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Vortex Razor or Nikon Field Scope?

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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 03:30   #1
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Vortex Razor or Nikon Field Scope?

Well it seems to be that time again. Should be getting a nice refund this year and business is picking up so a new spotter is in order. Oh, the choices!!!!!
Fortunately I've narrowed it down to the two in the thread title.
My main concerns are A) The Razor seems to have larger possibility of coming up a lemon than I would like. B) The helical focus (apparently) isn't conducive to birds in flight which is predominantly our area of focus.
Some of the requirements I've decided on include a larger (than 65mm) objective, decent eye relief for eye glasses and under $1600. Ideally a 100mm would take it but at more than $2000 for the Optolyth and the elusiveness of the Pentax the options there are almost nil.
Please feel free to add some possibilities. The knowledge base here is absolutely unparalleled.
Thanks,
Paul
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 03:55   #2
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Paul, I could sell you a minty Kowa 774 XD Prominar w/30x Wide eyepiece for ~US$1395 shipped if interested.

Happy New Year,
Rick
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 12:02   #3
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There are currently a few Swarovski ATS80hd scopes for sale in the "for sale" section on this very website. Although I use the 65mm I can assure you that this is still the finest scope money can buy and you will not regret your purchase.
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 12:06   #4
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Paul, I could sell you a minty Kowa 774 XD Prominar w/30x Wide eyepiece for ~US$1395 shipped if interested.

Happy New Year,
Rick
It's an excellent scope, I can recommend it. Would be perfect for your requirements outlined.

Rick presumably you are Upgrading to the 88mm?!
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 12:44   #5
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Curremtly have two 883, one 884 and one 774 for photographic testing. The 774 seems to have better contrast and easier fine focus than the 88x, probably due to the slightly slower focal ratio. But it gives up about a 1/3 photographic stop as predicted by the smaller aperture. If I were predominantly visual, I would choose the 77x over the 88x. Smaller, lighter, and much cheaper. I may finally be leaving Japan in April so want to cut down the collection.

Last edited by RJM : Tuesday 3rd January 2012 at 12:47.
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 17:08   #6
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Paul, I could sell you a minty Kowa 774 XD Prominar w/30x Wide eyepiece for ~US$1395 shipped if interested.
I personally wouldn't spend money on the Vortex. I own and am a fan of Nikon Fieldscopes, 50 and 82mm, and think they're great. But, the eyepiece situation is pretty funky with them.

Rick's 774 w/ the 30xw sounds like a lot of scope for $1400. Kowa's system is extensive and available as well.
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2012, 17:29   #7
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Paul,

I am curious, where did you get the idea that the helical focus wasn't conducive to birds in flight?

I see no reason not to recommend the Nikon 82. I have the Chinese version of it (Theron Mag82) and am entirely pleased with it. The 30x wide angle covers most applications and the 25-75x covers everything else.
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2012, 01:59   #8
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Look at the Alpen rainier 20-60X80 ED HD life time warranty no question asked only $700 new at optics planet. They make great optics worth checking out.
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2012, 02:18   #9
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Hi Guys, Thanks for responding,
In order:(back to front apparently)
Frank, I was looking at the equipment reviews right here on BF and the 12th through the 14th reviewers (Nikon Field scope 82 ED) in one way or another allude to some difficulty tracking birds at high magnification using helical+precise focusing. I could be misinterpreting or adding 2+2 and getting 5 but it seems to make sense. As you know the HG's have a very fast focus and that's good for up close fast birding but I do have to fidget quite a bit when viewing raptors. Not having real world experience with the Fieldscopes or Helical focusers I'm just trying to alleviate as many concerns as possible before plopping down a load of cash.

Kevin, The eyepiece situation is a bit of a concern but as long as one comes with the scope I'd be set until the one I didn't know I needed happens along in the classifieds.

Rick, that Kowa 77 has been running through my brain all day. I'll send a PM after this post. Thanks.

Birder, I'll agree the Kowa sounds pretty darn nice. The only contention is that the Nikon goes up to 75x. High magnification was the reason behind the larger than 65mm objective. I owned a Pentax set-up but couldn't get past 40x or so, to a point where I was comfortable with the resolution, even w/ the XW EP. Could've been a less than cherry sample or maybe my eyes are screwy, Who knows?

DWatson, Thanks for the head's up on the Swaro's. I did try one at Cabela's a few weeks back but strangely enough it just didn't push the endorphin release button. Same thing with the Nikon 8x32 SE's... Nice view but just not there for me.

