• 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.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Vortex razor HD x65 VS Kowa TSN663M Prominar (1 Viewer)

JWalck

Member
Has anyone compared these two scopes: Vortex razor HD 16-48x65 VS Kowa TSN663M Prominar XD 20-60x66? If so, I would be interested in your thoughts. They both have positives (warranty for razor) and negatives (narrower FOV for Kowa). BTW - I wear eyeglasses and so I am also interested in eye relief.
 

JerryLogan

Well-known member
Has anyone compared these two scopes: Vortex razor HD 16-48x65 VS Kowa TSN663M Prominar XD 20-60x66? If so, I would be interested in your thoughts. They both have positives (warranty for razor) and negatives (narrower FOV for Kowa). BTW - I wear eyeglasses and so I am also interested in eye relief.

Hello and welcome to Birdforum!

Can you tell us a little more about how you plan to use the scope?

Best,
Jerry
 

JWalck

Member
I have a pair of 8x32 Zeiss Victory binos, and so this scope would be used primarily over lakes and wetlands. It would be used much less in tropical forests or for hawk watching. I also travel and would be interested in taking it with me. I had a Nikon 50mm scope once, but did not like it since it seemed too "small"; I would prefer not to have a 80mm scope.
 

JerryLogan

Well-known member
I have a pair of 8x32 Zeiss Victory binos, and so this scope would be used primarily over lakes and wetlands. It would be used much less in tropical forests or for hawk watching. I also travel and would be interested in taking it with me. I had a Nikon 50mm scope once, but did not like it since it seemed too "small"; I would prefer not to have a 80mm scope.

Ok, that's very helpful. I know you've asked for a specific comparison but let me add another element. I've found the Kowa 773, 774 scopes to outclass the 663,664 scopes by an observable margin and at a very small portability/size addition. In my view the 773, 774 match the 883, 884 in all except there's a little less light in dim conditions. Since you're willing to accept that already in the Vortex or Kowa 65 scopes, I think you'd find one of the 77s a better choice than either 65. In my experience, Easy for travel and better optics.

Best,
Jerry
 

jtc

Well-known member
I have the 65 Vortex Razor. The view is excellent. Very sharp. It is also light as far as scopes of that size. I would recommend it.
 

Steve O4B

Optics4Birding.com
I like Jerry's suggestion of the Kowa TSN-773, especially since the price drop on the body to $1500. Compared to the TSN-883, however, there is a significant difference in brightness and resolution. The 880 scopes have objectives made of pure fluorite crystal. The 770s use calcium fluorite glass.
 

JerryLogan

Well-known member
I like Jerry's suggestion of the Kowa TSN-773, especially since the price drop on the body to $1500. Compared to the TSN-883, however, there is a significant difference in brightness and resolution. The 880 scopes have objectives made of pure fluorite crystal. The 770s use calcium fluorite glass.

We agree! Love the 884,884; definitely best of the Kowa line. The 770s do use the larger (and in my view, better) 880 eyepieces. So there's another advantage over the 660s, but the 88mm fluorite objective is superb and unique.

Best,
Jerry

Honestly, the 880s aren't that much larger or heavier than the Vortex 65. The OP is used to high quality optics - I'd just go with the top of the line Kowa or at least handle one before any final conclusion.
 
Last edited:

gcole

Well-known member
Has anyone compared these two scopes: Vortex razor HD 16-48x65 VS Kowa TSN663M Prominar XD 20-60x66? If so, I would be interested in your thoughts. They both have positives (warranty for razor) and negatives (narrower FOV for Kowa). BTW - I wear eyeglasses and so I am also interested in eye relief.

