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Thread: Spotting Scope advice

  1. #1

    Spotting Scope advice

    I'm thinking of purchasing a spotting scope for wildlife watching, from 20-500m.

    Having never even used one before any advice on what I should be looking for would be gratefully received. Same goes for a tripod.

    Budget inc everything 1250.

    Regards

    Ed

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by N.F.W.M View Post
    I'm thinking of purchasing a spotting scope for wildlife watching, from 20-500m.

    Having never even used one before any advice on what I should be looking for would be gratefully received. Same goes for a tripod.

    Budget inc everything 1250.

    Regards

    Ed
    With that sort of budget you'll find it hard to beat a Leica APO Televid 65 or 77, buy a good used one and you should be well inside your budget.

  3. #3
    Kowa TS-613 (angled) or TS-612 (straight) ED Prominar -- These are >60mm objective type & are very very good scopes & punch way above their weight - fitted with fluorite lenses they compare well with the Swaro Zeiss Leica equivalents.
    A variable eyepiece with 20 to 45 x magnification will make it a very usable under many situations.- 60x eyepieces are ok but very difficult to use with poor eye relief.
    If you want a bigger objective scope (brighter) the TSN-823 or 833 models (>80mm objectives) fill the bill.
    Whatever scope you get, a solid tripod is essential - the Manfrotto 055 is a good choice.
    Buy second hand & you will get top quality kit well within the budget. - There are plenty of low usage ones on 't bay & at good camera shops.

    Ian

  4. #4
    Ed, I use a spotting scope a great deal and there has been some good advice given already.

    Something in the range of 20-60x65 is good. Obviously you can go bigger with the objective lense if you want to. 15-45x is also a quite good choice but the 60x at the high end comes into its own with smaller wildlife especially birds at longer distances (600m +).

    The biggest dilemma is whether to go for a straight or angled eyepiece. If its to be used in a hide then an angled one is ok but I prefer a straight one. Even straight spotting scopes are very hard to use freehand or from improvised rests and an angled one is nearly impossible.

    The Manfrotto range of tripods are hard to beat. I have a classic old green one. Its very stable but the head is getting a bit tired and it weighs a tonne.

    I would definitely buy second hand and I would be looking at Kowa or Opticron. The Swarovski is the best but you will be well over your budget if you want a decent tripod and head along with the scope and eyepiece.

    If you want to give me a call I am happy to chat more about it.

    Have a look on Cley Spys website. They probably have the best range of new and used kit in the country and there is always loads i the shop that isn't on the website. They are top guys to deal with too. It is just down the road from me and I would be happy to pop in and check out anything that you may be interested in.

    Best wishes,
    Glyn.

  5. #5
    I looked into spotting scopes (yeah, I know...) and went with a 2nd hand Optolyth 30X80 that I picked up off ebay for just over 200.

    There is a binocular repair centre in Glasgow that can do all, or almost all, repairs to them for reasonable money.

    I like it, it works well for me and it was well below your budget. I have compared it to other, more modern, angled scopes that cost a LOT more money and there is no question that they were very slightly better but they required a tripod to mount them and the optical difference wasn't enough to make me think it was worth the money for my purposes.

    I am assuming you want a straight pull scope for carrying on the hill or when out and about - the longer scopes allow you to lie and brace the scope against a leg etc. giving steady viewing out to considerable range, this gives you a lot more flexibility than a tripod mounted scope when out and about. The scope goes to a reasonable size and there is a tamarack lens case that is an exact fit for it which is ideal for carrying it.

    The other thing is that if you think you might only put the scope to occasional use then both Nickel and Hertel and Reuss do variable mag 60mm scopes which give pretty good viewing, are relatively small but the right length to brace against a leg, and come up quite often on ebay for 50 - 120ish. These scopes can also be repaired by the folks in Glasgow so you can have pretty good glass for not a lot of cash.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:
    http://www.7south.co.uk/




  6. #6
    Meopta tga 75 with a 20-60 eye piece great value and i find it easy carry with the rubber case

  7. #7
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    For that budget you can get the new Swaro spotting scope, which is nicely modular.

