Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Good scope to carry around: Zeiss Diascope t fl 65...or Kowa TSN883

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Monday 14th October 2019, 22:15   #1
mbb
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Belgium
Posts: 20
Good scope to carry around: Zeiss Diascope t fl 65...or Kowa TSN883

Hi,
I’m looking to buy my first scope and would love to have some advice on some specific scope: the Zeiss Diascope t fl 65 vs. the Kowa TSN883. It sounds like apples vs oranges, thus some explanation:

The use case: I’m looking for a scope I could carry around on walks (not just close to the car), even carry with me in a cycling bag (e.g. my Ortlieb back roller hanging on the rear carrier). It would complement my Kite 10x42 or maybe rather my Zeiss Pocket 8x25 (having a great compact binocular always at hand, even while cycling, and a ‘carryable’ spotting scope for longer range). Thus not too big or heavy.
My budget doesn’t reach the €2000+ budget needed for most high quality 80mm+ when bought new, but can be €1000+, or some more if(!) it really adds value (quality and portability). I’m willing to invest in something that will last, but not the highest new price range: I don’t want to be afraid carrying it either :-)
I’m thus looking at special offers or second hand, and have found these three options:
  • A new (with full warranty,though discontinued, black) Zeiss Diascope t fl 65mm with 20-60/15-45x for approx. €1050, or with the wide angle 20-75/15-56x for €1250. (I don’t care about the additional 15x magnification on this 65mm scope, as I think using it at 30-45x maximum is enough most of the time, but read it was a better eyepiece with wider FOV.)
  • A second hand (but in very good state) Kowa Prominar TSN 883 with 20-60x eyepiece and case/bag (not the wide angle 25-60x Te-11wz) for approx. €1700

I realize they are two different scopes, but it illustrates well my problem ;-)
Sadly enough I cannot compare them both directly hands on first :-(
They are both not the most recent versions.
The Zeiss, while discontinued, is brand new from the store (their last one,in discount),would be more compact and lightweight and I suppose also OK with a somewhat lighter tripod. Also it is much cheaper. However I’m wondering if the smaller lens wouldn’t be an issue for view comfort (eye positioning and light gathering).
A 88mm sounds huge and weighs more (I think some 400grams difference), but many say it is compact and feels light. (I wouldn’t want bigger or heavier than the 80mm Swarovski scopes from others I’ve carried around many years ago.) Also, I assume I’ll be getting a brighter view at dusk/dawn or higher magnification (not my primary use case though). It is also often praised on this forum, but often in older posts. It is more expensive though without having the more recent eyepiece.
I’ve also looked for second hand Swarovski’s ATS 80 or Leica Televid 82, but they are not cheaper than the Kowa and not lighter or more compact (on the contrary, I thought?).

Does anybody have experience with both scopes, being able to comment on the image quality and portability?
I realize I would ideally compare them both directly, but I cannot :-(
mbb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 12:50   #2
slingworks
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: OH
Posts: 126
Surprising nobody has answered you in some way.

I'd go for the Zeiss. It's a great scope, fits your needs and it's considerably less expensive.

The 883 is an excellent optic, one of the best. I've used one a few times and I like it. For a large obj. is not a "big" scope.

If you want to carry a scope around comfortably the smaller 60-65mm scopes are what you want...I have several spotters and use my little 60mm spotters the most. They're just as sharp. I'd say they may appear "less" bright but 95% of the time it makes little to no difference.

"Brightness" is an advantage at dusk...Everyone is into the brightness factor. I do find some optics are too "bright" for long comfortable use.

There are dozens of spotters that you're probably be happy with that can be purchased for less....Look online, especially in the UK where the prices are lower.

Here on Birdforum some members find it very easy to help fellow members "spend" their money.

Last edited by slingworks : Tuesday 22nd October 2019 at 12:56.
slingworks is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 22:10   #3
jring
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,151
Hi,

when I first saw this thread, I didn't answer as I don't know the Diascope 65 at all... and only one quite old silver 85mm example with a Baader Hyperion zoom adapted - which makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the Zeiss EPs...

But since there was limited response - here's my two cent:

As for size - I tend to lug around an old 77mm Kowa TSN-3 which is about 1550g with EP most of the time... together with tripod, head, mulepack and maybe a guide, some snack and water in the mulepack that's a little bit north of 5kg anyways - but no problem to carry for some hours with the mulepack. I have also cycled across the city with it on the back...but never had the scope in Ortlieb bags (don't have any atm).

As for the two scopes mentioned - the Diascope is about 1550g too with the 15-56x EP and a little bit lighter (150g) with the 15-45x.

