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How do I Aim my Scope?

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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 20:00   #1
Bluetail
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How do I Aim my Scope?

After nearly 20 years of using a Bushnell Spacemaster (with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece) I have upgraded to a Nikon ED82 (with a 25-75 zoom). It goes without saying that I am delighted: optically it is superb. It also brought home to me just how good the Spacemaster was - at currently about half the price - but that's another story.

My Spacemaster had a straight eypiece. I would dearly have loved to get the straight version of the Nikon, but I now have neck problems which dictated that I change to an angled scope. It's certainly easier on the muscles and in the circumstances I'm sure I made the right decision. However, I'm finding it a real problem to aim the thing accurately. Partly it's because the field of view is slightly less than the Spacemaster's, but mainly it's because the eyepiece on the Nikon is not set centrally but slightly to the right. That means that the scope always appears to be aiming to the left of what I'm looking at. Plus there's the problem of judging the vertical angle too. So there's no question of aiming the scope at a bird and expecting it to be on target. Trying to follow flitting Reed Warblers at Dawlish recently was a nightmare.

I know the obvious answer is to get a fixed-magnification, wide-angle eyepiece and I intend to do so, but my next priority is a new pair of bins.

In the meanwhile I'm not unduly worried - yet. I remember it took quite a while for me to get to grips with my Spacemaster when I first got it. But I do hope that the technique will come. Please, someone, tell me I will! Anyone got any tips that will help?

Also, when I do get a fixed-mag lens, would I be better off with the 30x or the 38x?
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 20:14   #2
Michael Frankis
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Hi Jason,

I guess the best bet is to put in long hours of practice - select a leaf on a tree, and try aiming at it, and keep trying until you have a good high hit rate.

Michael
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 20:32   #3
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Hi Jason,

I'd agree with Michael. When I switched from straight to angled I took a while to get aim right but now it is almost second nature. I still struggle finding high flying raptors, but I did with the straight scope as well, and at least with the angled you are not breaking your back.

I have a fixed 32 wide angle for my Leica and, personally, I wouldn't want anymore. Like you I have a zoom eypiece 20-60.
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 22:28   #4
Dave B Smith
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Jason,
It's all in getting used to your scope. First, I turn my zoom eyepiece down to the low end magnification. I then sight the scope first using the stamped marks on the side to get the elevation. Then I move it horizontally (this is where the offset eyepiece is the problem) sighting down the center (as best I can judge it). I'm then usually close enough to find the bird in the viewfinder and use the view to center it and then increase my magnification to what the distance calls for.

Oh yes, I generally take off the field case first thing when I get to a site. The case really makes lining the scope up difficult for me. Good luck,
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Old Friday 18th June 2004, 21:44   #5
iporali
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
the eyepiece on the Nikon is not set centrally but slightly to the right. That means that the scope always appears to be aiming to the left of what I'm looking at. Plus there's the problem of judging the vertical angle too. So there's no question of aiming the scope at a bird and expecting it to be on target.
....
But I do hope that the technique will come. Please, someone, tell me I will! Anyone got any tips that will help?

Also, when I do get a fixed-mag lens, would I be better off with the 30x or the 38x?
Hi Jason,
Sorry for being late on this thread.
You surely will learn to aim better with some practice, but there is also a simple trick you could try - it worked quite well for me.

I had earlier a Kowa 823, which is a fine scope but has a very offset prism housing. Many 823 owners here use a long plastic cable tie tightened around the sun shield. Install it so that the "tail" sticks upwards on the eyepiece-side of the scope. Fine adjust this aiming aid by rotating the sun shade so that the sticking end is aligned with the eyepiece. Cut off all the extra. The idea is to have the system so that you can aim using the top of the eyepiece keeping your eye ready to rapidly look down. Once adjusted, the flexible end returns very well to the correct position even when it has been inside the SOC for a long time.

Good luck

Ilkka

ps. I would rather take 30x than 38x
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Old Friday 18th June 2004, 22:04   #6
Bluetail
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Thanks, Ilkka. This sounds as if it could be very useful, but I'm having difficulty understanding exactly what this long plastic cable tie is. What are they normally used for?

I must say that it is slowly getting easier with practice. I've more or less got the measure of the offset eyepiece now, but judging the vertical angle still needs a lot of work. I'm finding raptor watching excruciatingly frustrating. The angled eyepiece is much easier on the neck muscles though.
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Friday 18th June 2004, 22:52   #7
Hermann
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iporali
Many 823 owners here use a long plastic cable tie tightened around the sun shield. Install it so that the "tail" sticks upwards on the eyepiece-side of the scope. Fine adjust this aiming aid by rotating the sun shade so that the sticking end is aligned with the eyepiece. Cut off all the extra. The idea is to have the system so that you can aim using the top of the eyepiece keeping your eye ready to rapidly look down. Once adjusted, the flexible end returns very well to the correct position even when it has been inside the SOC for a long time.
I can confirm that this system works very well indeed. I think I first read about this idea in an article in Alula 1/1997, and even though I was rather sceptical about the whole idea it turned out to be by far the best aiming device I ever tried.

