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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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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.
 

bcskr

Well-known member
For your intended purposes (handheld and/or monopod) I have to agree with Pete Gamby that a straight scope with fixed EP is the best. Generally I prefer an angled scope with a zoom lens and I own both angled versions of Opticron MM 60 and a 77 with the new SDL3 zoom. I recently ordered a MM 50 (straight) that I intend to use with either the 13x or 18x WA EP (I own both EPs) for hiking and biking. I primarily expect to use it with a very compact carbon monopod. I may also try using it with a shoulder pod (for handheld) as I did many years ago with the Nikon ED 50 and a 16x EP.

I do a fair amount of digiscoping and have been satisfied with the Phone Skope cases and EP adapters, and the remote shutter. I think trying to do digiscoping with scope supported by handheld or monopod will be a bit of a challenge unless using a remote shutter, but a week from now I should have some first hand experience.
 

bcskr

Well-known member
For your intended purposes (handheld and/or monopod) I have to agree with Pete Gamby that a straight scope with fixed EP is the best. Generally I prefer an angled scope with a zoom lens and I own both angled versions of Opticron MM 60 and a 77 with the new SDL3 zoom. I recently ordered a MM 50 (straight) that I intend to use with either the 13x or 18x WA EP (I own both EPs) for hiking and biking. I primarily expect to use it with a very compact carbon monopod. I may also try using it with a shoulder pod (for handheld) as I did many years ago with the Nikon ED 50 and a 16x EP.

I do a fair amount of digiscoping and have been satisfied with the Phone Skope cases and EP adapters, and the remote shutter. I think trying to do digiscoping with scope supported by handheld or monopod will be a bit of a challenge unless using a remote shutter, but a week from now I should have some first hand experience.
My first impression after about 30 minutes indoors looking out the windows and experimenting with the straight 50mm Opticron scope supporting it with either a monopod or shoulder pod (Bush Hawk) is that the handheld shoulder pod is superior to the monopod in several ways: I can hold it steadier, it is less cumbersome to maneuver when looking at various targets, it is quicker to deploy in that there is no need to vary the length of a single leg as with a monopod. Also I found that the 13x EP was preferable to the 18x. I have not yet tried digiscoping.
 

GeorgeL

Well-known member
Yes, definitely a straight scope, in my case, with a monopod.
And with fixed EP’s on my 65mm scope, I’m good at 19x or 27x.
 

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DMW

Well-known member
It's puzzling to me that anybody would want to use a scope hand-held, or even on a monopod. It's surprising how much more detail you can see with even a pair of 8x binoculars mounted on a steady tripod compared to hand held, let alone a higher magnification scope that is not designed to be hand held.
 

GeorgeL

Well-known member
If it’s just a short walk from my car I’ll carry a tripod and a larger, angled scope.
But for routine hikes from home for instance, a compact monopod and scope (and binoculars) fit nicely in my backpack.
 
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GeorgeL

Well-known member
I have used a shoulder pod with a small scope in the past but now I much prefer one of these

I wouldn't use it with anything bigger than a 50mm but it is very light and amazingly steady. Much steadier than it looks. Combined weight of my Vortex 50mm, tripod and tripod strap about 1.9kg.
I looked at that exact tripod last year, something small and light, but ended up with the heavier Benro Wild w/matching 2-way fluid head for my 80mm scope.
I like the monopod feature of the Benro Slim....super compact and short monopod for seated use.
 

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