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How to choose a tripod’s height for a straight spotting scope? (1 Viewer)

Passakorn

Well-known member
I just got the Nikon Monarch 60EDS scope (with 20-60x EP). It is a straight model. I am about 6 feet tall. Now I am using it with a tripod with extendable center column. As the 60EDS‘ foot is towards the front, I notice that the ocular end position can vary (up/down) a lot when I adjust the angle of scope according to the the height where the birds perch. At high angle, I have to adjust a center column a lot to have it fit my eyes with a comfortable watching position. When the bird is high (say around 30 degrees up) the total height of the tripod has to be about 65”to fit my eyes comfortably. I don’t have this problem with the 82EDA which is an angled model as I can adjust with my neck easier or at least I have to adjust less scope’s angle.

What is the best way to choose a tripod‘s height based on the observer’s height for a straight scope? For example if I am 6 feet tall, what is the maximum tripod height I should get and should I get a model with extendable center column (easier to adjust but less stability) or a tripod without a center column (getting rather big when having max height of 70” etc.)? I could use a longer plate to move the center of rotation back towards the center which will make the angle of the scope ocular side be less but longer plate also increases the weight.

Or usually how should I adjust the tripod when using a straight scope so that I don’t have to adjust the tripod’s height all the time when looking at the birds perching at different heights in the trees?

Thank you so much for your help,

Passakorn
 
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Some vertical movement of the eyepiece when tilting is unavoidable but a longer rearward facing QR plate would not only improve the balance of the taöil-heavy Monarch, but also reduce this vertical movement a little.
Eye level is about 10 cm lower than the top of your head, a tilt head adds about 10 cm to the tripod height and the eyepiece will be a further 5-6 cm above that, so a tripod height no more than 25 cm under your own height would be ideal. If necessary, a small extension of the centre column will not have a large detrimental effect on stability.

John
 
Eye level is about 10 cm lower than the top of your head, a tilt head adds about 10 cm to the tripod height and the eyepiece will be a further 5-6 cm above that, so a tripod height no more than 25 cm under your own height would be ideal.
I believe a tripod should be taller than that if you use it with a straight scope. Not all heads add 10 cm to the tripod height, and you're often not on level ground. As soon as the tripod is a bit below the place where you stand, you really need more height. In Northern Germany such situations often arise at the coast, when you're on a sea wall.

My own rule of thumb is that the tripod should ideally be the same height as the user (with the centre column extended no more than 25-30cm). That should be sufficient even in hilly areas or when you do raptor watching.

That means of course you're almost always better off with an angled scope if you're tall. I'm 190cm, and I only use a straight scope from a car or inside a hide, or on a monopod. My monopod is 197cm fully extended, that's more than enough.

Hermann
 
Not all heads add 10 cm to the tripod height,
None significantly under. My Berlebachs are at 8,5 cm and 9 cm. QR plates add another cm. The despised 128 RC must be more like 15 cm.
And I'd trade Northern Germany for Passakorn's Thailand if I could get to see a Spoonie there. :)

John

PS:- "with the centre column extended no more than 25-30 cm" - Aren't we saying the same thing?
 
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Thanks very much for the guidelines. For the Spoonie, we start to see some of them close to Bangkok and I am thinking about going there too. Here in Thailand a lot of birds related activities are related to bird photography which creates a lot of complications, for example, we expected to be in the blind all the time so that we don’t disturb the others who are taking photos. There are some incidences that someone got out of the blind and was shamed by other fellow photographers who came in a pack, etc. Looks like here they give much more priority to the photographers than the birders/bird watchers and there have been lots lot dramatic (many are silly to me) incidences for this. Although I do a lot of bird photography too, I enjoy more of just watching them doing there things so still thinking if I should go. It is very hot though if you have to sit in the hide in the sun in Thailand for all day long.
 
Here is my current setup. I try using the longer plate as John suggested. The center column as to extend all the way. Looking have to look for a new tripod.
 

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Apologies for what is probably an obvious question, but if you have just received the scope are you not able to return and swap for an angled model?
In the past I used a straight Nikon EDii which was fine for my purposes (mostly horizontal birding such as looking at water bodies/watching waders), but it was a literal pain in the neck when trying to use it in forest/mountainous environments. I've had angled scopes since then.
 
I think straightscopes are ideal for hide use, and fine if you do observations seated and at a similar viewing level, but beyond that they require either a very tall and thus bulkier tripod or the reduced stability of centre column extension.
 
