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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.

Next step: I need a scope (1 Viewer)

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
I replaced a heavy astro refractor recently with an MM60, shave a kilo off. Also got a much lighter tripod (less stable, but much easier to carry) to save another kilo or more so walking about a lot is much more pleasant. (Found my bird guide was almost a kilo too… !) I am still happy to lug about my 4kg binoculars and a proper tripod, but only when I’m likely to be more static. With the MM60 at 45x you need the fine focus and the view dips in brightness. I found myself running a little below that and pushing to max only when I felt I needed the reach. For more power I’d suggest a bigger scope so the view doesn’t dim too much. Of course on many days the heat haze will prevent you going that high. You have to decide how much you want to carry and where you observe and with what weather. As you note it shows hugely more than 8x bins, that themselves show much more than no binoculars.

Peter

I really like your last sentence. Sometimes i struggle to appreciate what i already own and tend to look for the next "better" option. For me being "movable" and "lightweight" is the key - i guess.
 

sillyak

Well-known member
When the conditions are right, high magnification can be amazing. However, magnification over 50-60x are usually mush no matter how good your optics are because of heat distortion (mirage).
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
First test out in the field was good! It’s a great and clear view up to about x35. Hitting the x45 makes it a bit harder to focus, especially in darker areas. It was mixed weather today, clouds, rain and sun and I barley had the desire of more light. I saw some common teals which I wouldn’t been able to identify with my HG 8x42. Furthermore I had the chance to watch some grey heron sitting in their nest and breed. At x45 I still could see the heron cleaning it’s plumage clearly at about 200m distance. I could clearly spot some tufted duck about 500m away only using about x35 zoom.
Over the fields I watched some deer hiding in the bushes, that’s where I first saw the heat flicker over the ground disturbing the view. Interesting as it’s about seven degree Celsius today.
All in all I’m happy with the scope I easily carried in my backpack and as a bonus I watched four red kites about 800m away dancing in the sky.
 
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Jkloz

Member
United States
Hello bird enthusiats,

i hope you had a good start into the new year and already the chance to spot some birds!

Yesterday i was at a small lake to have a look at some Microcarbo pygmaeu because i've heard that some individuals were there. Usually i use my Nikon Monarch HG 8x42 for birding and i'm very happy with it. The 8x magnification ist great, i can hold it easily and see most of the birds and details.
Standing at the lake i saw a bunch of Phalacrocorax carbo and coudln't figure out if there was a Microcarbo pygmaeu or not, i just hadn't enough magnification to see the details. After a while there was another guy with a spotter, i think a kowa. He set up his gear and immediatliy said "ou there is a Microcarbo pygmaeu". That was the moment i knew its time for the next step. I need to buy a spotter for those days at the lake. I think i will still use my Monarch HG most but a spotting scope could come in handy and i will bring it with me when i know that i will stay for some hours.

I did some research yesterday and think that with about 1000€ i can get a decent spotting scope. I know it wont be the best but i'm sure i will enjoy the bigger magnification to see the details and use the Monarch HG to enjoy the view. I will use it in daytime 90% of the time so i think around 60-80mm lens would be fine.

For my needs i think an angled scope would be perfect, especially because my wife would use it too. I guess it sill is comfortable to use sitting in a small chair?

I think something like The Kowa TSN 663M could be a good mid level scope. Would you recommend buying it with the 20-60x zoom or the 30x fixed focal length for the better image?
On here i saw the Svbony SV406P ED 20-60x80 which seems to be a cheap chinese scope. How does it compare to something like the kowa mentioned above? Is it something you could be happy with at about half of my budget?
I also would buy a used one but i think the market over here (germany) is very limited, especially in the mid-price range.

Do you have any other recommandations?

As a tripod i would use my old manfrotto 055XPROB (sadly heavy) in combination with something like the manfrotto MVH500AH.

