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Kowa 883 vs Swaro ATS80HD (2 Viewers)

sur-akk

Member
My first post here.
The two scopes I shortlisted are Swarovski ATS80HD and Kowa 883. I am preferring Kowa scope to the Swaro, as both of these scopes are similarly priced, but Kowa comes with an 88mm to the Swaro's 80mm, and Kowa weighs about 235gm more.
I have read quite a few threads out here on Kowa 883. I am not in a position to drive 4-hours each way to try one out, but how sensible is it to buy one without personally looking through this scope?
Also, which tripod is better suited for Kowa 883 - MT190CXPRO3 or MT055CXPRO3? The tripod head's I have identified are Manfrotto MVH502AH Pro or 128LP Micro Video Head. Will this setup work fine or do I need to look at a different setup?
Please help!
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

If you cannot test the scope you want to buy beforehand, buy from a store with a no questions asked return policy and make sure you have time and equipment (a printed out resolution chart and maybe a diy artificial star made from aluminium foil and a led flashlight) to thoroughly test it inside the return period.

Swaro vs. Kowa is mostly a question of how you like the focus drive - I personally am not really good with Swaro style... if I need to grip that big thing I tend to induce lots of vibration or even move the scope... but others love it. That has been btw. the reason why I have never tried a Nikon fieldscope despite their stellar track record in terms of optics... well, at least the larger ones - the little 50 ED has the correct one for me.

You can get lemons or cherries (or anything in between) from both brands... Swaro has of course their great warranty (but not sure how they react to optics not performing to standard).

As for tripods, both should be ok unless you want to put a lot of additional digiscoping stuff on there... like a DSLR body plus adapters... In that case the 055 is preferred.

I would get the 500AH head. It's somewhere in between the two models you mentioned in terms of stability and it weights and costs as much as the smaller one.

Joachim
 
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Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
I'd get the Manfrotto 128RC QR head for the Swaro ATS80. The foot will fit directly into the head without the plate.

Not familiar with the Kowa 883 foot. If Arca-Swiss style foot/plate is needed I'd get the Gitzo GHF2W head and the plate for the Swaro PTH head since it includes an anti-rotation pin.

Sorry, but I'm not familiar with those tripods.
 
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Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
When I use to judge scopes almost solely based on their performance at 50-60x I would of chosen the Kowa 883. Now weight and ergonomics factor in a bit more when picking optics. I'd have to play with both scopes a bit before choosing, but imagine I would pick the 883.

A number of years ago I went from the ATS80 to the ATX95. While the ATX95 provides perhaps the best optical performance available in birding scopes, I found the thing to be a bit of a beast to handle and never found a head that I was happy with until the Gitzo GHF2W. A few months there was some scuttlebutt out about the Meopta S2 82mm and some good sale prices for it. On a whim I ordered one and I'm glad I did. It has 95% of the performance of the ATX95 in a smaller, lighter package. And like the ATS80, the foot fits securely into the 128RC head. No plate that comes loose and no rotation.
 

sur-akk

Member
Hi,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

If you cannot test the scope you want to buy beforehand, buy from a store with a no questions asked return policy and make sure you have time and equipment (a printed out resolution chart and maybe a diy artificial star made from aluminium foil and a led flashlight) to thoroughly test it inside the return period.

Swaro vs. Kowa is mostly a question of how you like the focus drive - I personally am not really good with Swaro style... if I need to grip that big thing I tend to induce lots of vibration or even move the scope... but others love it. That has been btw. the reason why I have never tried a Nikon fieldscope despite their stellar track record in terms of optics... well, at least the larger ones - the little 50 ED has the correct one for me.

You can get lemons or cherries (or anything in between) from both brands... Swaro has of course their great warranty (but not sure how they react to optics not performing to standard).

As for tripods, both should be ok unless you want to put a lot of additional digiscoping stuff on there... like a DSLR body plus adapters... In that case the 055 is preferred.

I would get the 500AH head. It's somewhere in between the two models you mentioned in terms of stability and it weights and costs as much as the smaller one.

Joachim

Many Thanks Joachim! i may end up buying the Kowa 883, and to keep the digiscoping option open, I shall go for 055 tripod. I did check around, but the 500AH is not available with any of the stockists, so I may go for 502AH.
 

CMB

Well-known member
I can't speak to the scopes, but regarding tripod heads...

We have both the Mafrotto 500AH head mentioned by jring, and the Manfrotto 128RC mentioned by Bill Atwood.

For the 80mm and larger scopes I like the 500AH because of the built in spring counter balance (rated for 5.3lbs/2.4kgs) that helps return the scope to level. This greatly helps the scope from flipping forwards or backwards if you forget to tension the drag before you remove your hand from the bar. If you are able to get the scope's center point of balance set properly on the mounting plate, then the counter balance does a great job of holding the scope at any angle without the friction tension applied.

The 128RC does not have this built in spring counter balance and as a result your scope can flop forwards or backwards if you forget to secure the tension before taking our hand off the bar. Because of this I prefer the 128RC for smaller scopes.

Chris
 

sur-akk

Member
When I use to judge scopes almost solely based on their performance at 50-60x I would of chosen the Kowa 883. Now weight and ergonomics factor in a bit more when picking optics. I'd have to play with both scopes a bit before choosing, but imagine I would pick the 883.

A number of years ago I went from the ATS80 to the ATX95. While the ATX95 provides perhaps the best optical performance available in birding scopes, I found the thing to be a bit of a beast to handle and never found a head that I was happy with until the Gitzo GHF2W. A few months there was some scuttlebutt out about the Meopta S2 82mm and some good sale prices for it. On a whim I ordered one and I'm glad I did. It has 95% of the performance of the ATX95 in a smaller, lighter package. And like the ATS80, the foot fits securely into the 128RC head. No plate that comes loose and no rotation.

