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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Are new scopes really better? (1 Viewer)

Jon73

New member
Dear All

First post after a month of interesting forum reading. My birder wife requested an upgrade to her Japan Elite Ranger 60mm scope that I added an unbranded 15-45 eye piece. However, I have just been testing it alongside various Hawke products (after being very impressed with their ED binoculars) and found that the old 60mm, old glass straight scope has a sharper and brighter image and very little visible magnification difference between 45x and 60x. I can't find any info on this 30 year old £100 scope - is it a gem that needs an expensive upgrade or what am I missing?

Her request was to have a better magnification, but the Endurance 20-60 85mm (non ED as budget up to £500) is not as good as our small aged scope.

Thoughts very welcome. I confess to being disappointed after reading reviews of multicoated lenses etc and not having much experience in this area.

Thank you, Jon
 

Rotherbirder

Well-known member
Very similar to the old Opticron Piccolo as I recall, but I don't know whether they were 'related' in any way; perhaps Pete Gamby could advise? If this is the case, then the advances in optical design over the last 30 years should mean that most modern scopes will better it significantly (Opticron has upgraded its scope ranges several times since then and the newer 'MM' scopes are very highly regarded in the main), so I can offer no suggestion as to why you find the old Ranger Elite better than the modern scopes you have tried.

RB
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi Jon,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

Since 40-45x is about the limit for plain glass spotters, I am not surprised that your old examples was as good or better at 45x than the new one at 60x.
Even if the new one was an ED model it might have gone that way since heat haze (aka seeing) or just bad luck in the sample variation lottery are often the reason for some instrument not performing as expected at max. magnification.

If you can return the 85mm, do so and try to get an old alpha scope with ED or fluorite element in that budget - Nikon Fieldscope ED and Kowa TSN series models ending in 3 or 4 are often available in your budged - Swaro, Zeiss and Leica tend to be more expensive...

Used optics is of course best bought in person - or if it can't be avoided from a reputable business with a no questions asked return policy... after all sample variation is a thing and the keepers are usually not sold...

Joachim, who will certainly not give away his 30 year old Kowa TSN-3
 
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slingworks

Well-known member
Hi Jon,

I think your scope is really a fairly modern design that isn't all that bad overall...

Jring has good advice.

Based on your budget, I would suggest the Kowa 82sv with the 30x or 25 LER eyepiece if she wears glasses. It would beat your old scope. A slighy better scope would be the Kowa TSN-613 w/30 or 25xler eyepiece. The 613 scopes are out of production, but seem to be everywhere. Kowa fixed eyepeices are new around $250. I have a TSN-613 that I purchased from England recently for $250 used w/eyepiece and I love it. Sharp, ED scope, light and handy and out resolves my TSN 82sv. I'd say the 613 w new eyepiece can rival/equal the Swarovski ATS 65 HD.
 
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PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Hi Jon,

I think your scope is really a fairly modern design that isn't all that bad overall...

Its 30 years old at least.
Perhaps it is an old Bausch & Lomb [Elite] or a Bushnell, but being manufactured in Japan, should be of a good optical quality. I'm guessing by your wife wishing a better magnification you mean higher! My personal preference is to see an object well / better ( resolution ) at lower mag. than poorly at a higher mag.

I'm confident that if you compared a modern high definition spotting scope with the appropriate wide angle zoom you would see a noticeable difference. I agree that a c.60mm Kowa Prominar with a modern eyepiece is a very good image, but not as good as a 65mm HD Swarovski. Nothing to loose by trying one out next time your near a store.
 
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slingworks

Well-known member
PYRTLE, you're right, but I think you might be splitting hairs a little too much...I'd consider a 30yr old optic to be about "fairly modern" but not "State of the Art".

My point was that a TS-613 w a modern fixed eyepiece is probably the best possible bargain out there. A nice 613 can be found for $200-300 and the ATS used is about 5x++ the cost.

I'd say they are close....In fact I once read this review that prompted me to buy one. I did have the luxury of comparing mine against both a Zeiss Diascope and Swarovski ATS...I'd really say they are quite good. I prefer the focus on the Kowa, but that's probably just based on familiarity.

Knowing what they sell for makes them all the sweeter :)

Here is the review that persuaded me to pick one up:
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/r...goliath-kowa-tsn-613-vs-swarovski-ats-m-65-hd

They're claimed not to be waterproof..But on that point I really wonder? I've had mine out in the rain/mist and no sign of water vapor...
 
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Jon73

New member
Dear All.

What a wonderfully informative and welcoming group. Thank you very much for your detailed replies.