The 883 and the 25-60 wide zoom is about 1850g, maybe a tad less with the 20-60 which I didn't find a weight for. I think I wouldn't notice the 300g difference in weight between mine or the 883 on my mulepack.

Both scopes would not be my first choice if I was looking for a super lightweight setup but I would be fine with the weight of either for the mentioned usecase on my mulepack.

In my experience sample variation is quite present even in high end spotting scopes, so a personal impression of the view would be my first criterion, even if you cannot have a side by side comparison. I would choose a cool and overcast day in order to limit heat haze or seeing and then at least check if you can get a nice and sharp view at the maximum magnification.

A star test would be better, but is of course not so easy to conduct (except maybe with an artificial star) - and it takes some experience to identify the finer points beside that the diffraction pattern should be concentric circles (except in case of bad aberrations).

Joachim
jring is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd October 2019, 08:18   #4
mbb
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Belgium
Posts: 20
thank you a lot for the advices!! It's great to hear about your experiences hands-on, carrying and using different sizes and models of scopes!

I'm not looking for something smaller than 60-65mm, as that's the limit of the compromise optics (quality and comfort) vs. carrying (size and weight) that I'm willing to make.

I've just had the chance to compare Swarovski's ATX 65, ATX 80 and ATS 80 HD (with 25-50x) as well as Zeiss Gavia 85 yesterday. (Not the Kowa 883 or Zeiss 65, but I wanted some point of reference and more options.) That was on an overcast day, but in the middle of the day with some moments of sun shining through (with some challenging light orientation).

What I'm sure of: I'm convinced I want a modern wide-angle ocular comparable to those 25-50x and 25-60ATX. (I have bad memories of some 'half moon' problems when looking through older eyepieces.)

It's clear that the ATX80 was the best scope, but it is too much above my budget, even second hand, and a bit heavier than the ATS 80. I liked it optically and it was comfortable to use (both eye positioning and double focus/zoom-ring).
The Gavia 85 didn't convince me compared to either the ATX 65 or the ATS 80. It has a bit bigger aperture than the ATX65, but it is big and there was something that didn't convince me optically (sharpness? contrast?) and package/size-wise, but that was side by side with those Swarovski's, which might not be fair. Still, it's the cheapest one and thus I understand people buying it considering cost-performance.

This left me doubting between what would be best: a top-of-the-line 65 (ATX 65) or a still tremendously good ATS 80HD, both probably second hand. The weight difference isn't very big. The size difference is there however, even if you don't 'break up' the ATX in two parts. 45x is about the limit I'd go on a 65mm while I could zoom a bit more on a 80mm, but I don't think I'll often miss going beyond 45x, not to the point of finding it more important than the scope being more compact, lightweight or better at 30-45x.
Actually, it's more the little bit easier eye-placement on the 80mm compared to the 65mm at the same magnification (due to the larger exit pupil) that seemed to me as the biggest advantage of the larger scope, rather than brightness. But the compactness of the 65mm could make a difference when taking it in a backpack or rear cycle carrier bag (like Ortlieb's).
Both on the ATX 65 and ATX 80 I could take some nice shots with my smartphone, just putting it on the eyepiece. Still, I had to look for a good alignment and some kind of simple alignment-adapter would be good to have.

If I can find an ATX65 second-hand at a price around the new Zeiss Diascope 65 or the second-hand Kowa 883, I think I'm going to head that route.

Last edited by mbb : Wednesday 23rd October 2019 at 09:08.
mbb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd October 2019, 14:17   #5
Tringa45
Registered User

 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Cologne, Germany
Posts: 329
Hi mbb,

I can go along with most of what you say. However, I dont think the ATX 65 would be a very good choice. As you point out, it's a similar weight (and price) to the ATS 80, so if you get along with the 25-50x zoom on the latter (and not all do), that would be the better choice. IMO the 65 mm objective only makes sense as a travel option for those already posessing an ATX 85 or ATX 95. Also I think the occasions when you could use the 60x magnification with a 1,1 mm exit pupil would be very few and far between.

As Joachim pointed out, the weight differences are not that significant and a suitable tripod and head will probably weigh more than the scope anyway. Somehow you have to find the right compromise between cost, weight (and possibly volume, as you indicated) and performance and this will also depend on the intended usage.

