• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Spotting Scope Suggestions (1 Viewer)

Hi all, this is my first post on BirdForum and I've found it to be such a useful source. I'm looking to buy my first spotting scope, and am seeking advice from you all. I'm a young birder and up until now haven't really had the need to use a spotting scope. I have just moved back home to Denmark and previously lived in Hong Kong, where the only time I needed a spotting scope was when I visited Mai Po (a brilliant nature reserve, would highly recommend it), there my dad and I could share his Swarovski ATX 85. Now, that I have moved back home, I would really like my own scope as my dad will be working a lot abroad and I won't have the chance to borrow his. Moreover, I think it will just be a good investment for me, as I really enjoy just getting out to a nature reserve or seabird watching, and really just enjoying nature.

From research on BirdForum, I've noticed that two scopes in particular stand out; the Meopta S2 82mm and the Kowa TSN 883. The Meopta has really stood out to me, and the two available eyepieces are really quite intriguing (Is there a tunnel vision effect on their eyepieces? I'm not fond of this as I feel the image becomes to small, and I am use to a large, bright image from the ATX). However, I know very little of this brand and I can't find any local dealers near me. The nearest I can find is a shop in Germany, but their website is in German and so is their communication system. Though their price is very appealing, I'm hesitant to go ahead with this as I can't test this scope and communicating with the dealer will be problematic. I've also found dealers online in the UK, etc. but am also hesitant as I may be fined quite heftily as tax in Denmark is very high, and they may charge me for products I have bought online. Where have Meopta S2 users purchased their scope? Now for the Kowa, another brilliant scope I'm sure, which can be purchased in a nature shop near me. However, I'm just cautious that the build quality may not live up to scopes such as the Swaros and other rubber bodied scopes. I know of some situations where people have dropped their 883s and they've been totalled. Customer service doesn't seem to live up to that of Swaro's either. These things are slightly drawing me away from the Kowa, despite the brilliant optics, and not to mention the high price point!

Finally, I just wanted to ask about the Kite KSP 80 HD with a 25-50x WA, and anyones experience with this scope. The nature shop near me has quite an interesting bundle including this scope, the Kite Ardea tripod and Manfrotto 128RC head, Kite Viato backpack and a Kite Skua case. This is still of course quite an expensive possibility, but the shop assistant sold it rather well, saying he knew of many who thought this scope lived up to the Swaro ATS 80mm and a 30 year warranty, brilliant customer service, and a maximum of about 200 USD if I totalled the scope where Kite would supply a completely new one. I'm very curios of this scope, as it seems like a very well thought out option and there is very little on BirdForum on this scope. Having tried it briefly in the shop, I really liked the ergonomics; helical focus felt familiar, good build quality. I can't say much on the optics as I briefly looked through it when indoors, but it seemed very sharp throughout the range (as did the Kowa's).

Apologies for this long post, and thanks in advance to any responses.
Kind Regards, Ben
 

Binastro

Well-known member
Hi Ben and welcome.

Supporting a local shop seems like a good idea, especially as you can try the actual scope and judge its optical and other properties.
You also have after sales service.

I suppose there is the possibility of insurance against accidents, but the Kite warranty sounds interesting.

Regards,
B.
 

Binastro

Well-known member
From what I remember Denmark has much softer ground than the other Nordic countries, so dropping a scope might not be terminal.

However, when I was in Tivoli I bent down to tie my shoelace and Shirley Bassey fell on top of me.
I apologised, but she had a fairly soft landing.

She was appearing on stage there.

Regards,
B.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
I've tried all three.

So in order of what I'd buy with no cash concerns? Kowa 883. Then the S2. I hated the Kite, found the focuser very gritty on both models I tried.

With the Kowa you have the chance of the 1.6x 3xtender later on and that is a WOWSER!!!! moment indeed.
 

Ratal

Well-known member
View wise - Kowa edges it JUST. Just. I am not kidding when I say the 20x70 zoom on the S2 is stellar. Kite was sharp, lovely contrast and colour neutral. Not shabby but absolutely you could see the difference between it and the S2, and a little CA started about 80% out from centre.

The KOWA as you guessed is CA free.

So if I was scared of the Kowa price and didnt think it would be robust enough for my birding, the S2 nails it.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi Ben,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

Btw, you can try to write to a german store in english, chances are pretty good that they will understand you perfectly well. Especially larger mail order oriented ones...

Good options have already been mentioned, I would probably also consider the Monarch 82mm if I were in your situation...

