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Old Tuesday 20th December 2005, 16:31   #1
Rowena
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First scope advice needed!

Hello,

I'm looking for some advice on telescopes and tripods. My mum will be 60 in January and has been a keen birdwatcher all her life. As a present from all her friends and family, we'd like to get her a telescope as she's been wanting one for ages but has never had the spare cash! I've been entrusted with the task of researching them and would be really interested to hear any advice. She's not going to be doing anything too extreme and would really just like something that's good quality and easy to use, and that will last well.

We think we'll have about 750 to spend on the whole package (including case, tripod etc) and would like to get her the best quality we can. Having had a little bit of a look around, I was considering the Opticron HR66 ED with the HDF 28WW eyepiece. I'd welcome any comments pro or con this, and also any comments on zoom eyepieces - are they worth it? Also, I'd really appreciate some advice on tripods and cases. For example, if you get a stay-on case, do you also need another one for keeping the scope in, for example in the car? Regarding tripods, my dad seems to think that a monopod might be a good idea, as it is easier to walk around with and set up than a tripod is and doesn't require careful adjusting every time - in effect you just walk and plonk! I'm not sure about this - any advice? As my mum isn't getting any younger, I think perhaps the more stability the better, but it is important that it's easy for her to carry around and set up. Advice on good value brands would also be appreciated.

Thanks for reading such a demanding post from a new person, any replies would be really appreciated!

Cheers,

Rowena
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Old Tuesday 20th December 2005, 16:49   #2
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The Opticron is a good scope, but another one that I'd highly recommend looking at is the Kowa 603/4, they are real very good quality scopes and are lightweight. With a fixed mag eyepeice one would set you back about 600, which would leave pleanty for a tripod.

There are numerous threads on here discussing the advantages and disadvantages of zoom vs fixed eyepeices, but really it comes down to personal preference. I'm a big fan of zooms, but many others prefer fixed.

I'd say don't buy a monopod - they are not really a suitable replacement for a tripod. With a tripod you can set up and not have to constantly hodl on to it, which makes it much easier for prolonged viewing. It is also much easier to show others birds if eth scope is on a tripod. Velbon sherpa 600 is an excellent tripod to go for, about 90 and again lightweight (compared to teh Manfrottos).

Best advice is to try before you buy, find a retailer with the scopes and tripods in stock and spend sometime using them to see which you think is best.
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 00:06   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowena
We think we'll have about 750 to spend on the whole package (including case, tripod etc) and would like to get her the best quality we can. Having had a little bit of a look around, I was considering the Opticron HR66 ED with the HDF 28WW eyepiece. I'd welcome any comments pro or con this, and also any comments on zoom eyepieces - are they worth it?
Rowena
I presume you are looking at the bundled offer from WE
I think your Mum might hate if you made her balance a scope on a monopod a tripod is the only way to go - or clamps if you view from hides.
The package looks great (all you need except for a tripod carry strap) but my only reservation is weight - is mum up to lugging 6 lbs of tripod, 3 lbs of scope ?

I have a very lightweight setup of Opticron Mighty Midget II plus HDF zoom eyepiece and carbon fibre tripod which all together weighs only a little more than a HR66 scope - this gets laughed at but the scopes in my pocket and the tripod slung from my shoulder - I'm ready to go and not breathless when I get there.

If weight is an issue I'd consider the Opticron GS 665 GA/45 ED Angled scope, Velbon CF 630 PRO carbon fibre tripod (as it's cheap), EDF or HR zoom eyepiece, stay-on case, tripod carry strap - from WE you'll get a free pair of bins and a hide clamp too.
PS you'll need a head for the tripod - the Velbon PH-157Q is cheap and adequate but the manfrotto MN701RC2 is very nice.

On the subject of eyepieces - I think long time binocular users and old fashioned camera users will like fixed eyepieces - personally I think the idea is silly but I'm a zoom lens photographer - I'd rather be able to zoom to a distant bird with a fraction of light loss than be left scratching my head as to what it was.
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 07:25   #4
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Hi Rowena

I'll echo the above do try a few scopes to see what you think. My advice would be to go to somewhere that stocks a decent range and try a few.

The HR66ED is an excellent scope if a little on the heavy side.

For a scope I'd personally avoid a mono-pod.

You could always try Cley Spy based at Glandford nr Holt Norfolk. If you go at a weekend Postcardcv can serve you
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 11:11   #5
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Thanks very much to you all for the advice, which is really helpful. Sounds like it might be best to take my mum for a scope-selecting day out so she can find one that really suits her, so I'll pass on all the info!

Cheers,
Rowena
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 11:59   #6
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Originally Posted by Rowena
Sounds like it might be best to take my mum for a scope-selecting day out so she can find one that really suits her, so I'll pass on all the info!
Definitely the best thing to do - optics can be a very personal thing and it's important to get the right scope for her.
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 12:45   #7
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Having recently lost my Leica scope and Manfrotto tripod (thank you hurricane Wilma!) I am seriously considering replacing them with a mighty midget type scope. I know the quality will not be as good but all those occasions when I ask myself 'Do i need a scope?' will go.
A light scope with you is better than a heavy set left at home or in the car every time!

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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 12:56   #8
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Having recently lost my Leica scope and Manfrotto tripod (thank you hurricane Wilma!) I am seriously considering replacing them with a mighty midget type scope. I know the quality will not be as good but all those occasions when I ask myself 'Do i need a scope?' will go.
A light scope with you is better than a heavy set left at home or in the car every time!

James
have a look at the Nikon ED50
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 13:03   #9
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have a look at the Nikon ED50
Will do Pete once I have given up final hope of getting the gear back. Bins gone too :-(

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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 15:30   #10
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I don't think that a monopod would be a bad idea for a scope, for the very reasons you mentioned. However, this assumes that no one else will be using the scope. One of the BIG advantages of a scope on a tripod is that if you are with other people, you can set the scope on a bird and have others come over and look at it. This is not possible with a monopod scope or even regular binoculars.

Also, it would depend on the kind of birding you do. One of the favorite uses of a scope where I live is to look out on the ocean from the shore and observe sea ducks. This requires slowly scanning across the whole vista. You don't need to be fast for this, but you do need to be steady, and you don't want to have to support any weight. In a case like this, a monopod would be terrible (holding a monopod steady requires a certain amount of muscle tension).
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Old Wednesday 21st December 2005, 18:30   #11
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I'm sure mum will enjoy the choosing of her gift as much as the gift itself if you take her to a retailer with a good range and viewing facilities.
It really does make the best sense to let someone choose a gift such as this themselves.Lucky mum.
Best wishes Tom.
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Old Thursday 22nd December 2005, 09:50   #12
Rowena
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Thanks very much folks, you've given me loads to go on! I'm sure my mum will have fun choosing - I know I'd love it if someone took me to try scopes for the day!

Cheers,
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