In all honesty a Prominar has always been my first choice but the prices left that idea somewhere south of get the hell outta here. So I guess the question now is: How does the Nikon 82 compare to the Kowa 77?......
Anyone?
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2012, 05:18   #10
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Paul PMed me that he wants more magnification than possible with the zoom so the Kowa 774 XD Prominar straight w/30x Wide eyepiece kit is still available. Any takers?
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2012, 11:40   #11
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Actually 60x would be fine. I just don't know when I'd be able to afford the $600 for the zoom.

Very difficult decision that one.
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2012, 12:09   #12
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Paul,

Two thoughts.

One, though not in the same class exactly as some of the scopes being mentioned here, have you considered the Celestron F-ED 80 mm? The included zoom is actually quite good and does go up to 60x. It also does have the dual speed, regular focusing knobs and accepts many 1.25 inch astro eyepieces. You could buy whatever high mag 1.25 inch astro eyepiece you want or zoom for that matter (minus the Baader as it won't reach focus at infinity) and still save a boatload from the original price limit you quoted. Check out the Zen Ray, Celestron F-ED, Theron Mag comparison thread I posted over the summer.

Second, there is an easy answer to your question about the Nikon and helical focusing. You were kind enough to send my your 8x32 LXs to use for a time. What do you think about my sending the Theron Mag82 to you for a bit? Though not the Nikon it is similar enough that it should be able to answer some questions about the helical focusing for you intended applications.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 00:24   #13
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Hi Paul ... I agree, all the scopes mentioned give high quality views & having owned or tried most I stayed with the Kowa 773 XD. The Kowa was the only one that had the right eyepieces for me , Huge ocular( the size of a 2" Astro) on the 25x 30x fixed & the zoom was as good as any of the Alpha's out there. The regular prices are shocking but when I asked Eagle Optics to compete with its competiton they knocked off almost $300. of the sticker price of the scope. The eyepieces can be found discounted also. Paul don't be afraid to ask for a better price, with the economy the way it is the consumer has the upper hand. This is the best scope for me personally that I have ever had the pleasure to own & use. The very compact and light 773 XD will give up very little to any 80-100mm scope & some might even say its the best you can buy in its class ..... gwen
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 03:13   #14
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Again back to front:
Wow Gwen, you certainly know how make a case for the Kowa. The first thing I said was that I'd probably regret the decision to not purchase Rick's scope. Now, after reading your post that twinge in the back of my mind has moved a little more forward. Yeah, Thanks for that....
Frank, I had considered the Celestron, except in the 100mm configuration. That was when I was sure the larger objective would yield better resolution with higher mags. Pentax and Optolyth rounded out that group. Now with HD, ED, XD, Flourite and all those other types of glass I'm not so sure such hugeness is necessary. Although I think all three of those use some type of Low Dispersion glass. That would be a review I'd read though. Comparing resolutions between the 100mm scopes and some of the higher end models. There are probably some threads on this but my search skills are somewhat lacking.
As far as the Theron, don't worry about packing it up just yet. Between a stop at Cabela's (checked out a Swaro ) and a few PM's touting the Nikon as being perfectly capable of tracking raptors I'm concluding that I read too much into the negative comments, as I sometimes do.
I really appreciate the offer though. Maybe another time or other optic.
At least now after some back and forth I'm getting a better idea of exactly what I'm looking for in a scope. You can run it through your mind a thousand times but until you see it in front of you it's still abstract thinking.
The ability to zoom in for ID's on occasion is paramount. The resolution when zoomed(?) is about as important (if not more). I didn't much care for carrying two of three EP's in the field when I had my Pentax 65 so I guess a wide field, long eye relief crystal clear zoom rounds out the list....
Oh, and maybe a Leprechaun to reach into that pot of gold of his to help out a bit. And maybe a Unicorn while I'm at it....
Actually, the time to go see and test drive some of these scopes would be a Godsend...