Being able to test a scope in person is nice, but being outside and ideally be able to do a star test (probably with a diy artificial star at 30m or so) would be needed. Also, you should of course buy exactly the example you tested... bonus point for getting a rebate because you took the demo unit ;-)

If you buy online, make sure that you have a no questions asked return option (should be mandatory for new units in the EU) and you are in a position to test the scope inside that period (once again, a star test with an artificial star is you best option).

Joachim
 
I've tried all three.

So in order of what I'd buy with no cash concerns? Kowa 883. Then the S2. I hated the Kite, found the focuser very gritty on both models I tried.

With the Kowa you have the chance of the 1.6x 3xtender later on and that is a WOWSER!!!! moment indeed.
Thanks! Yes, the extender sounds brilliant. On the Kite I tried I found the focus and zoom wheels quite smooth, compared to the Zeiss Conquest Gavia I also tried which was very tight.
 
View wise - Kowa edges it JUST. Just. I am not kidding when I say the 20x70 zoom on the S2 is stellar. Kite was sharp, lovely contrast and colour neutral. Not shabby but absolutely you could see the difference between it and the S2, and a little CA started about 80% out from centre.

The KOWA as you guessed is CA free.

So if I was scared of the Kowa price and didnt think it would be robust enough for my birding, the S2 nails it.
Thank you very much, very useful comments. Do you own the S2 yourself then? 70x magnification is also pretty crazy!
 
Hi Ben,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

Btw, you can try to write to a german store in english, chances are pretty good that they will understand you perfectly well. Especially larger mail order oriented ones...

Good options have already been mentioned, I would probably also consider the Monarch 82mm if I were in your situation...

Being able to test a scope in person is nice, but being outside and ideally be able to do a star test (probably with a diy artificial star at 30m or so) would be needed. Also, you should of course buy exactly the example you tested... bonus point for getting a rebate because you took the demo unit ;-)

If you buy online, make sure that you have a no questions asked return option (should be mandatory for new units in the EU) and you are in a position to test the scope inside that period (once again, a star test with an artificial star is you best option).

Joachim
Yes, I completely agree, so crucial to be able to test a number of scopes. I had also heard many good things about the Monarch, again not sure where would be best to buy it online, and again may be problematic with tax etc. I also can't seem to find it in any local dealers in Denmark... Regarding the German webshop, I emailed them in english, only to receive an email back in german :/ Perfectly 'google translatable', but rather hesitant to order off a website in which the language is foreign to me. Though, I do have family friends in Germany, could figure something out with them. Thanks again!
 
Yes, I completely agree, so crucial to be able to test a number of scopes. I had also heard many good things about the Monarch, again not sure where would be best to buy it online, and again may be problematic with tax etc. I also can't seem to find it in any local dealers in Denmark... Regarding the German webshop, I emailed them in english, only to receive an email back in german :/ Perfectly 'google translatable', but rather hesitant to order off a website in which the language is foreign to me. Though, I do have family friends in Germany, could figure something out with them. Thanks again!
Hi Ben,

first of all, welcome to birdforum!

Btw, you can try to write to a german store in english, chances are pretty good that they will understand you perfectly well. Especially larger mail order oriented ones...

Good options have already been mentioned, I would probably also consider the Monarch 82mm if I were in your situation...

Being able to test a scope in person is nice, but being outside and ideally be able to do a star test (probably with a diy artificial star at 30m or so) would be needed. Also, you should of course buy exactly the example you tested... bonus point for getting a rebate because you took the demo unit ;-)

If you buy online, make sure that you have a no questions asked return option (should be mandatory for new units in the EU) and you are in a position to test the scope inside that period (once again, a star test with an artificial star is you best option).

Joachim
Also, just wanted to ask you which eyepiece is best for the Monarch? Would I be right in saying the 30-60x? I think the shape of the Monarch looks a bit awkward, but it is of course the optics that really matter. Finally, wouldn't the Meopta perform better than the Monarch, and for a similar price point? The Meopta from the German store is about 2250 USD, incl. the eyepiece and the stay on case.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

ok, so you already tried english - maybe try teleskop express, who are a very large optics online business with a pretty good rep mainly in the astro scene - and also quite active internationally, which includes an english page...

As for which ED spotting scope performs best, it really depends on the example. Also without the option of an extender or astro adapter for higher magnification, getting a near perfect star test is of little importance if your highest magnification is the 60 or 70x of the zoom top end... unless you get creative and try to adapt an astro EP on your own.

Kowa has the 1.6x extender and there are astro adapters out there, for the Meopta there is an astro adapter at least and for the Nikon Monarch there is some diy possibilities to adapt astro EPs in the Nikon subforum here...

