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50MM ED Spotting Scope Choices (1 Viewer)

lburt

Member
We're ready to add a small spotting scope to our binoculars. Leaning toward 50mm with ED glass as we highly value light weight and small size. We have been accustomed to 32mm objectives so we think 50mm will be good as long as it's very high quality. Close focus also very important as we often observe flowers, insects, ponds near our feet. So far we've found two scopes of interest: Vortex Razor HD and Opticron mm4. The Vortex focuses to 2.5 meters vs 3.5 for the Opticron, and is less expensive, but the primitive fold-down eyecups on the Vortex seems out of place and cheap in an otherwise very nice scope. The Opticron also has the option for a fixed 13x wide angle eyepiece which would be excellent for hand-held use.
Your thoughts? Do you have any other 50mm scope recommendations?
Second question: Angled vs straight. I can see the advantage of the angled, scope can sit lower on the tripod and don't have to tilt the head and neck up to see high angles, but looking down close nearby seems like it would be harder. Also having the direction of view differ when acquiring a bird, moving back and forth between naked eye and scope might be disorienting. Any thoughts here? Much of the time we'll be using it hand-held or on a monopod.
 

lburt

Member
We'll also want to try some digiscoping with an Iphone and there the angled seems like it would have the advantage.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
The Opticron is real nice... you will like it. I love the one I have...also, I have heard that Opticron has excellent service. I haven't used service but have contacted them for various reasons and each time they are 'right there...' Pete Gamby who works for Opticron is on this site and is a real honest, straight talker who will help you out with anything..... .... Take the Opticron. (Angled). jim
 
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lburt

Member
We're ready to add a small spotting scope to our binoculars. Leaning toward 50mm with ED glass as we highly value light weight and small size. We have been accustomed to 32mm objectives so we think 50mm will be good as long as it's very high quality. Close focus also very important as we often observe flowers, insects, ponds near our feet. So far we've found two scopes of interest: Vortex Razor HD and Opticron mm4. The Vortex focuses to 2.5 meters vs 3.5 for the Opticron, and is less expensive, but the primitive fold-down eyecups on the Vortex seems out of place and cheap in an otherwise very nice scope. The Opticron also has the option for a fixed 13x wide angle eyepiece which would be excellent for hand-held use.
Your thoughts? Do you have any other 50mm scope recommendations?
Second question: Angled vs straight. I can see the advantage of the angled, scope can sit lower on the tripod and don't have to tilt the head and neck up to see high angles, but looking down close nearby seems like it would be harder. Also having the direction of view differ when acquiring a bird, moving back and forth between naked eye and scope might be disorienting. Any thoughts here? Much of the time we'll be using it hand-held or on a monopod.
Oops, Opticron is 2.5 meters.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Don't worry....if you are using a scope, it doesn't make a difference on close focus being 2.5 or 3..... Especially if you are Digital-scoping. Stick with a company that in my opinion has earned a solid reputation. Not 'alpha'....but just plain quality you can bank on.
 

lburt

Member
Thanks for the feedback so far, which reinforces the Opticron choice over the Vortex (or the Hawke ED I just learned about). I'm thinking to go with the MM4 50mm and the 12-36 SDL zoom eyepiece. Perhaps get the fixed HDF 13X later if the SDL at low power doesn't work well for hand held use.
What about angled vs straight, considering a mix of tripod, monopod, hand held; close-up ground and distant viewing; and digiscoping use? Others have noted that the rotating collar makes the angled more versatile than the straight.
Any opinions about the Opticron case and their phone digiscoping adapter vs other adapters?
I plan to buy directly from Opticron instead of chasing a slightly better deal at a reseller.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Get on the spotting scope site under Opticron and find Pete Gamby's name....he works for Opticron and is active on this forum. He is the best person to chat with and will guide you through their scopes, eye-pieces and adapters.

I would get an angled scope, so yes...... hand-held doesn't work well in the long run for consistency. Pretty difficult to do actually so some sort of adapter is needed. Work with Gamby.... best of luck. jim
 

pete_gamby

Birds? What Birds?!
If you plan, as you mentioned, to use it mainly hand-held or on a monopod, I would tend towards the straight body scope with a fixed mag eyepiece. You may find that with a zoom eyepiece you end up set at one magnification most of the time when using the scope in this manner as you're using what would normally be your "zooming" hand to stabilise or hold the scope.

The fixed magnification eyepieces are also generally lighter in weight so if this is a consideration that may also factor in to your decision.

Hope that helps.

Cheers, Pete
 

mbb

Well-known member
Regarding angled versus straight, you may find several threads discussing this choice on the (general) scope forum.
Angled might indeed be handier for viewing up, but straight for viewing down (e.g. from a viewpoint in mountains or so), angled might work on a lower tripod, but straight is easier to 'target' (if positioned high enough) etc.
Personally, I went for angled (a 65mm, not Opticron, but that doesn't really matter here) mainly for the ease of setting up the tripod height: there is more tolerance to setting the tripod height in relation to the viewer's length (as long as the scope is a bit lower), which also makes it easier to share viewing with others (friends/family/...) who you are walking and observing with. That was my experience in the past when on group walks with guides nature guides sharing the view through their scope.
But I have never used my scope handheld, nor to view flowers etc. at very close range or at steep angles down. (The closest and lowest must have been birds feeding on the ground at 4m distance or so. Ik worked perfectly for that.) I still have to improve myself at quickly framing/targetting a bird with an angle scope, but it seems to be something you learn, a bit like quickly framing/targetting a bird with binoculars ;)
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I don't think you can realistically hold a scope handheld even if he is not digiscoping. Why?
 

mbb

Well-known member
I don't think you can realistically hold a scope handheld even if he is not digiscoping. Why?
I have the same doubt about handheld use, unless maybe at 13x like suggested in the opening post, if you have steady hands or some support (e.g.leaning on a tree/wall/...)
 

pete_gamby

Birds? What Birds?!
Whilst not a mass market product, there are 15x56 and similar specification binoculars on the market that are heavier and are more bulky than an MM4 50 - presumably those that buy such a product have set their usage expectations accordingly. As an example, a Swarovski EL 15x56 is 1.2kg and 1.9l versus an MM4 50 with SDL eyepiece at 0.9kg and 1.7l

Using a monopod partly extended and held as a type of Finn stick or propped on your leg if seated provides perfectly adequate support for lower scope magnifications.

HTH

Cheers, Pete
 

intellectual

Well-known member
England
Thank you Iburt for asking the almost same question I was going to. And thanks to those who replied. I've had a pair of Opticron 8 x 42 Discovery bins for years and like them alot but of late I find they are becoming a bit heavy for my arthritic hands. I had thought about getting a compact scope to use handheld and a birder pal suggested Vortex razor 50mm, personally I fancied the Opticron MM with ED. Since last March I haven't been anywhere birding due to the virus, so am confined to the house/garden. I do have a Spacemaster scope from the 1990s which I use occasionally but its far too heavy nowadays. Is it worth getting a re-conditioned compact scope from the likes of In Focus? Any advice welcome.
 

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