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Options for upgrading from a Zen Ray ED2 20-60x

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/22/2016 at 08:09
Marine24 View Drop Down
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As the title says, I currently use a Zen Ray ED2 20-60X spotter.  It is a very good spotter, particularly for the money but as my appreciation for quality glass grows, I'm becoming underwhelmed and eyes are getting older.  It is principally used at the range as a spotter but also took to digiscoping of late.

 

I'm looking at the Razor HD 20-60X and the Kowa TSN-883 with their 25-60X eyepiece and curious about others experience in comparison to the Zen Ray.  From the reviews I've read on this forum and others, the Razor is a step up from the Zen Ray but it isn't a significant jump.  Crispness and color contrast are better but terms used to describe that difference were "slightly" or "a little".

 

Kowa 883 seems to be a step in to the Swarovski ATX 85 line without as steep of a price tag.  Perhaps less rugged than the Razor, but I don't plan on humping any of them in the field.  Resolution testing I saw was pretty impressive with the 883 and ATX 85 equal in performance and the Razor not too far behind.

 

I'll swing by a local Cabelas with my Zen Ray and see if I can do a side by side with the Razor HD and Swarovski ATX, but welcome any thoughts.  Is the jump from the Zen Ray to the Razor significant or not?  How about the jump to the Kowa 883?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/22/2016 at 09:16
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IMO you've got it right.  The Razor and Zen Ray are very similar.  I don't think you'd be gaining a whole lot of optical prowess by switching these out.  The Kowa 883 is superior to both of these, easily, and it is equally as good as the SwaroHD's, with the possible exception of the $5000 modular models.  I would also take a hard look at the Meopta S2, which is as good as anything available, and better than most all of them, once again with the exception of that Swaro modular one with the 95mm objective. 

If you go by cabelas you should check out the Instinct spotter, which is the same thing as the Meopta S2 except that with the Cabelas model, you cannot remove the eyepiece as you can with the S2. 

Hope that helps some.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/22/2016 at 11:04
Marine24 View Drop Down
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Thanks Raider.  I'll take a look.  I'm a big fan of Meopta Meostar riflescopes and 20-70X and 30-60X WA eyepieces are a nice touch.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 02:05
koshkin View Drop Down
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The ED2 is a really good spotter and to see an appreciable improvement you will have to jump up both in optical quality and in objective diameter.

Razor HD is a bit better, but it is not a huge difference.  The Meopta spotter is very good and has a touch better contrast than the Razor HD, but once again we are not talking about a huge difference.  Once you get to this point you are already looking at spotters that are only incrementally getting better.

The 88mm Kowa with its fluorite objective is an appreciable step up when you use it at higher magnifications and aside from superb optical quality, a larger objective lens plays a surprisingly significant role.

Now, since you mentioned digiscoping, that is likely to effect your choices.  I am not sure how much money you are planning to spend, but I am curious what camera you are using for digiscoping.  Are you using an interchangeable lens camera with a an adaptor that replaces the eyepiece? or a point and shoot that looks through the eyepiece?

If you are lookign at seriously high dollar spotters, you should consider looking at Kowa Prominar 500 system:
The initial buy in is pretty steep, but you do end up with a system that seamlessly goes from utlra telephoto lens to a really nice spotter.

Swarovski does something similar with its line of camera adaptors, but there aren't quite as many focal length options.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 07:46
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Originally posted by koshkin koshkin wrote:


The 88mm Kowa with its fluorite objective is an appreciable step up when you use it at higher magnifications and aside from superb optical quality, a larger objective lens plays a surprisingly significant role.


ILya


Gotta disagree with you there.  There have been a couple of tests done in the past few years that put the S2 above the Kowa 883/884, and my own side by side tests in the field over a month or so, told me the same thing.  At mags below and up to 40x I couldn't tell any difference.  At higher mags the S2 was noticeably better IME.  


http://www.petersenshunting.com/featured/bes-spotting-scopes-of-2013/
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 08:13
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Thanks Ilya.  I reviewed your DLOO post on your Opticsthoughts website.