I got the straight model because it is on sale at cheaper price than the angled model. I intend to keep it at least for now until I find an angled model with comparable cost.

I notice there are many users of the straight model in this forum and I am wondering how they use it comfortable for the birds high up, except using a taller tripod. I think I am getting used to using the straight model now but still don’t find the right practical solution for looking at birds at different height yet.
 
Sorry to hear of such conflicts. Here photographers are now also in the majority and sometimes they are indiscriminate and willing to disturb birds, just to get the shot.
Have you considered a Leofoto SOAR tripod? Even the smallest of the three would go high enough and would likely provide better stabilty than anything else at the weight. The disadvantages are long collapsed length and no centre column.

John
 
I notice there are many users of the straight model in this forum and I am wondering how they use it comfortable for the birds high up, except using a taller tripod. I think I am getting used to using the straight model now but still don’t find the right practical solution for looking at birds at different height yet.
Observing birds high up with a straight scope is always going to be somewhat uncomfortable. Even with a tall tripod it's not easy. That's why many people switched to angled scopes once they became widely known. The venerable Kowa TS-1 was the first angled model that became widely used, first in Sweden, as far as I remember. There are just a few situations I can think of where straight scopes work better: When you're observing from a car, in some hides and when you use a monopod. I got a straight Fieldscope EDIII just for use from the car. Angled scopes are a hassle when observing from a car.

The only "solution" I can think of is getting a tall enough tripod, and that means you need to carry more weight.

Hermann
 
Is it stating the obvious to suggest that it's not obligatory to stand while using your scope? When the subject is high among the trees, try kneeling or even sitting. Or am I missing something?
.
 
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Is it stating the obvious to suggest that it's not obligatory to stand while using your scope? When the subject is high among the trees, try kneeling or even sitting. Or am I missing something?
Of course you can kneel or sit down. Or even lie on your back. However, try that on a wet meadow. Or in shallow water. Kneeling or sitting down doesn't work too well either when the bird is in a meadow across a hedge or fence.

Hermann
 
John mentioned Spoonie made me itching and wanted to find one. Yesterday I spent 5 hours scanning hundreds of sandpipers in the area with no luck. Just right before I packed it up, it showed up. At 3 pm the heat was still bad and it is about 50m away so this is the best what I could do (Canon R7 with 100-400EFii+2x teleconverter)
 

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I did have a real test for the 60EDS in this trip. As most birds are lower than me so a straight scope works just fine. The plus is that my eyes are in the same alignment with the camera so it is good. Also, good position when sitting as well. Just missing the 82ED a bit as it has slightly higher magnification. The heat was bad anyway so more magnification would would't help much.
 
John mentioned Spoonie made me itching and wanted to find one. Yesterday I spent 5 hours scanning hundreds of sandpipers in the area with no luck. Just right before I packed it up, it showed up. At 3 pm the heat was still bad and it is about 50m away so this is the best what I could do (Canon R7 with 100-400EFii+2x teleconverter)
Wow, Passakorn, congratulations. That is my grail bird, which at my age I will unfortunately never get to see.

Best regards,
John
 
I got the straight model because it is on sale at cheaper price than the angled model. I intend to keep it at least for now until I find an angled model with comparable cost.

I notice there are many users of the straight model in this forum and I am wondering how they use it comfortable for the birds high up, except using a taller tripod. I think I am getting used to using the straight model now but still don’t find the right practical solution for looking at birds at different height yet.
Passakorn,

The overwhelming advantages of an angled scope for looking at birds "high up" have been well stated in the posts above. Nevertheless I have used a straight scope for 30+ years because I prefer it to an angled scope. I don't bother looking at birds "high up" using a straight scope. I found out long ago that trying to use any scope to find birds up in trees was mostly a waste of time because the higher magnification and correspondingly lower field of view compared to binoculars makes it very hard to locate the bird before it moves or flies off. For similar reasons I don't bother looking at birds in the sky overhead. I use binoculars instead.

If you have a straight scope you will need to adjust the height, and as far as I am concerned the only way to do that is an extendable centre column. Life is too short (and the bird's not there long enough !) to adjust the height of the scope any other way. How much height adjustment you need depends on how much neck ache you can stand ! I agree with Hermann that in practice you need to cater for the situation for when the tripod is lower than where you are standing.
 

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