Last edited by Yippeekiay : Thursday 5th January 2012 at 03:26.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 04:01   #15
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Paul, I could sell you the 774 scope body only for $1185 shipped. Then you could get the 20-60x zoom you want.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 04:29   #16
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Paul,

I know you are leaning towards a larger objective but how about another idea. What about one of the older model Zeiss Diascope bodies with the Baader Hyperion zoom? That would give you excellent resolution and a wide field. I had this combination but sold it to Kevin Purcell back when I had to get rid of most of my optics. If I am not mistaken I think Sancho also had a Diascope with the Baader zoom for a time. You might be able to find a Diascope 65 body from someone like Doug at Cameraland for $1100-$1300 and the Baader typically sells for around $250.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 10:11   #17
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Curremtly have two 883, one 884 and one 774 for photographic testing. The 774 seems to have better contrast and easier fine focus than the 88x, probably due to the slightly slower focal ratio. But it gives up about a 1/3 photographic stop as predicted by the smaller aperture. If I were predominantly visual, I would choose the 77x over the 88x. Smaller, lighter, and much cheaper. I may finally be leaving Japan in April so want to cut down the collection.
Going back home Rick ?
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 16:10   #18
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Oh, and maybe a Leprechaun to reach into that pot of gold of his to help out a bit....
Sorry Yippekiay, all the Leprechauns have been hired by the European Central Bank, they're only giving out cash at rapacious interest-rates.

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Paul,

I know you are leaning towards a larger objective but how about another idea. What about one of the older model Zeiss Diascope bodies with the Baader Hyperion zoom? That would give you excellent resolution and a wide field. I had this combination but sold it to Kevin Purcell back when I had to get rid of most of my optics. If I am not mistaken I think Sancho also had a Diascope with the Baader zoom for a time. You might be able to find a Diascope 65 body from someone like Doug at Cameraland for $1100-$1300 and the Baader typically sells for around $250.
Yes, a superb suggestion. This combo should satisfy any zoom requirement you have. The Baader-Hyperion Mk.III is waterproof, the ocular is huge, the views crisp and bright. (And the Diascope has a dual focusser, not a helical one, although I prefer helical). The only reason I sold mine, apart from stupidity, was that the Diascope gives a slight yellowish cast in low light, and here the sky and sea are so often grey and dull that I tired of it. Be careful, though - I think the Baader only works on the Diascope 85mm.

BTW, I used to have a Nikon ED82A, and it is superb with the fixed eyepieces. The zoom is bright and crisp up to about 70x, but at all magnifications the zoom FOV is so narrow as to make it useable only for viewing stationary birds. No good for seawatching.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 16:45   #19
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BTW, I used to have a Nikon ED82A, and it is superb with the fixed eyepieces. The zoom is bright and crisp up to about 70x, but at all magnifications the zoom FOV is so narrow as to make it useable only for viewing stationary birds. No good for seawatching.
I feel you're being a little unfair on the Nikon here - I use one for seawatching quite happily and I know I'm not alone in that. The zoom is a bit of a Marmite eyepiece - you either love it or hate it. It is by no means perfect; the FOV is less than any 20-60 at the same magnifications and it loses brightness over about 60x [which is my chief bugbear with it] but it stays sharp right to 75x and is certainly worth considering?



Of course, I've never looked through a Zeiss/Baader - though the thought of a yellow cast does put me off. Now the new Zeiss zoom.... Is way over what we're talking about, so I'll just shut up.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2012, 19:28   #20
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I feel you're being a little unfair on the Nikon here - I use one for seawatching quite happily and I know I'm not alone in that. The zoom is a bit of a Marmite eyepiece - you either love it or hate it.
Of course you're absolutely right. My aplogies. I should qualify my dislike of the Nikon zoom by saying it's no good for me.
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Old Saturday 7th January 2012, 14:12   #21
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Paul, I could sell you the 774 scope body only for $1185 shipped. Then you could get the 20-60x zoom you want.

WOW !!! I can't believe someone hasn't jumped on this world class spotter. If I didn't already own the 884 I'd do it myself.

FWIW, the 774 has tested very, very close to the 883/884 Kowa's, which are top of the heap IMO. The Nikon 82ED, which I did own, has great glass, but is not nearly in the same league as the 884 with the zoom. Nikon's zoom ha a much too narrow FOV, as has already been stated.
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Old Saturday 7th January 2012, 19:51   #22
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WOW !!! I can't believe someone hasn't jumped on this world class spotter.
I agree... Rick, you have a PM.

I've been working a LOT these past few weeks (which is why I haven't been here for a couple days) and the zoom is pretty well in range so the incessant question (Nikon or Kowa or Nikon or Kowa?) can finally cease. (PRAISE BE!) That is unless someone has jumped on it.
This morning I was at the place that inspired this purchase (hopefully) and ran into the exact situation a spotter is needed for. Lots of Canada geese on the Lake, ducks too, but a few stragglers waaay out there looked different. I'm almost sure they were hooded mergansers but my 10x monocular just didn't cut it.
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