• 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 DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Where do I go from here? (1 Viewer)

Jonathan Avery

Active member
I am a happy owner of an Opticron MM4 77. Every now and again I wonder whether I should change or upgrade. I think the image from the scope is good and it is probably underrated, but do I need more reach when looking for distant waders etc? The question is what scope would I move to? Having moved from an MM4 60, I have grown to like the brighter, bigger image of an 80mm scope. This was impressed on me when I looked through a Kowa 66a recently and thought the clarity of the image was impressive but it seemed small after getting used to a 77mm objective. I also appreciate that the MM4 77 is not overly heavy for an 80mm class and wonder how much extra weight I want to carry. I think I prefer the finger focus rather than barrel but could probably overcome that.

Optics salesmen say that as I am at the top of the middle with the MM4 the only thing to do is to buy an alpha scope. Some add that the difference from at least some alpha models to the Opticron would be "night and day". However, I can see that at the lower end of the zoom at least, the image I get often looks not far off my fellow birders' alpha scopes but would be interested in comments from people who have used the Opticron and also alpha scopes on this assessment.

I appreciate the only ultimate answer is to look through scopes with my own eyes and I have done quite a bit of that (also might visit Bird Fair), but looking through a scope in an optics shop, even one with a a good place to try out, is not the same as using a scope day in, day out in the field. I guess obvious contenders would be the Swarovski ATS 80mm (111gms heavier). However, when I looked through an ATS 65mm which uses the same eps as the 80mm I had difficulty with eye placement and reflections for some reason - is that a problem for glasses wearers with these eps? (20-60 and 25-50). The Kowa 883 looks interesting, available at good prices second-hand with the introduction of the 88a. I have looked through this and get on with the ep and like the image a lot and the focus - all looks good but it looks to be 391 gms heavier than the MM4 77 - is that very noticeable in the field? An intriguing possibility is the Meopta S2 82 HD which seems to get rave reviews from anyone who owns one. This would be 216 gms more weight with the 30 - 60 WA lens but I have yet to find any outlet in the UK that sells the scope. Are they available second hand?

I would appreciate any thoughts from anyone who has used any of these scopes and the MM4 77 in the field. Have I missed any obvious options? Are there new entrants waiting in the wings? Is the price for any upgrade from the MM4 77 to an alpha 80 mm scope inevitably several hundred grams extra in weight? I don't anticipate changing my scope soon - have to negotiate finance with powerful authorities first! - but it is interesting to have options to review as you visit reserves with optics on display or drop into one of the big optics retailers - any comments welcome!
 
I am a happy owner of an Opticron MM4 77. Every now and again I wonder whether I should change or upgrade. I think the image from the scope is good and it is probably underrated, but do I need more reach when looking for distant waders etc? The question is what scope would I move to? Having moved from an MM4 60, I have grown to like the brighter, bigger image of an 80mm scope. This was impressed on me when I looked through a Kowa 66a recently and thought the clarity of the image was impressive but it seemed small after getting used to a 77mm objective. I also appreciate that the MM4 77 is not overly heavy for an 80mm class and wonder how much extra weight I want to carry. I think I prefer the finger focus rather than barrel but could probably overcome that.

Optics salesmen say that as I am at the top of the middle with the MM4 the only thing to do is to buy an alpha scope. Some add that the difference from at least some alpha models to the Opticron would be "night and day". However, I can see that at the lower end of the zoom at least, the image I get often looks not far off my fellow birders' alpha scopes but would be interested in comments from people who have used the Opticron and also alpha scopes on this assessment.

I appreciate the only ultimate answer is to look through scopes with my own eyes and I have done quite a bit of that (also might visit Bird Fair), but looking through a scope in an optics shop, even one with a a good place to try out, is not the same as using a scope day in, day out in the field. I guess obvious contenders would be the Swarovski ATS 80mm (111gms heavier). However, when I looked through an ATS 65mm which uses the same eps as the 80mm I had difficulty with eye placement and reflections for some reason - is that a problem for glasses wearers with these eps? (20-60 and 25-50). The Kowa 883 looks interesting, available at good prices second-hand with the introduction of the 88a. I have looked through this and get on with the ep and like the image a lot and the focus - all looks good but it looks to be 391 gms heavier than the MM4 77 - is that very noticeable in the field? An intriguing possibility is the Meopta S2 82 HD which seems to get rave reviews from anyone who owns one. This would be 216 gms more weight with the 30 - 60 WA lens but I have yet to find any outlet in the UK that sells the scope. Are they available second hand?

