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.

Zeiss 85mm/zoom v. Kowa 883 XD/zoom

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 11:21   #1
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Zeiss 85mm/zoom v. Kowa 883 XD/zoom

Just wondering if anyone has compared these two (Zeiss 85mm TFL and Kowa Prominar 883, each with its respective 20-60 zoom eyepiece). I understand from the specs that the Leica FOV may be generally wider, but the Kowa image sharper. Otherwise, any observations?
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 11:29   #2
RJM
Don't Worry, Be Happy!
 
RJM's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 2,455
Comparative Reviews

http://www.lintuvaruste.fi/hinnasto/...wa883_GB.shtml

http://www.tvwg.nl/testrapporten/tel...sn-773+883.htm
RJM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 14:10   #3
jgraider
Registered User

 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: West Texas
Posts: 1,298
The thing that got my attention is how well the Nikon Fieldscope stacked up for a fraction of the $$$.
jgraider is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 15:47   #4
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Thanks RJM.
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 17:07   #5
henry link
Registered User

 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: north carolina
Posts: 4,376
As always, sample variation is very important, as you can see from Jan Meijerink's tests of Zeiss samples. The lowest aberration specimen of any birding scope I've tested so far was a friend's Kowa 823. After that comes the best of three Kowa 883's. I've star tested six Zeiss 85mm Diascopes. Only one of the six approached the correction of the Kowa 883's, but even that one had lower resolution than the weakest of the Kowas.
henry link is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 18:39   #6
Andrew Clarke
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anglesey & Gwynedd
Posts: 509
Interesting thread. The Kowa sounds remarkable. I recall seeing a certain birding celebrity using one in Biscay last year and honestly thought this company was out of the running for the very best optics. Crikey, I should have begged a look - and does anyone know what their latest binoculars are like?!

I was always impressed by the high level of science involved in optic testing undertaken by the Alula reviewer(s). Very refreshing considering how vague most of the reviewers for the British magazines are, which (when considering the latest high end optics) usually conclude with some hype or another about just how cutting edge and revolutionary the new toy is...

There's a massive amount of hype in the marketing of the latest optics (like any other field of commerce) to always buy the latest. To my eyes most of the brand leaders produce such great optics that it's almost like sports car syndrome - having the latest Porsche of the scope world is great but if you have last years model it will still do a bloody good job.

I use a ten year old Swarovski ST80 HD and it's still a superb scope. Considering the relative advances in optics and CRAZY CRAZY prices these days it will take some persuading for me to upgrade to something else in the near future.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your testing Sancho - I'm sure you'll find something great!

Good Birding

Andrew
Andrew Clarke is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 19:08   #7
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Clarke View Post
...I hope you enjoy your testing Sancho - I'm sure you'll find something great!

Good Birding

Andrew
Thanks Andrew! I cant do any testing cos Ive never seen a Kowa 883. I know of one guy in the West of Ireland who has one and swears by it, but no stores here carry them. I have a Zeiss 85 with a Baader Zoom, great set-up, and the 30x Baader plus 40x Zeiss eps complement the zoom beautifully. I dont know why Im wondering about the Kowa. I must stop. I will stop. Soon.
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Wednesday 26th May 2010, 19:23   #8
kabsetz
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Finland
Posts: 1,494
It ought to be remembered that Kowa has a long tradition in making outstanding scopes. For quite a few years, the TSN 3&4 fluorite scopes were in a class of their own among prismatic scopes, only to be surpassed when the Leica Apo-Televid 77 and Swarovski ST/AT 80 HD's were introduced. And like Henry indicates, the Kowa 823/4 have likewise been outstanding optically. A friend of mine has for over ten years also had one that is virtually aberrataion-free. Also, in the aforementioned tests by Jan M., the scope closest to perfect seems to be his old Kowa 823, which has consistently performed better than just about any of the scopes he has tested save for some of the best samples of the numerous 883's in his data, despite the 6mm aperture deficit it has. And both of the Kowas have the advantage of superior CA correction resulting from the use of a real fluorite crystal objective lens element together with apparently very successful optical design. But Kowa binoculars have never reached quite the same cutting-edge quality level that their best scope designs have enjoyed, although the latest Genesis Prominar series comes commendably close.

But to make Andrew feel better, I can say that among the Swaro AT 80 HD samples I have seen, there have been quite a few that have had very clean aberration-free images and excellent performance all the way up to 60x. Rather than "upgrading," I think that someone with a good sample of the Swaro AT/ST 80 HD might get the kick from trying Swaro's new 25-50x W zoom in their scope. I have one friend who has done that and is as happy as can be.

