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Spotting scope or mounted bins?

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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 03:01   #1
Scarletmacawdad
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Spotting scope or mounted bins?

Say I have a 12x50 I love but the shakes I fear are detracting from the image.

Option is to sell and get an ATS / STS 65.

Question for my learned friends:

Why would one prefer a mounted 12x50 over say a very good spotting scope?

Conundrum: it seems in both cases one is carrying a tripod, and the scope is only 10z's or so heavier.
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 04:15   #2
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I prefer tripod mounted bins for comfort, and wide field viewing. Using two eyes and more of your brain is nice.

The scope is more versatile with the magnification changes, high power being one.

They both have merit.

I've done both extensively and cannot say one is better than another.

Sounds like you have the bins already. Get a tripod and a decent mount and see how you get on. If you desire more HP get a scope. I don't see it as an either/or equation, but a both, for different occasions, situation.

Good 12x50s on a steady mount are a truly beautiful thing to behold.
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 05:03   #3
John A Roberts
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Hi SMD,

Your question raises a number of possibilities and will generate a variety of responses/ options

However, one issue to consider is maximising the steadiness of your 12x50 - without having to resort to the burden of a tripod
I too have an EL SV 12x50, and it focused my attention on such matters
I've previously offered some suggestions that you might wish to try, in lieu of either a tripod or image stabilised binoculars:

Quote:
Originally Posted by John A Roberts View Post
Alternative Ways to Increase Stability
. . .

Braced Positions
While there are a variety of braced positions, sitting is likely to be the most stable and adaptable
Particularly useful is the open leg version, with the addition of the back against a rest (such as a tree, boulder, fence or wall),
and depending on the needed elevation, the elbows should be either in front of the knees or on the thighs (but not wobbling on top of the knees)


Rested Positions
Rested positions are likely to be superior to braced ones, since use is made of additional environmental support
And they can be broadly divided between vertical and horizontal versions

- Vertical Rests
e.g. against a tree trunk, a pole or post, an end or opening to a fence or wall
Typically both the side of the binocular and the hand holding it is placed against the support
And if possible it helps to both rest the forearm against the support, and to slouch the hip and thigh against the support

While less secure than a horizontal rest, vertical rests have the dual advantages of typically being more numerous and more accomodating in terms of useable height

- - - -
- Combinations
Using either a vertical rest, or the modified squeegee I’ve previously described (a sort on ‘Mini Finn Stick’ see: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=369280 ),
makes a significant difference to steadiness even with my EL SV 12x50
Used together, the degree of steadiness is combined. With moderate power binoculars around 8x, the effect approaches that of a solid horizontal rest
- - - -

- Horizontal Rests
These are likely to provide the greatest effect, since the binocular can be placed on a stable object
e.g. on a tree limb, a fence rail, the top of a fence or wall, the roof of an automobile
Some padding (such as an item of folded clothing) may be needed to ensure that the binocular is both firmly positioned and at the appropriate angle of elevation

The main problem is that for a horizontal rest to be comfortable to use, it typically needs to be within narrow limits at the standing user's eye level
Though it may also be useable if it’s an appropriate height for use while sitting
e.g. in addition to some of the possibilities mentioned above, a binocular can be rested on the top of a full size back pack


Finally, you can bring your own rest with you - a tripod and head
But that typically involves: anticipation; a suitable carrier; carrying the tripod with you; unpacking, setting up and adjusting; shifting it if needed; taking down and repacking,
and; carrying it out - along with any other gear that you have with you
And in doing so, you should also avoid inconveniencing others
(also in the usual way, when selecting both a tripod and a head, there is the inevitable triangular trade-off between expense, stability and weight)

If you only need to travel a brief distance from your transport to a viewing site, a tripod carried over a shoulder may be the way to go
However, if you’re inclined to roam more freely, or don’t wish to be encumbered with extra gear, the more creative options may appeal


