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Opticron MM4-60 vs Kowa TSN 553? (1 Viewer)

MMcD

Member
United States
With the help of folks on this forum, I’m on the fence between the Opticron MM4-60 and Kowa TSN-553.

At the moment, the Kowa is on sale, so the price difference (once you throw in an eyepiece for the Opticron) is only a few hundred dollars... which puts them temporarily in a comparable bracket.

This will be my only scope for the foreseeable future, but I’m prioritizing portability over the impressive magnification of a bigger scope.

When I tested the two side by side in the store, the Kowa felt a little trimmer and more tightly constructed (and perhaps a little bit brighter)... I’d go back to try them again, but the nearest optics store is a 2.5 hr drive.

I’ve read as much as I can in older threads, but am wondering folks’ opinions on this particular match-up. Arguments for one over the other?
 

Ratal

Well-known member
Having used an Opticron mm4 50ed as my only scope across the arctic and deserts, I can say that the Kowa 553 is absolutely going to be the best bet with ONE caveat: It does NOT have a rotating collar, so it sits on the tripod and cannot be rotated if you need to change viewing positions. As long as that doesn't bother you? Kowa. That extra lightness is going to be a world of difference in the long days out in the field.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
I think the advantage of the opticron, and for me it's a big advantage, is the choice of eyepieces. Zoom and two wide fov fixed EPs at 27x and 23x

The kowa only has it's permanently fixed zoom.

If the choice had been between 50mm Opticron and the Kowa, I would obviously stay with what has travelled well with me. But the priority is weight, and the 553 wins.
I love my MM4 50mm ed and won't swap, because lightweight is the all-consuming factor in my kit list.
 

pete_gamby

Birds? What Birds?!
I wouldn't normally chime in on an A vs B scope discussion but "only a few hundred dollars" is, as far as I can tell from the offer price for the Kowa at $1499, actually a nearly $500 price difference based on MAP of $998 for the MM4 60 with SDLv3. So for me, not really in a "comparable bracket"...
 

MMcD

Member
United States
I wouldn't normally chime in on an A vs B scope discussion but "only a few hundred dollars" is, as far as I can tell from the offer price for the Kowa at $1499, actually a nearly $500 price difference based on MAP of $998 for the MM4 60 with SDLv3. So for me, not really in a "comparable bracket"...
On Opticron USA’s site, the MM4 60 GA ED/45 Travelscope + SDLv3 15-45x Eyepiece is listed as $1144, which is $355 difference (few meaning ~3, this being on the upper end of that range). This is consistent with the dealer nearest me, who is listed on Opticron’s ‘Where to buy’ page and on whom I was basing the price in this post.


I’m genuinely not trying to get in an argument, but I’d be much more interested in hearing why the MM4 is the way to go based on its merits.
 
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MMcD

Member
United States
ONE caveat: It does NOT have a rotating collar
I confess that this is yet another factor that I hadn’t considered. So, if I understand correctly— this would be for when you’ve found your target using the movements of the head, but the position of the eyepiece is now awkward. With the Kowa you’d have to shift the set up so that the eyepiece is in a more favorable position, but risk losing track of your target.
.
(Thanks for your help— This would all be much easier to understand with the scopes in front of me, but the closest dealer is 2.5 hrs away)
I would obviously stay with what has travelled well with me
Folks on other threads had suggested the MM4-60 over the MM4-50 due to brightness, but it sounds like you’re an advocate for the 50, is that correct? Do you find yourself often frustrated by low light conditions?
 

MMcD

Member
United States
I think the advantage of the opticron, and for me it's a big advantage, is the choice of eyepieces. Zoom and two wide fov fixed EPs at 27x and 23x

The kowa only has it's permanently fixed zoom.
Do you routinely carry multiple eyepieces, or is this something you’d swap for a given outing? Or just a general aversion to the zoom eyepiece? I was reading a bit about this on another thread:


I’m caught in that catch-22 of not having my own habits-of-use to guide my purchase, bc I‘d need to own the gear to establish my own habits…
 

Ratal

Well-known member
Low light? No. Frustrated? Never.

I understand that I chose ultra lightweight over all else - and as I am a zoom only (I do also have fixed 24x eyepiece also but it is never used) I have a wonderful birding experience. The MM4 50ED is a brilliant, brilliant scope and is my one and done now. I sold off my 80mm scopes and never looked back.
 

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
Do you routinely carry multiple eyepieces, or is this something you’d swap for a given outing? Or just a general aversion to the zoom eyepiece? I was reading a bit about this on another thread:
I do carry multiple EPS, yes. Most of the time I use the zoom and enjoy it but I like the fixed EPs for their much wider fovs. They are really enjoyable when I am watching large flocks of waders, for instance, to enjoy their murmurations.
 

MMcD

Member
United States
I do carry multiple EPS, yes. Most of the time I use the zoom and enjoy it but I like the fixed EPs for their much wider fovs. They are really enjoyable when I am watching large flocks of waders, for instance, to enjoy their murmurations.
Thank you! So many factors to consider! 🤯
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
...I can say that the Kowa 553 is absolutely going to be the best bet with ONE caveat: It does NOT have a rotating collar, so it sits on the tripod and cannot be rotated if you need to change viewing positions.
Aziak Equipment makes a rotating collar for the 553. Normal price is $50 USD.
 

MMcD

Member
United States
I think Opticron is discontinuing those fixed eyepieces.
That seems like an odd move, judging by how many folks seem to love them.
Aziak Equipment makes a rotating collar for the 553. Normal price is $50 USD.
Oof… every time I think I’ve made a decision the scales get kicked back into motion! 😂
 

wllmspd

Well-known member
It’s been noted that Opticron sell a large multiple more zooms than fixed focal length eyepieces so there isn’t the market for more than the occasional fixes focal length and not getting additional batches. I would love to be proved wrong.

Peter
 

MMcD

Member
United States
So, I ended up going with the MM4 60. Partly based on the ability to swap out eyepieces, partly for the decreased liability of traveling with a more expensive scope, and partly because I found one for sale less than an hour from me. That said, I’m still waiting on my tripod to get shipped, so I haven’t been able to really take it out for a spin.

Fingers crossed.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
So, I ended up going with the MM4 60. Partly based on the ability to swap out eyepieces, partly for the decreased liability of traveling with a more expensive scope, and partly because I found one for sale less than an hour from me. That said, I’m still waiting on my tripod to get shipped, so I haven’t been able to really take it out for a spin.

Fingers crossed.
Won't go wrong with that at all.

My mm4 50 takes an absolute beating out in the field - and has always delivered no matter rain, shine, snow or sun. Enjoy the new scope!
 

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