Kimmo

Last edited by kabsetz : Wednesday 26th May 2010 at 19:32. Reason: Additions
kabsetz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th May 2010, 01:47   #9
horukuru
Here I Come !
 
horukuru's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Near with Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah at Borneo Island
Posts: 6,251
Hehehe Sancho, you planning for this Kowa ?
horukuru is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 29th May 2010, 10:00   #10
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Quote:
Originally Posted by horukuru View Post
Hehehe Sancho, you planning for this Kowa ?
Its a vague notion at the moment. Itll probably never happen unless I decide to sell off everything except my Swaro binos. But life is short and Id like to try the best!
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 29th May 2010, 13:33   #11
Andrew Clarke
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anglesey & Gwynedd
Posts: 509
Quote:
Originally Posted by kabsetz View Post
It ought to be remembered that Kowa has a long tradition in making outstanding scopes. For quite a few years, the TSN 3&4 fluorite scopes were in a class of their own among prismatic scopes, only to be surpassed when the Leica Apo-Televid 77 and Swarovski ST/AT 80 HD's were introduced. And like Henry indicates, the Kowa 823/4 have likewise been outstanding optically. A friend of mine has for over ten years also had one that is virtually aberrataion-free. Also, in the aforementioned tests by Jan M., the scope closest to perfect seems to be his old Kowa 823, which has consistently performed better than just about any of the scopes he has tested save for some of the best samples of the numerous 883's in his data, despite the 6mm aperture deficit it has. And both of the Kowas have the advantage of superior CA correction resulting from the use of a real fluorite crystal objective lens element together with apparently very successful optical design. But Kowa binoculars have never reached quite the same cutting-edge quality level that their best scope designs have enjoyed, although the latest Genesis Prominar series comes commendably close.

But to make Andrew feel better, I can say that among the Swaro AT 80 HD samples I have seen, there have been quite a few that have had very clean aberration-free images and excellent performance all the way up to 60x. Rather than "upgrading," I think that someone with a good sample of the Swaro AT/ST 80 HD might get the kick from trying Swaro's new 25-50x W zoom in their scope. I have one friend who has done that and is as happy as can be.

Kimmo
Hi Kimmo

Thanks for that information and apologies for my delayed response. I'll certainly check that eyepiece out.... it might help with my dreadful "old scope syndrome" and the associated anxiety that occurs when I find myself confronted with someone carrying the latest gleaming super expensive modern optics

At least it's perversely refreshing when the owners of the latest kit make a huge i.d. mistake within minutes of meeting them - my self-esteem is soon restored and I realise that it's now what you have but what you do with it!

At times when using a telescope, things can get serious. Before purchasing the trusty old Swaro I was on a beach in North Wales with a fellow birder one freezing winter's morning sheltered in some sand dune from an arctic wind armed with my 'Bausch & Lomb Discoverer' (remember them?) that had served me for 19 years. We were trying to turn some of the thousands of common scoter offshore into something more interesting. As I worked my way through the flock I noticed that the light/focussing seemed a bit strange and mentioned this to my mate as I worked my way through the birds. I will always remember the look on Elfyn's face as I glanced up from the eyepiece - a mixture of shock and suppressed laughter. I asked him what was wrong as I struggled with the focus wheel - and found the scope falling in half in my hands!!!! Luckily, I saw the funny side and proceeded to collapse in a heap and weep tears of laughter into the sand... time for an upgrade I thought, and a fitting end to a well used piece of glass that had once been 'state of the art'.

Finally, having realised who you are - and going slightly off thread - I must first offer a word of thanks for all the reviews in the sadly missed Alula magazine. Presumably you work professionally in the optics field? Can you offer any advice on how members of the public can test equipment prior to purchase to obtain non-faulty goods - other than flying you in at great expense for a personal evaluation?

And the burning question is - which telescopes and binoculars do you use personally and/or rate as the best available?

Thanks in anticipation of your response

Good Birding

Andrew
Andrew Clarke is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 07:53   #12
horukuru
Here I Come !
 
horukuru's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Near with Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah at Borneo Island
Posts: 6,251
Hahahahahahah I like you very much Sancho !

And me too was thinking of upgrading to the Nikon EDG 85 hopefully by this year :p

Need Santa to approve it kekekekeke
horukuru is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 08:05   #13
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Quote:
Originally Posted by horukuru View Post
Need Santa to approve it
Santa will never approve. It may be necessary to incur the Wrath of Santa.
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 18:55   #14
kabsetz
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Finland
Posts: 1,494
[quote=Andrew Clarke;1834849]Hi Kimmo

At least it's perversely refreshing when the owners of the latest kit make a huge i.d. mistake within minutes of meeting them - my self-esteem is soon restored and I realise that it's now what you have but what you do with it! [quote]

Hi Andrew,

A good sample of the grey 80mm HD Swaro really is good enough that "what you have" is very rarely if ever the limiting factor, and what you do with it is just about everything. So your self-esteem should be safe.