Celestron regal m2 65ed Replace the stock eyepiece with baader hyperion zoom or a large selection of fixed eyepieces with a 1.25 barrel . Everything Kowa is excellent but this might fit your budget better and is a well built scope that produces an excellent image .
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
Would the manfrotto Befree advanced be too unstable? I had this one in mind: Befree

Any other recommendations? There are great tripods made by gitzo but i don't wanna pay half the price of my scope for the tripod if thats possible. I saw the benro tripods but they seem to be larger when collapsed and the legs don't seem to fold up.
I would like to have something at around 1kg, should be fine with aluminum too.
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
Just got the Aluminium Befree video for an mm60 scope. It’s light but pretty stable but you can wobble it if you try, was out yesterday and it worked just fine upto the max 45x. No huge winds to test it, I was going to hang my bag off it to help if I had to. There seems to be some “backlash” if the altitude is half locked, but this doesn’t affect use normally. One thing I am going to do is add some tactile mark to the scope clamp lock… it’s the same screw size and shape as the azimuth lock… there is an anti-slide feature on the plate, but I’d prefer not to loosen the scope instead of the azimuth!
Easy to carry and compact, I wanted something to fit in a backpack, so I didn’t have a separate tripod to carry, seems to fit the bill.

Peter
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
Any other recommendations? There are great tripods made by gitzo but i don't wanna pay half the price of my scope for the tripod if thats possible. I saw the benro tripods but they seem to be larger when collapsed and the legs don't seem to fold up.
I would like to have something at around 1kg, should be fine with aluminum too.
I own the Benro TAD27A Series 2 Aluminum Tripod, and use it with a Celestron Regal M2 65ED. It has large leg diameters (very similar to the Manfrotto 055XB) and doesn't weigh a lot (3.9 lbs/1.77 kg). It is fairly stable, but of course it vibrates some in wind. I have not owned a tripod before so I don't know how its stability compares to others. For me the vibration isn't bad and perfectly acceptable for a 65mm scope. Overall I'm satisfied with it as a stable and light tripod. The folded length is 24.2 in/61.5 cm for mine, which is a three-section, the four-section TAD28A is 20.7 in/52.6 cm long when folded. I don't think you'll get a tripod with good stability that weighs 1 kg, unless you go with carbon fiber.
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
Had another hours of research and found one that is similar to the Gitzo GT1545T - just cheaper. Its a Tiltall Aluminium Tripod for about 170€ also available in CF for 300€. Its about 1.5kg for aluminium and 1.1kg for carbon fiber. I wont find an aluminium one with about 1kg, thats for sure. But 1.5kg seems to be a good compromise, especially because the legs fold up ath 180 degree which and the whole package is only 43cm.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

my usual sermon about tripods:

  • wood is best for dampening vibration, followed by CF and alumninum is worst. Expect longer settling times for aluminum.
  • less segments perefered - the locks don't help with stability. Also more segements = smaller diameter of the lowest segment = more shaky. Since 2 segment tripods are rare and quite long, 3 segments are my choice.
  • center column = shaky. You want to keep it down or mostly so... some even use a tripod without a center column - this is the most stable approach as you don't have a locking mechanism for the center column introducing instability.
  • if you want to keep the center column down, the tripod needs to be taller... the model you linked is 122cm with the column down. Add 25-30cm for head and scope - is 147-152cm eye level ok for you?
  • you can forget good marks from a tripod test in a photo magazine... the stability needs are just not comparable. A spotting scope uses way higher magnification than a 500mm long lens (which is basically 10x) and unlike with a still camera you observe for extended times... you need a much more stable tripod.

Joachim
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
For all of you considering the MM4/60 - it’s great, definitely lightweight, packs easily and I‘m looking forward to buy the Benro TMA28C.
Most of the time it’s hard to get a good view at x45 in the distance because heat and so on. In the close distance x45 is super sharp and great to use.
Actually it’s 7pm and I made some comparison pictures to show how the x45 view is compared to what my phone can see. The picture is taken through the scope without any editing or crop, just cut away the black corners, the picture appears darker than it is because I’m too silly to get a good shot without blackouts. The sign you can see is about 800m away (measured with google maps). I can’t read it and it’s not 100% sharp but I bet a bigger scope won’t handle it better. The heat seems to disturb the view in distances like that most of the time. But for 800m, 7pm and a 60mm scope I think it’s absolutely fine.
 

