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Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Maven CS.1 15-45x65 vs. Kowa TSN-663M+TE-9Z (1 Viewer)


I'm putting thought into getting a mid-range spotting scope. I would like it for general use while traveling but also particularly casual astronomy use. (I know not to get my hopes up with regard to astronomy use but it's still a factor.)

Has anyone gotten a chance to try out either? How's the glass on both? Am I expecting too much?

I'm leaning towards the Kowa because it's actually cheaper than the Maven if you order it out of Japan.



Well-known member
Hi, and welcome to Birdforum.
Because of the relatively high magnifications on scopes, sample variation is often much more apparent than on binoculars, so it is really advisable to test the example you buy.
A "grey" import from Japan would preclude this and any warranty issues would result in additional difficulties.
On his Binomania site, Piergiovanni Salimbeni published a very favourable report of the Kowa 663M: Recensione dello spotting scope Kowa TSN-663 Prominar - RECENSIONI DI BINOCOLI, OTTICHE SPORTIVE E TELESCOPI ASTRONOMICI ...dal 2006


Thank you for the reply and welcome. The point about grey market warranty is well taken as that is something I overlooked. To be honest, part of the reason I was looking at mid-range spotting scopes is that I was trying to factor in the possibility of it being lost or stolen (or me breaking it) while travelling. Not that I anticipate it, but I rather be out $800 than $2000, given the choice.

Thank you for the link to the review.

I've never understood how there could be so much sample variation among spotting scopes, as I've continually read here while lurking. Your comment however cleared things up for me. It's variation on the high end (magnification) which makes a little more sense.

Perhaps I will splurge and go for the bigger heavier more expensive Monarch ED82A with the wide field zoom EP. However I was really curious to hear a comparison between the two listed scopes because both Maven and Kowa are known for putting out good glass. And from what brief research I've done, the mid-range spotting scopes seem to have a large range in performance ability.

Thanks again for the reply and welcome.
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Well-known member
No doubt you have read Henry Link's excellent review here of the Monarch ED82A, so if you get a good example, you would never wish for more.
There seems to be trend towards very large scopes offering acceptable exit pupils at the higher magnifications, but for many these are seldom required or their use is often limited by atmospheric conditions (mirage).
As with some others here on the forum, who have"upgraded" from a good medium-sized scope to a good large scope, I often appreciate the portability of the former. For most 65mm to 80 mm would be a good compromise.



Well-known member
John has offered some excellent advice, and whilst I wouldnt sway anyone from buying a Nikon scope, the ED82 may be a bit large if you are travelling around. A 60-65mm may better suit your needs, and in terms of performance to price ratio, the older Nikon Fieldscope series are arguably the best. Other options could be the newer 60mm Monarch, or the Opticron MM series which are highly regarded. I can't comment on the Maven, but the Kowa is a solid scope - the 30x is definitely a better option than the zoom however. Hope this helps!
Interesting. Thank you for all the replies.

Yes, I've seen the "Perfect Ten" Monarch 82EDA thread hence my comment. :D From Japan it would be very affordable but again at the expense of securing a proper warranty.

Thank you for the comments about the benefits of portability with regard to medium sized scopes. I guess I figured I would put up with the weight to get the "better" views but perhaps I'm thinking too much in my head on that one.

I noticed there are some Nikon Fieldscopes on Ebay and such but I was worried I might get one with worn out glass or a bad sample.

I've looked online at Opticron binoculars before, perhaps I will have to give their spotting scopes catalog a look as well. Thank you.

The reason I mentioned the Nikon wide field zoom EP is because the crux of the standard Nikon zooms seems to be its narrow FoV. Buying from Japan also allows one to only buy the body of the scope because for some reason in North America you have to buy them as a package with the regular zoom.

You mean the fixed 30x EP in preference to the zoom. Correct?

Thanks for all the replies.

I'm in no hurry to purchase anything and I will have to sell some astro equipment before I make a purchase anyway. So I will just keep reading.

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