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Spotting scope for spotter airplanes. (1 Viewer)

albatrosviajero

Well-known member
Hello,
Someone could recommend me some refractor for aircraft observation, at cruising speed?
Would be more important aperture or magnification in this case ..?
Anyone have experience in this topic? And eyepieces, would it be better with great apparent field?
Maybe a binocular ?
Thank you very much,

Al
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

behind the bird reserve I can see from my balcony is the end of the glide path to one of the runways of Frankfurt Airport (FRA), one of the major hubs, so birdwatching on the balcony always implies seing the big birds.

But that means low speed, close range (3.5km) and thus it's hard to pull off with a scope even at low mags due to high angular velocity. When I try it, I need a good aiming aid like Kimmos cable tie trick and lowest magnification only. Usually I use my bins for the metal birds and keep the scope on the feathered ones.

If you are looking for cruising speed and obviously height, I would try to find it with the cable tie trick and lowest mag and then zoom in while following it with the scope.

Joachim
 

tlb

Well-known member
Scope for Spotting Airplanes

Al,

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Over 90% of my scope usage is for spotting planes. In particular, I enjoy trying to make ID’s at extreme distances – my record is positive ID of a Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter (DreamLifter) at ~120 miles (obviously aided by its rather unique outline).

A nice thing about plane spotting is that, for typical viewing angles, you are looking through much less air than an equivalent terrestrial distance plus heat haze is greatly reduced.

I started with a Nikon ED82A (angled body is all but mandatory). As much as I love the scope, the zoom’s relatively narrow FOV makes acquisition difficult at the best of times. The 30x DS fixed EP is great – much easier acquisition and just a delightful image but, obviously you give up the zoom.

As for magnification, when everything is just right, high magnification allows for some remarkable images. However, more often than not, vibration/movement caused by inability to pan perfectly smoothly means that I can extract as much or more detail at lower powers.

Speaking of which, I’m continually amazed at how much detail I can see with Canon 10x image-stabilized binoculars relative to a spotting scope at 30x. I like the stabilized view so much that I am tempted to try a Nikon VR scope to see if it affords the same sort of improvement. (My wife is helping me manage the temptation.) I would guess it could deliver significantly more “effective detail” at its 60x max than the ED82 at 75x or my Swarovski ATX at 70’ish. (Assuming its VR system can cope with panning.)

I’ve been rambling so, I would suggest:

- Good mid-range or better angled scope ( I’m not convinced this application benefits from the last bit of performance of the uber scopes even though they are a pleasure to use)
- Low dispersion glass (to help suppress color fringing which can occur in backlit situations common in plane spotting)
- Wide field of view (for me, much more important than aperture)
- 25-40x for most days (and 60-70x if you want to be ready for really good conditions)
- As Joachim indicated, a good aiming device
- Stable tripod
- Smooth pan/tilt head (I'm using Gitzo 2380 at the moment but still looking)
- Definitely give consideration to IS binoculars


Hope this helps,

Tony
 

jring

Well-known member
Why is an angled scope 'all but mandatory'? Easier to get onto the target with a straight through.

Actually getting on to the target with an aiming aid is even easier than using a straight imho - but anyways using a straight scope for planespotting will result in a sore neck. An astro scope with 90 deg would be even better.

Joachim
 

Colin

Axeman (Retired)
England
Aching neck? As long as the scope is high enough which means having tripod high enough there is no problem. I use a straight ED82. No aiming aids as I keep a case on it permanently but if you keep both eyes open it is easy to watch the target with one eye outside of scope and watch it in scope with other eye.
 

wachipilotes

Well-known member
Maybe the straight concept is more eye-object connection, but for the neck is .......ummmm!!, and 45º or 90º diagonal, is more comfortable for the neck , but eye-object connection can be more harder..
Regards
 

jring

Well-known member
Aching neck? As long as the scope is high enough which means having tripod high enough there is no problem. I use a straight ED82. No aiming aids as I keep a case on it permanently but if you keep both eyes open it is easy to watch the target with one eye outside of scope and watch it in scope with other eye.

Yeah, I'm rather tall, so getting a straight scope to eye level for watching stuff on the ground or nearly so is more than most tripods can handle.
If I would want to watch planes above, I would need to get the scope even higher and look up, which will make my neck ache over time.

There's a reason why stargazers invented the diagonal for their refractors...

Joachim
 
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