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Harpia 95: A Review on a Scottish Island (1 Viewer)

Vespobuteo

Well-known member
Great review Troub, thanks!
Do you think there will be a smaller version of the Harpia as well?
But maybe that's not technically feasible considering the internal zoom design?
 

Troubador

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Optical systems are bound by the laws of physics, whether we like to admit it or not. As 'good' as it may apparently be, the Harpia can, like any other scope, only ever be a compromise; gains in one area are balanced by losses in others. At £3000, its one hell of an expensive compromise and it remains to be seen just how many well-heeled birders make the jump and whether it is a success financially for Zeiss or whether it founders and is revealed as a bit of an expensive 'vanity project'. What it may do, if the uptake is good and units sell in numbers, is push the envelope price-wise, pushing up the price of optics generally as other companies see that £3000 is 'not unreasonable' for a scope for some birders. As Alexis says in post 25, if it helps to improve eyepiece design, it's appearance will have served a useful purpose.

RB


RB
You are so right. All optics are imperfect and simply offer a different set of capabilities and compromises. For me Harpia presents a more usable set of capabilities than the similarly priced Swaro ATX, which is a fine scope itself.

For those who cringe at the thought of £3,000 for a spotting scope, there are several options on the market that offer great value for money.

Lee
 

Troubador

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Hi Lee. I think I used the word slope wrongB :). But you're right they didn't like the slow focuser mostly because they couldn't see any difference in the scope for the first 2-3 mm they moved the focuser.

Tommy

I think Peter got it right when he said you meant 'slack' and another term would be 'free play' or 'back-lash'.

This sounds like a faulty unit and although I have tried several Harpias now, both at two Bird Fairs and at other venues, I haven't come across this at all. Free-play in the focus is something I really hate but I have no evidence to suggest Harpias suffer from this generally.

Lee
 

Troubador

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Great review Troub, thanks!
Do you think there will be a smaller version of the Harpia as well?
But maybe that's not technically feasible considering the internal zoom design?

Hi VB
Thanks for your kind words. I was wondering where you were!

I have no information about a smaller version of Harpia and actually considering the number of lenses in Harpia and the zoom/focusing mechanisms, I am wondering if the retail price would be too high for a smaller objective size.

Lee
 

Troubador

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This sounds like Down East Maine, cubed. I basically can’t wait to go. Even the hail sounds great, though I wouldn’t necessarily want to be sailing there. Thanks so much for ‘taking us along’ in this thread.

Peter

Here is what a sharp shower looked like. The hills in the distance behind the double rainbows are the Paps of Jura on the neighbouring island of Jura.

Beautiful isn't it?

Lee
 

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Binastro

Well-known member
Slope = slop, I think.

There is no reason why Harpia optics couldn't be made to higher optical standards, at least giving very high quality central images.
The laws of physics aren't broken.
Prisms can introduce problems.
Also the system is fast.

The problem is that it would probably cost £12,000 rather than £3,000 plus.
A military version maybe £20,000 plus.
 

Vespobuteo

Well-known member
Hi VB
Thanks for your kind words. I was wondering where you were!

I have no information about a smaller version of Harpia and actually considering the number of lenses in Harpia and the zoom/focusing mechanisms, I am wondering if the retail price would be too high for a smaller objective size.

Lee

Yes, perhaps it's not feasible. Competing with the quite cheap ATS80 might be tough. I see those everywhere.
A smaller and lighter scope with the Harpia features (wide FOV) would still be nice though.
And from what I understand Zeiss is now lacking scope models in the 2000-3000€ range.
It's either the cheap Gavia or the precious Harpia.

An option for Zeiss would be to make a very compact and light traveling scope built on more conventional optics or perhaps even diffraction/Fresnel optics (shorter, lighter) where the Harpia eye piece could be fitted.

The scope could still have extra wide-angle/AFOV like the Harpia but with a fixed mag at 25-30x and perhaps 65-75mm diameter.
In such way it would interest both Harpia owners and people who just like a compact scope. And at least to some extent compete with the modular ATX concept.
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Yes, perhaps it's not feasible. Competing with the quite cheap ATS80 might be tough. I see those everywhere.
A smaller and lighter scope with the Harpia features (wide FOV) would still be nice though.
And from what I understand Zeiss is now lacking scope models in the 2000-3000€ range.
It's either the cheap Gavia or the precious Harpia.