And some images:
A) 2 of my notion of a Mini Finn Stick, and

B) 3 versions of the real thing:
- the first from: http://hulluparoni.blogspot.com/2012...alli-2012.html
- the next from: http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond....-in-early.html
- the last from: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/1...erior-e/page-4


John
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 06:07   #4
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There is no WAY the 12x50 SV even if mounted on a tripod is going to compete with an ATS/STS 65 on a tripod. The scope will kill it with it's much higher magnification of 20x to 65x. They are two different animals for different purposes. I could hardly make out a distant eagle's nest at Yellowstone National Park but through an ATS 65 on a tripod I could see clearly the babies in the nest. You need binoculars and a spotter. A good spotter like the ATS is amazing at distance.

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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 06:14   #5
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Friends, thank you for your helpful responses. I am indebted.
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 06:15   #6
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Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I actually have the mount and swaro tripod adapter but haven't had a chance to test it yet.
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 12:29   #7
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A monopod with trigger ball head can do a good job too. I have both a 66mm scope with various wide angle eyepieces and more recently a pair of 70mm binoculars that look like a bolted together pair of spotters. So now I can get the spotter power with the binocular ease of view and immersion. I then only need to carry a light 8x binocular for normal use. Of course big binoculars weigh more than a spotter, depends how/where you are using them and what kind of view you are looking to get. For light carry I use an elderly pair of 12x stabilised binoculars, out resolve a 15x unless solidly mounted and can be used one handed!

All the best

Peter
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 13:52   #8
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Hi,

obviously a tripod/monopod/finstick mounted traditional pair of high magnification bins will have the following disadvantages vs a scope:

- fixed magnification at a level which is at below or at the lower end of spotters
- still a straight instrument so it needs a fairly high (and thus quite stable) tripod when used with one and by a standing user. Not much of an issue when used seated in a hide or with monopod or finstick
- not much fun when used in a group as binoculars need a bit of setup (IPD & diopter) for each user while a scope directed on some bird can give the whole group a nice, close up view w/o fiddling around.

Joachim, who prefers an 8x30 for finding birds and an angled scope for having a close up view when needed
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 15:35   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Say I have a 12x50 I love but the shakes I fear are detracting from the image.

Option is to sell and get an ATS / STS 65.

Question for my learned friends:

Why would one prefer a mounted 12x50 over say a very good spotting scope?

Conundrum: it seems in both cases one is carrying a tripod, and the scope is only 10z's or so heavier.
If you are serious about birding there's really no way to do without a scope/tripod. The difference really is night and day.

I've got the STX with the 95mm objective, Kowa 883, and Meopta S2 30-60X. I use the Meopta S2 the most by far. It's a heck of a scope and a great buy.

I'd have a hard time getting rid of the 12X50s though.
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 15:40   #10
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Excellent the council of Jhon. But the others too.
Perhaps not everyone knows that the important thing is to immobilize the objectives of the binoculars. Try placing the end of one of the two tubes to a plant, a pole, or a wall and you will see the image stabilize immediately.
I observe with 25x70 binoculars freehand and when I have to fix the image I lean on a pole or a plant or I rest my elbows on the wall or carry the monopod (which is much lighter than the tripod and also more comfortable).
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Old Tuesday 10th December 2019, 23:17   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Say I have a 12x50 I love but the shakes I fear are detracting from the image.
If (as I recall) you haven't had that EL for very long, I would advise giving yourself time to practice and get used to it first. I think the brain learns to some extent to cope with jitter, and holding technique may be involved too. (Are you blaming your complaints about its "resolution" on jitter also?) Of course you may still eventually want a scope (instead?) but that's another story.
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Old Yesterday, 00:07   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenex View Post
If (as I recall) you haven't had that EL for very long, I would advise giving yourself time to practice and get used to it first. I think the brain learns to some extent to cope with jitter, and holding technique may be involved too. (Are you blaming your complaints about its "resolution" on jitter also?) Of course you may still eventually want a scope (instead?) but that's another story.
Thank you. Indeed I should continue to use. Your recollection holds: i've had it only 2 weeks. I'll continue to do mounted comparisons. I also clearly must learn to more precisely convey my questions vis-a-vis the image I perceive. I trust this will also improve with practice. My apologies - I am learning.
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Old Yesterday, 00:08   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
If you are serious about birding there's really no way to do without a scope/tripod. The difference really is night and day.

