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Looking for a good scope

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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 06:19   #1
Gaye Horn

 
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Looking for a good scope

This is NOT for me.. I have a galpal in Ontario that wants a scope so badly... she never thought about used..
I think that this is the best site on this planet and figured someone here might know of a person wanting to sell .
My friend wants hers strictly for birding not digiscoping...
Anybody?????
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 17:12   #2
Steve Gross
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I've tried a few scopes lately, and even bought one to replace my old reliable Bushnell Spacemaster II. Mine is the Eagle Optics Raven, and you can get it at <www.eagleoptics.com> . I've also spent some time looking through Swarovski, Leica, and Kowa scopes. If your friend has the $$ to spend, you can't go wrong with the higher-priced brands (Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski, Pentax). I'm satisfied with my $400 scope, but it doesn't compare with the ease of use and truly pleasurable viewing of the Leica or Swarovski. I used a Leica yesterday on a Christmas Bird Count, and the 20-60x zoom eyepiece was incredible.

Good retailers in the US are:

www.abasales.com
www.cameraworld.com

Good luck!

Steve in Houston
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 17:16   #3
Gaye Horn

 
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Thanks for this reply Steve,, actually this lady is going on a bird junket your part of the world come April... the birding group will be meeting in Corpus Christi sometime in April... the second week I believe. You interested?
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 17:28   #4
peter hayes

 
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Steve

If you have the time and patience, could you please explain the difference between the Leica and Swarovski scopes, which one you like best, and why? (plus which models you're talking about)
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 18:36   #5
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Peter,
When I got my current scope (Leica APO 77), it was a choice between that and the Swa HD80 (first model). I preferred the Leica because :
a) The two-stage focussing was extremely good on the Leica, whereas the wide focussing ring on the Swa seemed crude and difficult to focus accurately (several examples tried, including scrounged looks through other birders' in the field).
b) I felt the Leica had the optical edge for me, and the eyepiece was easier to use with specs.
c) I preferred the design - the Swa was too angular for my taste, and when I tried carrying it on a 'pod over my shoulder, bits dug in, despite my natural padding.
d) On a tripod, the Leica seemed better balanced, so I could leave the P&T head unlocked and still find the scope at the same angle.
e) The colour rendition on the Leica (tested on camera focussing charts) seemed more lifelike, and the field of focus was held from edge to edge of the lens.
f) Although technically the Leica has less light-gathering power than the Swa, I found it better in low light than the Swa.
g) The Skua stay-on case for the Leica exposes less of the scope to the elements when the focussing wheel is exposed.

It took me nearly two years to make up my mind which to get.

Tony
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 20:13   #6
peter hayes

 
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T0ny

Thank you very much for that considered reply. It has given me a few things to look out for when I compare the two myself. I may be able to do that at Slimbridge hopefully.

Thanks again.

Peter
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 20:14   #7
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Hi Tony,

As a real newbie to scopes I havn't the cheek to argue with anything you say but I did recently buy a second hand Swaro At80 after much consideration. Top of my list was price. Bang for bucks so to speak, and tried many including new scopes in my price range such as nikon. To avoid waffling on for too long, my point is that if you are used to slr telephoto lenses you will find the swaro focusing dead easy to use. It also came with a great zoom lense.

I do have to say that if I could afford it I would have seriousy considered your Leica over the top range Swaro which I couldn't afford either!

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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 20:41   #8
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Mike,
Please feel free to argue any time - I enjoy it ! My 'gripe' with the Swa was not the focussing arrangements per se (I've used telephotos on SLR cameras since the Nikon 'F' in the sixties !) but that I found the 'feel' of the focussing ring coarse, and I couldn't get it to settle where I wanted it. Admittedly I probably would have done with practise, but the Leica felt just right from the word 'go'; and as I say, that was only one of the areas where I preferred the Leica.

Cheers

Tony

PS being a 'specs' wearer, I avoid zoom eyepieces where I can, as they pose more problems than they solve for me - again, a personal thing.
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 20:42   #9
Andy Bright
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Here's my perspective on Swaro' AT80hd vs Leica APO77....having used both for a reasonable period of time.
1: The focus control is more akin to a traditional camera lens (well, in the days of manual focus lenses!). The two stage focus knobs are a matter of personal taste..... something to try out for yourself. Some hate them, others love it.

2: The Swarovski AT80HD seems to give a brighter and sharper image to many.... digiscoping, though not strictly scientific or comparable to conventional viewing, has pretty much proved the slightly greater resolution and clarity of the Swaro 80hd over all competitiors. Colours are a bit better with the Leica, very slight colour cast on the Swaro'

3: The old Swaro' is famed for it's sharp edges, the new ATS80HD is as smooth as a baby's bottom! Both the new and old Swaro' are far lighter in weight than the Leica (extra weight can be a blessing, giving extra stability)

4: Balance is similar with both, though I was always aware of the actual extra weight of the Leica.

5: If you prefer a zoom eyepiece, the Swaro' is still ahead of the Leica zoom, even though Leica have updated it regularly over the last few years.

6. Quality control of Leica seems to have slipped a bit recently, especially the binos (manufactured outside of Germany), though I can't say for the scopes.

