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Help needed buying a scope as a present.

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Old Wednesday 8th March 2017, 13:26   #1
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Help needed buying a scope as a present.

Hi All,

Been reading over this forum and there is some great info in there but I'm now tying myself in knots over it! I'm buying a scope for me fathers 70th - he loves nature and exploring the outdoors, watching all wildlife and especially birds. He uses a half decent pair of binoculars but has always wanted a scope.

I think I've settled on the straight Nikon ED50 as it is light and seems to be a good all rounder - he wouldn't be likely to sit out in a hide, more use while he was out and about (he walks in the forest a lot so probably don't need high mag). I'm thinking straight as opposed to angled seems to suit this better and probably easier for someone with no scoping background?

Where I'm getting confused is eyepieces, it seems to be a personal thing and I've read pros and cons and differing opinion regarding the 13-40 zoom, 20x & 27x.

I'm starting to think the 20x fixed would be best, the wider FOV sounds like a bonus and I'v seen those attachments for a camera phone that might work(?) (or are they rubbish? getting all the proper digi-scoping kit is beyond budget)

Then I'm totally lost when it comes to handheld, shoulderpod, monopod, tri-pod, soft case, hard case etc. etc. - accessories basically, I hear the ED50 isn't all that robust so a good case seems like a must. (my brain burns out when I get to this point).

So any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'm totally lost now and his birthday is at the end of the month - what would be best for someone new to scoping that they could then build on?

One last thing... where to buy? I've found some cheaper sites based out of Germany/Netherlands and Uttings have the scope 13-40 eyepiece and hand held case for 550 which seems not bad. If I was buying separate I'm not sure if the 20x eyepieces I've been looking at fit the ed50...?

There's probably a lot in here and I'm sure answers will lead to more questions - so sorry in advance (and for my general ignorance of all things scope related)!

Last edited by baileyswalk : Wednesday 8th March 2017 at 13:30.
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Old Wednesday 8th March 2017, 15:01   #2
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The ED50 is a well regarded scope, whilst it can be used handheld or with a shoulder stock it will be difficult to hold steady at anything other than the smallest magnifications. If you are using a monopod or a full tripod then having a straight scope simply raises the level at which the support is needed. Depending on how tall your father is then this can become cumbersome and even outside the range of monopods.

If you are sticking with the ED50 (I wouldn't want to confuse you further with other options) then I would get an angled one, with the zoom eyepiece and a carbon tripod. This rig will be light enough to carry on walks but offer a stable platform for when better views are needed. Wide fields of view are great when using a scope to search for birds but if you want to get a better view of something you have seen with the naked eye or your bins then you need magnification.

I know it is a present but 550 is a lot to spend so you might be better off discussing it with him and even having a look through some candidates. I once brought an unused (expensive when new) second-hand scope at a house clearance sale , it was clear from the documents this was the previous owners retirement present and it had sat unused in the box for 15 years!
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Old Wednesday 8th March 2017, 15:46   #3
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The little Nikon really is a fine scope, think your dad will be pleased.
The 13-40xMC is a good all rounder, but some prefer the 27xDS which offers the widest field at that magnification. The lower power 16x and 20x eyepieces are also good if 27x is too much.
Stay on cases are nice, the Nikon version has a sidegrip handle which helps for using the glass freehand.
I use a rubber lens hood (55mm thread) to protect the objective end when the glass is stuffed into a pack.
Velbon's Super 8 monopod with a small ballhead is an excellent compact light accessory for it, can serve as a finnstick as well.
For more extended observations, my ED50 angled teams nicely with the Velbon Ultra Luxi tripod. That has now been replaced by their 455 series I think. You will need a taller tripod for the straight scope, probably heavier and more expensive.
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Old Wednesday 8th March 2017, 15:54   #4
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Agree with both points - maybe 90% of folk use angled, easier to use at the end of the day and you don't need such a tall tripod.

Plus no harm in seeing what he wants, but trying before buying may be awkward.

Have the ED50 and it is great. (With 27x)

I'd go for the 27x because a) zooms tend to have a more restricted view. b) Gives that much more magnification than bins. But any of the 3 would probably do fine.

But partly depends on where he would use it - sea or estuary birding, occasional twitching, from the living room window?? On general walks in the countryside scopes aren't generally used so much by most ...
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Old Saturday 11th March 2017, 00:30   #5
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Thanks for the info... it helped a lot.
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Old Saturday 11th March 2017, 14:20   #6
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I hate to intrude but as I age I become increasingly aware of human limitations.

1. A handheld scope is not very useful unless one is very experienced and willing to forgo extended viewing experiences. Quick looks are not all that enjoyable.
2. The 50mm ED50 with 27X is too much mag for such a small scope. I have the scope and all the lenses so I speak from the perspective of a 66 year old birder who "enjoys" birding.
3. The angled ED50 with the 16X lens IS a charmer, especially if you're interested in studying what you're looking at. No, it will not bring in a sparrow at a half-mile but it will deliver extremely relaxing views in most birding environments.
4. My wife uses an angled ED50 with the 13-40 eyepiece and she loves it. However, it MUST be tripod mounted. Also, she does not wear eyeglasses. I do and the 13-40 lens is less than satisfactory at all but the lowest powers due to eye relief limitations. Even then, the field of view is narrow. There are better small scope/zoom options for both field of view and eye relief. Opticron is one example.

I cannot imagine a handheld scope being very useful to a 70-year old casual birder. That means a tripod is in order and that means additional weight to carry around.

Does your father wear eyeglasses? If so, eye relief is absolutely critical. Some lenses will not work!
Is the scope primarily setup in one place at one time or is travel involved? Weight, size and magnification all matter.
What distance limitations are you trying to overcome? If you're in the 100-200 foot range a low power lens will suffice (16X for example).

We have two ED50's, a Nikon ED82 and a Kowa 883...all angled body scopes. I have all the lenses for the Nikons and I've done a fair amount of experimentation. The ED50/16X is superb as is the ED50/13-40 zoom combo if you can tolerate the eye relief and FOV limitations. I do not care for the ED50/27X for general use but others do. I've relegated the ED82 to using a 30X fixed eyepiece because the 25-75 zoom is just too unfriendly, in spite if its optical perfection. The 25-75 on the ED82 is the 13-40 on the ED50.

Good luck and choose wisely!

Last edited by Pileatus : Saturday 11th March 2017 at 14:23.
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Old Saturday 11th March 2017, 18:00   #7
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I love the ED50. I have both angled and straight. As a travel scope, I prefer angled (allows for shorter more stable tripod), with 27x WF eyepiece (which is an older, optically identical but much more compact eyepiece than the 27x MC or DS), on a tripod (Velbon 455 Ultra) and high quality lightweight ballhead (Really Right Stuff BH-25 Pro). Instead of using a case, I put a Quake Bushwacker objective cover (Matte Black, size 7) on the front and wrap the scope in McNett camo form gun wrap.

I have other scopes and many other eyepieces. I use my bigger scopes when not traveling. For magnification, I generally use 30x on my big scopes, so the 27x on the ED50 is ideal because it gives me the magnification I expect from a scope. For many decades, a magnification of ~25x has been considered a good practical choice for most scoping.

Hand-holding a scope, even at 16x, is unlikely to satisfy most birders. If the desire is to hand hold, choose one of the IS (image stabilized) binoculars in 10x or 12x from Canon instead. Those are a joy to use compared to handholding a scope, and the stability will show detail at 10 or 12x that cannot be seen in a shaky 16x or 20x view.

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