I've got the STX with the 95mm objective, Kowa 883, and Meopta S2 30-60X. I use the Meopta S2 the most by far. It's a heck of a scope and a great buy.

I'd have a hard time getting rid of the 12X50s though.
Thank you Chuck. I will not sell regardless. I'm working on the scope purchase now. I appreciate they are not commensurable.
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Old Yesterday, 00:31   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
If you are serious about birding there's really no way to do without a scope/tripod. The difference really is night and day.

I've got the STX with the 95mm objective, Kowa 883, and Meopta S2 30-60X. I use the Meopta S2 the most by far. It's a heck of a scope and a great buy.

I'd have a hard time getting rid of the 12X50s though.
Chuck,

I will be making my first scope choice soon.

What ~80mm objective scopes accept astro eyepieces to your knowledge? I'd love to have this double as my grab and go for my astronomy side.
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Old Yesterday, 07:15   #15
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The celestron and some of the Nikon I believe, there are some posts in the spotting scope forum on this topic. Not a lot is the answer. For zoom you’d want to use the Baader 8-24 click zoom Mk4, but I prefer using wider fixed (normally 30x) eyepieces. My scope is an old 66mm William optics refractor I had, heavy for the size, but optically good. Astro refravtors won’t be watertight or armoured if that matters.

Good luck

Peter
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Old Yesterday, 12:35   #16
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Hi,

Celestron and Pentax scopes use 1.25" astro EPs by default plus some no-name chinese ones. But mind you, not all 1.25" EPs will focus to infinity in spotting scopes.

For the big Kowa scopes (series 880 and 770) there is a third party adapter for 1.25" EPs. Also for the Swarovski A/STS and A/STM series. Same concerns with infinity focus as above - for Kowa there is two kinds of adapters - the slimmer one with the grub screw is less comfortable to use but might bring the 1mm infocus missing to get to infinity...

I'm quite sure that 1.25" EPs won't fit the Nikon Fieldscope series - not sure about Monarch - I think Henry Link has tested an exaple with one and might know if mount was wide enough so an adapter is possible.

Joachim
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Old Yesterday, 14:58   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Thank you Chuck. I will not sell regardless. I'm working on the scope purchase now. I appreciate they are not commensurable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Chuck,

I will be making my first scope choice soon.

What ~80mm objective scopes accept astro eyepieces to your knowledge? I'd love to have this double as my grab and go for my astronomy side.
See the post above. Joachim info would be the way to go. I do use the Kowa for astronomy the most. Mainly that's because it has the angled viewing. ALSO with the 883 you would be able to get the 1.6X extender that would give you 40-96X with the TE-11WZ 25-60X eyepiece. I watched Jupiter and Saturn all summer with the 883. It's an excellent scope.
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Old Yesterday, 18:55   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
See the post above. Joachim info would be the way to go. I do use the Kowa for astronomy the most. Mainly that's because it has the angled viewing. ALSO with the 883 you would be able to get the 1.6X extender that would give you 40-96X with the TE-11WZ 25-60X eyepiece. I watched Jupiter and Saturn all summer with the 883. It's an excellent scope.
Chuck,

How does one determine the age of a Kowa 833, say if one were purchasing on the used market.

Relatedly, what are the revision "checkpoints" I should be aware of. E.g., with Swaro EL, pre 2011 not SV.
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Old Yesterday, 21:19   #19
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by John A Roberts View Post
And some images:
A) 2 of my notion of a Mini Finn Stick, and

B) 3 versions of the real thing:
- the first from: http://hulluparoni.blogspot.com/2012...alli-2012.html
- the next from: http://birdingpooleharbourandbeyond....-in-early.html
- the last from: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/1...erior-e/page-4
Thanks a lot, quite interesting!

