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Kowa 883 vs 553 (1 Viewer)


Happy User
I am considering getting one of these two scopes to have more reach for shore birds. Here is how my reasoning goes.

a) I don't love carrying heavy weights, other things being equal.
b) Even the 553 demands a tripod to be used, that is, there would be little use to having an 553 without a tripod.
c) Once the weight of the tripod and head is factored in (6 pounds in my case), there is not a lot of difference between 553 and 883 total weight.
d) The 883 will allow much better views at high magnification; something with a 55mm objective is not really usable above 25-30x.
e) Hence, given that the difference in price is less than 2x, the 883 is the better buy.

Is the line of reasoning correct? Especially regarding b) and d)?

883 all the way, if you feel that the weight and bulk is not an issue. Any price difference can be negated through your far crisper and brighter visual enjoyment, especially on cloudy duller days and conditions. Certainly for scanning mudflats and seawatching.
It's not just the weight though, it's also the size. A smaller scope is a lot more convenient in the field. In addition, a larger and heavier scope requires a larger and heavier tripod with a heavier head. You need to take that into account.

My thinking is that a light and small scope/tripod set up is terrific for multi-day/week backcountry trips away from the car. Otherwise, big and bold is the way to go. :)
...to have more reach for shore birds...
More reach than what? Binoculars, or a scope that you already own?

If you don't own a scope, you'll find a nice travel scope to be extremely useful even at ~25x magnification. It will be a handy scope to own regardless of what else you ever get.

A big scope will allow even higher magnifications, but in most circumstances you probably won't need them. If the cost and bulk aren't a problem, it will certainly do more than a little scope. But bulk is often a problem for birders.

A 50mm travel scope plus an ~85mm big scope is the perfect combo to own. Better than making do with a ~60-65 mm scope for everything.

The real question is, which one do you buy first :) ?!

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I don’t like hiking with heavy weights and/or bulk either so I use a monopod with my 65mm straight scope and keep my magnification under 30x.
I do think its true that for birdwatching (as opposed to hunting) you really use the lower magnification most of the time. Still the big scope will provide a bigger and brighter image. I don't find the Kowa 883 much of a burden. Its pretty light and compact. The heavy tripod is a bigger issue because it is awkward. But, I do think the big tripod is very important. I still say, get the 883. You won't regret it. If all you have is the small scope, while I agree it is a nice scope and I would love to own one, you might have some regrets. Consider making a small scope, or maybe some more powerful binos, your next aquisition. down the road?
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You’ll need a decent tripod whatever scope you use. I thought I’d have a light and stealthy set up with a MM4/60 but found a suitable tripod was the more bulky thing and also switched to the 77 model scope. I put it all on a Scopac backpack and to be honest I can walk miles with it. If you can afford the 883, get that, a good tripod and head and a carrying pack and you won’t regret it.
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