I have owned both, currently own the Vortex Razor HD 65, sold the zoom . I am a low to medium eyepiece van of high end fixed eyepieces with large ocular lens/long eye relief. I also wear glasses. I have yet to find any scope at any price including a Kowa that will outperform the Razor 65 when using the fixed Japan made Vortex RZR LER1 HD eyepiece. My opinion is based on the comparison of other high end fixed power eyepieces in the same 18x power range when compared to other scope/eyepiece combo's. I personally think all the other eyepieces Vortex sells for this scope, even the zoom does not come close to showing its true potential. Its a shame because the RZR LER1 eyepiece is proof just how good it can really be. I would rate this eyepiece as good if not better than my Pentax XW20. I Just wish I could use other high end fixed eyepieces with this scope. The Vortex Razor HD is sourced from China, but you would never know it. It just ooses with Alpha high end qualities for a fraction of the cost & reminds me every time I handle it just how over priced the Kowa's, Zeiss & Leica's scopes really are. ... gwen
 
Last edited:

Boogieshrew

Well-known member
I have owned both, currently own the Vortex Razor HD 65, sold the zoom . I am a low to medium eyepiece van of high end fixed eyepieces with large ocular lens/long eye relief. I also wear glasses. I have yet to find any scope at any price including a Kowa that will outperform the Razor 65 when using the fixed Japan made Vortex RZR LER 1 HD eyepiece. I am only praising this particular scope/eyepiece combo. I would rate this eyepiece as good if not better than my Pentax XW20. I Just wish I could use other high end fixed eyepieces with this scope. The Vortex Razor HD is sourced from China, but you would never know it. It just ooses with Alpha high end qualities for a fraction of the cost & reminds me every time I handle it just how over priced the Kowa's Zeiss & Leica's scopes really are. ... gwen

I use a Vortex Razor HD 65 too but with Swarovsli eyepieces. The fixed ones that are 30x and 45x on the Swaro ATS give 24x and 36x on the Razor.

They are absolutely brilliant. Wide, bright and so sharp. The zoom (Vortex or Swaro) just don't compare.

I also have an old AT e/p (22x on Swaro) that gives 16x on the Razor. Very nice but not of the same quality as the later ATS e/ps. Very useful sometimes for birding in close woodland of for flock watching when you want lots of depth of field.

When I say I like the Razor, I really mean it- I am selling my Swaro ATM 65 and keeping the Vortex. It's small and lightweight, and fantastic qulaity with the Vortex guarantee.
 

FrankD

Well-known member
I can't really help with either of the two scopes in question. I have looked through both the 85 mm Razor and the 50 mm Razor but not the 65 mm. I haven't handled the 66 mm Kowa either. But I would like to throw another option into the mix.

So, the Nikon ED 50 is too small and you don't want a full-sized 80 mm class spotting scope. That leaves the 60 mm class that you pulled those two scopes from. How about the Opticron MM3 60 mm? The 60 mm does 15-45x with the HDF zoom or you could move up to the SDL V2 zoom. Same magnification but slightly better optical performance in a few areas.

The reason I mention the Opticron is because I have compared the 50 mm versions of the Razor and the MM3 and felt that the Opticron was clearly better optically. If that is the case with the 50 mm models then I think the 60 mm MM3 would be a viable alternative considering the selling price (at Eagle Optics for example) for the MM3 60 with HDF zoom is $784 versus the $1199 for the Razor 65 mm.

Here is a comparison of the specs of these two scopes....

Vortex Razor 65.....

Magnification 16-48x
Objective Lens Diameter 65 mm
Body Style Angled
Field of View 138-75 feet/1000 yards
Eye Relief 20-18 mm
Close Focus 11.5 feet
Weight 48.4 ounces
Length 14.1 inches
Weatherproofing Waterproof/Fogproof


Opticron MM3 60 mm with HDF zoom

Magnification 15-45x
Field of view (feet/1000 yards)138 / 63
Eye Relief 22-17mm
Close Focus 11.5 feet
Eyelens diameter 24 mm
Weight 33 ounces
Length 12.7 inches
Weatherproofing - Waterproof/Fogproof

Compare those with the Kowa 66 which retails for $1258 at EO.