My budget is around the $3K mark.  I found I can get the Kowa 883 body and 20-70X eyepiece for around $2500.

I'm using an iPhone with a Phoneskope csae for casual use and find it very effective at the range, but also use an Olympus OM-D E-M1.  I have not bought the adapter for it yet but will once I settle on a new spotting scope.

I'll look in to the Kowa Prominar 500.  I see what you mean by an initial investment with the Prominar 500 scope, mount adapters for the digiscoping and the prism unit and eyepiece as an straight spotter.

How does the optics on the Prominar 500 compares to the 883?  I see they use the same eyepiece but not smart enough about spotters to understand if the objective housing is the critical piece or not.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 10:15
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I have never had the Prominar 500 next to the 883, do it is hard to say for sure, but I think they are related designs, so the quality should be similar.

Prominar 500 makes a lot of sense if you want to use it as an ultra telephoto with your E-M1.

If you plan to primarily use it for phonescoping, that is a different ballgame and for that Prominar 500 is not your best bang for the buck.

I use a Phoneskope adaptor a fair bit and with that one thing that is important is a nice wide angle eyepiece.

Lastly, before you get rid of your ED2, are you only using it with the zoom eyepiece? Or do you also have the 30x fixed eyepiece?

Additionally, I hear rumors of a couple of interesting new shooters coming out toward the end of the fall. If you are in no rush, it may be worth your while to wait a little.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 12:37
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Appreciate the insight. Seems one is for the digiscoper who may need a spotter on occasion and the other for the reverse. I'm definitely in the latter category.

My phonescoping has been limited to using it at the range and trying to chase hummingbirds around the house. Really like the screen on my iPhone and the videos make for interesting discussion at the range.

I'm not looking to get rid of the Zen Ray anytime soon. I recently picked up a Vortex Razor 30x ranging reticle for it and looking to see how it works.

Any hints on what may be coming?    

     
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 12:41
koshkin View Drop Down
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No hints, I am afraid.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 21:03
koshkin View Drop Down
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Something I forgot to add: with the quality of modern camera phones, phonescoping can yield some realty impressive results even in fairly questionable light.

I use Lumia 1020 with its 41MP imager for that and it has yielded some really nice shots.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 21:17
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I run a razor 30X with reticle and a 6S in a phoneskope, happy with the results. I have run the 30X fixed next to a Kowa 880-series and I didn't rush out to buy a Kowa. Then again, I am looking for bullet holes and vapor trails, not counting points of identifying rare bird species.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/23/2016 at 21:32
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The reason I bought the ranging reticle. I've been using Vortex's monocular but its utility is limited.

Never have been very good at vapor trails but pairing up a phone with a spotting scope helps me with seeing the bullet holes and comes in handy scouting.

We'll see what the side by side looks like to my eyes.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2016 at 18:05
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Since the deals on Vortex Razor HD scopes are out, I suppose it is not a secret that they've got a new design coming out.

I'll be looking at the 65mm version with the new wide angle zoom eyepiece shortly.  I think it is slated to get here this weekend.

I was very impressed with the original Razor HD spotter, so I expect great things from this one.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2016 at 09:51
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Interesting.  Called Vortex and they shared that they are shipping the new Razor HD spotter.  It is a 27-60x85 if I heard them correctly.  Their website doesn't provide any information but will hold off on making a buying decision until you are able to do some hands on testing.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2016 at 09:54
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I'll be testing the 65mm version and the eyepiece on that is 22x to 48x, so on the 85mm it should be 27.5x to 60x.

It is an all new design with helical focus, new eyepieces, etc.

I'll let you know how it goes.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2016 at 12:41
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Thanks.  Notice they updated the website and it is now listed.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/28/2016 at 13:40
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Let us know!
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