7: You won't be disappointed with either, though the new ATS80HD is going to be hard to beat.... the weight is a big factor with many users of 80mm scopes.
Hope that helps.
Andy
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 21:54   #10
peter hayes

 
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Thanks a lot for that Andy. I take it you'll be bringing your ATS80HD to Slimbridge? And by the way, how much is it, together with the zoom eye piece - do you know off hand? And would you suggest a Swarovski tripod, or are they not in the same league as their scopes and binoculars?
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 22:23   #11
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Sorry Gaye, we've hijacked your thread, I'll just answer Peter (coz his mailbox is full!)
Peter.
My own scope is the Swarovski AT80HD..... it's now been replaced by the ATS80HD. I paid 1029 for it, including the 20-60x eyepiece and stay-on case (discarded now).

I've seen the new ATS80HD for around 1450 with the 20-60x e.p.... a lot of money. The new version is a lot lighter in weight than any competitors, has green armouring like your EL's and and nice rounded look to it. Optically, I've heard it's fractionally brighter and maybe higher contrast image.... may give a slighter wider field of view than my one.
The Swarovski 'pods are just rebadged Manfrottos with the familiar Manfrotto rc128 fluid head.
I may bring my scope with me to Slimbridge....but it's a large and busy birdfair, so it's not always convenient to take it on such days.
Andy
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 22:35   #12
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Peter

Swarovski tripods are basically re-badged Manfrotto's.
Swaro No1 tripod is the Manfrotto NAT 055, which is the one I have, so you can try it out at Slimbridge.

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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 22:38   #13
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Andy

You have a point there.
Is it worth taking a scope to Slimbridge if it's so busy?

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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 22:46   #14
peter hayes

 
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Paj/Andy

Thanks very much for that. I'd love to try out whatever you bring with you. Looking forward to seeing you both there.
 
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Old Thursday 2nd January 2003, 23:10   #15
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Just to throw my two penneth in. I own a Kowa TSN 822 which has been upgraded to a 824 (flourite) and I can't fault it. The 20x60 zoom eyepiece is excellent as well, in my opinion, and I don't think that they are as expensive a scope as the ones that have been previously discussed.

Having said all that, scopes, like bins, are relevant to each persons taste. What suits one won't suit another. All anyone can do is recommend what you think is best and let the buyer try them out for themselves. That way they will make up their own mind.
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Old Monday 6th January 2003, 16:15   #16
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Andy I am delightred you did hijack this thread 'cause it gave me tons of info to pass on to Lea... man that was one expensive scope you got yourself... wowee... but man the results are fabulous...
 
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Old Monday 6th January 2003, 18:16   #17
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I really can't add anything to the infomation already passed on, except that there seem to be three basic cost ranges on scopes. Considering my budget, I was able to afford the middle range at this point in my life, and that would normally include the lower-priced Kowas, Nikons, and the Eagle Optics scopes. These will not have ED glass in them, as that is often one of the features that pushes up the price.

The Bushnell Spacemaster scope has been the workhorse for many US birders for quite a long time now, and it's in the lower price range ($200-300 US). I wanted an angled scope with noticeably better optical quality, so that (along with my price limitations) led to the Eagle Optics. My only real complaint about the Raven scope is the exit pupil size at the higher magnifications - it's really a very small view in the ocular. If they come out with a 30x wide-angle eyepiece I will instantly buy it and won't probably change back to the 20-60x that comes with the scope.

I'm very impressed with the large ocular view on the Leica and Swarovskis I've looked through (the 77mm APO Leica and the new 65mm Swarovski). I've not tested them to the degree others have (see the notes by Andy Bright above).

Lastly, I guess the old chestnut is true: buy the best optics you can afford. It's good to have a variety of optics and brands to choose between, and it seems that comparison shopping (even while at a birding location) is rather easier in the UK than it is here. Perhaps the birders/birding is somewhat less spread out than it is here. Birding festivals do offer an opportunity to see what different manufacturers are offering, so I recommend going to those as well.

Steve in Houston
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Old Monday 6th January 2003, 22:08   #18
Gaye Horn

 
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Steve this is very helpful as my friend is looking at a Raven and I am thinking that she needs more info and among you scope users you have been so very helpful. Thank you so much.
Cheers
Gaye
 
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Old Monday 6th January 2003, 23:21   #19
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GayE: I forgot to mention a website that may help your friend. <www.betterviewdesired.com> is a site launched by one man, Stephen Ingraham, who posts reviews and field tests of binoculars and scopes. You may not agree with everything he writes, but I feel that his opinions are based on sound principles. He certainly backs up what he says.

I purchased by Pentax DCF WP 8x42 binoculars after several visits to his site. I've been very pleased with them, and if anyone's interested Pentax has been offering a $100 rebate in the US for that model. A friend of mine got his for a total cost of $189, some $50 less than I originally spent. That said, I'd still recommend that binoc even at the original price.

Concerning the Raven, I'm pretty pleased with it. It's many degrees superior to my old Bushnell, and the price was right.

I know that Wild Birds Unlimited now carries Eagle Optics products, so if there's a shop anywhere near your friend's home, she might stop by for a look-see. I did that, and tested the scope side-by-side with my Bushnell. I also chose the angled eyepiece, as I spend more and more time birding in small groups, and I find that eyepiece position more convenient for that type of use.

Good Luck. Steve in Houston
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Old Tuesday 7th January 2003, 06:13   #20
Gaye Horn

 
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Thank you very much Steve... I have sent this to my friend.. you all have been really super with this information and it can only assist her in making her final choice. It is always good to go in armed with lots of info... again Thanks
Cheers
Gaye
 
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