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Quick Review: Viper HD 15-45x Spotting Scope & 25/32x eyepiece

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Old Thursday 23rd February 2012, 03:49   #1
mikewallace
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Quick Review: Viper HD 15-45x Spotting Scope & 25/32x eyepiece

I have enjoyed reading the reviews & articles on these forums, so I thought I might contribute with a little review of my scope I just bought:

Vortex Viper HD 15-45x65 Angled Spotting Scope

This is my first scope, so my review doesn't use star tests or any other things that might interest "optics professionals".

Also, I intially named it a "quick review", but it got longer somehow.

I bought the scope from Eagle Optics. It said they're out of stock, however I emailed them and they were able to find one.

If you're thinking about the 20-60 HD version of the Vortex Viper Scope, try B&H -- it's only $800 compared to $900 at other places. They are also currently out of stock & won't expect the 20-60 HD version until March, I think I read. You can find the scopes in stock at other places though.

I bought this scope because of Vortex's reputation for good optics & their excellent warranty. If I'm going to be hauling it everywhere traveling, I want a good warranty where they'll fix it if I drop it.

The optics -- very clear & sharp on the zoom, there may have been a slight fuzziness on the edge but I had to look hard to see it. I haven't used a more expensive scope before but I have nothing to complain about here. I don't see how it can get clearer than this.

Eye relief -- I don't wear glasses, and like most zoom scopes, as you zoom out, the eye relief goes down. The eyecup twists up to 2 different positions. I like to use the highest position with 15x & a little above, but anything higher near 45x I put the eyecup down one position.

The 25/32x eyepiece -- Blurry around the edges, and I couldn't get the eye cups adjusted at the right setting. There was a effect where if I started to blink a little bit, the whole image blacked out. Also, if I didn't have my eye positioned positioned over the eyepiece perfectly, I couldn't see the whole image. Part of the reason to get this eyepiece was the Field of View. Problem was, if you looked off to the side of the view, or moved your eye too much, it would start to black out again, or something similar. This might be different for people with glasses.

The zoom eyepiece had the same issues for me at 45x. I didn't mind because at that power I just want to look at something, while for the 25x I was hoping to be able to use the wide FOV to help look for birds. Unfortunately, it just wasn't very comfortable for me to use, no matter where I had the eyecup. Maybe it would be different for somebody with eyeglasses. Or maybe I just have deep eyesockets, who knows.

So, I'm sending the 25/32x eyepiece back.

Field experience: I really like the 15x @ 140 FOV for finding the birds initially. I took the scope to Muskegon Wastewater System in Michigan, and first set it on a bald eagle on the ice. Soon after I picked it up with the scope, the eagle took off flying & I was easily able to follow it. I also saw a Snowy Owl there, and enjoyed viewing it as well.

The first day I had the scope I took it to a lake, and it was a dark grey day with very small snow flakes coming down. I zoomed in at 45x on a swan on the other side of the lake. It still seemed sharp, and the loss of brightness was so small I didn't hardily notice it.

I don't think I enjoy looking through the 45x zoom as much as the lower magnifications. Maybe it just strains my eyes a little bit, not sure. I guess I'll see with more experience.

Conclusion: This is my first scope, and I like it very much. Depending on whether I get more into birding than I am now, I may purchase the Vortex Razor next year. I just couldn't justify a $1600 scope right now.

Last edited by mikewallace : Thursday 23rd February 2012 at 12:54.
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 00:27   #2
Dan K
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Thanks for the review, Mike.
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Old Friday 24th February 2012, 01:07   #3
RJM
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Mike, being this is your first scope and have no frame of reference let me offer this advice. If the view thru the scope is causing ANY discomforts at ANY MAGNIFICATION, chances are the scope has some optical issues which usually become more bothersome at higher magnifications. Eventually as the "new toy" euphoria fades, these discomforts will become even more annoying. You may want to ask for another sample.
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Old Sunday 26th February 2012, 21:14   #4
Dan K
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I also just purchased this scope, and funnily enough it is my first scope as well. I finally got a chance to try it properly today after receiving it late last week, and so far I am very happy with it. I followed the most common piece of advice regarding the purchasing of spotting scopes which is "buy the best you can afford", and for me, at this time, that was this scope. The overall build is very solid, but still lightweight enough for me to throw in a pack for a day hike. The optics, in my amateur estimation, are very good for the price, though perhaps not $200 better than a Celestron F-ED 65 (and lacking the eyepiece options). The Vortex warranty was a big selling point for me as well.
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Old Monday 27th February 2012, 01:48   #5
mikewallace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJM View Post
Mike, being this is your first scope and have no frame of reference let me offer this advice. If the view thru the scope is causing ANY discomforts at ANY MAGNIFICATION, chances are the scope has some optical issues which usually become more bothersome at higher magnifications. Eventually as the "new toy" euphoria fades, these discomforts will become even more annoying. You may want to ask for another sample.
RJM, thanks for the advice. A few times, I may have felt a limited eye-strain at 45x. I have only taken the scope out twice so far -- still snowy weather where I live, so if I notice it bothering me much more, I may return the scope. I don't think it'll be an issue though.

The first day I took it out was a dark cloudy day, so 45x through a very light snowstorm, looking for birds on the opposite shore, could easily strain my eyes.
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