Kowa 66 with SV zoom eyepiece

Magnification 20-60
Field of View (feet at 1000 yards) 99.75 - 52.5
Eye Relief 16.5-16 mm
Close focus 18 feet
Length 15.1 inches
Weight 45 ounces
Weatherproofing - Waterproof/fogproof

For further support of the MM3 60 mm suggestion, here is a review on it by an independent reviewer......

http://www.bestspottingscopereviews.com/OpticronMM360GAEDTravelscope-16.htm

And if you want to see what type of image quality it can potentially produce then here is a pic I took with it and my Iphone 6S....

24091104805_f49a961b4c_z.jpg
 
Last edited:

gcole

Well-known member
Frank .... I have never handled the Nikon but did own the Opticron MM3 50. Sharp as a tack. Build /quality wise I think the Razor wins hands down, the Opticron not even in the same ball park. Even though I have never looked thru the Opticron MM3 60 version, I would be shocked if that or its little brother could outperform the Vortex HD Razor in a 18x fixed power eyepiece such as the RZR LER1 in any objective size. Now the Opticron SDL zoom compared to the Razor zoom is another story, I did not like the Razor zoom but thought the Opticron zoom was much better. Now that's my eyes talking with no disrespect to Opticron, they make a fine product. ..gwen
 

FrankD

Well-known member
Gwen,

I was comparing the zoom eyepieces on both scopes (HDF in the case of the Opticron). I have not tried the 18x eyepiece you mentioned but certainly trust your judgement with how good it is on that scope. The SDL V2 is fairly similar overall to the HDF on paper minus the field of view at the higher magnification settings.

As for build quality, your comments have me curious as to how you were making your judgement. That statement isn't accusatory in nature..genuine curiosity. I know you are very experienced with a wide variety of scopes so I don't question your judgement. However, I would base build quality on several factors. For one, are there any quality control issues with the scope? Is the focusing knob loose? Does the eyecup not perform as intended. Is the rubber armor loose? Are there visible internal issues like parts not properly blackened or dust/dirt visible on the various glass elements.

These are build quality issues I would consider a concern.

I think that often times the conception of build quality is based on physical weight. The MM3 series is designed to be exceptionally light. As a result the body material is a composite and not a metal. The rubber armor is not exceptionally thick. All of which are intentional design choices to keep the overall weight down. On the flip side that light weight can also be perceived as less than ideal build quality. I am wondering if that is the case here?

For what it is worth I have dropped the 50 mm on a couple of occasions (tripod got tipped over, etc...). I haven't run into any issues with alignment or a part not functioning correctly as a result.

Thoughts?
 
Last edited:

giosblue

Well-known member
Thoughts? Well there's not much to look at in scope to judge the build quality really. I haven't seen any that are falling apart.
However I think I know what Gwen means with regards to the Opticron. The covering is a bit plasticy, doesn't feel as nice to touch as some scopes and the EP fitting is poor by today standards.
The male screw fitting is ok, but the female collar on the zoom is poor. It's not always easy to attach and the squeaky, screeching noise it makes when you screw it on doesn't give you the impression your dealing with a piece of high quality kit, quite the reverse.
Personally I think a big improvement to the Opticron scope would be to use the astro fitting. They could easily make an adapter so all the old EPs could be used. Just a screw on collar.
But at the end of the day, it's a tool to do a job and from my experience so far. it does it pretty well.
 

JerryLogan

Well-known member
I have owned both, currently own the Vortex Razor HD 65, sold the zoom . I am a low to medium eyepiece van of high end fixed eyepieces with large ocular lens/long eye relief. I also wear glasses. I have yet to find any scope at any price including a Kowa that will outperform the Razor 65 when using the fixed Japan made Vortex RZR LER1 HD eyepiece. My opinion is based on the comparison of other high end fixed power eyepieces in the same 18x power range when compared to other scope/eyepiece combo's. I personally think all the other eyepieces Vortex sells for this scope, even the zoom does not come close to showing its true potential. Its a shame because the RZR LER1 eyepiece is proof just how good it can really be. I would rate this eyepiece as good if not better than my Pentax XW20. I Just wish I could use other high end fixed eyepieces with this scope. The Vortex Razor HD is sourced from China, but you would never know it. It just ooses with Alpha high end qualities for a fraction of the cost & reminds me every time I handle it just how over priced the Kowa's, Zeiss & Leica's scopes really are. ... gwen

Gwen,

I'm certainly going to give the 65mm Razor a look based on your experience. That said, the 18x seems rather limited for the OP's purpose. If I were going to be limited to 18x I suspect I'd get a pair of Canon 18x50 IS and be done with it. Good optics, easier to haul around, no tripod. Sure, they're clunky for binoculars but easier to use than a tripod and scope. Plus, bonus - stereo vision!