The way it works is that when you look up from the eyepiece the edge of the eyepiece, the tip of the cable tie and the object visible in the center of the field of view should be in alignment. So first you have to get a long cable tie (12-14 inches/30-35cm should be about right) and wrap it around ther body of the scope near the objective lens. Whether you do it clockwise or counter-clockwise depends on which side of the scope the eyepiece is located. You then adjust the cable tie so that when you look up from the eyepiece the edge of the eyepiece, the cable tie and the object in the middle of the field of view are aligned. Then it's only a matter of cutting the the cable tie to exactly the right length.

The point is that with this aiming device you don't have to remove your eye far from the eyepiece, and once you got the length and the position of the cable tie right it's *very* fast and convenient. Especially with zoom eyepieces with a relatively narrow field of view it's a great help. I've been using angled scope for well over 20 years now, and I think I'm quite good at finding birds through the scope, but with fast moving birds the cable tie aiming device makes a huge difference.

By the way, that first cable tie I used on the Nikon ED IIA I had at the time lasted until I sold the scope, and the current owner still uses the same cable tie.

Quite an amazing idea.

Hermann
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Old Friday 18th June 2004, 23:08   #8
iporali
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
Thanks, Ilkka. This sounds as if it could be very useful, but I'm having difficulty understanding exactly what this long plastic cable tie is. What are they normally used for?
I found the name "cable tie" in my dictionary - it may well have a more common name. I meant those (often white) straps which American soldiers use to tie the hands of the terrorists. They can also be used to tie a bunch of electrical cables together. They have a simple and strong locking mechanism, which is often not possible to release. This thing usually is quite short (10-20cm), but for the shown purpose it has to be long enough to go around the sun shade of the scope.
HTH

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Old Friday 18th June 2004, 23:57   #9
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hi jason

30 x will be fine i think...38 is getting a bit narrow on the field of view
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Old Saturday 19th June 2004, 14:58   #10
Bluetail
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Ilkka: Thanks, I understand now. Thanks also (and to Tim) for your views on the eyepiece. I'm sure you're right. 30x should be ample magnification and the last thing I want is a narrower FOV - I've already one!
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Sunday 19th September 2004, 21:53   #11
roger hill
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Hi Jason
The nikon 82 is a very fine scope and performs well with the zoom.
As does my APO Televid with zoom. I find that i have it set to about 40x virtually all the time.
I dont think that you will notice much difference in FOV between 30x and 38x. But that extra mag you will.
The drop-out in light wont be that noticeable either. So my advice to you would be 38x mainly because there have been times when i have used my fixed low mag and wished that i had that bit more.

Regards Roger
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Old Sunday 19th September 2004, 23:32   #12
Bluetail
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Hi Roger

Thanks. Yes, I know what you mean. When I was seawatching the other day I often found I needed to zoom in on the birds and I'm inclining towards the 38x for that reason. Haven't done anything about it yet - my bank account's still in intensive care.
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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Old Monday 20th September 2004, 22:09   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
my bank account's still in intensive care.
In the bed next to mine!!!!!


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Old Monday 20th September 2004, 22:31   #14
Edward woodwood
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Jason

I'm using 30 x (same mc eyepiece as you would purchase) with Nikon Ed 78 and it's plenty. Even at that it can be tricky picking stuff up initially esp compared to a 20 or 30 x 60 scope. The extra mag is tempting but I'm sure you'll find 30 more than enough and in the evening, as the light is going, you will notice the difference, perhaps markedly.

anyway how's the aim coming on?
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Old Tuesday 21st September 2004, 00:18   #15
Bluetail
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allwood
anyway how's the aim coming on?
Horizontal aim is no prob - came fairly quickly. Vertical aim is a right royal pain. Raptor watching has so far been frustrating in the extreme. Seawatching is tricky, but not too bad. The zoom's restricted field of view is less than ideal for these, of course, but they're also precisely the times when I find I want the variable magnification (especially when someone calls a Sabine's or Great Shear two miles out!) Guess the Zeiss zoom might score heavily here, even though I don't like the sound of the fall-off in edge sharpness.
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Come doleful owl, the messenger of woe,
Melancholy's bird, companion of Despair,
Sorrow's best friend and Mirth's professed foe
The chief discourser that delights sad Care.
O come, poor owl, and tell thy woes to me.
Which having heard, I'll do the like for thee.

(Anon c.1607)
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