My first scope was a straight 65 mm Zeiss Diascope with 23x eyepiece. I found it completely adequate for observing songbirds in heathland or waterbirds in disused gravel pits or filter beds at moderate distances. It had a rather yellow bias and edge sharpness was not particularly good, but viewing comfort with a 2,9 mm exit pupil was excellent. It was replaced by a Swarovski ATM 65HD with 30x W eyepiece as I am more than 30 cm taller than my wife. However, I still needed to extend the centre column to get a comfortable view myself :-(. The Swarovski with its unfortunately discontinued fixed magnification eyepiece has the best corrected optics I have ever witneesed. It is diffraction limited and virtually free of CA, astigmatism and rectilinear distotion. Under poor lighting though, the 2,2 mm exit pupil is sometimes a limitation and failure to make an ID a couple of years ago gave me an excuse to buy a Kowa 883 with the 25-60x TE-11WZ zoom.

I still have the Swarovski and it will do 95% of what the Kowa does but last week on the North Sea coast I was able to ID some Red-breasted Mergansers with the Kowa on a saltwater lagoon probably more than 1 km away. Later in failing light and at a shorter distance I picked up two Terek Sandpipers, which was the highlight of the whole trip. Under these circumstances, I don't think the little Swarovski would have delivered.

Finally, a couple of suggestions: the Meopta S2 is a really excellent scope, very reasonably priced and probably not bettered by anything smaller. The Kowa TSN-663M is light, compact and reasonably priced, although your dislike of narrow AFOVs would dictate a 25x or 30x fixed magnification eyepiece. To make sure you get a good example it would probably suffice to view newsprint in still air at about 50 m. This should show up any deficiencies.

John
Tringa45 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 23rd October 2019, 19:53   #6
jring
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,151
Hi,

having just packed my TSN-3 with EP and the very well padded Skua stay-on case (total length 47cm - body only 38cm) into my usual little office backpack (Deuter Giga 28l) for taking onto the plane, I can state that at least for a backpack the length is not really a problem.

It goes diagonally into the notebook compartment so the EP is at the top left end and the objective is at the right bottom. The rest of the space of that compartment is filled with bins, photo lenses and cameras... Since this is carry on, I'm not really concerned about fragility, but I have been asked for a quick look through the scope at the security check.

Tripod, mulepack and head go into checked baggage.

It should also be noted that the TSN-3 body at 38cm is quite long as compared to current scopes (e.g Kowa 883 body is fairly short at 34cm, Swaro only gives total length with EP - ATS80 40cm, ATX65 34cm, ATX85 37cm).

Since my backback is 46cm high and the Ortlieb Back Rollers are 42cm, I'd say that the slightly shorter modern scopes should fit even with a stay on case. You could of course take the Ortlieb bag when you test a used scope to see if it fits...

But as has been noted by John - for a super portable solution I would look either at Kowa 66 or even 60mm bodies (60mm ED sadly discontinued) and pair it with the great 30x wide and maybe the 1.6x extender in case you need a bit more reach. I actually have an old 613 and it's very nice with the 30x wide and weights less than 1000g.

Or maybe look at the Opticron MM4 in 60 or 77mm - the 60mm models will also be around 1000g with EP and the 77mm is very similar in weight to my TSN-3 at 1250g body or 1500g with EP but only 32cm long...

Neither of these super lightweight options has a wide angle zoom though...

Joachim
jring is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 03:10   #7
mayoayo
Registered User
 
mayoayo's Avatar

 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: El Garraf
Posts: 2,254
The Baader mk IV would work with the MM4 bodies,..If it was me,though,I would go for the ATX65 for sure,..Granted the weight is not its strong point,but it can be taken apart,making it the most compact option and resilient for that matter..I used the ortliebs for many years to carry my scope, at the time a quite decent vixen geoma ED 80,but I am not sure is the best idea. Any hit, fall, or otherwise minor accident you could easily have while biking, would probably damage a scope sitting in such vulnerable location and possibly crack it in two parts...unless is already in two parts!..Also the image quality and overall feeling of the small swaro is in a class by itself,in my opinion..And it can be found cheap sometimes used ( There is a unit for sale in Barcelona ,ex-demo for 2000 eu),and can be complemented in the future with a larger objective
mayoayo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 08:08   #8
Hauksen
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 890
Hi Joachim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
Since my backback is 46cm high and the Ortlieb Back Rollers are 42cm, I'd say that the slightly shorter modern scopes should fit even with a stay on case. You could of course take the Ortlieb bag when you test a used scope to see if it fits...
The Kowa TSN-883 in its stay-on case fits easily in my Ortlieb Back Rollers, with room to spare.

Might be they make the Ortliebs in different literages these days, but I believe I have the bog standard ones.