I would appreciate any thoughts from anyone who has used any of these scopes and the MM4 77 in the field. Have I missed any obvious options? Are there new entrants waiting in the wings? Is the price for any upgrade from the MM4 77 to an alpha 80 mm scope inevitably several hundred grams extra in weight? I don't anticipate changing my scope soon - have to negotiate finance with powerful authorities first! - but it is interesting to have options to review as you visit reserves with optics on display or drop into one of the big optics retailers - any comments welcome!
Jonathon,

The only person who can answer how much extra weight you will put up with is you :). Get a water bottle and fill it with 391g of water and carry it around attached to your scope and see what you think :)

Have a look at the London Camera Exchange and In Focus Websites and look for their field days. No, it's not the same as using the scope day in and day out, but it's much easier to do a/b comparisons with your existing scope than a shop. I very much doubt that the difference between your Opticron and an alpha scope will be night and day, but as you have said yourself the only person who can detemine that is you. The only advice I would give is try to pick a dull day because it might make the differences easier to see.

I don't wear specs but I imagine that makes it even more important for you to try out eyepieces "in the wild" than a non specs wearer. Do you have a fixed mag eyepiece or a zoom ?
 
An alpha scope is not going to give you any more reach. It will give you marginally more clarity but certainly not "night and day".

No matter what optics you have there will always be birds that are too far away.
 
A few thoughts:

1. An alpha scope will be better than your Opticron in all likelihood. Provided it is a cherry.
2. With scopes size matters. Bigger is better - provided you get a cherry, that is.
3. However, big scopes are heavy. Only you can decide how much weight you can or indeed want to carry.
4. And don't forget: If you switch to a bigger and heavier scope, you may have to upgrade you tripod and head. That means more weight.

BTW, I've got three scopes, all of them old Nikon Fieldscopes: 50mm, 60mm and 82mm. I find I use the big ED82 least, simply because I often walk longer distances (5-10 miles). Weight also matters!

Hermann
 
Having owned a 95 STX, a Kowa TSN 884, and now have a TSN-88S, a MM4 77, 2 Meopta S2s, and several smaller objective scopes....the MM4 77 is a really good scope. I actually bought it to be a lighter weight "large objective" scope and it fills that role quite nicely. I've compared it to the S2, side by side several times. Is the S2 a better scope? Yes., but VERY marginally so. I honestly can't say there would ever be enough "difference" to ID or not ID.

IMG_2416.jpeg
 
I like the lightness of my Opticron 60mm4 and light tripod, can easily sling it over a shoulder and walk for miles and miles, with rapid deployment. Bigger scopes mean extra weight and longer time to deploy and put away. I do have bigger kit that I sometimes take out, but it needs to be the right site that I can spend blocks of time observing from. I rarely run my scopes at max magnification as the image gets dull and less contrast. With lighter kit I can carry more water or snacks!
Depends on your observing style and what the reasons for wanting a bigger scope are.

Peter
 
Hi,

if you have a good example of the the MM4 77mm, what about getting either a high magnification EP or a doubler for those far away wader cases?

Opticron has the UTA and adapters for many different Opticron eyepieces which will double the magnification (and result into a very narrow field of view) or the 5mm eyepiece part number 40861 which would result into 88x on the MM4 77.

The doubler is quicker to attach, the 5mm EP will give a wider field. Both will be quite a bit lighter and cheaper than a larger scope...

Joachim
 
Jonathon,

The only person who can answer how much extra weight you will put up with is you :). Get a water bottle and fill it with 391g of water and carry it around attached to your scope and see what you think :)

Have a look at the London Camera Exchange and In Focus Websites and look for their field days. No, it's not the same as using the scope day in and day out, but it's much easier to do a/b comparisons with your existing scope than a shop. I very much doubt that the difference between your Opticron and an alpha scope will be night and day, but as you have said yourself the only person who can detemine that is you. The only advice I would give is try to pick a dull day because it might make the differences easier to see.

I don't wear specs but I imagine that makes it even more important for you to try out eyepieces "in the wild" than a non specs wearer. Do you have a fixed mag eyepiece or a zoom ?
Hi 4John,

Thanks for your comments. Tying the water bottle to the scope is a clever plan :)! I'll look out and see if there are any optics field days coming up near me. Interesting that you don't anticipate that difference between MM4 77 and the alpha scope will be night and day.
 
An alpha scope is not going to give you any more reach. It will give you marginally more clarity but certainly not "night and day".

No matter what optics you have there will always be birds that are too far away.
Hi Mono,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Would the longer zoom up to 60 on the Kowa and Meopta not give you more reach than the MM4 77 zooming up to 54 or is the difference quite negligeable and possibly often not useable with haze?
 
