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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2009, 04:30   #26
RJM
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The SMC 8-24 and XW series have Class 4 JIS rating. So splash proof is more like it, but still better than nothing. The scope is rated Class 6, but Nikon and Kowa scopes/eyepiece combos are Class 7.

Rick

Last edited by RJM : Tuesday 3rd March 2009 at 04:51.
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Old Tuesday 3rd March 2009, 06:44   #27
John Dracon
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Erik - Since you have identified your use as primarily for hunting, I'll thrown in my two cents worth. For big game hunting the need for magnification over 20 power in a spotting scope is greatly exaggerated. I speak with close to 60 years experience using many different kinds of spotting scopes in field conditions. Since hunters hunt during the day, haze, wind, heat waves, snow,etc. play havoc with resolution. Zoom spotting scopes may intrique the novice, but fixed power pieces are best. The first really usable spotting scope in the U.S.A. was the old B&L fixed power spotting scope. B&L added a zoom, but it was really inferior optically to the fixed power eye pieces. The Balscope Senior is still an excellent spotting scope. Bushnell came along with the Rangemaster, which was really a B&L clone. Also a good spotting scope. But not rubber covered like today's models. I have used most of the current big name models, Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, Nikon, etc. They are all excellent. For compactness, waterproof, good optics and price, the Pentax 65 ED is hard to beat. I have one. Go for the fixed power eyepieces in xw 20 or xw 14, not the zoom. It is inferior to the fixed power. As stated, the xw 14 EP yields 28 power, but the xw 20 EP at 19.5 power has become my favorite. Why? Because it is very bright, the field is very large (61 m at 1,000 m), and the resolution is spectacular. I have found through considerable experience that powers over 30 have diminishing returns. and the shakes start taking control. (I am assuming your are using it under field conditions which will be less than ideal - which is most of the time) Even for sheep or antelope hunting the xw 20 is very adequate. If 28 power tickles your fancy, go for the xw 14 EP. John
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Old Wednesday 4th March 2009, 00:25   #28
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John, Do you ever wish you had a little more power while hunting with the fixed? You know, to count tines or something?
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Old Friday 6th March 2009, 03:34   #29
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Erik - Anytime one is using a spotting scope, there will be moments when one thinks extra magnification would be nice. I have found that a compact scope can't really get much out of anything over 30 power. Exit pupil and FOV become more important to the hunter than magnification which really reduces what can be seen. What I call the field shakes becomes a real factor at high power. A bgger blur often is the result as one cranks up the power. I have yet to find a quality zoom matching the resolution of a quality fixed power at a given magnification. But the alure of the zoom is undeniably a feature that some people just want. John
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Old Friday 6th March 2009, 19:15   #30
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I have yet to find a quality zoom matching the resolution of a quality fixed power at a given magnification. But the alure of the zoom is undeniably a feature that some people just want. John
John,

The best zooms are excellent now. All of the ones I use (Zeiss, Baader, Swarovski, Nikon) have center field sharpness as good as fixed magnification eyepieces when they are used on very high quality APO refractors. None of them compromise the resolving power of the spotting scopes they are designed for.

Henry
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Old Friday 6th March 2009, 19:30   #31
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Well, I am having trouble sending the SMC zoom back! Yes it is big, real big on the 65mm but it is very good optically. Still, I am probably going to send it back and get the XW14 fixed and buy a zoom ep from telecopes.net. Looking at the WE-Zoom 2 (Williams) the Televue and the Vixen zooms. I wish I could get them all! Anybody using this Televue zoom?
http://telescopes.net/doc/2500/item/DCZ-2408
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Old Friday 6th March 2009, 20:29   #32
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John,

The best zooms are excellent now. All of the ones I use (Zeiss, Baader, Swarovski, Nikon) have center field sharpness as good as fixed magnification eyepieces when they are used on very high quality APO refractors. None of them compromise the resolving power of the spotting scopes they are designed for.

