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

Looking for spotting scope advice (1 Viewer)

Hi all, I'm looking to buy a spotting scope and I've already made a post (Spotting Scope Suggestions) considering some options. However, now I have come across a used Swarovski ATS 80HD in mint condition, which comes with both the 20-60x and the 25-50x, an original Swaro SOC, as well as a manfrotto tripod and 128RC head. The body and 20-60x are from 2007 and the 25-50x is from 2011. It's about 2000 euros, which seems like a reasonable price, but I'm really looking to make the best investment and perhaps saving up some more for a scope such as the Kowa 883 may be a better investment for me. Can the older ATS really keep up with these newer scopes on the market? I've also been looking at the Kite, my local natureshop is selling a bundle with it which includes: the scope, 25-50x, Kite Ardea tripod, Kite Skua SOC and the Viato backpack. I really enjoyed looking through this scope, and the Kowa, and very much liked the idea of this bundle as an all in one package. The shop assistant sold it quite well, saying that it lived up to the Swaro ATS (some claiming that it was better than the ATS), as well as brilliant customer service, a 30 year warranty and a price loft of 200 euros to get a replacement in the case that I completely totalled it! This bundle is about 1000 euros more though, but seems like a good investment. Scopes such as the Kowa and Swaro ATX are without a doubt sharper and better optically, and the extra magnification and option of an extender is very attracting for seabird watching etc., unlike their high prices...

I have also been looking at the Meopta S2 and Nikon Monarch, but I really don't want to buy a scope that I cannot try beforehand.

An ATX is way out of my budget, though I'm considering if the Kowa may just be in it if it really is that good. Or would the used ATS or Kite be a better option. These 3 options I see are really my best available. I know I will be very happy with whichever scope I eventually buy, but considering that it's an expensive and long term investment, I'm really looking to make the best one. I'd really appreciate any help and advice.
Kind Regards, Ben
 

horukuru

Here I Come !
Malaysia
Can you inspect the scope's condition before buying? If yes, then try to look up on the forum how the after sales service between these 3 brands fares. I have tried the Swarovski and Kowa and both are great scopes. Hope this helps.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

if you can test the used ATX before the sale, I'd have a look. Make sure that it has a nice and sharp image at 60x with an easy to find best focus. You need a cool day for that in order to avoid heat haze aka bad seeing.

Or make an artificial star and do a star test... you want equivalent patterns of concentric circles on both sides of focus point.

Joachim
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I have owned several (3) versions of a Swaro 80 scopes ...... a few things and a few things to look for.

If you get the HD version in 2007, it is best. There was a non-HD (80mm ATS) version floating around during those years and if you have that one, than no, it is not as good as the HD version and I would not buy it regardless of price.

When comparing a 2007 ATS (HD) to one purchased recently, there is not that much of a difference other than the switch from Alum body to Mag body. From what I could see or recall, they were close in terms of optics. Now I am sure that the 2007 optics did not have the same coatings though. I never compared side-by-side as I sold my earlier version and later bought a more recent ATS but the differences if any, were not noticeable (if you bought the HD version of the 2007).

A huge difference between the 20-60 eye-piece and the 25-50. You won't even want to use the 20-60.

Now, there was one line of scope that fell in-between the one you are looking at and that was the Swaro ATM version. That one was sub-par, but you don't have to worry about that.

When comparing the Swaro vs the Meopta S2.....I feel they are pretty even although I found the helical focus on the Meopta to be more sluggish but a very nice scope, especially for the money. The eye-piece on the Meopta also comes in various focal lengths and I would get the 'tighter' of the focus lengths similar to the Swaro 25-50. I can't tell you anything on the Nikon Monarch. I do like the Helical wheels on all, and I do prefer the clean lines of the Swaro over either the Meopta or the Monarch, but that is personal opinion.

you can visit a site here that I put together for a local Audubon society that speaks to what I was saying above (ATS, ATM and more recent ATS) as well as digiscoping in general. You can tell the difference between the ATS and ATM by the coloration pattern of black/green.

PM me if you want....I enjoy talking scopes, jim
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
Now, there was one line of scope that fell in-between the one you are looking at and that was the Swaro ATM version. That one was sub-par, but you don't have to worry about that.
There were originally 8 versions of the Swarovski ATS/STS scopes: angled/straight, 65 mm and 80 mm, HD and non-HD. These had aluminium alloy bodies.

They were succeeded (around 2010?) by the ATM/STM scopes with magnesium alloy bodies, also in 8 versions. The magnesium alloy saved 90-100 g weight.

When Swarovski introduced the modular ATX/STX the ATS/STS were reintroduced as entry-level scopes, but still very good as all 4 had HD objectives.

I am fairly sure that coatings, and consequently transmission, were improved between the first and second versions of the ATS/STS.

My ATM 65 HD has a serial no. U8110xxxxx (2011 manufacturing date), so any ATS with a higher serial no. would be the latest version.

John
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Agreed John....they had the ATS and STS in both 65 and 80 and HD and non HD.... Likewise with the ATM. It is funny how once the ATX/STX was introduced, these same $3000 scopes now became 'entry"..... Have to give it to Swaro for they know how to keep the prices up, even for a now 'entry'!! jim
 
Thanks all, for your feedback. I think I’ll save up for a Kowa 883, or try find an ATX or something of the likes used. They just seem like better investments, as a one time purchase, which the ATS doesn’t quite, I think. The possibilities of extenders are very attractive as I’m really getting into seabird watching! Thanks again. I’ll let you know of anything I find, and likely create a post of some thoughts when I finally get to buying a scope!
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
On the Kowa...you will need to purchase a scope case for since it is not padded like Swaro or just about all scopes are. Before buying, if you can find samples or a nature store that has them in stock to view thru, and compare. Look for things such as color coloration for the Kowa might have a yellowish tinge to it. Also, look at 'focusing'....what is more comfortable for you? Helical style or more traditional? Fine tuned or not? ... All quality scopes can be one-time purchases and Swaro or Nikon or Meopta are surely there. But strong suggestion of testing them out prior to purchasing.
 

jcnguyen09

Well-known member
I have been using the ATM HD 80 with a 25-50 eyepiece for about 10 years and thinking of upgrading to BTX with 115mm. I like the idea of two eyes instead of one and wonder if there is an alternate option beside the BTX ? I heard so many good praises on the Kowa and they have the Highlander but don't know if that would be comparable option to the BTX.
 
