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A sort of, kind of tale of the Celestron Hummingbird scope and Sirui T-025x tripod.

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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 19:52   #1
BryanP
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A sort of, kind of tale of the Celestron Hummingbird scope and Sirui T-025x tripod.

I thought some folks might be interested (or not) in my recent experiences in the field with the Celestron Hummingbird 50mm scope and Sirui T-025x tripod.
I had for some time wanted a lightweight combo that could be useful for tramping through the rainforest here in Costa Rica and so chose this kit.
The purchase was dictated by our birding style which is to generally keep moving albeit at times slowly in a variety of habitat. We often explore rough overgrown forest trails all day with the occasional steep climbs into the higher elevation rain and cloud forests. This means large heavy optics take a back seat to light and small. This lightweight requirement was absolute.


We were finally able to try out the scope recently when friends came down from Canada for a 14 days trip. They had asked us to show them around some of our favourite birding locations which sounded like fun. Unfortunately for some unknown reason they thought one pair of binoculars shared between the two of them would be fine, bless em. It was too late to borrow spares from friends so we shared our two bins between the four of us.
Because of the lack of binoculars to go around I decided to bring the Hummingbird/Siuri combo as backup.

To be crystal clear and to not mislead any here I am not an expert optics or reviewer guy, not even close. Nada, zilch. Since most folks will already know the conclusions that can only be arrived at when using this particular scope I will keep my subjective observations brief.

The Celestron Hummingbird confirms the general opinions I've read, that it is a lightweight but fairly compromised optic. At its size and weight how can it not be.
As would be expected with a small scope in this price range I avoided zooming out to maximum magnification. If I did go to the highest mag it wasn't pretty. It never hindered an id but.....
When conditions were perfect the view is what I would call adequately bright for a 50 mm objective. The edge sharpness was poor and seemed to get worse at higher magnifications. The sweet spot is a bit on the small side and loses sharpness rather abruptly.
I'm used to looking through my friends Swarovski scopes which are ubiquitous down here, there is no comparison.
Nevertheless it was useful, convenient and present and thanks to a few cooperative birds elicited a few oohs and ahs from our visitors. My local friends heavy Swarovski scope had we been able to borrow it would have stayed in the boot of the car so score one for the little guy.

The Sirui T-025x with the Vanguard VEO PH-25 Pan Head has also turned out to be a nice combo. The tripod is nicely built and tiny at 33.53 cm folded length and light at 0.9 kilograms. I've used it with my Sony rx10-mk4 for video and as long as the hanging backpack dodge is used in windy conditions stable.

When we started the trip I tried carrying the scope in the usual way scopes are carried, slung over ones shoulder. I very quickly found it uncomfortable to carry in this way as the centre of gravity (CG) was well below my shoulder and in front. Sliding the tripod back on my shoulder to tip it backwards resulted in a ridiculous length of tripod sticking out over my shoulder. Either way, an awkward position.
Next I tried carrying it horizontally gripped in my hand at the CG and arm at my side. No go, kept clipping people and branches as I would spin around. Silent film guy carrying ladder gag got old.

In desperation I finally tried treating the kit as a hiking pole with the legs extended but folded. Bingo! This method clicked and to my delight actually made the scope and tripod useful when it wasn't being used for spotting. Suddenly I had a light weight but sturdy hiking pole that doubled as a scope kit.
At first I fussed over whether to tie the leg tips together with an elastic hair band or strap to make it more stable and to keep the legs from accidentally spreading. That concern turned out to be a non issue. I will probably jury rig up some kind of leg strap but for now it seems fine as is.

I also plan to improve this “hiking pole” by installing a foam grip on the centre post where my hand holds the tripod while in hiking mode.
On one or two occasions it was even useful as a functioning monopod for quick scans of wetlands.

There was concern that the twist locks wouldn't be positive or strong enough in hiking pole mode but that fear proved baseless. Besides even if one twist lock did somehow come loose there were two other legs as back up to make it a non issue.
One thing I will have to keep an eye on is the rubber tips on the end of each leg. In hiking pole mode they are exposed to much abuse being continually jabbed and poked into the ground as one walked the trails. I'm not sure they were designed for this kind of abuse so will have to keep an look out for a solution.
I leave it to others to decide on this new unintended use. Kludgy homemade jury rig or brilliant fix? Myself, I'm leaning towards the brilliant fix side of the pendulum but thats just me.

