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Best Scope Size

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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 09:47   #1
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Best Scope Size

We all know bigger is better but it depends how far you plan to carry your scope. Having a medium and a large scope solves the problem but many of us can only afford one scope and others might want to spend cash on a variety of EPs rather than more than one scope.

I'm voting for 82mm. Bigger than a 65 but not as big as an 85 or 95.

What do you think?

Lee
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 10:26   #2
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
We all know bigger is better but it depends how far you plan to carry your scope. Having a medium and a large scope solves the problem but many of us can only afford one scope and others might want to spend cash on a variety of EPs rather than more than one scope.

I'm voting for 82mm. Bigger than a 65 but not as big as an 85 or 95.

What do you think?

Lee
I have a 95mm, but think this is overkill in many cases. 70x zoom is good but often unuseable at the high end in heat haze, etc.

I'd say 82-85mm best: lighter, wider angled
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 10:52   #3
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I have a Nikon Fieldscope ED82A which I think is pretty much ideal for use here in UK. The only downside is no wide-angle zoom eyepiece but I love the prime MC eyepieces. The view is fantastically bright at 30x which is what I use 90% of the time. I will put on a 50x or (in good light and when the air is not too wobbly) 75x to ID more distant birds. I have the Nikon ED50A for travel which, for its size, is also a fantastic scope. I mostly use the ED50A at 20x.
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 11:25   #4
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I'm with Graham as I have the exact same set up. However, if I just had one scope it would be a 65mm with a zoom - perfectly usable in 99% of circumstances and environments. May be a bit big and heavy for the tropics though!
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 12:00   #5
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Originally Posted by Graham Osborne View Post
I have a Nikon Fieldscope ED82A which I think is pretty much ideal for use here in UK. The only downside is no wide-angle zoom eyepiece but I love the prime MC eyepieces. The view is fantastically bright at 30x which is what I use 90% of the time. I will put on a 50x or (in good light and when the air is not too wobbly) 75x to ID more distant birds. I have the Nikon ED50A for travel which, for its size, is also a fantastic scope. I mostly use the ED50A at 20x.
Hya Graham

I thought there was 6 or more EPs for this scope.
But no WA zoom?
Any chance to fit another brand EP?

Lee
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Old Saturday 28th April 2018, 14:05   #6
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Hya Graham

I thought there was 6 or more EPs for this scope.
But no WA zoom?
Any chance to fit another brand EP?

Lee
Hi Lee

I'm not sure how practicable it would be to fit a WA zoom of another brand to the Nikon. Eyepieces are connected with a screw thread of limited diameter. Someone may have done this however - perhaps with the Baader? Nevertheless, I find that 30x suits my needs in most situations so this is not an option that I have personally looked into.
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 18:14   #7
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Originally Posted by Graham Osborne View Post
I have a Nikon Fieldscope ED82A which I think is pretty much ideal for use here in UK. The only downside is no wide-angle zoom eyepiece but I love the prime MC eyepieces. The view is fantastically bright at 30x which is what I use 90% of the time. I will put on a 50x or (in good light and when the air is not too wobbly) 75x to ID more distant birds. I have the Nikon ED50A for travel which, for its size, is also a fantastic scope. I mostly use the ED50A at 20x.
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I'm with Graham as I have the exact same set up. However, if I just had one scope it would be a 65mm with a zoom - perfectly usable in 99% of circumstances and environments. May be a bit big and heavy for the tropics though!
I also have this same set up.
82mm when I need the horsepower. 50mm when I need light portability.

Usually 16 or 20x on the 50.
And usually 30 or 38x on the 82. Occasionally 50 or 75x.
Great system.

No one scope can do it all IMO, but If I could only have but one scope I would choose the ED50. An angled ED50 with a 20x requires very little tripod and head making for an exquisitely small and light set up.
This makes it the one I'd use the most, by far.

I'm sure few would agree with my choice however.

65mm scopes, to me, are neither fish nor fowl.
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 18:41   #8
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Take a look at Kowas 550 series mini-scopes if you ever get a chance. They are super performers.

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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 19:03   #9
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Kevin
Take a look at Kowas 550 series mini-scopes if you ever get a chance. They are super performers.

Lee
I haven't looked through one Lee, but they look good on paper.
If that 28 oz. spec includes the zoom EP, which I'm pretty sure it does, it's not too much heavier than the ED50. Maybe 6 oz or so.

The built in sun shade is a major perk as well as a fairly wide field zoom.

If I were starting from scratch but knowing what I know now, I'd look hard at the Kowa and probably buy it.