On the Kowa...you will need to purchase a scope case for since it is not padded like Swaro or just about all scopes are. Before buying, if you can find samples or a nature store that has them in stock to view thru, and compare. Look for things such as color coloration for the Kowa might have a yellowish tinge to it. Also, look at 'focusing'....what is more comfortable for you? Helical style or more traditional? Fine tuned or not? ... All quality scopes can be one-time purchases and Swaro or Nikon or Meopta are surely there. But strong suggestion of testing them out prior to purchasing.
Yes, exactly! My local nature store is selling the scope with the case and ocular. I will of course test the scope many times, maybe do some artificial star tests and then buy the model that I tested. Honestly, the focusing and zoom mechanism doesn’t bother me too much, I think I will get to grips with whichever system reasonably easily. Thanks again!
 

Tringa45

Well-known member
Europe
I heard so many good praises on the Kowa and they have the Highlander but don't know if that would be comparable option to the BTX.
The Kowa Highlander is a superb instrument and after a substantial reduction is now priced attractively but the individual focus and a weight around 6 kg (requiring a heavy tripod and head) limits its suitability for field use.
Btw, none of my scopes has ever sustained any damage and I have never used a SOC. Most of them don't allow you to rotate the scope in its collar (in a hide or for viewers of different height) and a simple padded bag is better protection for transport in the car.

John
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
Two eyes is very nice for long distance spotting. I use a 4kg pair of 45degr and angled APM70ED binoculars on a short light manfrotto tripod and ultrawide eyepieces (very wide selection of very high spec astro models) carried it about all day once without too much trouble. I use a couple of layers of foam camping mat inside my bags to keep things protected against knocks. APM do sell larger models (82,100,120,150mm!) and they are about to release a unique very wide field zoom that can be bought with them. Individual focus is only annoying if you are following things or observing close things, for which a higher power spotter is not especially suited. I’ve seen plenty of Swaro spotters, but never a BTX, be interesting to compare them against a binocular view with much greater width.

Peter
 

horukuru

Here I Come !
Malaysia

AlphaFan

Well-known member
United States
Well now. Just when it appeared discussion of the top-3 candidates was beginning to settle, Kowa went ahead and upped the ante with a new 99mm scope. Cannot wait to see this one in the wild. According to the press releases they are available for pre-order, with delivery sometime in September.

 
I had kind of concluded that I would just wait, and save up for a Swaro ATX or try find something like that used. Now, I’ve come across a Zeiss Diascope 85 T*FL with a 20-60x, a Zeiss Tripod and a 128RC head. The scope is from 2006, so rather old but I have heard that this used to be one of the best scopes around. It’s listed at around 1300 euros for the scope and tripod (I think I can still get the price down a tad). I’m thinking of testing the scope and may try to do a star test (if I can figure out how to do one!) The scope seems so be in perfect condition, it doesn’t seem like he has used it very much, only at his house in France which has now been sold(the reason for him selling the scope). Thinking that this is a good price, but again my question is just if it can really live up to today’s competition, and if it may just be a better option to save up for a Swaro/Kowa etc.?
Thanks 553DB90E-B231-4B59-9FFA-F2C0CAE86C5B.png 6A11D2A0-2023-48E7-80A5-6106553B3B8B.png 6CFD23A0-DF27-4FC1-9524-B46AB5B29605.png 220DE4E7-5291-4887-9220-8F98DAA514D1.png
 
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horukuru

Here I Come !
Malaysia
If you can get the scope + tripod for less a price than the Kowa or Swarovski, that would be a good investment. If after using it for sometimes, you didn't like it that much, selling it off might be a good idea then get a new ones. 85mm is a good balance for viewing and digiscoping.
 
Now, I've come across a used newer version of the Zeiss Diascope 85 FL with a 20-75x. Should I consider this or should I just wait and save up for a Swaro? Eager to hear anyones thoughts. Thanks
 

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Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Now, I've come across a used newer version of the Zeiss Diascope 85 FL with a 20-75x. Should I consider this or should I just wait and save up for a Swaro? Eager to hear anyones thoughts. Thanks
Hi Ben
I've got a 2012 black version with a 'new' (replaced by Zeiss last year) 20-75 zoom & have been extremely happy with it. I phonescope with my Samsung S10 & PhoneSkope adapters & get great results. In my opinion the Diascope is a brilliant bit of kit.
 

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Hi Ben
I've got a 2012 black version with a 'new' (replaced by Zeiss last year) 20-75 zoom & have been extremely happy with it. I phonescope with my Samsung S10 & PhoneSkope adapters & get great results. In my opinion the Diascope is a brilliant bit of kit.
Thanks, for your feedback. Doing some more research, and am still unsure. The 75x mag is very attractive, but if a Swaro performs better at 60x than the Zeiss does, I would opt for the former. Also, I've read that there is some distortion due to the very wide FOV on the Zeiss and that the colour rendition isn't as accurate/natural as other scopes. Thinking that waiting for a Swaro ATX 85 may be a safer option, I'm familiar to this scope already as my dad owns an ATX 65, the 85 can only be better I suppose! Thanks again
 
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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