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ES80 vs Kowa 821

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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 20:45   #1
niallo
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ES80 vs Kowa 821

I am mulling over a scope decision...

The ES80 is much loved on this forum, as would be expected given the amount of digiscopers on the forum. I am not a digiscoper though.

So, from a general birding perspective (viewing birds, not digiscoping them), how does the ES80 fare in a shootout with the Kowa 821M ? They are about the same price (£500 give or take). Reviews suggest the 821M beats the ES80 on resolution....

In the £500-£700 range, there is the Televid 77 (non apo) and Opticron HR66ED, both of which are supposed to be quite good.

That's about my price limit!

Optically and from a birding perspective (not digiscoping) I would expect the Opticron HR66ED to perform the best all around in the above price bracket. Is this true ?

Going for an Opticron also gives the opportunity to cost effectively also invest in an MM2 (sharing the HDF zoom eyepiece) for travel/hikes etc. Alternatively I could get one of those boosters for my bins (Swaro 8.5x42EL)

Actually, although £700 is my price limit, I would go up to the price of a Leica 62 APO (about £850 with zoom) absolute max if I thought I could get away with it as my only scope, good enough for all types of birding, and small/light enough to throw in my rucksack (e.g. with monopod) for outdoors hiking etc...

Decisions, decisions...
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 21:45   #2
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I know someone who has a Kowa 823 with 20-60x for sale. I can ask him next time I see him if you wish. It is optically perfect - I was looking through it two days ago - and I don't think he'd be asking too much at all as he already owns a Swaro 80 and just wants to buy a 30xW for that.

Also - the Nikon ED78 is still on bargain offer at Warehouse Express - a number of folk here have bought that and sing its praises. It reviewed very highly and is ED.
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 21:48   #3
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Niall,

I'm an Es80 user but you've got to try the alternatives and see which suits you best
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 22:07   #4
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You're right, Pete - but for the price, the ES80 can surely hardly be beaten with its ED glass - although I'm a touch confused as to whether it still has ED glass.
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 23:04   #5
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As steve said the Nikon 78ED looks good value from Whare house express. A friend also use the Opticron Hr66ed and when ive looked through it it looks very good to me.Ive also got the Opticron MM2 i use this with the HDF eyepiece, it gives a very acceptable image with this eyepiece,Far better than the recommended eyepiece.I got this to take abroad but ive only used it twice so it was a bit of a waste.So I think in your situation id look more closly at are the Nikon78ed or Leica APO62 with 30x eyepiece.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 05:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
You're right, Pete - but for the price, the ES80 can surely hardly be beaten with its ED glass - although I'm a touch confused as to whether it still has ED glass.
You're not paying attention MR Scampo - and you're slipping no recommendation for teh fieldscope III ED ? Very light and similar price to the Leica APO 62

There are two ES80's the SD and the ED (which is the one that's been around a while). Yes I think the ED version is a great scope for the dosh BUT like anything in life everybody is different. The 66ED is also worth an audition as is the Kowa 663.

W/Express have an offer on the Kowa 613, scope , 30x lens ,stay on case and tripod £500.

By all means get a shortlist from recommendations on BF BUT then try them out.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 06:50   #7
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You're right, Pete, I wasn't really - but I just felt that telling us that you use an ES80 but must try others seemed a bit short of purpose or obvious... and that maybe you weren't paying attention! How foolish of me to think that!

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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:01   #8
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Another visit to London is coming up and I foresee a couple hours in Kay Optical auditioning some of these contenders....

p.s. I just ticked a Triple Crown.... a rarity for Ireland, we haven't had one of those over here for about 18 or 19 years...
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:09   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
You're right, Pete, I wasn't really - but I just felt that telling us that you use an ES80 but must try others seemed a bit short of purpose or obvious... and that maybe you weren't paying attention! How foolish of me to think that!

(-;
I was referring to the ED nature of ES80 Steve.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:39   #10
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Of the scope you mention in the sub £700 group I'd say that the ES80 ED is the best scope. Optically stunning and incredible value for money. The MM2 is a handy little scope, but as Ragna already suggested think about how much use you'd get out of one before buying (you often see them secondhand).

That said if you can stretch your budget for the apo Leica it is well worth it. I had an ES80 for about 18 months but changed when offered a very good deal on a apo 77 they truely are stunning scopes. The 62 is also amazing, just wish I could afford to have both. The apo 62 is still a very bright clear scope giving excellent image with both fixed and zoom eyepieces.

But as others have said try them all and see what you think - personally however good the deal on the Nikon 78ED was I'd not be tempted as I just cannot get on with it - though others would swear by this scope. Once you know which scope you want it is worth having a look at the secondhand market you may get a bargain. Just make sure you get a good look at a scope before buying - so long as the optics are clean and the scope feels right you should be ok.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:47   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pduxon
You're not paying attention MR Scampo
Pete,
Him being a teacher, I bet Steve won't like you admonishing him in that manner

Roger
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:52   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv
But as others have said try them all and see what you think - personally however good the deal on the Nikon 78ED was I'd not be tempted as I just cannot get on with it - though others would swear by this scope.
Out of curiosity, why did you not get on with the Nikon 78 ED?
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 17:59   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerscoth
Pete,
Him being a teacher, I bet Steve won't like you admonishing him in that manner

Roger
Ah, but you will have seen from my reply that I'm not that kind of teacher...