Joachim
 
Last edited:
Hi,

ok, so you already tried english - maybe try teleskop express, who are a very large optics online business with a pretty good rep mainly in the astro scene - and also quite active internationally, which includes an english page...

As for which ED spotting scope performs best, it really depends on the example. Also without the option of an extender or astro adapter for higher magnification, getting a near perfect star test is of little importance if your highest magnification is the 60 or 70x of the zoom top end... unless you get creative and try to adapt an astro EP on your own.

Kowa has the 1.6x extender and there are astro adapters out there, for the Meopta there is an astro adapter at least and for the Nikon Monarch there is some diy possibilities to adapt astro EPs in the Nikon subforum here...

Joachim
Thanks again. Did some research and found that there is an official Nikon Denmark website, the 30-60x and the scope would cost around 2600 USD. Seems reasonable? Just curious to know how it would compare with the Meopta, and the Kite for that matter. Also, is there any tunnel vision effect in the Nikon Monarch? Really find it hard to get to grips with tunnel vision, as the image just seems to get too small for me. Have seen many positive reviews of the Monarch on birdforum, but wasn't convinced as I've never considered Nikon to be a top-tier sporting optics company, similarly so with the Meopta.
 

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

MSRP is probably not quite the same as street prices... also if you are mainly interested to buy inside EU for obvious reasons, talking abut Euro prices is probably more helpful. You can buy the Moarch 82 angled body for 1250€ and the 30-60 WA zoom is a tad below 500€.

Btw, if you don't like tunnel vision, a WA zoom is warmly recommended.

As for Nikon not being a top tier sporting optics company, for binoculars it used to be the other alpha manufacturer beside the teutonic trinity (Leica, Swaro, Zeiss) with their EDG series and then later with WX series, which showed off what is possible with a fairly unlimited budget (the latter not really a good option for birding).

Their classic Fieldscope ED series (w/o the Monarch moniker) also had a very solid reputation but there was no wide angle zoom available (but very nice fixed WA options).

The EDG spotting scope series was too heavy and too expensive and never really very popular, but optically quite good.

In general, Nikon has never been great at marketing their top tier sports optics as well as the teutonic trinity, and together with the fact that a piece of Nikon sports optics can be anything from very cheap to alpha grade, the brand conscious buyer stays away from them... otoh they're the perfect sleeper alphas for those in the know - which also might not get nicked or robbed in less safe environments as those very recognizable examples with the blue square, red dot or silver hawk logos...

Also Nikon seems to be struggling a bit in their main camera business, so we have to keep our fingers crossed that they will be around in a few years to honor some warranty claim...

Joachim
 

Bill Atwood

Registered User
Supporter
United States
The Meopta S2 or Kowa 883 are great choices. I've had both, kept the S2 and both eyepieces. Prefer the 20x-70x for the higher mag. There is some tunnel effect below 30x-35x. Meopta warranty service is supposedly very good.

Don't have any experience with the Monarch, but it gets good reviews. The FOV may be on the small side.
 
The Meopta S2 or Kowa 883 are great choices. I've had both, kept the S2 and both eyepieces. Prefer the 20x-70x for the higher mag. There is some tunnel effect below 30x-35x. Meopta warranty service is supposedly very good.

Don't have any experience with the Monarch, but it gets good reviews. The FOV may be on the small side.
How do the Meopta eyepieces differ in sharpness? Think the WA will be more appropriate for me, considering the tunnel vision in the 20-70. Thanks
 
Last edited:
I think my last questions would really be: Monarch 82 or Meostar 82? Both seem like brilliant scopes, at similar price points. I would likely go with the 30-60x for either scope. I've been doing some more reading, apparently there is a lot of distortion on the Meopta 30-60x at lower magnification, a deal breaker? Thanks
 
Last edited:

jring

Well-known member
Hi,

there is a lot of distortion at the edge of the Meopta WA zoom due to a wider tfov, especially at high magnification... that's a deliberate design choice taken - whether it will bother you depends on your tolerance for rolling ball effect when panning sideways (also seen in binoculars).
It obviously also depends a lot on how you use your scope - if you, like me, tend to scan for birds with your binoculars and then aim the scope at that point with the cable tie trick, there is not a lot of panning going to happen...

PS: are you going to wear glasses when using your scope - if yes, the Meopta with 18mm ER is probably better suited than the Nikon with 14-15mm (both with the WA zoom).

PPS: another thing to ponder about is service - Meopta seems to try to get theirs to Swaro Level lately, Nikon can be hit and miss depending on where you are... Germany iirc not too bad.

Joachim, who does not care about rolling ball...
 
Last edited:
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top