A few thoughts:

1. An alpha scope will be better than your Opticron in all likelihood. Provided it is a cherry.
2. With scopes size matters. Bigger is better - provided you get a cherry, that is.
3. However, big scopes are heavy. Only you can decide how much weight you can or indeed want to carry.
4. And don't forget: If you switch to a bigger and heavier scope, you may have to upgrade you tripod and head. That means more weight.

BTW, I've got three scopes, all of them old Nikon Fieldscopes: 50mm, 60mm and 82mm. I find I use the big ED82 least, simply because I often walk longer distances (5-10 miles). Weight also matters!

Hermann
Hi Hermann,

I realise that the warning about not getting a cherry comes up fairly frequently on the forum but it is troubling that there is such a high possibility of not getting a good specimen when buying scopes at the top end of the market. You would think that if you are paying out £2k - £4k you would get a reliably good instrument. What happened to quality control? I guess careful checking before you buy is the only answer. Do the top companies not worry about their reputations if they put out sub-standard scopes?

You are right, that only I can decide about weight and there is the trade off of performance against weight. Interesting that you leave the Nikon 82mm at home most because of the distances you walk. Scope is only good I guess if you actually take it with you.
 
Having owned a 95 STX, a Kowa TSN 884, and now have a TSN-88S, a MM4 77, 2 Meopta S2s, and several smaller objective scopes....the MM4 77 is a really good scope. I actually bought it to be a lighter weight "large objective" scope and it fills that role quite nicely. I've compared it to the S2, side by side several times. Is the S2 a better scope? Yes., but VERY marginally so. I honestly can't say there would ever be enough "difference" to ID or not ID.

IMG_2416.jpeg
Hi Chuck,

Your comments are really helpful as you have owned most of the scopes I was thinking might be the next one and still think that the MM4 is really good in that distinguished company! Surprised that the MM4 77 is so close to the Meopta S2 - that is a fascinating comment from someone who owns both.
 
Last edited:
I like the lightness of my Opticron 60mm4 and light tripod, can easily sling it over a shoulder and walk for miles and miles, with rapid deployment. Bigger scopes mean extra weight and longer time to deploy and put away. I do have bigger kit that I sometimes take out, but it needs to be the right site that I can spend blocks of time observing from. I rarely run my scopes at max magnification as the image gets dull and less contrast. With lighter kit I can carry more water or snacks!
Depends on your observing style and what the reasons for wanting a bigger scope are.

Peter
Hi Peter,

Your comment about rapid deployment is interesting. I have noticed that in the birding group people with the heavier top scopes usually carry them on scopac/mulepack or some equivalent on their backs and don't want to be for ever unpacking them when a possible sighting comes up - the scopes are deployed when we reach a set viewing point where we are likely to stop for a while. As my Opticron is lighter it is more accessible and I can easily deploy it as we go along.
 
Hi,

if you have a good example of the the MM4 77mm, what about getting either a high magnification EP or a doubler for those far away wader cases?

Opticron has the UTA and adapters for many different Opticron eyepieces which will double the magnification (and result into a very narrow field of view) or the 5mm eyepiece part number 40861 which would result into 88x on the MM4 77.

The doubler is quicker to attach, the 5mm EP will give a wider field. Both will be quite a bit lighter and cheaper than a larger scope...

Joachim
Hi Joachim,

Thanks for this thought. To be honest I hadn't looked into getting the Opticron high magnification EP but that would certainly give more reach and would enable a good sight of those distant waders. Do you know whether it gives a reasonable field of view? Is the image quite dim because of the powerful magnification?
 
Hi,

the afov of the 40861 is listed at 56 deg, not quite wide angle (60 deg is the usual line) but certainly not terrible.
I just put it on my TSN-3 with the adapter 40925 and brightness was ok in slightly overcast weather, even when looking under the foilage across the river. Sharpness was nice at 88x - that TSN-3 body is a cherry.

I always wanted to design and 3d-print another adapter as it only fits the TSN-3 physically with the 40925 adapter but only can focus out to 100m or so...

PS: it should be mentioned that with an exit pupil below 1mm, correct eye positioning is crucial and even then, some "floaters" aka Mouches voulantes inside my eye can be visble...

Joachim
 
Last edited:
So if you want to try something new/different...be patient and wait for a good deal on a Meopta S2 OR a Kowa 883. As you mentioned the MM4 IS a lightweight scope for 77mm. My thoughts were I'd go down a notch in tripod weight which I did. Example:

MM4 77 with Gitzo GT1545T/Leofoto BV-5 - 3370gm total (7.43lbs)
S2 with Gitzo GT2532 Mountaineer/GT GHF2W- 4452gm total (9.81lbs)

Definitely I can tell the difference in the weight. You wouldn't think 2.4lbs is much but a good bit easier to maneuver/carry. SAYING THIS....the GT2532 is a much better tripod than the 1545T IMO, but it is a good bit heavier too(786gms).