Here's a slightly different approach, using a shoulder stock:

Click image for larger version

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It's a free, 3D-printable design, downloadable from here:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2807320

Regards,

Henning
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Old Today, 00:07   #20
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Hi Henning,

That certainly looks like a useable option. And if you Google around, you’ll find a number of other ways of adding compact support to optics - either binoculars or cameras

They include a variety of either dedicated or improvised chest supports that are screw attached to optics
Many camera users will be aware of the use of the classic Leica table top tripod in this role (rigid and stable but expensive and relatively heavy)
I’ve attached an image using a much lighter and cheaper UltraPod II table top tripod - 4 oz complete verses 12 oz for the Leica with the small ball head
(it's from: https://www.shutterbug.com/content/6...ons-not-page-2 )


Other ways to go include using either a monopod or bipod supported by a harness:
- a monopod from a neck strap, in this instance avoiding the need for a screw attachment (the Kohla mini-monopod, see: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/5...le-resolution/ )

- a bipod from a pack harness (by Field Optics, from: http://www.fieldopticsresearch.com/s...o-sku-H001.htm )


My idea for the ‘Mini Finn Stick’, came from an article by Dick Forsman about the then newly released EL SV x50’s (see: http://www.dickforsman.com/2011/02/2...ision-12-x-50/ )
Dick described using the Field Bag that came with the binoculars, placed (upside down) on the upper chest/ collar bone area to support the binoculars

It works well, but I wanted a much cheaper, lighter and more compact alternative that would mimic the essential support aspects of the Field Bag,
and in the end I came up with a squeegee with a shortened blade
Like the Field Bag, it avoids the need for either a permanent attachment or a harness as used by many other options

A real Finn Stick allows the hands to be much more comfortably positioned at waist level, so as to minimise fatigue and hence shake
But it has size, weight and convenience trade-offs - as always, a matter of swings and roundabouts



All of the above indirectly aid stability, by taking the weight of the optic off the hands and arms. They either lessen the effect, or delay the onset, of muscle tremor
This has 2 obvious implications:
- a heavier optic is more stable than a lighter one (greater inertia) e.g. my EL SV 12x50 verses my Nikon E 12x40 Porro, and;
- where possible when using my Mini version, I combine the effect of the mechanical brace with resting the binocular against a vertical support e.g. a tree, pole or wall


John
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Old Today, 16:44   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Chuck,

How does one determine the age of a Kowa 833, say if one were purchasing on the used market.

Relatedly, what are the revision "checkpoints" I should be aware of. E.g., with Swaro EL, pre 2011 not SV.
I don't know. The TSN-880 series was released in 2006 per Kowa. I bet most you will see will be much more recent than that. If in really good cosmetic condition and functionally as it should be, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think many worry about the EXACT date a product was made...IMO the changes are so minuscule it doesn't matter at all with a very few exceptions.
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Old Today, 18:03   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarletmacawdad View Post
Chuck,

How does one determine the age of a Kowa 833, say if one were purchasing on the used market.

Relatedly, what are the revision "checkpoints" I should be aware of. E.g., with Swaro EL, pre 2011 not SV.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chill6x6 View Post
I don't know. The TSN-880 series was released in 2006 per Kowa. I bet most you will see will be much more recent than that. If in really good cosmetic condition and functionally as it should be, I wouldn't worry about it too much. I think many worry about the EXACT date a product was made...IMO the changes are so minuscule it doesn't matter at all with a very few exceptions.
I'd be far more focused on whatever scope I received, new or used, was optically good. I bought a new 883 earlier this year and it was not good. Being new from a reputable dealer the return was easy. Buying used can present occasional problems, though I've generally had good luck.

Trust your eyes and do a star test.
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