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Contemplating ~80mm scope w/WA zoom for digiscoping (1 Viewer)

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I'm in the early stages of considering purchasing a large scope for biological survey work that would often involve digiscoping for documentation, to be used mainly by my graduate students for our research. At the same time, I would be purchasing a camera, tripod, tripod head, and digiscoping adapter. Since none of this would have to work w/my personal gear, and since I'd be starting from scratch, I'd be free to get whatever would work best as an ensemble. If anyone reading this wants to make suggestions for the complete kit, please do so, but I'm presently mostly interested in the choice of scope. Budget wise, I'm not sure about the limit, but probably <$2000 for the scope. I'm not interested in scopes from ephemeral brands. I'm also loath to buy scopes that don't have the ability to exchange eyepieces, and I'd like to see compatibility with astro eyepieces to avoid future problems with availability of proprietary eyepieces.

If it were my own purchase, I'd stretch to $2400 to get the Meopta Meostar S2 82HD w/30-60x eyepiece. It seems a perfect tool. Assuming that it isn't possible to get that scope, what is the next best option? I don't pay as much attention to scopes as I do binoculars, and after doing a little looking, I'm amazed at how few good options seem to be available. Here are some thoughts on some of what is out there.

Nikon Monarch 20-60x82 ED. I'm not impressed. I love the original Nikon Fieldscope with fixed eyepieces. This zoom seems better than the older designs, but not by much. A used older Fieldscope (readily available) would be a much better value and would be my first choice if I weren't interested in a WA zoom.

Vortex Razor 27-60x85 HD. This scope seems to be supplied with a reasonably wide angle zoom. How is this scope with this eyepiece? I'm not thrilled to buy a Chinese clone scope, but Vortex has been a good brand thus far.

Meopta Meopro 20-60x80 HD. The price is good but I'm not impressed w/the zoom eyepiece (it's not really WA) and I don't like that the eyepiece is not changeable.

Opticron ES v4 80 GA ED. I don't know much about this scope. Is a WA zoom available?

Pentax PF-80 ED. This has been around a long time. Nice design, but I've heard that many units are optically below what they should be. Astro eyepiece compatibility is nice. What WA zooms will fit and reach focus?

So, when it comes to the above, I'm most inclined toward the Vortex for the simple reason that it is the only scope of which I am aware with a WA zoom at price under $2000 (It is ~$1500). Vortex seems to be doing well as a brand and has good customer service. If my students accidentally destroy the scope, the Vortex warranty would be a life saver.




Birds? What Birds?!
The ES 80 with the 20-60x SDL v2 zoom would have a FOV of 99-61 ft @ 1000 yards (1.9-1.1 degrees) so narrower than the Vortex. We don't have a 2x eyepiece in our range.




Staff member

I agree entirely. Meopta S2 if it was for me only, but for use by students learning the vagaries of tripod set-up and the risks involved when several pairs of hands are involved, the Vortex is a no-brainer, not only for its decent performance but especially that warranty.


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