[quote]
Finally, having realised who you are - and going slightly off thread - I must first offer a word of thanks for all the reviews in the sadly missed Alula magazine. Presumably you work professionally in the optics field? Can you offer any advice on how members of the public can test equipment prior to purchase to obtain non-faulty goods - other than flying you in at great expense for a personal evaluation?[quote]


Thanks for your kind words about the Alula tests. And, I'm not a professional in the optics field, just an interested and, by now, rather experienced hobbyist.

Among others, I have sometimes offered advice on scope choice on the forum. Do a search on Henry Link's posts as well as mine, use "star test" "glitter point" and "focus snap" as search terms, and you should find plenty of entries. Of course, flying me in at great expense sounds like a good idea as well.

[quote]
And the burning question is - which telescopes and binoculars do you use personally and/or rate as the best available?[quote]

People sometimes ask me this, and I'm pretty reluctant to answer as I know that too much will easily be read in and between the lines I or anyone else whom the public deems as "experts" express as a rating. However, I'll give a sort of an answer this time, because I also know how frustrating it is to read opinions of said "experts" when one feels that they just hem and haw and say nothing. So, here's what I use at the present moment, but not (necessarily) what I consider the best.

Scope: Cherry sample Nikon Fieldscope ED 82 A with 25-75x MC II zoom on a Gitzo 2380 fluid head on a Velbon 830 carbon fibre tripod.

Bino: Better than average sample of Canon 10x42 IS L with a Fujinon FMTR-SX eyepiece rainguard and a two-part thread-on finnstick that has a horizontal handle at the bottom.

Spare bino, seldom used but for a reference when measuring visual resolution: Nikon 10x42 SE

Travel/exercise run bino: Leica Ultravid 8x20

What is best available consists not just of "objective" properties of the instrument but also depends on use, priorities and the hard to pinpoint effects of human differences and psychophysiology of perception. Thus I have very rarely felt that it is possible to give a "best available" rating to any binocular or telescope.

However, I have felt the Kowa 883 to be an exception - in that it is consistently just that little bit better in enough meaningful respects without being weaker in any - that since we tested it I have recommended it as the first choice to any who have asked. Mind you, I have not seen the new Zeiss with its new zoom yet, so it is possible that this state of affairs could change soon enough.

With binoculars, my view is that personal preferences are even more important, and at least with un-stabilized binoculars the ultimate quality of the binocular is not quite as critical. Thus it does not matter that much which of the premium (or even not quite premium) models on has. The Swarovisions that I have looked through have been pretty impressive, but I have not tested them properly yet. After I have, we will know if I think they are worthy of a recommendation as unqualified as the one I have been giving the large Kowa scope. But for them becoming a part of my own arsenal, I'm unfortunately so addicted to IS by now that I'm unlikely to purchase a +2000 euro binocular without IS, no matter how good the image of it tripod-mounted would be.

Hope this satisfies your curiosity

Kimmo
kabsetz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 30th May 2010, 19:30   #15
Andrew Clarke
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anglesey & Gwynedd
Posts: 509
Hi Kimmo

Many thanks for the reply. I'm after some new binoculars sometime in the future so will research the methods of testing as suggested.

Interesting to learn what gear you use. Your comments about personal choice ring true and echo the ones I made earlier comparing the relative differences between 'high end' binculars and scopes with those between performance sports cars. With the outstanding quality of many optics it seems like so much really does depend on the comfort/feel, weight, ease of focus etc.

Good Birding & Best Wishes

Andrew
Andrew Clarke is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 31st May 2010, 12:18   #16
Fernando np
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: center of Spain
Posts: 216
Hi,
I've go birding several times in a group with includes both scopes, mine's the Zeiss. Easy to choose, the Kowa wins in every aspect, specially about colour rendition. By the way its FOV isn't impresive, although almost 100% of it gives the highest quality of image.

Fernando
Fernando np is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 31st May 2010, 14:00   #17
mooreorless
Registered User
 
mooreorless's Avatar

 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Huntingdon,Pa.
Posts: 3,519
"Bino: Better than average sample of Canon 10x42 IS L with a Fujinon FMTR-SX eyepiece rainguard and a two-part thread-on finnstick that has a horizontal handle at the bottom."

Hi Kimmo, If I remember right you like the finnstick even with IS binocular because it is easier be able to observe for long time and not have to hold the weight of the binocular. Am I close? BTW thanks for your thoughts and what you use.