Added: For giggles I just weighed my ED50A with DS16x EP and Arca plate attached. Came in at 24.7 oz. Allowing probably about two oz for the plate, then it's about 23 oz, or 5 oz lighter than the Kowa. Keeping in mind the Kowa gives a built in sunshade and zoom EP for that 5 oz..

Damn it Lee, now I want one!
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 22:36   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
We all know bigger is better but it depends how far you plan to carry your scope. Having a medium and a large scope solves the problem but many of us can only afford one scope and others might want to spend cash on a variety of EPs rather than more than one scope.

I'm voting for 82mm. Bigger than a 65 but not as big as an 85 or 95.

What do you think?

Lee
80-82mm is really not much bigger than 65. Only about 1/2 f-stop. Negligible in daylight.

For maximum magnification and exit pupil it depends on what eye pieces are available in the specific system.

Weight is not always proportional to objective diameter.

To me choosing a scope is a bit more complex than the diameter of the objective.

Fitting of the eye piece/eye relief and type of focuser would be the things that I look at first.
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 06:34   #11
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The built in sun shade is a major perk as well as a fairly wide field zoom.
Hi,

the zoom on the TSN-550 is not that wide, in fact it's the same EP as the small body 20-60x zoom, only mounted fixed on the 550, probably for weight reasons to get rid of the bayonet...

It is a bit more useful than the 20-60x version here since the wide end is at 45x which is still often quite useful unlike 60x which often is not too great due to seeing or instrument flaws. Also 30x is wider that way than on a 20-60x.

I think I would have liked a slightly heavier version taking the wide angle zoom of the 880 series better... plus it would have offered some cross selling potential that way...

Regarding what size is best - I think sth good between 60 and 65mm is the best compromise between weight and brightness if you want only one scope. My TSN-3 is 77mm but light for that at 1200g for the body.

Joachim

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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 07:06   #12
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Hi,

the zoom on the TSN-550 is not that wide, in fact it's the same EP as the small body 20-60x zoom, only mounted fixed on the 550, probably for weight reasons to get rid of the bayonet...

It is a bit more useful than the 20-60x version here since the wide end is at 45x which is still often quite useful unlike 60x which often is not too great due to seeing or instrument flaws. Also 30x is wider that way than on a 20-60x.

I think I would have liked a slightly heavier version taking the wide angle zoom of the 880 series better... plus it would have offered some cross selling potential that way...

Regarding what size is best - I think sth good between 60 and 65mm is the best compromise between weight and brightness if you want only one scope. My TSN-3 is 77mm but light for that at 1200g for the body.

Joachim
Thanks for pointing that out Joachim. I can't explain why I thought that was a somewhat wide zoom and I should have looked at comparison specs before saying as such. In fact, the zoom is a bit disappointing from that perspective.

Here's a little comparo:

Nikon ED50:

w/DS16 [email protected]
w/MC20 wide [email protected]
w/DS27 [email protected]
w/DS40 [email protected]

Kowa 553:
Kowa's site just states [email protected], 15-45X

The ED50 with it's prime EPs are wider everywhere and massively wider at the lower magnifications.
Even Nikon's own MCII 13-40 zoom seems to best it with [email protected] for 13X, and Nikon's caught a ration of grief for years for this.

There goes my buzz.
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 08:21   #13
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80-82mm is really not much bigger than 65. Only about 1/2 f-stop. Negligible in daylight.

For maximum magnification and exit pupil it depends on what eye pieces are available in the specific system.

Weight is not always proportional to objective diameter.

To me choosing a scope is a bit more complex than the diameter of the objective.

Fitting of the eye piece/eye relief and type of focuser would be the things that I look at first.
All good points VB and for sure choosing a scope is about far more things than just objective size.

Lee
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 08:41   #14
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My advice for a 60mm-scope (if size matters) would be if the Kowa 553 is interesting, the MM4-60 from Opticron. You can read all about my decision, if you follow the links to Juelich-Forum, Germany ( https://www.birdforum.net/showpost.p...2&postcount=41 ). But I own a 85mm scope, so I cannot recommend a 60mm as stand-alone-scope, because I don't know, what you prefer or what level of skilss you have. Yesterday I see ringed storks and have only my 60 in my car: I can say, that 45x was too less mag, but I could make a photo with the ringnumber of the swedish stork. (I suppose, the optical quality of the scope could male sense of bigger but fixed mag, so ~60x) Depends on how often you make ring-reading or have situations, where 45x isn't enough. I like small scopes, but the dawn is not their prefered observing time (depends on AP vs. mag).
What is said about the things beyond objektive-diameter, the complex personal criteria like focussing, handling (and the very important theme 'tripod&head' ) I agree too.

good decision
Manfred
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 11:39   #15
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Hi,

a used 603 or 613 or a current 663 with 30 wide and 20-60 zoom and maybe the new 1.6 extender sounds sweet...