Thanks Bill! Unfortunately, Meopta is not easily available here in UK and weighing everything, I would opt fo Kowa 883.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
The Swaro ATS with the 25-50 Eyepiece is remarkable.... If one compares the 20-60 Eyepiece, the Swaro doesn't do as well. Now, if you are digiscoping, you will never go beyond 20-25 anyhow, so don't worry about the upper reaches.

Also, the Helical focal wheel is perfect..... as one person stated, you either love it or hate it but personally I find it excellent. Easy to grasp.....not vibration....fine tuning is easy etc...

My vote...Swaro hands down.....
 

sur-akk

Member
The Swaro ATS with the 25-50 Eyepiece is remarkable.... If one compares the 20-60 Eyepiece, the Swaro doesn't do as well. Now, if you are digiscoping, you will never go beyond 20-25 anyhow, so don't worry about the upper reaches.

Also, the Helical focal wheel is perfect..... as one person stated, you either love it or hate it but personally I find it excellent. Easy to grasp.....not vibration....fine tuning is easy etc...

My vote...Swaro hands down.....

Primary purpose of the scope would be bird-watching, and digiscoping is secondary.
 

MalR

Well-known member
I've used a Swaro ATS80HD on a 055CXPRO3 tripod for several years and been very happy. I use the Manfrotto 128RC head. As Bill Atwood has said, the foot on the Swaro scope fits directly into the head and the release lever can be locked in place.

However, there really is no substitue for trying something out. Apart from the different focusing systems, you might find that one or the other just fits your eye better. So, the advice to buy from a dealer with a no quibble returns policy is a good one.

Malcolm
 

Borjam

Registered User
Supporter
Both the 190 and 055 Manfrotto tripods are great.

The difference is, the 055 is heavier and larger and it can handle more weight safely. Of course, being larger and having thicker legs makes it more stiff.

As for the MVH500AH head, it's great. The 502 is a bit of overkill I think; heavier and more expensive.

I own both the 190 and 055 (I used the 190 with my old Celestron 65 mm scope, and I upgraded to 055 when I got the Kowa). I also own the MVH500AH head. Love it.
 

jring

Well-known member
I bought my 500ah used from MPB a couple of years ago and couldn’t be happier.

Hi,

bought my 500AH from the classifieds here a few years ago - in well used and slightly modified condition for a song from a pro photographer who had dragged it around the world - plenty of dust from an unknown desert included.

It got a quick cleanup and has served me well since then. I had just bought a 128RC when that happened and the difference is really night and day with a full size scope. If you have a sth light in 50 or 60mm the 128RC is fine - I have my Kowa 603 on it...

Joachim
 

sur-akk

Member
Thanks everyone for your feedback! I have burnt my pockets and placed an order for a Kowa 883, tripod and the head suggested. Testing the scope would be a difficult task, but found the resolution sheet and star test tutorials on the threads here. But I need to do a lot of reading and not sure how successful I would be in testing the scope out.
 

BoldenEagle

Well-known member
Thanks everyone for your feedback! I have burnt my pockets and placed an order for a Kowa 883, tripod and the head suggested. Testing the scope would be a difficult task, but found the resolution sheet and star test tutorials on the threads here. But I need to do a lot of reading and not sure how successful I would be in testing the scope out.

Hi,

if you could take some pictures of star test diffraction patterns and post here on Birdforum, it would be very interesting to see what kind of sample you are dealing with. I have posted pictures of my sample (which I decided to keep, had to return the first one I got) on another thread here in Kowa section.

Good luck and hope you will get a great sample!

Regards, Juhani
 

sur-akk

Member
Hi,

if you could take some pictures of star test diffraction patterns and post here on Birdforum, it would be very interesting to see what kind of sample you are dealing with. I have posted pictures of my sample (which I decided to keep, had to return the first one I got) on another thread here in Kowa section.

Good luck and hope you will get a great sample!

Regards, Juhani

Hi Juhani, I read your thread and saved it to my bookmarks too! And saved quite a few from Joachim and Henry also. I'll post the pics if I undertake those star tests.
 
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wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
You may have seen from an earlier thread that I bought the Kowa 883 with 25-50 zoom after testing it against The Swarovski ATS80HD, have to say for clarity and colour the Kowa was quite obviously superior, but that was just to my eyes. Both are excellent scopes.

I have the heavy but sturdy Manfrotto 055 and RC128 head which are basic but secure and sturdy, factors you want when you paying this much for a scope.

For my age I find them heavy to lug about and still quite like my OpticronTravel Scope and Sherpa Velbon tripod which are cheap and fairly robust and easier to take on a long difficult walk. Inferior optics obviously.
 
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cjmassey

Member
Hello:

Can someone tell me if the 500AH has a safety catch that prevents the plate/scope from sliding out of the head if the locking screw is not tightened?
 

b-lilja

Well-known member
I missed this thread previously, but I did intensive side by side comparisons of these two scopes - including two samples of the Kowa (884 in my case) - along with my Nikon ED3 82mm. The Swaro is clearly beautifully made and strikes me as the tougher of the two. I actually found a lot of similarities between it and the Nikon. The two Kowas however had a better image - and one was just flat out superb, to the point of being a bit jaw dropping. That is now my scope. Clearly that flourite objective does something special. I use it with my old 128 RC head and ancient 3021 legs and it is a great combo. I am now in the process of buying the 554 and will report out on it soon...
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

yes, there is a safety - both the original and the chinese clone plate I have do not fall out when not locked.

Joachim
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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