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3 field worthy Eagle Optics scopes

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Old Tuesday 1st April 2008, 18:02   #1
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3 field worthy Eagle Optics scopes

I am considering purchase of a smaller scope for travel and forest birding as I don't want to lug the 80mm Kowa I have.

I know the Nikon 13-30x50 ED is an excellent choice but am willing to consider something less expensive for travel. Does anyone know how good the optics and construction of these compare: Eagle Optics Denali 15-45x60 $199 US (Can't be that great at that price right?) and the Stokes Sandpiper 15 - 45x60
at $329 US. The Nikon is listed at $699 US.

Thanks for any recommendations. I think I wouldn't have as much anxiety traveling with a $199 scope and my wife would probably be more supportive!

B. Allen Michigan World Birders
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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2008, 15:23   #2
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So far we are very happy with our Vortex Stokes Sandpiper 15-45x65mm angled, our first spotting scope, and have not regretted our snap purchase in August 2007. While in the area on vacation last summer, we visited Eagle Optics Canada in Guelph, Ontario, intending only "to look". But after testing a few scopes, we were so impressed with the Sandpiper--its ease of use, nice feel, good optics, and LOW PRICE!--that we went back the next day and bought it for C$390 (the price has since come down as the Canadian dollar has moved up relative to the US$), thus saving a considerable sum over the $1,000+ we had tentatively budgeted for a scope and eyepiece.

The Sandpiper performs very well in the 15-30x zoom range, even in poor light conditions. Images are clear, bright and sharp, with excellent fields of view. When the zoom is cranked up to its maximum 45x, views are still quite good in daylight and decent atomospheric conditions. The angled zoom eyepiece is built-in and not interchangeable, which some would see as a negative. For us, however, the versatility which come with a zoom was one of our criteria in choosing a scope. The small focus wheel on top is convenient and easy to operate, even with gloves on. The eye relief is 18mm, more than adequate if you wear glasses, as we both do. About 14 inches long and two-and-a-half pounds, the waterproof Sandpiper is comfortable to handle and easy to carry. It is compact and light enough to stabilize on a monopod for viewing at the lower end of the zoom range (15-20x), although most of the time it sits atop a Manfrotto-190XB-tripod+128RC-head.

We also bought an inexpensive monopod and mini tilt head. This setup works very well for using the scope inside a car. When tilted all the way back and parallel with the scope, the compressed monopod becomes something akin to a "rifle stock". Tucked under the arm and braced on the car window ledge, the setup provides very stable viewing, even up to 45x. We also have a window mount, but find the monopod setup works better. It is more maneuverable inside the car, and is easier and quicker to transfer back and forth from driver to passenger, and adapt to what each might be wanting to look at.

One criticism I have seen suggests that the plastic body might be a bit fragile. But our Sandpiper came with a stay-on-case which offers some protection. We have been careful in handling the scope, and have noticed no problem as of yet in terms or durability. I guess only time will tell. In the final analysis, our decision to buy the Sandpiper was based on what most agree to be the number one criteria in choosing a spotting scope--we looked through it, and liked the way it worked for us! As has been stated on this forum and elsewhere so many times, personally testing a scope is essential!

I have tried my hand at digiscoping by hand-holding our Canon A75 to the eyepiece, occasionally getting a great shot, but most of the time getting throw-away photos. It's probably not the best scope for that purpose.

Based on our experience so far, we would recommend checking out the Vortex Stokes Sandpiper.
And if you read the recent 2008 review of scopes by the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, so do they:

And by the way, and for the record, we have no connection to Vortex or Stokes. We just "intermediate"-skilled bird watchers who are happy with our scope, which has made our duck and gull watching along the Niagara River immensely more enjoyable this past winter.

Hope this info is useful to you.

Ron & Lynda
Fort Erie, ON
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Old Wednesday 2nd April 2008, 19:40   #3
Alexis Powell
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Originally Posted by Phaethon View Post
... I think I wouldn't have as much anxiety traveling with a $199 scope...
How about insuring your equipment to alleviate the anxiety issues. What's the point of owning great optics if you don't use them, especially when you travel to great places?

That said, I don't think there is any reason not to demand/expect excellent performance from a cheap scope, especially at 30x or below. I'd personally go for a fixed 25 or 30x wide-angle eyepiece rather than a zoom with narrow FOV.

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Old Monday 25th August 2008, 14:59   #4
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I've been using the E.O. Denali for about five or six years (original model, not the new one with updated coatings). I compared it to other scopes selling for $500 and under at the time. For the price it is not a bad scope and has some pluses, but it also has some limitations. It comes down to what you need and what compromises you are willing to accept.

What I really like about the scope is the combination of weight, weather tightness and optics quality versus price. I wanted something very light to carry on hikes and this fits the bill for me. I can use it well enough with a monopod. I didn't want to lug an 80mm scope and tripod on hikes. I also didn't want to spend a lot of money because I wasn't sure how much I would use the scope.

The body is a polycarbonate and is pretty rugged. I also doesn't transmit cold like a metal body does.

I find the images start to become degraded beyond what I like at around 30x. I use it between 15x-30x. The images also start to get too dark for me beyond 30x.

There is CA when looking at high contrast bright objects. No way around that in a scope at this price level. I also found CA in Nikon scopes costing twice as much.

Eye-relief... Well I don't notice eye relief being an issue with it since I don't wear glasses. I find I have the most comfortable viewing when I have both eyes open and have the dominant eye at the eye piece.

This is a scope I wouldn't buy unless I could try it out in person at a shop first. At the price I don't think it's worth the hassles of paying for shipping to try it out from an on-line retailer.
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Old Friday 8th May 2009, 03:20   #5
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I recently bought the Stokes Sandpiper straight. I am a newby scope user but use high end binoculars so I'm a bit picky about my images. I found the scope to give me quite satisfactory images up to about 40-42X. Pushing it to 45X degrades the image to a small but noticable amount. I do love the focus which is buttery smooth and has enough turns that its easy to get correct focus without going back and forth. The price was right too - $199.98 at Camerlandny. Unfortunatly they only have the straight variety at that price
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