Joachim
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 18:15   #16
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My opinion, 60-65 mm.

It is the perfect compromise between size/weight and magnification range. Sure, there are some times when I would like more than 45x but there are also some times that I would want more than 60x too.

I have a 50 mm, a 60 mm and an 82 mm. I take the 60 mm out more often than the other two.
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Old Monday 30th April 2018, 21:58   #17
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My first scope is still the one I use most. It is the Nikon Fieldscope 78ED with 30x WF eyepiece, coated in McNett camo form wrap. At the time (in early 1990s), I almost got a 60 mm scope, but when I saw how short and minimalist the Nikon was (especially compared to 80 mm scopes back then), I ended up getting it instead. My thought was that I could pack it almost as easily as a 60 mm scope but I'd have the advantage of larger exit pupil. I like the big bright easy view. Since then, I've acquired other excellent scopes, but I find my 78ED so handy that it is what I generally carry. Incidentally, in comparison to the Nikon 82ED, I prefer the position of the foot on the 78ED because it allows me to rest my focus hand on the tripod head and focus palm-up as if the scope were a big telephoto lens. I also find that the way I have my 82ED set up, with stay-on case and 30x DS eyepiece (which requires careful eye placement for best view), that it is an unnecessary hassle. Also, its extendable hood adds bulk without improving function most of the time.

My other most-used scope is a Nikon Fieldscope 50ED with 27x WF eyepiece with Quake Bushwacker objective cap and McNett wrap. I find that 50 + ~80 is a superb combo. If I could only have one? I'd go with ~80 mm because I don't carry a scope on all minimalist travel adventures or really long hikes, but I use one every day for car based travel and around my home area.

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Old Tuesday 1st May 2018, 07:35   #18
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I should come clean and admit to not being a dedicated scope-user but I do have a battered old Diascope 65 with separate fine and fast focus knobs. It is mostly set up on holidays in our rented cottage overlooking a sea loch where there are Otters and Common Seals but it is compact enough for use in the car and occasional outdoor use. It doesn't take up much room in the boot/trunk of the car when traveling to and from our holiday destinations which is an important consideration since we fill the 500+ litre luggage space.

If I was to seriously look for a bigger scope at the top of my list would be Meopta's 82mm S2 with the 30-60 WA EP.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2018, 16:03   #19
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Its difficult to give any definitive advice because we are all different both in terms of our physique, type of birding and conditions that we will be putting our scope to use. For example I am not a very regular seawatcher. Let me share my experiences.
My first scope was a Nicke Supra 15-60 x60 drawtube but rarely used over 30x magnification. Its great advantage was that it needn't need much support and could be used hand held ( which I did very successfully walking up to High Street in the English Lake District following Wainright's guidebook, and scoping one of the resident golden eagles as it flew yards in front of me and continued down the valley).
In 1991 I bought a Nikon ED11 Fieldscope with the 20-45 zoom and 20x eyepieces. When the 30x WA eyepiece was available I bought one and hardly ever used the zoom and the 20x even less. This scope served me well up to about 2010 when I purchased a Swarovski 30 x 75 drawtube. This scope weighed about the same as the Nikon but gave a potentially brighter image in failing light. The Swarovski does not have ED type glass but frankly I haven't felt disadvantaged.
As a reluctant tripod user I managed mainly with a Manfrotto hide clamp or Gitzo monopod. For health reasons I purchased my first angled scope a Swarovski ATS 65 with the 25-50 zoom couple with a Manfrotto 190 carbon fibre tripod and a Benro S2 head. The whole combination is attached to a Mulepack tripod carrier.
I am now in my early 70s and this arrangement serves me very well, last October I walked from Cley Coast Guards to Blakeney Point and back about 8 miles on shingle with no problems. In fact it was better than when I walked with my previous scopes (Nikon or Swaro) and monopod attached to a conventional rucksack. While I accept the 80mm Swaro or 82 mm Meopta may be optically superior I am increasingly aware of my advancing age and frankly I am totally happy with my new combination. For convenience I still use my drawtube in a hide.
I can see the advantage of smaller scopes for travel in the same way I use my Swarovski 8x25s on non birding holidays.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2018, 22:33   #20
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I would agree with Robert's choice. I have a very similar set up with the ATS65, and quite possibly this is the best of both worlds. It's big enough to benefit from available light, has 50x zoom for when it's needed, but is light enough to tote for many a mile. I know the shingle at Blakeney Point, and that is some mean shingle, i can tell you. I walked it with a Kowa 883 and aluminium tripod, and made a mental note not to do it again.
The ATS is a much better option.
Obviously the Kowa 883 is possibly the best available view and not necessarily heavy, but the tripod/head arrangement makes it considerably bulkier.
I always travel with the smaller Swarovski and have never regretted the fact i meant to sell it when i bought the Kowa (even though i'd agreed with myself to do so!). Too many memories, too many miles and too many good birds to part with it....
So my vote goes to a 65mm, for what it's worth....
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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 07:36   #21
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Robert, Post 19

Cley to Blakeney Point and back? Crikey!