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ajfossey

Registered User
Supporter
Agreed the MM4/60 is an excellent travel scope and I’ve used with both and SDL2 and SDL3. My preference however is with the x23 delivered using the 40831 HDF T WW eyepiece. The 40858 HDF delivering x32 also works well, but is difficult to find for purchase now.
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
Which scope do you guys use as a „main“ scope when this one is your travel scope? I always see myself carrying lighter gear. Today I made a walk on the coast and initially grabbed the M7 8x30 instead of my HG 8x42, same yesterday. I guess I would have to challenge myself to carry a bigger scope if I had one..
For being stationary at home a bigger scope would be definitely worth it.
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
The 60MM4 is now my general purpose scope, keeping the weight down. Otherwise I’ll use either an old 80mm ED refractor or a pair of 70mm Astro binoculars (with a heavier tripod). There will always be times you want more power, but there are downsides. As noted the seeing cammput a limit on things, even if you have the aperture to add the magnification.

Peter
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
Agreed the MM4/60 is an excellent travel scope and I’ve used with both and SDL2 and SDL3. My preference however is with the x23 delivered using the 40831 HDF T WW eyepiece. The 40858 HDF delivering x32 also works well, but is difficult to find for purchase now.

Those fixed lenses catchend my attention. The x32 would be perfect but I can’t find a used one. If anyone on here would sell one, please send me a message :)
 

ajfossey

Registered User
Supporter
Which scope do you guys use as a „main“ scope when this one is your travel scope? I always see myself carrying lighter gear. Today I made a walk on the coast and initially grabbed the M7 8x30 instead of my HG 8x42, same yesterday. I guess I would have to challenge myself to carry a bigger scope if I had one..
For being stationary at home a bigger scope would be definitely worth it.
My main scope is a Swarovski BTX, usually combined with a 115mm body (I also have the 95mm and 85mm bodies with ATX and STX modules). It’s an absolutely beautiful thing to watch and observe through if weather conditions allow and you’re not planning to walk too far.

It never accompanies me on long walks or cycle birding; both of which I spend most of my time doing! #LowCarbonBirding
 
I use the same head and the 190 tripod. Keeping things light might be a consideration, especially as the tripod can weight several times what the scope does. The zooms on most scopes are narrow at low powers and open up at higher powers. Most scopes have limited eyepiece options unless you can use 1.25” eyepieces, where there are lots of food astro options. I normally use a medium power (x30-40) ultra wide angle, but bring one or 2 extra in case I need higher power occasionally. (Sometimes beyond what normal zoom ranges can offer). Angled allows you to use a shorter tripod and make is easier for people to share the view. If you want to look longer distances then the larger scope would be better, but be heavier, though spotting scopes are much lighter than similar astro refractors.

Peter
Weight is a huge issue and can diminish the joy of your day. Im 6’3” 240 and find it to be a chore to carry our bogen tripod and kowa tsn-820 scope after an hour
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
My main scope is a Swarovski BTX, usually combined with a 115mm body (I also have the 95mm and 85mm bodies with ATX and STX modules). It’s an absolutely beautiful thing to watch and observe through if weather conditions allow and you’re not planning to walk too far.

It never accompanies me on long walks or cycle birding; both of which I spend most of my time doing! #LowCarbonBirding

Wow.. I don’t want to be jealous BUT :D
Great setup, hope you enjoy it as much as I do from only reading about it :D
 

ajfossey

Registered User
Supporter
Wow.. I don’t want to be jealous BUT :D
Great setup, hope you enjoy it as much as I do from only reading about it :D
Built up over time, I can assure you!

All the combinations get their turn in the field; just depends on weather, habitat I’m visiting and mode of transport as to which gets used.

An expression I heard once said what needed to be said: “The best binoculars you have are the ones with you.“ I guess this applies equally to scopes and cameras among many other things! :)
 

Felixtheelix

Well-known member
Germany
Another day at the ocean, caught some common ringed plover building a pyramid. Observed with x45 a few meters away.
 

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