Regards,

Henning
__________________
3D Printable Objects for Bird Watching: https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/bird-watching/things
Hauksen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 08:26   #9
Hauksen
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Germany
Posts: 890
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayoayo View Post
Any hit, fall, or otherwise minor accident you could easily have while biking, would probably damage a scope sitting in such vulnerable location
In my experience, falls and minor accidents aren't really a problem for a scope in a soft bag if you pack some extra soft stuff, like some extra clothing, into the bag. The most common scenario probably is the parked bike falling over, and I've had that a lot.

Ironically, I was very concerned about my camera equipement years ago, and bought a "Velocase" hard case to protect it - basically a Rimowa case with pannier hooks -, but that backfired because the pannier attachment method wasn't entirely positive, so the case departed by bike at speed, crashed onto the tarmac and tumbled end over end. The camera and lens were embedded in form-fitting foam in the case and took no obvious damage, but later I discovered a mechanical glitch in the autofocus drive which I suspect was caused by the rather violent drop.

The lesson I learned is that to protect one's gear while carrying it on a bike, it might be more important to have a tried and proven attachment system than a fancy case. I actually like the VauDe hooks better than the Ortlieb's, and the Ortlieb's are better than the generally Ortlieb-like Velocase hooks.

Regards,

Henning
__________________
3D Printable Objects for Bird Watching: https://www.thingiverse.com/groups/bird-watching/things
Hauksen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 24th October 2019, 23:32   #10
mbb
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Belgium
Posts: 20
thank you all for the advices!
Personal preferences seem to differ and I guess I’ll have to ‘experience’ hands-on what suits me the best. From your replies, it seems I wouldn’t make an obvious big error either way, unless for personal practical preferences.

But there is some news: things suddenly went very fast!:...
I’ve found a second hand ATX65 with good carbon tripod for close to the price of that second hand Kowa 883 (which didn’t have the wide angle eyepiece), still well below €2000 that I could go test yesterday evening, and I came back home with it... Thus I saw some replies here only just after getting home with it. I have to admit it does feel weird spending this much money on a (first) scope I already wanted a great scope and binoculars when/since I was a teenager, it’s strange now to actually have bought one But it didn’t happen without thinking:

The person who sold it was very nice and we went together to a nice observation spot to test it out and watch birds together for more than an hour after work. He also shared his experiences on the different optics he has had over the years.
He bought the scope from the same well regarded optics store where I bought my binoculars from and I can still go there if the scope would need some servicing. Eventhough I hope it will never need it, this is a service I couldn’t have had for the second hand Kowa or some second hand scope on Ebay.
It is an impressive small scope. I just hope I won’t regret not going for a 80-85mm, but my thoughts were (a) I won’t know it either way without trying one option out and I cannot afford both now, (b) the price seemed really OK, allowing me not to loose (much) money if I would need to sell it again to eventually switch to a bigger one, and (c) in the meantime it is really a nice scope I can already enjoy using!

It was quite late and dark when I got home this evening, but I couldn’t resist to sit with the scope in the garden. No birds anymore to see there, but some small additional ‘getting to know eachother’ And I had some surprise when I saw what came out of taking pictures of a chimney with my smartphone in ‘night mode’ through the scope in such little light. Wow!
Now I hope I’ll find some time next weekend or week to take it with me on a walk.

The only real worrying thing yesterday: the person selling the scope did let me try his Swarovski 10x32 EL (which wasn’t for sale) and it blew me away! (Incredible clarity, wide immersive view, great ergonomics and light weight) As a total package, it even impressed me more than the Zeiss Victory 10x42 I’ve once briefly tested (not side by side). I think it would form a perfect duo with the scope as it could easily replace my Kite 10x42 on all levels, except price...and that has been spent on the scope now .

Last edited by mbb : Thursday 24th October 2019 at 23:43.
mbb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 25th October 2019, 08:37   #11
jring
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Germany
Posts: 2,151
Hi,

congratulations - a used ATX 65 with good CF tripod for well under 2k Euro is a pretty good deal. Since you now have the expensive part with the EP module, you can get a larger objective module later should you feel the urge...

Enjoy the view!

Joachim
jring is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Should I make my first scope a Zeiss Diascope 85 T* FL JCS Zeiss 10 Sunday 19th April 2009 15:38
Zeiss Diascope 85: is the 20-60 Eyepiece a good Choice? TobiasK Zeiss 4 Saturday 28th April 2007 09:44
Zeiss Diascope 85 FL vs. Kowa TSN 824 vs. Nikon 82 ED elpuffino Zeiss 26 Monday 16th January 2006 13:28

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.25943995 seconds with 25 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 20:30.