I'm doing some tests right now, but I've also come to suspect that aperture is more important than quality once a certain threshold is passed. In other words, a decent 85mm scope is always going to reach further for a telling detail than the very best 65mm scope.

Best,
Jerry
 

gcole

Well-known member
Thoughts? Well there's not much to look at in scope to judge the build quality really. I haven't seen any that are falling apart.
However I think I know what Gwen means with regards to the Opticron. The covering is a bit plasticy, doesn't feel as nice to touch as some scopes and the EP fitting is poor by today standards.
The male screw fitting is ok, but the female collar on the zoom is poor. It's not always easy to attach and the squeaky, screeching noise it makes when you screw it on doesn't give you the impression your dealing with a piece of high quality kit, quite the reverse.
Personally I think a big improvement to the Opticron scope would be to use the astro fitting. They could easily make an adapter so all the old EPs could be used. Just a screw on collar.
But at the end of the day, it's a tool to do a job and from my experience so far. it does it pretty well.
That sums it up pretty well regarding what my impressions were of the MM3 50 . I could not have said it better. What really annoyed me was after about a dozen times of switching back and forth between the zoom /13x eyepiece was that the threads on both the scope's ocular port & eyepiece were starting to breakdown even though I took great care to make sure I was not miss threading both when putting them on. I think eventually the threads would have come stripped to the point to having be returned.
 

gcole

Well-known member
Gwen,

I'm certainly going to give the 65mm Razor a look based on your experience. That said, the 18x seems rather limited for the OP's purpose. If I were going to be limited to 18x I suspect I'd get a pair of Canon 18x50 IS and be done with it. Good optics, easier to haul around, no tripod. Sure, they're clunky for binoculars but easier to use than a tripod and scope. Plus, bonus - stereo vision!

I'm doing some tests right now, but I've also come to suspect that aperture is more important than quality once a certain threshold is passed. In other words, a decent 85mm scope is always going to reach further for a telling detail than the very best 65mm scope.

Best,
Jerry

Jerry , You really have to try the scope with the RZR LER1 eyepiece. The zoom & Vortex's other cheaper fixed eyepiece in my opinion do not really make this scope standout above any of the other scopes out there in the same price point. A another example is the Pentax EDII a good scope with many of the lower priced 1.25" eyepieces but when mated with the XW14 or XW20 eyepiece the combo makes the Pentax a Great scope. The 18x power may be a limiting factor for many but unfortunately Vortex has not come out with any more higher end fixed eyepieces made in Japan having the same design as the RZR LER1. The only other eyepieces I know of that also makes the Vortex 65 Razor show its super powers are the now discontinued fixed 20x W / 30x W Swarovski eyepieces which I have tried personally along with a few others here on the forum..
 
Last edited:

FrankD

Well-known member
That sums it up pretty well regarding what my impressions were of the MM3 50 . I could not have said it better. What really annoyed me was after about a dozen times of switching back and forth between the zoom /13x eyepiece was that the threads on both the scope's ocular port & eyepiece were starting to breakdown even though I took great care to make sure I was not miss threading both when putting them on. I think eventually the threads would have come stripped to the point to having be returned.

Well stated. I seem to have forgotten my cardinal rule when it comes to evaluating optics. "Just because I don't experience it doesn't means other don't." In this case the thread issue with the eyepieces.

