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Small and light scopes ... (1 Viewer)

I did some beta testing for the Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 twenty-some years ago, and made a strong case for a fixed 25x wide angle eyepiece. They considered it, but never came out with it. I've found the scope useful on international treks where I wouldn't othewise have been able to bring a scope, but the resolution just isn't there for most of my work. These days my light scope is a Swarovski ATX 65mm, but it only feels light because my other scope is a Swaro BTX 95, an absolute beast but worth every gram in terms of resolution.
 
Scopesurfr, I like your list a lot as it clearly shows there are some options. However, I come to a different conclusion:
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, I'm just trying to point out that it's not like there are no options. You can go from minimal scopes under $400 that have decent optics, to $800 scopes with ED glass and interchangeable eyepieces, to a $1800 scope with FL glass. All under 1KG.
Scopes with "decent optics" aren't really of any interest to me. I can happily use binoculars with "decent optics", like the Zeiss Conquests for instance, I don't need the very best optical quality. A Zeiss SF is better than a Conquest no doubt, but I can live with the view a Conquest offers.

However, with scopes decent optics are not good enough. This applies especially to small scopes that don't have the "resolution reserve" scopes with large objective lenses have. Large scopes with decent optics work OK at magnifications up to, say, 30x in my experience. Small scopes with decent optics don't. With small scopes you need all the optical quality you can get. Take the Kowa TSN-500 for instance: Even though it's better than no scope, it's not really good enough for my purposes. To identify (and to enjoy!) birds at large distances I need excellent optical quality.

I also use a small scope mainly when I'm travelling or hiking, usually on a monopod or a light tripod. I definitely want a small scope to have a wide field of view. The Kowa TSN-550 doesn't offer that. If Kowa sold a 25x WA as an alternative to the zoom I'd be interested in the scope. A zoom doesn't make a lot of sense on a small scope IMO. In addition it increases the weight, and the weight should be as low as possible.

(I'm not sure which one to pull the trigger on, but that has more to do with me not being sure how beneficial a 50mm scope would be to my birding than anything else.)
Well, you only need a small scope if you need it ... :) Unless you do a lot of air travel or a lot of hiking, especially in difficult terrain, you don't need a small scope.

Hermann
 
I have one. I rarely used my Nikon ED50 as I had the 20x eye piece and found that too low. I looked into getting the 27x but it wasn't much cheaper than buying a new Vortex and I had had problems with the tripod thread. [...] I find the Vortex a great scope for the weight and money, although I still have a Zeiss 65mm for when I need a bit more zoom, and it does have a better image quality as would be expected with it's greater size objective lens and much higher price point, and a Nikon 82mm for when weight isn't an issue.
I solved the problem with the tripod thread on my ED50 once and for all. Epoxy is your friend ... :cool: Interesting you like the Vortex so much. How do you get on with the eyepiece?

As an aside: I also use three different scopes, all Nikon fieldscopes: ED50, EDIIIA and ED82, all with different support systems/tripods. I find having a choice with scopes a lot more important than having many binoculars ...

Hermann
 
I did some beta testing for the Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50 twenty-some years ago, and made a strong case for a fixed 25x wide angle eyepiece. They considered it, but never came out with it.
That's a shame. Nowadays all manufacturers seem to believe scopes must come with a zoom.
These days my light scope is a Swarovski ATX 65mm, but it only feels light because my other scope is a Swaro BTX 95, an absolute beast but worth every gram in terms of resolution.
I'd argue the Swarovski ATX 65mm is also quite a beast ... :rolleyes: At least for a 65mm scope. Of course the difference between it and your BTX 95 is that you can use a smaller and lighter tripod+head combo with the ATX 65.

Hermann
 
I solved the problem with the tripod thread on my ED50 once and for all. Epoxy is your friend ... :cool: Interesting you like the Vortex so much. How do you get on with the eyepiece?

As an aside: I also use three different scopes, all Nikon fieldscopes: ED50, EDIIIA and ED82, all with different support systems/tripods. I find having a choice with scopes a lot more important than having many binoculars ...

Hermann
I sent the Nikon back to have the thread sorted out. They fixed it but charged me. I think if I'd made a better choice with the eyepiece and gone for the 27x I would have kept with the Nikon. I have now sold it.

I have no problem with the Vortex eyepiece. Although the 13x is not much use for viewing a bird, it is easier to locate the bird and zoom in. I would agree, however, that a fixed wide-angle of around 25x would probably be better. I would also agree that, although I use it a lot, it is mainly for when I am walking a long way, rarely using a scope or the distances aren't going to be great and I wouldn't have this size as my only scope. If I were in the financial situation of having to chose one size, I would go for 60/65mm. I use it with this tripod https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Benro-TS...&qid=1632316539&sprefix=benro+,aps,187&sr=8-3.
 
FYI, for anyone reading this thread and wondering about the Nikon ED50 tripod socket, it did have a flaw originally (thread was a metal helicoil in a plastic socket) but was redesigned (to a tubular threaded metal insert) many years ago. My original failed and was replaced (the whole scope body was replaced) under warranty with the new type. I've been using that one quite a bit for many years and it has had no troubles.

I like scopes to work at 30x wide field and, if possible, at higher magnifications. The ED50 is too small to do much better than 30x, so I use the 27x WF on it. No need to fuss with zoom ring, and has advantage of wide FOV and long eye-relief. The 27x WF is an older eyepiece that is much smaller than the 27x DS but has the same optical design (The DS has a much bulkier housing but perhaps has a slight benefit of better multicoatings). For the 50 mm Opticron scopes, a 24x (if I remember correctly) used to be available and was very nice, but they stopped offering it. Of the 50 mm scopes, the Nikon and Opticron were the best two (when used with those wide fixed eyepieces) in my experience. The Nikon is lighter and more compact, whereas the Opticron is perhaps more robust.