An option for Zeiss would be to make a very compact and light traveling scope built on more conventional optics or perhaps even diffraction/Fresnel optics (shorter, lighter) where the Harpia eye piece could be fitted.

The scope could still have extra wide-angle/AFOV like the Harpia but with a fixed mag at 25-30x and perhaps 65-75mm diameter.
In such way it would interest both Harpia owners and people who just like a compact scope. And at least to some extent compete with the modular ATX concept.

An interesting idea VB.

Gavia is priced by Zeiss at around €2,000 but can be bought for €1,700. To produce a scope priced in between Gavia and Harpia might just spread the sales over 3 models instead of 2 but your idea for something in the 65-75mm could work at the right price.

Lee
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
An option for Zeiss would be to make a very compact and light traveling scope built on more conventional optics or perhaps even diffraction/Fresnel optics (shorter, lighter) where the Harpia eye piece could be fitted.

Perhaps not quite what you were thinking of, but Zeiss still produces the 18-45x65 Dialyt.

John
 

Troubador

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Staff member
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I am far enough from feeling justified in buying any more pricey optical equipment right now that the price difference between the Harpia and other top scopes didn't really register for me. It will be interesting to see what happens, and whether this design really does become 'the way all scopes will work soon,' or not. I'm delighted to be helped to understand what might be lost if it does, as well as gained.


It has been great fun batting the Harpia ball backwards and forwards over the net of different approaches and philosophies.

But after using the Harpia for the purpose for which it was designed, birding and nature observation, over a period of 3 weeks on a wild Scottish island, I am comfortable with the conclusions I reached in the review, and I am content for other folks to try Harpia and form their own opinion about it.

Lee
 

henry link

Well-known member
Lee,

Here our optics testing philosophies diverge to the maximum. If I were handed a Harpia as a black box, told to use it for three weeks without the benefit of a reference scope of comparable aperture and known performance, and then forbidden from conducting any basic objective optical tests I would be adrift, unable to gather any more of the hard information about the scope’s optics I want to known than you did in your three weeks. I suppose very bad defects would be noticed, but the causes not identified. I doubt that I could be sure whether the image was dimmer at low magnification than a 95mm scope should be and I wouldn’t be at all confident of how its behavior compares to its expensive peers. Now give me three hours of star testing, measuring resolution at different magnifications with a 3x booster and making comparisons to a reference optic under controlled conditions and the tale will be told without me needing to form any opinions. ;)

Henry
 

Troubador

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Lee,

Here our optics testing philosophies diverge to the maximum.

Henry

Yes we diverge again.

Your hours of backyard testing may discover all manner of things but I fear that it is not clear to most of Birdforum members how this relates to the performance they can expect from the instrument in the field, being used for the purpose for which they were intended. For example if one model falls a little short of another when undergoing a USAF chart test or is found to have more spherical aberration than another, I seriously doubt that many of our 156,000 members will have any idea whether this means, for example, that the shape of a warbler's supercilium can only be seen at 85 yards as opposed to the 95 yards of the 'superior' model. And I also fear that models can appear to be condemned as unfit for purpose when in fact most observers would find they perform perfectly well for their needs.

For sure there are members for whom this kind of information is meaningful and useful, so there is definitely room for both approaches on Birdforum, but my target audience is not them.

My aim when reviewing is to determine whether a model can deliver useful and enjoyable birding or nature observations without design or manufacturing shortcomings interfering with this, as I believe this is the approach most relevant to most members.

Lee
 

Binastro

Well-known member
There are two quite different matters here.

Testing a scope for its optical excellence and.
Testing a scope for how well it performs its intended task.

I side with Lee here.

Although I test scopes for their optical excellence, once I have done this, I decide if it suits my observational needs.

I am interested in using high magnifications both for astro and terrestrial, so if I was to buy a large expensive spotting scope I would probably buy a Swarovski 95mm or Kowa 88mm and not the Harpia.
I would choose a Meopta 82mm but I don't think it offers high magnifications.

