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First spotting scope advice

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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 21:00   #1
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First spotting scope advice


I have checked some threads already but each situation is different so...

Reasons why I want a scope :-

I go birding regularly and some smaller waders are too small to identify with my binoculars. Some other birds are too far away, and although I "know" what they are, I would also like to see the detail more clearly. Binoculars are excellent but a spotting scope has more magnification, so I would like both options.

My preferences :-

I'm looking for as higher magnification/quality of view as possible, on a zoom lens, not fixed. My biggest requirement is not too much loss of quality at the larger magnification end.

The preference is for angled view (not straight)

I may want to take pictures (using mobile or camera) at a later date but this is not my main priority now.

I don't want to go above 350 really. I am open minded about the second hand market, although would prefer new.

I also know I will need a tripod but will research that later.

I have seen Nikon ED50 and Opticron MM3 mentioned fairly frequently. Are there any others as good ?

And how much worse are say the 50 scopes you see on Amazon like emarth and sg0dde ?

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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 21:27   #2
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Although there are exceptions, broadly you get what you pay for since the larger magnification of 'scopes tends to demand greater quality. If small size and portability is important then the Nikon ED 50mm scope will be fine but a 60/65mm scope (or larger) should give you a better image. Don't stint on the eyepiece (some manufacturers have cheaper zooms) since in some ways this can better define the quality of the image than the objective. Personally, I wouldn't touch a very cheap new scope & would only buy secondhand from a reputable dealer. If you see something above 350 that fits the bill then it's better to wait & save rather than get something you're not happy with. I wouldn't buy anything without being able to field test the instrument (or at least the model) first. Take a good look at scopes from Hawke, Opticron, Vanguard ...

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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 22:43   #3
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please avoid the 50 quid scopes... I have yet to see an ok one... the closest thing to that was a 90€ old 50mm Kowa 20x I got of the classifieds... nice glass for the money.

An ED50 or MM3 would be nice and might be inside the budget, but Nikon zoom EPs are expensive and quite narrow, so you might want to go fixed here...
Those too also have nice larger scopes which might fit the bill used...

Another option would be old Kowa Fluorite or ED glass - everything ending in a 3 (for fluorite/ED and angled) should be good. With these it's a good idea to get the 30x wide with them if possible as this is very good, unlike the old 90s style zoom EP with the rubber eyecup. The current zoom is ok and fits, some Opticron zoom EPs might fit too.

You might want to have a look at the Infocus used list on here... or the classifieds...

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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 22:52   #4
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200 or there about. For the money? A steal.
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Old Sunday 20th August 2017, 22:56   #5
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Here.... and yes, I owned one and yes, I regret that I don't have it any longer, even after owning a Hawke 85ed and Nikon ed 50. The Helios is a cracking scope.
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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 15:33   #6
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It looks like the last Theron Saker spotting scope was sold and he can not get more. The Helios ED 60 looks "a lot" like the Saker spotter . I have the Nikon 50ED and 82ED with quite a few eyepieces. I never looked through the Helios spotter , if it is anything like the Saker spotter I had use of it is a good buy for sure.BTW the Helios spotter on that site has a lower price if put into your cart.

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Old Monday 21st August 2017, 17:29   #7
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Hi Tim, for my first scope I did what you have done and read about many different ones, many of which had been given great reviews by other birders on online forums or in magazines. However, what I eventually did was go to my local optic supplier, which was Focus Optics near Coventry and spoke to them about it. They were very good and produced many different scopes for me to look through, both new and 2nd hand. What I found was that some of them gave me great. good quality view and some that I just could not get a comfortable view from. Cost and make made no difference to me in terms of the view; I could either see well through it or I couldn't. In the end I chose a 2nd hand Opticron HR66 with a zoom (18-54) which cost me around 350. This was around 15 years ago and I still have it. I have looked through other (Alpha) scopes since and never felt that the extra quality of view was worth the huge amount it would cost me to upgrade. I really like the zoom lens but at full zoom it is like watching something at dusk. So my advice, if you haven't already tried any, is go and do so to see which ones will suit you.


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Old Friday 25th August 2017, 10:43   #8
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The highest magnification would be a ATX 30-70x95 and the new 1.7x extender giving you 50-120x. I like that combo but it is about 10x as expensive as you want to spend.
That said should you ever decide to spend much more, this is a great choice.

I also have the Nikon 13-40x50. I like that scope a lot. It is very sharp and extremely lightweight.
I can definitely recommend that scope as a starter.

As far as I know Kowa also introduced new lightweight scopes recently. That might be an alternative.
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Old Friday 8th September 2017, 06:01   #9
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Thanks for all the excellent advice.
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Old Friday 8th September 2017, 06:26   #10
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If you have only limited money available you could try the Danubia-Drr 10-30x50 angled telescope, a little more than 400 grams and compact, price around 90-100 euros. For its price certainly not a bad scope and ultra compact for backpacking etc.
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Old Friday 6th October 2017, 23:44   #11
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This is what I have Well under budget - and certainly not a cheap 50 scope! It also takes a 1.25" eyepiece, so you can experiment with both zoom and fixed EPs from other makers.
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