Respect.

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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 12:46   #22
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It should come as no surprise that I have more than one spotting scope!

I have them from 60mm to 95mm. The 60-66mm scope doesn't hold a candle to the larger scopes at higher magnifications with low light conditions. BUT with good light the 60-66mm scopes are actually really nice and.....LIGHT! The number one issue I have with most scopes is that 30X is not a low enough magnification. 15-20X is what I use a LOT. I like an eyepiece that starts no more than 20X

Recommendations:
60mm- The Leopold Gold Ring 12-40X60 HD is one great scope. Optical performance literally STOMPS the Kowa 66. It's lightweight, compact, easy to use, and PLENTY of eye relief. Inexpensive relatively speaking too. IDK why it's never mentioned here. The main con is you're stuck at 40X maximum magnification. Also the focus adjustment isn't as "precise" as I'd like. But I really don't know if it matters. If you are going to stick it in a pack and hike, I don't know if I'd look any further.

>60mm- The Kowa 88 and Meopta S2 are kind of a toss up. With the S2 I got the WA 30-60X eyepiece. When I bought it I kinda figured I would wish I had bought the 20-70X which is TRUE. Even though the 30-60X IS WA....the 20-70X still has more FOV at 20X. I may get the other at some point. I've used the Kowa 88 for quite a while. It's been a great performer! Both of these have JUST enough eye relief to use with eyeglasses. The S2 IS lighter(a little bit) so I usually end up using it the most because I have to carry it!

Here are some weights(with eyepieces in place) of the scopes I have:

Leupold GR 12-40X60 HD- 2lbs 6oz
Kowa TSN-663M- 2lbs 14oz
Meopta S2 30x60WA- 4lbs 1oz
Kowa 883 TE-11WZ- 4lbs 3oz
Swarovski STX 95- 4lbs 15oz
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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 14:17   #23
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Of course, coupling ideal size of scope with ideal specs of EP makes an ideal set-up. A friend with the Kowa 883 has the 1.6x extender permanently in place. In good light, the view of a passerine on a branch can be stunning but i find the lowest mag of 40x far too much.
When i first got into scopes, i was always zooming in to max as often as possible. With a few years under the belt, i'm more inclined to stick around the 20-30x and get more of the FoV and light into the eyepiece.
Seawatching is a classic case of this: long-distance birds (so mag would seem to be critical) but vast width of water (where low mag, high FoV is more important). I do find the biggest objective possible the best option for this particular, strange, obsessive form of the art though.
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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 17:19   #24
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I've always used relatively heavy astronomical scopes for birding, so even the biggest spotters seem like featherweights to me. The two scopes I use most of the time now weigh 8lbs 9oz (Astrophysics 92mm Stowaway) and 9lbs 8oz (Takahashi SKY90).

Where I save weight is in the tripod and head. I use a Gitzo 3530S tripod (no center column) and A Gitzo 2720 head (without the pan handle). The combination weighs only 5lbs and is very stable with the weight of my scopes. Changing to even the heaviest scope on Chuck's list would make a combination that weighs only 9lb 15oz. I wouldn't want to give up the considerable optical advantages of a 90-100mm aperture over a 60-65mm aperture just to shave off about 2 more pounds.

As soon as I find a spotter in the 90-100mm range that does it for me optically I'll be happy to give up the heavyweights. The current $400 rebates on Kowa TSN-880s gives me some hope that a new larger Kowa might be coming soon.

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Old Wednesday 2nd May 2018, 18:59   #25
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Mirador merlin 60mm..Spotting Scope 25x and 47x lenses.. Metal body about 3" longer in lenght than I,d like but a light weight to carry.. cost around 75 back in March 1987 has served me well in that time and I,ve never looked back ..My Motto is If it still works for you carry on useing it, I,ve used both Magnifications in all conditions and only direct haze from the sun has Interfered with vision perhaps once or twice in all that time for me its a timepiece something you can,t replace thats where its quality shines through for me.
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