When using the kit as it was originally intended I found that with light winds it was fairly stable. If you bumped it while looking in the eyepiece you had to wait a split second or maybe two for the view to settle down.
It happened to be windy on this trip so hanging a backpack off the little carabiner under the centre pole really helped. The kit actually was blown over once but I managed to grab it before it hit the deck so after that the hook and backpack became essential. I'll replace the “fussy to open” carabiner with an simple open hook, quicker and easier.

I was soon to discover another peril of carrying spotting scopes which I don't think I've ever read anywhere.
Since I've gone all of my birding life without packing a scope it was only natural that at some point I was going to forget I had it and walk away. I promptly did so on a trail in the Savegre valley by leaving it standing by the side of that trail unnoticed. An hour and a kilometre later I found myself feeling uncomfortable about something but was not sure what. With a rush of adrenaline I was suddenly shocked to realize that I owned a scope. That I'd left that scope back on the trail and that I may not own that scope much longer. So I ran back as fast as my tired legs could carry me and half way up the trail ran into a Mexican gentleman I'd met earlier in the day. He assured me the scope was safe as he had happened upon it on the path (which was quite busy for Savegre) and had left his wife to guard it while he went further on to find me. To say I was both winded and grateful was an understatement. What a wonderfully kind gesture and I only hope I can pay that kindness forward some day.

So, to my conclusion. The Celestron Hummingbird and Siuri T-025 is an adequate scope and tripod combo for those times when light weight is the most important requirement. With eyes wide open to its faults it can do its intended job.
I guess I would equate this kit and scenario to something I often hear photographers quote. “the best camera for the job is the one you happen to have with you” I would also add “as long as you don't lose it”

Cheers,
Bryan
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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 21:24   #2
JerryLogan
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Thank you for the report! You definitely answered some questions for me. Very glad your scope and tripod only met thoughtful and honest people during its time alone.

Best,
Jerry
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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 21:50   #3
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Hi Jerry
Yes, I was grateful for the kindness of strangers. I had earlier spent a pleasant half hour on another part of the trail talking with him and his wife and sensed their kindness then.

Glad my little blather answered a few questions.
Cheers,
Bryan
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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 21:56   #4
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Hi Bryan,

thanks for a nice story and a good review.

Joachim
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Old Tuesday 26th March 2019, 22:16   #5
BryanP
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Hi Bryan,

thanks for a nice story and a good review.

Joachim
Hi Joachim,

It had a happy ending thats for sure.
I have to admit though that as I was running back to look for the lost scope I kept thinking if it was irrevocably gone maybe I'd give the Kowa TSN-501 a go.

Does that make me a bad person?

Cheers,
Bryan
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Old Wednesday 27th March 2019, 14:16   #6
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...if it was irrevocably gone maybe I'd give the Kowa TSN-501 a go.

Does that make me a bad person?
Not at all - it would have been a nice alternative and we would have gotten another great review ;-)

Joachim
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Old Wednesday 27th March 2019, 16:47   #7
BryanP
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Not at all - it would have been a nice alternative and we would have gotten another great review ;-)

Joachim
Hi Joachim,
I know me and I think I'll just bow to the inevitable sooner rather than later and just get the 501. Apart from other considerations I'm just too curious to resist, when the cash is available of course.
Unfortunately for me I'm also interested in the 553 as both these scopes may work with the Sirui T-015X tripod I have now. Anything bigger would mean a larger and sturdier tripod which is entering a new weight and size category.
Cheers,
Bryan
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Old Wednesday 27th March 2019, 17:39   #8
Dd61999
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Does the optics improve using other Astro 1.25 eyepieces
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Old Wednesday 27th March 2019, 21:41   #9
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Thank you, BrianP, for the interesting tripod carrying idea.
I've only used a monopod with the ED50, had not thought of expanding the concept to a tripod. If this works with the Velbon Ultra Maxi, it would be a real plus.
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Old Wednesday 27th March 2019, 22:52   #10
BryanP
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
Thank you, BrianP, for the interesting tripod carrying idea.
I've only used a monopod with the ED50, had not thought of expanding the concept to a tripod. If this works with the Velbon Ultra Maxi, it would be a real plus.
Hi Etudiant
You're welcome. I don't see any reason why the Velbon wouldn't work although every tripod has its own geometries that may or may not lend itself to this. Of course dealing with inadvertent leg spread and damage to the rubber feet has to be dealt with.
The nice thing about this method verses a real monopod is if I needed to use the binos its was easy enough to just kick out the legs and plop the tripod down.
Cheers,
Bryan
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