you want to carry a big scope in the field.

On my last mountain hunt i used a 20x50 Nikon ED and it worked fine. I would have been very unhappy lugging a 80mm scope. It all depends how will you use this scope.

The 80mm model will give you a few more minutes of observation at dawn and dusk, but i don't think that this will make or break your hunt. A 65mm scope will do about 95% of what a 80mm wil, no big compromise there.

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/20/2007 at 09:57
FrankD View Drop Down
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I think Anweis nailed this one down nicely. The only thing I can add is the formula is focal length divided by size of eyepiece in mm. With the 65 ED you are dividing 390 by 20 mm which gives you 19.5x with that particular eyepiece.

 

I have personally opted to carry two eyepieces with me..the 20 mm and 10 mm XW. I really prefer the wider field of view that the fixed mag. eyepieces deliver. However, the XW zoom would probably be better for your specific application as you would only have to worry about one eyepiece that can cover a wider magnification range.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/28/2007 at 14:50
Big Whip View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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Well, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a spotter. I ended up getting the Pentax PF-80.  I can't wait for it to get here.
Thank you to everyone for your help and opinions.
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