Regards, Steve
mooreorless is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 31st May 2010, 14:34   #18
Sancho
Registered User
BF Supporter 2019
 
Sancho's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 8,921
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fernando np View Post
Hi,
I've go birding several times in a group with includes both scopes, mine's the Zeiss. Easy to choose, the Kowa wins in every aspect, specially about colour rendition. By the way its FOV isn't impresive, although almost 100% of it gives the highest quality of image.

Fernando
Very interesting, Fernando. That is my main caveat....I got the Zeiss/Baader-zoom set-up because I was sick of the "keyhole" FOV of my old Nikon ED82A. There is nothing wrong with it, really. Only right up past 55x or thereabouts does the Zeiss/Baader begin to fade. Id be really interested in a Kowa except Im not sure if I want to trade image quality for a narrower field of view. The curse is that I cant find one here to test. Not to worry, life is a minefield of real problems, and this is not one of them.
Sancho is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 3rd June 2010, 11:54   #19
iporali
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Finland
Posts: 1,264
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
I got the Zeiss/Baader-zoom set-up because I was sick of the "keyhole" FOV of my old Nikon ED82A. There is nothing wrong with it, really. Only right up past 55x or thereabouts does the Zeiss/Baader begin to fade. Id be really interested in a Kowa except Im not sure if I want to trade image quality for a narrower field of view. The curse is that I cant find one here to test. Not to worry, life is a minefield of real problems, and this is not one of them.
Sancho, Andrew, Kimmo & al,

As a happy owner* of an excellent Swaro AT80HD I went along the path (last autumn) that Kimmo suggested and I can confirm that the 25-50x is indeed a wonderful upgrade to those who want both zoom and wide (well, "not-keyhole-narrow") FOV in the same eyepiece. You do have to sacrifice that 50-60x power and concentrate slightly more on viewing/eye placement, but for me that *was* the optical nirvana. I may not be quite as demanding as Sancho, but for me getting 'there' was simply about getting rid of major annoyances.

I have upgraded from a Kowa TS-1 to TSN-823 to get more power, from TSN-823 to AT80HD to get more ER and now from 20-60x to 25-50x to get more FOV at most used powers. I agree that the Kowa 883 may be optically superior to any other spotting scope, but the point for me is that I have not been unhappy with image quality since my Kowa 823 (or even TS-1). With modern zooms I was ready to trade some FOV at 20x for a usable 60x, but ever since my TS-1 with a 25x I had come to expect a relatively wide view, which the 20-60x's didn't have (not even the new Kowa).

Well, you *can't* have it all. If you need 60x, you have to tolerate "keyhole"-view at 20x, or at least some edge softness. If you need 75x you have to accept even less true FOV at low end. If you need long ER, it is even more difficult to get wide AFOVs. The Zeiss/Baader zoom is IMHO a very fine compromize, but for me the Swaro and Leica hit the sweet spot with their wide, edge-to-edge sharp zooms. I have always been able to enjoy birding with whatever optics I have had, but for the first time I really can't imagine there would be enough room for improvement to warrant yet another upgrade.

Best regards,

Ilkka


* actually an ex-owner now because I couldn't let go the new ATM80HD and accessories that came with the 25-50x eyepiece... but I honestly *would* be happy with the AT80HD as well. And I still can use it almost whenever I like.
iporali is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 3rd June 2010, 15:29   #20
lmans66
Registered User
 
lmans66's Avatar

 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: South Jersey, USA and Tuscan AZ, USA
Posts: 1,888
Blog Entries: 12
I know when I was purchasing a scope I would have loved to have a place to go to that had them all set up and for me to try.... Is there such a place? I doubt it...

So I used what I could and borrowed other scopes on bird walks to get a feel of what worked.... I surely noticed no difference at all since I never compared side by side.

So....the moral of story is...I imagine you can purchase any high quality scope out on the market and unless you battle side by side in the field with someone, you will be very happy with your purchase...HD glass or not....

But...quality scope...not cheaper scope...for I saw a lot of those out there and I did notice differences especially in low light or at high zooms....
__________________
lmans
lmans66 is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 3rd June 2010, 21:02   #21
RJM
Don't Worry, Be Happy!
 
RJM's Avatar

 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 2,455
I would luv to see the new Zeiss scope with 20x-75x zoom. Hoped it might make an appearance at the Tokyo Bird Festival last weekend, but Zeiss has been MIA from all photo/sports optics events this year.

Rick
RJM 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
Nikon P600 and Kowa 883 + zoom petemorris Digiscoping cameras 7 Thursday 12th February 2009 20:43
P5100 kowa 883 20-60 zoom Bishop The Birdforum Digiscoping Forum 2 Sunday 6th April 2008 13:57
P5100+Kowa 883+zoom Dave Hawkins Digiscoping cameras 3 Wednesday 5th March 2008 10:38

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.27647209 seconds with 33 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 22:05.