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Compact scope to use for garden (1 Viewer)

intellectual

Well-known member
England
I am looking for a lightweight compact scope to use from inside my house I have been looking at quite a few and the lightest one I've found that comes inside my budget of £500 is the Kowa TSN 501/502 it says it weighs 415 grams. I have never used any Kowa products. My "outside" scope is an old Spacemaster from the 1990s which was fine till I developed arthritis in my thumbs, now its awkward to handle. I've had several different scopes over the past ten years but that was before the arthritis. I own a pair of Opticron Discovery 8 x 42 which after five mins I find heavy but obviously can put them down after couple of mins. I want to be able to see the wee birds end of garden more easily so thought a compact scope might be the answer, maybe it isn't am sure if anyone reads my thread they will say. I have looked at Opticron, Hawke, Vortex etc but they seem heavier than the Kowa. I do have a Velbon Ultra Luxi SF tripod but would prefer to hold the scope in my hand, maybe I'm expecting too much at my age and poor health. Any advice will be very welcome, thanks.

Cheers Max
 

YYguy

Member
Supporter
Sweden
Hi Max, I’m in the market for my first scope so I can’t be of much help but maybe if you provide more information about why you are wanting to not use a tripod others here could offer some advice.

My initial reaction was that a tripod would help minimize your pain from hand holding a scope. Is the issue portability? Or room for a tripod in your house? Or is it painful to set up and work the tripod head controls? I’ve come across a Sirui kit that is a compromise between a monopod and a tripod. I can’t vouch for it but would this perhaps be a solution?
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

holding a scope by hand is not really a thing, some do it with drawtube style scopes when indulging in a pastime that must not be named here, but they tend to brace themselves against a tree then...

The Velbon tripod you mentioned is probably too small to be used in a standing position - I read sth about 1,21m fully extended.

Kowa is a well known brand for spotting scopes and the 501 I tried was surprisingly good for the money.

Joachim
 

dannat

Well-known member
what about a 12x or 15x power bino on monopod, still light weight & monopod help keep it steady, scopes are very difficult handhold, though something like the celestron 9x-27x50 ed hummingbird, at low power might work
 

GeorgeL

Well-known member
When in or around the house I use my Pentax 65mm scope on a monopod with a tilt only head. Using a 20mm wide angle eyepiece, it gives me just under 20x. Easy maneuverability, I also like to take this setup when I go hiking.
 

dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
Hi Max, as others have stated, hand-held telescopes are likely to be frustrating, as the higher magnification will exacerbate any movements from your hand. An alternative if you are planning on using the scope from a single static location would be some form of mount - this one looks good, as it is inexpensive and suitable for a small scope. It would likely be a good option if you are observing from a window overlooking feeders for example.
With regards to a lightweight scope, if you are happy to purchase second hand, a Nikon ED50 fits the bill perfectly (even in pink!) and allows you to change eyepieces - for watching birds coming to a garden feeder, the 16x is unbeatable and very user friendly.
For a more modest sum, perhaps this may be of interest, and reviews of similar models have been favorable - I think it will also accept standard sized astronomy lenses as well.
All the best!
 

intellectual

Well-known member
England
Hi Max, I’m in the market for my first scope so I can’t be of much help but maybe if you provide more information about why you are wanting to not use a tripod others here could offer some advice.

My initial reaction was that a tripod would help minimize your pain from hand holding a scope. Is the issue portability? Or room for a tripod in your house? Or is it painful to set up and work the tripod head controls? I’ve come across a Sirui kit that is a compromise between a monopod and a tripod. I can’t vouch for it but would this perhaps be a solution?
Hello,

Only reason for not wanting to use the tripod is that I don't have much room in the kitchen where I get the best views of the back garden (my nature reserve) and all that come over it despite having twelve trees and over forty shrubs and surrounded by 6' fencing. This year decided to most of the feeders and hang them on the conifer but because its shaded I have a job to recognise wee birds such as the goldcrest etc , reason I moved them was to try and reduce the feral pigeons from getting seed off ground rather than the wee birds. Plenty of room to put tripod up in lounge but can only see half the garden, maybe I'm asking too much of myself. No problems seeing birds in front garden cos its only six feet from window to hedge. Hope this helps.

Cheers Max
 

intellectual

Well-known member
England
Hi,

holding a scope by hand is not really a thing, some do it with drawtube style scopes when indulging in a pastime that must not be named here, but they tend to brace themselves against a tree then...

The Velbon tripod you mentioned is probably too small to be used in a standing position - I read sth about 1,21m fully extended.

Kowa is a well known brand for spotting scopes and the 501 I tried was surprisingly good for the money.

Joachim
Hello,
the Velbon is four feet when extended not sure what that is in metric. I do have another tripod that is full size but heavy for me, had thought many times of getting a carbon one depending on price. I let my other tripod go last year when I sold an opticron scope which was far too heavy.

