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Old Monday 26th September 2016, 23:53   #1
DonB
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Tura Beach, NSW
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Viper 80HD scope first impressions

Yesterday went out to the Merimbula bar with the new (to me) Viper 80HD. It was the first chance to look through the scope with good weather and some cooperative birds.

It was a disappointing experience. The image lacked contrast and sharpness and the colours weren't vivid compared to what I recall from my Kowa TSN-664M.

There's a group of terns that often frolick in a spot about 600m away and the view was nice and sharp at high magnifications with the Kowa, with the Viper the image was disappointingly soft. There were a couple of godwits but I couldn't clearly see the markings like with the Kowa. The sharpness improved at lower magnifications but it still didn't have the contrast and colour that I recall with the Kowa.

The Kowa is off for repair, when/if it's repaired and returned I'll look at them side by side to see if my recollection is true.

As it is, I'm wondering what I would replace the Viper with that has the image quality of the Kowa but with the warranty of the Vortex.
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Old Tuesday 27th September 2016, 07:45   #2
jring
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Hi Don,

sorry to hear this - although I kind of expected it. The Viper HD is about half the price of the Kowa 663 in retail and the generous warranty needs to be priced in some way or the other which leaves not too much for the optics.

You could try the Vortex Razor series which gets good reviews - I don't know it either as Vortex optics is kinda rare over here.

Then there's Swarovski of course, which are known for very generous warranty (although not no-fault lifetime in europe as these are not allowed over here), but at a price...
Having looked through quite a lot of swaros (those are quite common in the homeland of teutonic alphas, as are Zeiss and Leica), I haven't felt that I need to upgrade my old Kowa - may my hands always be steady...

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 27th September 2016, 22:36   #3
DonB
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Thanks for the comments Joachim.

The Kowa cost me AU$1276 w/zoom eyepiece new compared to AU$1025 used for the Vortex Viper HD. New here the Viper goes for as low as AU$1400 so based on cost and some of the reviews I read I was expecting somewhat similar performance. I'm rather new to the spotting scope world so I guess a little ignorance goes a long way.

I'm waiting to hear from Kowa on the repair, not sure what my next step will be.
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Old Wednesday 28th September 2016, 16:25   #4
jring
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Hi,

yes, sorry - I didn't see you got the 80mm version of the Viper - I compared the 65mm as with your Kowa which at least with US or Euro prices is about half of what a 663 plus zoom EP costs.

Indeed, one would expect actually an even better performance of an 80mm scope as compared to a 66mm one of the same quality. It should offer a higher resolution and more light. Why it doesn't perform as expected is hard to say from afar. You could do a star test and post the results either here or on an astro board, this could tell us about optical flaws.
Or you could try to hold different EPs (like your Kowa zoom) in front of the Viper body in order to find out if you can focus and if the image is better then. It has happened that perfectly nice scopes were hampered by badly performing zoom EPs - the old 80s vintage Kowa zoom that came with my TSN-3 is a great example for this - never got sharp beyond 40x although with other EPs the body is quite useable up to 85x.

Let's hope than your 663 can be repaired at an acceptable price - Kowa glass is good...

Joachim
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