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Old Friday 4th September 2015, 18:44   #1
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First scope (Advice needed)

Hello everyone, I'm in the market for my first spotting scope and wanted to solicit the advice of fellow forum members. For budget purposes I would like to stay in the $500-600 range. Use would be primarily for waterfowl sightings on ponds / lakes as well as some deck use watching the feeders. Since I don't plan on being that mobile with the scope, I've primarily searched for 80mm and up. From the scopes that I came across, on paper all are within very close proximity for stats and features. I haven't found any retailers near me to try these hands on, so wanted to know if anyone had first hand experience, and their thoughts. Here's the list that I came up with so far:

1.) Vanguard Endeavor HD82A 20-60X-82mm $589

Pictures seem to show a very nice fit and finish, reviews have been mostly positive. Noticed that Vanguard often runs rebates for up to a $100 off, this scope is so far the frontrunner on my list if I could get it for slightly less.

2.) Celestron Regal M2 20-60X80ED $579

Stats show it neck and neck with the Vanguard. The plain jane green finish seems a bit military grade. The ability to switch to astro-eyepieces isn't really a major priority, as for the time being I would like to rely on the zoom eyepiece.

3.) Zen Ray ED2 20-60X82 $799.99

Slight FOV advantage. Average list price is significantly more than the Vanguard and Celestron. Does this scope really punch above the others in quality of view? From reviews it sounds like this scope has run into Q/C issues.

4.) Pentax PF-80ED 20-60X80 $1,149

Quite a bit more than I'm willing to spend. Reviews are really positive about this scope, but are there any quantifiable gains in terms of the view versus the Celestron / Vanguard.

Each scope mentioned above seems to garner followers, just wondering if one stands out clearly above the rest. Not sure if the more expensive options really deliver a better view for the significant price bump.

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Old Saturday 5th September 2015, 16:22   #2
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Staying on your budget, celestron. You can use astro eyepieces on. Optics of the zen and the vanguard are not better.

Last edited by Cosme : Saturday 5th September 2015 at 16:24.
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Old Saturday 5th September 2015, 19:13   #3
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I can say without doubt, just bought the M2 65mm and love it...very clear at long distance, excellent view in low light conditions. It also is rubber coated, and comes with a case that stays on during use. Very smooth controls, tons of eye relief if you wear glasses.
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Old Sunday 6th September 2015, 03:07   #4
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Between the Vanguard and the Celestron I would pick Celestron......but if you throw the Zen Ray in the mix then I would pick it over the other two. It is better optically. I did a three way comparative review a couple of years ago and two of the scopes were the Celestron and Zen Ray.
Visit our Optics Review site......
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Last edited by FrankD : Sunday 6th September 2015 at 03:15.
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Old Sunday 6th September 2015, 13:43   #5
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I notice that you mentioned the Zen-Ray ED2 has "run into Q/C issues". I hope that impression doesn't come from my review of the scope here:

All the scope brands I've tested have Q/C issues, including the most expensive. Buying a scope always comes down to evaluating one particular specimen. Other units of the same model may be better or worse.

At $799 the Zen-Ray would be my first choice on your list to try. Its Swarovski clone zoom eyepiece is excellent, much better than the Pentax zoom (which I have tested) and almost certainly better than the other zooms on your list (which I haven't tested). The trick, as with every other scope, is to get a good one. Whatever scope you decide on, just make certain you buy from a dealer with a good returns policy.

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Old Sunday 6th September 2015, 15:53   #6
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The hawke endurance ed 85 got good reviews and is not far enough your budget.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2015, 02:40   #7
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Thanks for the input, it's greatly appreciated. On the recommendation of the Hawke Endurance, I came across a fairly reasonable deal for the 20-60x85. Any one familiar with the HT3801 model? From what I can guess, it was an older model that has been discontinued. Does anyone here have info about this scope, wondering if it has ED glass or not, as most of the descriptions are kind of vague.
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Old Friday 18th September 2015, 21:15   #8
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Don't forget a very good tripod!
Your high powers are useless without a steady mount.
Just so you make financial allowances for that.
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Old Tuesday 22nd September 2015, 05:01   #9
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I can only speak for the Celestron 80ED M2. Sharp and the ED glass definitely helps to keep purple fringing down. The image quality makes the Celestron a joy to use. I can't think of anything bad to say about the scope.

Last edited by NatureLvrCanada : Tuesday 22nd September 2015 at 05:07.
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Old Wednesday 28th October 2015, 17:59   #10
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I was trying to decided between the Vanguard and the Celestron. I have had excellent customer service experience with Vanguard and was leaning that way but in the end bought the Celestron 80ED M2 because it uses 1.25 eyepieces. Added a 17mm Baader eyepiece. Very pleased with it. B&H currently has a rebate on the M2 model if that helps with your decision.
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