Cheers Max
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Hello,

Only reason for not wanting to use the tripod is that I don't have much room in the kitchen where I get the best views of the back garden (my nature reserve) and all that come over it despite having twelve trees and over forty shrubs and surrounded by 6' fencing. This year decided to most of the feeders and hang them on the conifer but because its shaded I have a job to recognise wee birds such as the goldcrest etc , reason I moved them was to try and reduce the feral pigeons from getting seed off ground rather than the wee birds. Plenty of room to put tripod up in lounge but can only see half the garden, maybe I'm asking too much of myself. No problems seeing birds in front garden cos its only six feet from window to hedge. Hope this helps.

Cheers Max
Perhaps a counter top tripod might be small enough to be useful without being too bulky. Not too expensive option:
 

intellectual

Well-known member
England
Hi Max, as others have stated, hand-held telescopes are likely to be frustrating, as the higher magnification will exacerbate any movements from your hand. An alternative if you are planning on using the scope from a single static location would be some form of mount - this one looks good, as it is inexpensive and suitable for a small scope. It would likely be a good option if you are observing from a window overlooking feeders for example.
With regards to a lightweight scope, if you are happy to purchase second hand, a Nikon ED50 fits the bill perfectly (even in pink!) and allows you to change eyepieces - for watching birds coming to a garden feeder, the 16x is unbeatable and very user friendly.
For a more modest sum, perhaps this may be of interest, and reviews of similar models have been favorable - I think it will also accept standard sized astronomy lenses as well.
All the best!
Hi Daniel,

As am colour blind it won't matter if it's pink or yellow with black spots lol. Not only will I use a scope inside but outside come better weather, I get raptors over such as buzz, kessy, a pair of sprawk visit regular and had osprey twice at right times of year, also get assorted gulls which usually needs a scope to ID, also ducks come over and pfg, in garden had woodcock thankfully next to house so didn't need owt cept me specs, get loads of wee birds in including dozens of spuggies. So since the first lockdown I am well catered for by staying at home but am determined to get a lightweight scope of some sort. Thanks for your input. I also take plenty of pics with my Nikon camera which with x45 optical I can sometimes see more with that than the spacemaster.

I'm making notes of what everyone has suggested up to press.

Cheers Max
 

SanAngelo

Well-known member
When in or around the house I use my Pentax 65mm scope on a monopod with a tilt only head. Using a 20mm wide angle eyepiece, it gives me just under 20x. Easy maneuverability, I also like to take this setup when I go hiking.
The fact that you hike with it piqued my interest.

If possible, could you post a photo of this rig?

If you had to guess, how many miles of trail time can you knock off before you wished you left it at home?
 

GeorgeL

Well-known member
The fact that you hike with it piqued my interest.

If possible, could you post a photo of this rig?

If you had to guess, how many miles of trail time can you knock off before you wished you left it at home?
I can carry my scope and monopod in my daypack and hike all day, no problem, but at 1,370g for the scope with eyepiece, and 640g for the monopod with the head, they’re a bit on the heavy side. The bulk doesn’t bother me though, but a smaller scope would be nice.
Now, I would never take this rig when I go overnight backpacking, I usually just take my binoculars.
 

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SanAngelo

Well-known member
I can carry my scope and monopod in my daypack and hike all day, no problem, but at 1,370g for the scope with eyepiece, and 640g for the monopod with the head, they’re a bit on the heavy side. The bulk doesn’t bother me though, but a smaller scope would be nice.
Now, I would never take this rig when I go overnight backpacking, I usually just take my binoculars.
Sweet..!!..nice rig, thanks for the photo and info.

All day, huh.....I should have requested specific demographic data. I'll be 70 next year, all day hiking isn't what it use to be. Length of the day is the same, trail miles are shorter. I'm getting about 14 miles, hiking and birding. A couple years ago I would be knocking off 16....all without pushing it. That's with a camera on one shoulder and binos on my chest.

I don't have a scope but I like the idea of owning one. I rarely bird without hiking, so I don't know how much I'd use it......but I guess if I had one I'd use it.

Sorry for not replying sooner, I don't log on often so I didn't see your post....but I do appreciate the photo.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I would think that the best scope optics at the best price would be the Nikon 50ED. It is still a current product but is getting more expensive than it used to be and harder to find.

Currently the best prices for new (in the US $325 range for straight body only) are direct from Japan. e.g. https://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Nikon-...807501&hash=item1c874e6130:g:XvYAAOSwEHpZMR-C

Amazon USA via Amazon Global Store UK offers the angled version with eyepiece grey market for $482. https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Fields...ikon+50+fieldscope&qid=1612814299&sr=8-1&th=1

There are many ways to find this scope used, ideally for under $400 including eyepiece.

--AP
 

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