Henry
Sharpness (center field) certainly isn't my complaint with the latest zooms. In fact the last time I used one, mounted on a Swaro HD80, I was very impressed with both the sharpness and richness, though the field was pretty narrow.

No, for me the wide 30ish EPs the different makers offer are hitting on all cylinders in that they have wider fields than their own zooms at the lowest mag with much larger image size, making "spotting" easier and more enjoyable. At the 30x point an 80mm scope will deliver an exit pupil of about 2.7 and that works great for most daylight conditions. The fixed EPs have generous eye relief typically as well.

It's the overall experience of a fixed wide EP that I prefer. Versatility still goes to the zoom.
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Old Friday 6th March 2009, 21:24   #33
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Kevin,

Yes, it certainly depends on how you use your scope. I have a drawer full of good wide field eyepieces (my personal favorite: the Swarovski 30x), but for birding I use the Baader zoom almost exclusively because I want something close to the full resolving power of the scope always available without fumbling to change eyepieces (I carry a 100x eyepiece just in case). Most of the time I find the atmospheric conditions are good enough to support magnifications between 50x and 75x, which is the Baader zoom's maximum on my 92mm scope. At those magnifications it becomes a true wide field eyepiece with AFOV of 60-72 degrees and decent eye relief (I don't wear glasses). I resort to magnifications below 40x only if the seeing conditions are bad. If I were never inclined to use more than 30x then I would, like you, prefer a fixed wide field EP.

Henry

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Old Saturday 7th March 2009, 00:01   #34
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John,

I tend to share your opinion of the Pentax 65 ED and the Pentax XW 20. For the applications I put it into I really have not found too much that this combination cannot do. Birding waterfowl or peeps at a considerable distance being the only exception. A moderately priced/relatively inexpensive zoom fixed that issue for my tastes. Combining a high quality fixed power eyepiece with an inexpensive yet decent quality zoom fits all my needs....

...at least for now.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2009, 03:27   #35
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Yes, it certainly depends on how you use your scope.
Indeed.
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Old Saturday 7th March 2009, 04:12   #36
John Dracon
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Henry - You obviously have more experience with high magnification than do I, and from your comments you have considerably more special eye pieces than I do. I have looked through all the high end stuff for years, and here in Montana where distances are great, and where wind is almost a constant factor, with mirage from wind and temperature variations almost universally present (a snow landscape the worst on a sunny day) 40 power is really about all that will really be handled before the image really degrades. Now I am talking about a handy, compact spotting scope that can be carried in a knapsack or put on a small, light weight tripod, not some large star gazing scope. On a clear day at higher elevation with relatively low humidity, we in Montana (on special days) can see over 100 miles from mountain range to mountain range. I doubt that in North Carolina where you live that is possble, but I may be mistaken. Interestly, I have found star gazing better in the Lake Powell area than any where in Montana, even at elevations over 8,000 feet., which I believe is a function of lower relative humidity. One interesting discovery I made using a Zeiss 20 power stabilized spotting scope is this: The human eye accommodates minute movement without the viewer being conscious of it. When the Zeiss is used on a wooden tripod (which seems to dampen slight vibrations better than metal tripods) when the stabilizer feature is engaged, the three dimensional image is enhanced - something like everything has a chiseled outline - and resolution is improved. I would like to see your equipment sometime. John
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Old Saturday 7th March 2009, 14:38   #37
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John,

Yep, not too many 100 mile vistas in NC. Most of my scope birding for waterfowl and shorebirds is done at less than 2 miles. I find there's often a period in the morning and again in the afternoon when surface and air temperatures equalize well enough for very high magnification and cloudy days can be quite stable all day. I agree about wooden tripods, although I mostly use carbon fiber now to save weight.

The smallest telescope I use is a Takahashi FC-50 with a 50mm objective. When conditions are good, even a small but very good scope like that continues to show more detail up to about 50x. My loose rule of thumb is that the magnification needed to see the full resolution of a well corrected scope in daylight is approximately equal to the aperture in millimeters.

Henry

Last edited by henry link : Saturday 7th March 2009 at 18:58.
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