• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Step up from Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope 27-60x85 Angled? (1 Viewer)


New member
I just returned a Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope 27-60x85 Angled. It is an excellent scope but about 100’ short of what I need. I need the next step

I live in the Pacific Northwest at the mouth of a harbour. There are rarely white caps and mostly it is almost lake still.

I am about 30’ above sea level looking across to a small island about 1 mile away and also about 30’ above sea level. This is where eagles land. I would like to be able to zoom in on them with a telescope, monoscrope or spotter scope.
I can see the eagles with the above scope but I can’t see what they are eating or holding in their talons. I want to get that close.

Can you recommend the perfect scope for one mile? My budget is open.



Camera Land / Supporting Vendor
Kowa TSN-88 Series

The pure fluorite crystal used in these models is the optimum optical material for reducing chromatic aberration, providing the ultimate viewing experience. (TSN-883/884 only.)

The extraordinary light gathering capability supports observation during dusk and during dawn.

All spotting scopes are waterproof to JIS protection class 7 and filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent the lens from fogging.

JIS 7 = Japanese Industrial Standard / class 7 = Protected against the effects of temporary immersion in water.

Dual focus mechanism (Quick and fine focusing)
The well established Kowa focus system has progressed to a new dual focus system. The quick focus, with a large and easy to turn knob, will focus from infinity to five meters in two revolutions.

The fine focus, with smooth movements and pinpoint accuracy, is extremely useful at high magnifications and for digiscoping systems.

Eyepiece locking mechanism
Kowa's standard eyepiece bayonet mount has been passed down to these new spotting scopes with a new attractive feature. An eyepiece locking

mechanism has been added to the mount to prevent the eyepiece from getting lost or falling out unexpectedly.

Magnesium alloy body
The magnesium alloy body made by a sophisticated molding process called thixotrophic molding has the feel and strength of a traditional metal body with decreased weight when compared to other large-diameter scopes.

The rugged structure can tolerate the severest conditions and provides confidence and a sense of security for the user.

One of the major causes of deterioration of viewing quality in optics is chromatic aberration (color blur). Chromatic aberration occurs due to the dispersion of light and the different wavelengths of light focusing on different positions, resulting in a red or purple fringing around the image. The optimum optical material to minimize chromatic aberration is fluorite crystal.

A fluorite crystal with extremely low dispersion characteristics is used for the convex lens of the TSN-883/884 PROMINAR models. In place of an ordinary optical glass lens, the concave lens paired with the fluorite crystal lens is made of glass with special dispersion properties to reduce the chromatic aberration to a further degree.

This combination of fluorite crystal and glass with special dispersion properties nearly eliminates chromatic aberration and redefines the standards of color brilliance.

This technology is the result of many years of optical design and has realized great reduction in chromatic aberration, while maintaining a large diameter lens and high contrast images when compared with conventional models.

The XD lens used in our TSN-883/884 PROMINAR models has characteristics similar to those of fluorite crystal to significantly reduce the chromatic aberration. All lenses are environmentally friendly Eco-Glass. (Eco-Glass is an environmentally friendly glass that does not contain lead or other harmful substances.)

Fluorite crystal
Kowa uses the fluorite crystal exclusively in its flagship spotting scope and large binocular models. The fluorite used as make an optical lens is an artificially grown mono-crystal with "ultra-low dispersion", a characteristic that ordinary optical glass does not have.

It is an ideal lens material that almost completely eliminates chromatic aberration (color blur). The fluorite crystal produced by the sophisticated processing technology that Kowa has accumulated over the years guarantees the ultimate viewing experience.

The telephoto lens design of using 5 lens elements in 4 groups has successfully shortened the overall length of the scope while keeping a large diameter objective lens without sacrificing optical performance.

The adoption of an inner focusing system has made the prism box light and compact and at the same time decreases the amount of image movement when compared to conventional prism focusing systems.

The highly achromatized objective lens makes the scope as compact as a 60mm class scope without sacrificing performance.


Well-known member
Hi JR and welcome.

If you don't need a waterproof scope then a 100mm ED or 120mm ED refractor astro scope would show more detail than a standard spotting scope.
Using a star diagonal or good erecting prism.
I think that high end prisms are available or a Porroprism straight through prism.
There are numerous eyepieces available.

A substantial tripod is needed.

The best atmospheric conditions are early morning or late afternoon.

Viewing over water usually shows better images than over land.

One should avoid viewing over concrete, asphalt or houses.

If temperatures are stable then an 8 inch or 9.25 inch Celestron SCT is an option or a 6 inch Maksutov, but Maksutovs have cooling problems, although some have fans or air flow holes.

I used a 6 inch Maksutov or 12.5 inch thin edge mirror Dall Kirkham for viewing up to 5 miles terrestrially.
Also a 120mm refractor of high quality.



Well-known member
Hi JR,

Firstly, I don't think it's helpful, when a vendor, as in post#2 copies and posts Kowa advertising without giving any thought to the problem. I own a Kowa 883, which is an excellent scope but only offers 60x magnification just like the rejected Vortex. With the 1,6x extender you would get 96x, but with a tiny 0,9 mm exit pupil, it would lose brightness and contrast in terrestrial applications.

There are few precedents for your use, but the spotting scope that comes closest is probably the Swarovski ATX115. With the optional 1,7x extender it would allow magnifications above 100x, but also with an attendant exit pupil around 1 mm.

As Binastro pointed out, the alternative would be a big apochromatic astronomical refractor (reflectors I think with their central obstructions would involve a contrast loss), but you are then confronted with problems of finding a correct image straight-through or 45° erecting prism of good optical quality.



New member
United States
I will Second what @Tringa45 stated for the Kowa 883. I have one(with the 1.6x as well), as well as a vortex razor hd (the one you returned). The clarity and quality of the Kowa 883 glass is an obvious upgrade upgrade over the Vortex Razor HD. During full light/mid-day I think you would be happy with the Kowa 883 + 1.6x (I mean that from a brightness/contrast standpoint) however , you may battle the heat waves in your image during that time of day.

Users who are viewing this thread