I have both a fixed mag/wide angle HDF eyepiece and the HDF zoom. I do swap them on occasion from the 50 mm to the 60 mm depending on the situation. One is a "male" connector and the other a "female". I haven't noticed any issues with the threads stripping after a year or so but that doesn't mean it could not happen.

I don't have much to comment about the rubber armor. As I mentioned previously, everything is designed with a goal in mind. In this case it was to keep the weight to a minimum. That may then lead to a different "feel" to the scope.
 

Piskeddu

Well-known member
If you can affect , here is my opinion of output 5 months ago :This is about the Kowa tsn 663m

Hello everyone, today I made ​​an exit in Val Mastallone to look fo
r some prey ( no sign ) and tried spotting concerned with the eyepiece TSE - 14WD 30x .
Given that the time after a little sun has undergone a bit spoiled with gray clouds covering despite the sunlight tried to penetrate , I must say that spotting behaved very well , excellent definition, fluid focus , never given the problems of internal reflections , only negative , in one case looking at the top of a mountain with the sun at 9 am I came across a slight chromatic aberration that took only the upper part of the view , the definition the center field has never affected by this problem.
I attach two photos of the instrument and the panorama Giorgio
I forgot ... excellent contrast and no prey but two beautiful ravens :)
 
Last edited:

WisBirder

New member
My recent experience with the 663 and Razor 65

I am in the market for my first spotting scope and recently spend some time looking through numerous scopes at my local shop. I honestly went to the store expecting to purchase a Vortex Viper HD 65 or maybe let the salespeople talk my into the Razor. However, after looking through at least 10 different scopes, I found myself gravitating to the Kowa 663 and the Opticron MM3 60.

I am new to evaluating spotting scopes, but I'll share my thoughts on the scopes that have been mentioned in this thread.

Opticron MM3 60
I asked about this scope after reading numerous positive reviews and I wasn't disappointed. This is a really great scope in a small package. I am a firm believer that the best scope is the one you have with you. This scope is small and light enough to take anywhere. It was very easy to get a clear sharp view at any magnification and it was just easy to look through. I tend to have problems with eye relief on scopes and binoculars so it was nice to get a great image without a lot fuss. It was very bright and sharp when viewing the resolution chart, pine trees or birds. I looked through this scope with both the HDF and the SDL eyepiece and don't see the value in spending extra money on the SDL. Unlike the Kowa and the Razor, this scope does not have a sun shade.

Kowa 663
I was happy to find a Kowa that was comparable in price to the Razor. I have always thought of Kowa as a high-end brand and didn't think they offered scopes in my price range. I was very impressed with this scope and found it very easy to get a sharp view of any object. This scope has a single focus know but finding a crisp focus was never an issue in my testing. This scope is slightly brighter and sharper than the Opticron and offers higher magnification. For me the higher magnification is a big selling point over the Opticron MM3 60 or the Razor 65. With each scope I was viewing a resolution chart as about 100 yards. The Kowa did he best job of remaining in focus when increasing or decreasing the magnification. The other scopes required a lot more refocusing to get the image clear after adjusting the zoom.

Razor 65
I expected to love this scope but after spending some time with it on 2 occasions I removed it from my consideration list. The main reason is that the quality of the image with the Razor was very sensitive to eye position. I observed a lot of purple fringing around the outside edge of the image if my eye wasn't positioning in exactly the right spot. It was also not as sharp as either the Opticron or the Kowa when viewing the resolution chart. I am open to the possibility that I was looking through a bad sample because my experience was much different than what I had read in reviews. It also took longer to get a good focus with this scope. I found myself hunting for focus more with the Razor than the other scopes.

I think the MM3 with the HDF zoom is the best value of the bunch, but I am leaning toward the Kowa to get the extra reach afforded by the 60x zoom. Honestly, I don't think you can go wrong with either the Opticron MM3 or the Kowa 663. They are both great scopes.
 

Steve O4B

Optics4Birding.com
WisBirder,

I tend to agree with your assessments.

FYI, the TSN-663 and TSN-663M differ only in color, tan vs. green. Optics4Birding has both in stock.
 
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 Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
Warning! This thread is more than 6 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top