--AP
 
Small and light? what about folding scopes? I have an Optolyth Mini 25x70 BGA/WW and I could not be happier. Make sure you dry it before closing it and you're good to go. The Meopta TGA with the 30x objective is likely more available, and I guess is as good or better.
 
Late to the party here but Ive been really pleased with my swaro ctc 30x75. It's small enough to go in a bag with a monopod and let's enough light in to make really good use of its 30x fixed magnification. Been using it as my only scope for a couple of years now having used various tripod/angled scopes in the past.

The only real downsides to it is stability when standing if there's nothing to lean it against and it wouldn't be bad to have a bit more of zoom when looking over large estuaries, lakes or sea watching however I'm not sure any small scope <60mm aperture are ideal for these situations.
 
I took a cursory look at a Hakwe Nature Trek 9-27 x 56 the other day, while demo'ing binoculars. I was impressed with how solid it was - felt really well built, and it's tiny.

It won't satisfy the desires of those who are prepared to spend on a Nikon ED50, but if anyone wants an inexpensive (£179.00), pocket-able scope, with a no-fault lifetime warranty, and what appeared to be decent optical quality, then I'm not sure it can be beaten.

If I bought one I'd use it while out walking, simply to confirm what I was seeing just beyond the reach of my bins. Or while out driving, to get an angle on a bird up in a tree. Clearly, it's not a scope intended for dedicated bird watching sessions.
.
 
FYI, for anyone reading this thread and wondering about the Nikon ED50 tripod socket, it did have a flaw originally (thread was a metal helicoil in a plastic socket) but was redesigned (to a tubular threaded metal insert) many years ago. My original failed and was replaced (the whole scope body was replaced) under warranty with the new type. I've been using that one quite a bit for many years and it has had no troubles
My first ED50 also had that flaw. I repaired it myself, using epoxy to glue in the helicoil and an adapter plate with an extra long screw. No problems ever since. I did however got a second body with threaded metal insert in reserve in case something goes wrong.

Hermann
 
Late to the party here but Ive been really pleased with my swaro ctc 30x75. It's small enough to go in a bag with a monopod and let's enough light in to make really good use of its 30x fixed magnification. Been using it as my only scope for a couple of years now having used various tripod/angled scopes in the past.
The good old drawtube scopes ... :cool: I wouldn't mind one, however, the currently available models aren't as light as e.g. the ED50.
The only real downsides to it is stability when standing if there's nothing to lean it against and it wouldn't be bad to have a bit more of zoom when looking over large estuaries, lakes or sea watching however I'm not sure any small scope <60mm aperture are ideal for these situations.
Absolutely right. Even the very best small scopes don't get anywhere close to large scopes of good quality. However, in many situations they're sufficient.

Hermann
 
Yes I suppose it is a bit heavier, probably about 400 or 500 grams in it but you do get another 25mm of objective for that and its still 130 grams lighter than for example a kowa 773 without an eye piece. So I suppose there light for there class and do work a bit better in low light than the the 50/55mm options. I tend to think the pirate connotations put a lot of people off! I'd try one out for a bit if you haven't already.

Incidentally you review of the swaro habicht 7x42 I found very useful, ive been using one very happily for the last few weeks (ga version). Very compromised but the view within the field of view is worth it for me.
 
Yes I suppose it is a bit heavier, probably about 400 or 500 grams in it but you do get another 25mm of objective for that and its still 130 grams lighter than for example a kowa 773 without an eye piece. So I suppose there light for there class and do work a bit better in low light than the the 50/55mm options. I tend to think the pirate connotations put a lot of people off! I'd try one out for a bit if you haven't already.
I used an Optolyth 22x70 many, many years ago, and later a Zeiss Jena Asiola before I swiched to angled scopes. I find angled scopes are much easier to use on a tripod than straight scopes. BTW, if I were to get a straight scope I'd get the Zeiss Dialyt 65mm.
Incidentally you review of the swaro habicht 7x42 I found very useful, ive been using one very happily for the last few weeks (ga version). Very compromised but the view within the field of view is worth it for me.
Thank you.

Hermann
 
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Yes totally agree on the tripod front, it's straight on a monopod for the ctc and save the weight difference between that and a tripod that I used to use with the angled ones. I was tempted by the dialyt too. In the end since I ended up fitting fixed eye pieces to my angled scopes for the better fov etc I went for the ctc. I'm also not sure how well I'd get on with the focuser on the objective end of the dialyt as you'd probably end up with your hand hanging outside a hide to reach the focuser...
 
FYI, for anyone reading this thread and wondering about the Nikon ED50 tripod socket, it did have a flaw originally (thread was a metal helicoil in a plastic socket) but was redesigned (to a tubular threaded metal insert) many years ago. My original failed and was replaced (the whole scope body was replaced) under warranty with the new type. I've been using that one quite a bit for many years and it has had no troubles.

My first ED50 also had that flaw. I repaired it myself, using epoxy to glue in the helicoil and an adapter plate with an extra long screw. No problems ever since. I did however got a second body with threaded metal insert in reserve in case something goes wrong.

Thus the later models do not have any issues anymore with the foot/thread? I didn't know that. Interesting info, thanks!

Can you easily see if a (second hand) ED50 has the old foot/thread ("thread was a metal helicoil in a plastic socket") or the newer foot/thread ("a tubular threaded metal insert")?
Does anyone have pictures of the two different foots as a reference for comparison?
That could be great of great help for anyone looking to buy one.
 
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