I am generally impatient to get on with the buying (I recognize that this is daft behaviour!), so will test the idea that my test scope was a 'Friday afternoon' model. However, if no passes with current options will keep scanning the sites for the few Kowa models mentioned. Any recommendations for secondhand shops in Chelmsford Essex area of UK?

I am interested in how I should be comparing scopes. Basically we were zooming in on signposts at about 1000 yards in good afternoon and failing evening light where the old scope was best, as it was for scanning the bird feeder on this sunny morning. Is a long distance test a fair comparison (this upgrade was triggered by watching the ospreys from the RSPB post in the Lake District)? I was intrigued by recommendations for 25x and 30x magnification. Is that what birders would generally use (I think I might be oversimplifying with bigger, sharper is all)?

Apologies for rambling post and thanks again

Jon
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
Not many independant retail sports optics outlets left these days I'm afraid. Just do the research and go with your budget. Quick search today for a second hand Kowa with a zoom resulted in a Kowa 824 Prominar with a 20-60 zoom for £499, but in the West Country at a well established business.

Couple of tips, 1. Even the "best alpha" scopes suffer from heat haze on a bright, sunny day and viewing in the hottest part of the day. 2. Test at a wide variety of distances - at least close range, 100 metres, mid range and finally long distance and again at low, medium and high magnification. A dull overcast day will prove useful in seeing how a telescope performs. 3. Don't rush, take your time and decide only on what you like, not what the salesperson tries to sell you. 4. Ensure you have some form of warranty.

Good Luck
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

30x wide eyepieces are well liked and used often - also due to the fact that most scopes will work at least ok with them...

A good ED or fluorite scope in decent seeing should be able to deliver a nice and sharp image at 50-60x - my old TSN-3 certainly does at 54x and is used at that magnification almost exclusively. I have tried up to 96x but that's situational due to being quite dark...

PS: Cley Spy has a few Fieldscope EDs, btw...

Joachim
 
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gordon hamlett

Well-known member
If you can wait a couple of weeks, it would be well worth your while visiting the Bird Fair at Rutland Water. In the optics marquee there, you will be able to compare dozens of models side by side, ranging from the top of the range to more modest examples. See https://birdfair.org.uk/ for more details
 

Jon73

New member
Many thanks to you all for your advice. Cley Spy and Rutland are both possible in the near future with parents in Norfolk and Nottingham. However, I have managed to purchase a Nikon Fieldscope ed78a with 38x WF eyepiece from a well known auction site that looks to be in good condition for £200 that I thought was a good price. I am quite excited for its arrival and hopeful for its results.

Thank you all for the invaluable support. Would never have gone this way without your advice. Will report back :)
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

congratulations - it is a quite good scope and price. I'm quite sure it will be glorious with the 38x wide - should you really have the itch for more magnification in the future, you can keep an eye out for the 13-40x/20-60x/25-75x MC II zoom which will get you up to 75x (which a good example should be quite capable of - and except for some later ED50 examples we haven't heard of bad Fieldscope EDs).

But the higher magnification with the zoom comes at the price of darker image, narrower field and less eye relief for users with glasses.

Joachim
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
£200 for a fieldscope 78ED? That has to be one of the purchases of the year! I'm sure you will very much enjoy it, I have the ED82 which is quite excellent. I found the 38x a bit fiddly, but the 30x and 50x wide angles are both excellent. Enjoy!
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Many thanks to you all for your advice. Cley Spy and Rutland are both possible in the near future with parents in Norfolk and Nottingham. However, I have managed to purchase a Nikon Fieldscope ed78a with 38x WF eyepiece from a well known auction site that looks to be in good condition for £200 that I thought was a good price. I am quite excited for its arrival and hopeful for its results.

Thank you all for the invaluable support. Would never have gone this way without your advice. Will report back :)

There is a US$750 offer for this model scope plus several eye pieces on the auction site. At 200 sterling, I'd say you got a wonderful bargain.
Hope you enjoy it fully!!
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
That's a _great_ price for a great scope. I've seen the straight version sell for $400 body-only, but the angled is usually over $600, and even more with eyepiece. I still use my 78ED a lot. I prefer the 30x WF eyepiece for most scoping (nice wide view), but the 50x WF also works well. The true FOV of the 50x WF is similar to that of the 25-75x zoom at 25x. You should find the 38x WF fairly easy to use and a good magnification for most everything.

--AP
 

slingworks

Well-known member
PYRTLE, do you know of any good optics shops in the UK that list inventory online? I am looking for a TSN 823M....I did see you referenced an 824.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Slingworks,

London Camera Exchange. Kowa 824 reduced price.
Cley Spey
Ace Optics careful description get them to actually look.
Sherwoods Photo
Wex
Clifton cameras, not sure if they list used stock
Park Cameras.
Others?

Regards,
B.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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