OR....you can go the other direction and go really lightweight as I have done recently...
Nikon ED50 with same GT1545- 2219gm(4.7lbs)
You'll be surprise how much of the time this is all you need!
 
Yes, as you up the magnification the image will get dimmer with any scope. I normally dislike zooms, but it is useful to tune the magnification to give a brightness that seems to give the “best view”. I don’t often crank the zoom to the max unless I’m desperate to try to see more detail.

Peter
 
I am also looking at the Pentax 65mm as an option for wildlife viewing (Western US) and curious on the different eyepieces available. I do have an older Vixen variable and misc fixed focal lengths, but would be looking for a good all around with long eye relief for glasses (progressive bifocals) and possible digiscoping use.
The Pentax seems to be the only Japanese glass in my budget as my current eye piece will work for now. Was also looking at Ares UHD.

Thanks!

Edit: first post and in the wrong thread. Yup, that’s me ;)
 
So if you want to try something new/different...be patient and wait for a good deal on a Meopta S2 OR a Kowa 883. As you mentioned the MM4 IS a lightweight scope for 77mm. My thoughts were I'd go down a notch in tripod weight which I did. Example:

MM4 77 with Gitzo GT1545T/Leofoto BV-5 - 3370gm total (7.43lbs)
S2 with Gitzo GT2532 Mountaineer/GT GHF2W- 4452gm total (9.81lbs)

Definitely I can tell the difference in the weight. You wouldn't think 2.4lbs is much but a good bit easier to maneuver/carry. SAYING THIS....the GT2532 is a much better tripod than the 1545T IMO, but it is a good bit heavier too(786gms).

OR....you can go the other direction and go really lightweight as I have done recently...
Nikon ED50 with same GT1545- 2219gm(4.7lbs)
You'll be surprise how much of the time this is all you need!
Thank you for your comments and with your input and thoughts from other contributors to the thread, I have now several areas I can explore:

-There is the option of getting a lighter tripod for the MM4 77 to make an already lightweight scope an even lighter scope / tripod combination (my current tripod is Velbon Sherpa 200r plus PH 157 head which is around 2000 gms I believe). Thank you for the tripod suggestions you gave. Am I right in thinking a tripod only needs to be the same weight as a scope as a general rule? If that is the case could I look for even lighter tripods, around 1550 gms - do you and others have any suggestions for such tripods?

-The above refinements to my existing scope can be enhanced by the x88 fixed lens as suggested by Joachim plus maybe the options of other fixed WA lenses which I understand give very clear images (x20 and x28).

- I like your idea of going very light as you have recently done with the Nikon ED50. Being on holiday at the moment with no optics has made me wonder whether I need to think about a package that would cover holidays and long walks in addition to a standard scope. If I keep with the MM4 77 then an MM4 50 would be an obvious route enabling doubling up on lenses. However, you have obviously found the Nikon ED50 very good. I thought I remembered articles when I was first investigating Opticron comparing MM4 50 with the Nikon 50 and saying the MM4 50 was a bit brighter and the ER was better especially for spectacle wearers. Have you any thoughts on this?

- I will also keep the keep the Kowa 883 and the Meopta S2 options under review and keep a look out for good deals. This is challenged by the general non-availability of Meopta in the UK. Does anyone in the UK know where you can get hold of Meoptas, either new or second hand?

Thanks again for everyone’s comments showing again the value of a forum like this where you can get feedback from others who have addressed issues you are considering - much appreciated
 
Last edited:
One further question if anyone still has the patience......! What about the Kowa 773? It has a big objective, it is light weight and presumably has a crisper image than the MM4 77 ....or does it? Has anyone compared them? Also as now discontinued there would be good deals to be had..
 
Hello @Jonathan Avery

Did you manage to find a scope that met all your criteria?

I was in the same quandry as you and have the Opticron MM4 77mm as well. I tried that scope against several others, Zeiss and Swaro included, and from a price/ weight/performance perspective, it ticked all the boxes and it has suprised me with just how good it is.

I missed out on the recent Meopta sale at SWOptics as I have their bino’s and they are certainly Alpha class IMHO, the 15x56 in particular is astonishing. But they are difficult to find either new or used.

My eyes are certainly bigger than my wallet but I would be interested if you found your holy grail of scopes. VMT.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top