My most used astro scope was a Jaegers 123mm clear aperture f/5 Rich field refractor.
This is pretty useless for planetary observations, but I made planetary intensity estimates with it, as it was always ready on its tripod. It took about one minute to move it to the garden. It revealed magnitude 13.1 stars from town, and could be used from 16x 4.7 degree field to 145x.
Setting up 12.5 inch, 14.25 inch and 20.5 inch scopes takes time and a lot of effort. Usually the Seeing conditions don't even warrant setting them up.

But the Jaegers 123mm f/5 was used for thousands of deep sky and other observations.
It was ultra useful, despite having lots of CA etc.

The 150mm f/10 Maksutov was not good at high magnifications but was the best terrestrial scope and excellent astro scope also at medium powers. Again easy to set up and compact.

So with bird watchers, I think that Lee's review is very valid.
But I hope that Zeiss can keep the quality up to the performance of Lee's sample scope, and not let it slip so that the modest 23x to 70x magnifications are impaired.
 

Hermann

Well-known member
My aim when reviewing is to determine whether a model can deliver useful and enjoyable birding or nature observations without design or manufacturing shortcomings interfering with this, as I believe this is the approach most relevant to most members.

You're joking, right? That "a model can deliver useful and enjoyable birding or nature observations without design or manufacturing shortcomings interfering with this" is good enough - for a scope in THAT price range? A scope by what was at one time THE leading manufacturer of optical gear for, among others, birders? Really? Shouldn't a scope in that price range, made by Zeiss, be about as close to perfection at ALL magnifications as a scope with prisms can possibly be, rather than just "deliver useful and enjoyable birding or nature observations"?

I can only hope that Zeiss still strives to achieve a bit more than making optical gear that "can deliver useful and enjoyable birding or nature observations without design or manufacturing shortcomings interfering with this". Because if they don't they'll stand no chance whatsoever against the competition, including that from China.

And, by the way, how do you know that this approach is "the approach most relevant to most members"? Did you do a survey? Or is that just some convenient way of justifying that your criteria for judging the quality of what is, after all, the most expensive birding scope on the market are maybe a wee bit too lax?

Hermann
 

fugl

Well-known member
Have to agree with Henry Link and Hermann here. Extravagantly praising a scope on the basis of informal field testing with nothing to compare it with is without value, particularly when conducted by a Zeiss fanboy (employee?) like Troubador. This being especially so in the case of a very expensive scope like the Harpia.
 
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Peter Audrain

Consummate Indoorsman
It would be great if everyone could relax a bit. So far as I can tell, no one's trying to stop anybody else from writing their own review of any piece of optical equipment they would like, and no one is trying to stop anyone else from expressing whatever opinions they feel like expressing. Which means the room for outrage here—whatever people think about a scope under review after using it, or feel confident they would think about it—seems to the outside observer to be not just limited, but very limited.
 
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fugl

Well-known member
It would be great if everyone could relax a bit. So far as I can tell, no one's trying to stop anybody else from writing their own review of any piece of optical equipment they would like, and no one is trying to stop anyone else from expressing whatever opinions they feel like expressing. Which means the room for outrage here—whatever people think about a scope under review after using it, or feel confident they would think about it—seems to the outside observer to be not just limited, but very limited.

What “outrage”? The worst I’ve seen in the thread so far is opinions firmly expressed. Is it your view that BF reviews—even those by interested parties—should be exempt from critical commentary?
 
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Peter Audrain

Consummate Indoorsman
I'm new here and don't know what kind of tone is usual, much less how the various relationships among forum members with thousands of posts have played out over time. But I don't, in general, think that posts about other people's forum posts that dismiss them as valueless or read as personal or witheringly sarcastic, will prompt more posting. I would guess it's more useful to an online community over time to 'create content' by posting reviews than it is to censure reviews that are posted. Having said that, let a thousand flowers bloom—and, as I said, I am sure no one is trying to keep anyone else from expressing any opinion. The tone just struck me as becoming bewilderingly harsh.
 

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