(-:
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 18:00   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leif
Out of curiosity, why did you not get on with the Nikon 78 ED?
I was thinking just that - I find it rather similar to the Leica - quite long in shape and with the 30xW gives a pretty similar image.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 18:04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
I was thinking just that - I find it rather similar to the Leica - quite long in shape and with the 30xW gives a pretty similar image.
the focus wheel?

anyway Steve, what I was trying to say at some ridiculously early hour this morning was. I think the ES80 is a really good scope BUT there are quite a few that should be on the audition list. AND I still can't believe you didn't recommend the Fieldscope IIIED!!!
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 18:53   #16
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I can't think why I didn't, Pete. Had an interesting day - was with a large group looking for our current claim to fame, the red-rumped swallow, and there were an awful lot of Nikon EDII and EDIIIs - also the small Leica, but perhaps the most common was the Kowa 823 - a large scope by the standards of others around.

But - very interestingly, I thought - one thing became clear: looking for a single swallow amongst forty or so sand martins, quite distantly in milky light over a reservoir, proved just too much for many folk with zoom eyepieces; the frustration was evident and some just gave up and left. But... the fixed 30xW eyepieces proved to be just the job to find and follow that difficult bird: a real pleasure. The Zeiss zoom would have been the best zoom there, too - if zoom it had to be, as it is so much wider than others. It takes events such as this to make you realise what really does matter in birding optics.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 19:27   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
I can't think why I didn't, Pete. Had an interesting day - was with a large group looking for our current claim to fame, the red-rumped swallow, and there were an awful lot of Nikon EDII and EDIIIs - also the small Leica, but perhaps the most common was the Kowa 823 - a large scope by the standards of others around.

But - very interestingly, I thought - one thing became clear: looking for a single swallow amongst forty or so sand martins, quite distantly in milky light over a reservoir, proved just too much for many folk with zoom eyepieces; the frustration was evident and some just gave up and left. But... the fixed 30xW eyepieces proved to be just the job to find and follow that difficult bird: a real pleasure. The Zeiss zoom would have been the best zoom there, too - if zoom it had to be, as it is so much wider than others. It takes events such as this to make you realise what really does matter in birding optics.
I've been trying out my new Leica zoom and I have to say I am far from impressed after having used the 32xw. The view is narrow below ~40x, and at 60x the DOF is so shallow, and the image so dark that, well, it's not much fun. It's certainly true that it resolves detail not visible in the 32x, but I think I would rather the 32xw. (I suspect the Nikon and Zeiss are far more useable at high power.)

A few days ago I turned the zoom on Jupiter, Saturn and Venus, and what a lovely sight they were. Saturns rings were as clear as day. I do recommend anyone with a posh scope to turn it skywards at least once.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 21:06   #18
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I think all zooms are similar, Leif. The Zeiss is much brighter than the Nikon at maximum zoom, though (but the Nikon is 75x). I haven't used the Leica at 60x yet - but the 32x I looked though was superb.

As you have found - once you're used to a wide angle, even a top-rated zoom is something of a disappointment - especially at just the magnification you usually begin viewing (i.e. 20x).

Again - I feel sure that Zeiss have missed out in their marketing - their zoom is quite the exception to the rule that even Swaro doesn't break. I don't yet have my Nikon back but it's fov is narrower than both the Leica or Swaro at 25x - the compensation is, if I recall, the uncannily realistic view it presents.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 21:18   #19
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would agree the 32x on the opticron is better than the zoom but the zoom does have its uses.
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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 10:17   #20
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Update

Just to let you know, I was in London over the weekend, and called into Kay in Morden. Saw a second hand Opticron HR66 ED scope (£ 469 incl 28xw hdf + case). After much dithering and trying out of various new scopes against it, and weighing up the financial pros and cons, I bought it.

I do not think I would have bought it new at the full price (£ 639) though. If going up over the £ 600 mark, I think the more expensive scopes might become better value overall....

But at £ 469 the price/quality ratio of the HR66 ED package seemed good to me.

Interestingly while at Kay three people came in and looked at top end bins. Each time it came down to the 8x42 Ultravids versus 8.5x42 Swarovskis. Each left with the Swarovskis. Have to say they were under no sales pressure and each made their own mind up.

Off now to do some birding.

cheers
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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 14:51   #21
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You've got a good scope at your eye, Niall - it seems to be one of the best small scopes, and possibly the best scope that Opticron sells. I know what you mean about "over £600" - I was in that predicament and felt the same way.
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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 16:35   #22
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Thanks Steve...

Just back from my first outing with my new "second hand" scope... and what a first outing it was !

A pair of wonderful avocets turned up this afternoon on my local patch (http://www.birdweb.net/broadmeadow.html) ... a rarity in this part of the world.

While I was not first to find them (two fellow birders got there first with their bins, but had no scopes with them) mine was the first scope on the scene minutes later, and we had great views.... A good omen for my scope I think !

Full scale twitch ongoing there at present !

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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 16:53   #23
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Is birding as popular a hobby in Ireland as over here, Niall?
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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 17:16   #24
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I wouldn't say it's as big as in the UK, but it's definitely growing... There are of course much less of us over here (only 3.5 million or so)

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Old Monday 12th April 2004, 17:32   #25
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As big as here and growing, eh? That's surely a good thing as it might help preserve habitat? Do you have an equivalent of the RSPB?
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