Entry Level Spotting Scope?

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Beer Monster

Need to contact Admin...
Aug 25, 2004
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With the gnu!
........ ok the title says it all really. I've got a decent pair of bins (Nikon Sporters) which are great but recently I've been leaning more and more towards the need for a spotting scope to get that much closer. The tipping point was a few weeks back seeing a family of 3 otters on Loch Sunart ...... fairly good views with the bins but with a bit more magnification it would have been perfect!

Anyone have any ideas? Budget wise I'd be looking at up to £200 possibly £300. Nothing fancy just a keep it simple stupid scope ....... weight isn’t a problem. Any ideas?
 

Barn Owl

Old Age Punk
Apr 10, 2007
8,243
5
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Ayrshire
There's such a large choice nowadays...Try these sites for an idea...
www.warehouseexpress.com , www.kayoptical.co.uk , www.acecameras.co.uk , www.hawkeoptics.com , there are numerous other sites too.
Watch out as some scopes don't include an eyepiece in the cost.
2nd hand can get you a better scope than some of the cheaper ones new.
The guys at Kay optical or Ace camera can give you expert advice over the phone and won't rip you off.
There's also all you want to know about optics at www.birdforum.net.
Tom.
 

Oakleaf

Full Member
Jun 6, 2004
331
1
Moray
With spotting scopes, quality really pays. The higher magnification eats up the light gathering and the image quality drops sharply.

I have an opticron mighty midget as a knock about - it is OK, but just ok. A friend acquired a Nickel spotting scope off E bay for about £90, complete with leather case and it is a quantum leap in image quality.

Not experienced, so talking out me hat, but suspect the plethora of Tasco, Ruski etc scopes are not going to give what you want.

Good secondhand unit from a reputable supplier to the birding community probably best bet - many allow a try before buy.

Something I always hanker after - please let us know how you get on.
 

Barn Owl

Old Age Punk
Apr 10, 2007
8,243
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Oakleaf,
If you use an hdf eyepiece instead of the normal one on the midgets it makes a big difference.
Tom.
 
I agree with Oakleaf here - if you're going to invest in a spotting scope then get the best you can afford. " Entry Level" to me means false economy with lots of things - especially optics (seeing is seeing! - no skill or learning required!).

Barn Owl's suggestion re: second hand, is a good one, if you're on a budget. Other than that, pay as much attention to the Objective lens diameter as you would to the magnification (there's no point being able to zoom in on feather patterns when it's too dark to see the bird!)

Good Luck!
 

Oakleaf

Full Member
Jun 6, 2004
331
1
Moray
Barnowl, thanks for the tip - I hadnt actually realised they were changeable. Will have a look round as my current eye-piece is operating via he wonders of gaffer tape!
 

Mikey P

Full Member
Nov 22, 2003
2,256
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Glasgow, Scotland
Well, although it's at the budget end (and the boys have already made the point that you get what you pay for), keep an eye on Lidls, Aldi and Netto as they occasionally have spotting scopes in. I\ve missed them all so far but they do seem to do it every year.
 

Beer Monster

Need to contact Admin...
Aug 25, 2004
620
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With the gnu!
Many thanks guys. Barn Owl I'll have a search through the birdforum pages as I'm sure this question is as common on there as "What hammock/sleeping bag is best" on here :) ! I'll see what I can find and will keep you all posted.

With regards to the "entry level". I understand that with optics you get what you pay for but basically I’m hoping for the same experience as I had with my bins. I'd been looking at Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss etc etc for years but could never afford them. Then heard about the Nikon Sporters at Warehouse Express going for £100 (reduced from £200) and the good reviews that they had received. Took a risk and bought them. Landed on my feet as they are excellent bins. I was astounded at how good they were for such a little price, light years ahead of what I had been putting up with previously.

Since I've had them I’ve had many chances to compare them along side all the more expensive varieties of binoculars in a most light conditions and if truth be told I (with my untrained eye) can’t see any optical difference at all?!? Ok the other more expensive makes are quite a bit lighter and generally a bit more compact but in the great scheme of things for the same optical quality but reduced price I’m willing to carry the extra few pounds, I'm a big lad so it doesn't hurt :D! In the mean time I can save up for the lighter more expensive varieties ....... however I feel I’ll be using the Nikons for a looooong time as they suit my need perfectly.

When I was doing my bins research it seemed to me that there were 3 price brackets. Budget level – poor quality optics and heavy/bulky. Mid level – good quality optics but fairly heavy/bulky. High end – good quality optics and the lightest, high tech materials used in the construction. It’s all about sacrifices really. I’m happy with the “mid level” as I don’t think I need the “high end” which probably only your most dedicated and serous twitchers will need.

At the moment I’m looking at the Kenko, Opticron, Nikon and Kowa brands (£300-400) as I think these are probably the more mid level scopes. The next step up as far as I can see is to the Leica, Zeiss etc which are twice (or more) the price.

Barn Owl, I didn’t realise that eye pieces aren’t included in the price :eek: thanks for pointing that out to me! Oakleaf, I’ll keep an eye on the objective lens – is it a case of the bigger the better (I see they generally go up in 10’s with the majority of them being around the 60mm mark)?
 

Barn Owl

Old Age Punk
Apr 10, 2007
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Ayrshire
Just thought of something...maybe the first midgets were fixed eyepieces,can't remember correctly.
Miss out the Kenko if you're already thinking of the other 3 brands.
I know a few folk with the Nikon Sporters and agree they're fantastic optics for the price.

As for objective lens size...the larger is better if you go for a zoom (yuk) eyepiece,however if you opt for a fixed mag then the smaller will cope.
I personally dislike zooms and use a 30x eyepiece with a 45x as backup,i'm even thinking of selling the 45 to buy a 20x.
Tom.
 
M

mikehill

Guest
Personally I liked my Opticron HR66 with a 20WW and a 38W on it. Nice and light and unless your going to use in really bad light then bright enough too. Nikon Fieldscopes are great too but go for the waterproof ones :)
Much better to find a stockist in a rural setting to try them out though ;)
 

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