    Alternatively buy an ex-demo one from Macleods (see http://www.rmacleod.co.uk/CUSTOMER%2...OCK%20LIST.pdf they have several) and use the money saved for stalking or an additional eyepiece.

    I have the STS 65 (bought from Macleods) with both the 30x and the 20-60x eyepieces. I mainly use the 30x, as the wide field of view is particularly useful. Mostly I use mine for birdwatching and occasional buck identification. They are a joy to use.

    I see Macleods also have one of the Optolyth straight draw scopes that caorach mentions. I've had the same scope and found it very good. The only drawback is that straight draws can't be fully waterproof, whereas spotting scopes can be. I sold the Optolyth (on here) but then picked up a Swarovski version of the same on eBay, which was a bit of a bargain.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    I see Macleods also have one of the Optolyth straight draw scopes that caorach mentions. I've had the same scope and found it very good. The only drawback is that straight draws can't be fully waterproof, whereas spotting scopes can be.
    Actually that is a very good point that I overlooked - because the draw scope "draws" in and out it can also draw water in along with it. With sensible use I've never had a problem with this but I would imagine if you were out in very bad weather over extended periods then there might be potential to fog up and all that sort of stuff. On the other hand draw scopes are often used by highland stalkers and it is not an area known for dry weather so it may not be a show stopper and with a budget like N.F.W.M. has he could have an Optolyth and a week in the highlands at hinds or a couple of days at stags. I'd go with the stalking every time.

    Over long term use then draw scopes to "suck" stuff into them, including damp and water, but because they are basically simple devices it is usually easy and relatively inexpensive to resolve any problems that arise. Again the Glasgow binocular repair people can do all of this at a good price and they can work around deer seasons that that sort of thing.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:
    http://www.7south.co.uk/




  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by caorach View Post
    Actually that is a very good point that I overlooked - because the draw scope "draws" in and out it can also draw water in along with it. With sensible use I've never had a problem with this but I would imagine if you were out in very bad weather over extended periods then there might be potential to fog up and all that sort of stuff. On the other hand draw scopes are often used by highland stalkers and it is not an area known for dry weather so it may not be a show stopper and with a budget like N.F.W.M. has he could have an Optolyth and a week in the highlands at hinds or a couple of days at stags. I'd go with the stalking every time.

    Over long term use then draw scopes to "suck" stuff into them, including damp and water, but because they are basically simple devices it is usually easy and relatively inexpensive to resolve any problems that arise. Again the Glasgow binocular repair people can do all of this at a good price and they can work around deer seasons that that sort of thing.

    As per OP the scope will not be for stalking, it will be mounted on a tripod at base camp for wildlife watching. My decision to purchase a scope has been prompted by a pair of Goshawks moving into my immediate area, Red Kites visiting occasionaly, and by the resident population of Sika using the field in front of my house to couch up during daylight hours.

    Regards

    Ed

  10. #10
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caorach View Post
    Actually that is a very good point that I overlooked - because the draw scope "draws" in and out it can also draw water in along with it. With sensible use I've never had a problem with this but I would imagine if you were out in very bad weather over extended periods then there might be potential to fog up and all that sort of stuff. On the other hand draw scopes are often used by highland stalkers and it is not an area known for dry weather so it may not be a show stopper and with a budget like N.F.W.M. has he could have an Optolyth and a week in the highlands at hinds or a couple of days at stags. I'd go with the stalking every time.
    It's a consideration but I've never had a problem with the draw scope, even when hill stalking in typical Scottish weather, and for portability they are hard to beat.

    When I had the Optolyth I bought one of the Swarovski telescope slings (designed for their own draw scopes) which meant I could just sling it over my shoulder. Where the straps tightened I carried one of the short fishing rod rests, which I could then stick in the heather and use as a rest for the telescope when we were spying for beasts. Not quite as comfortable to use as a classic Greys scope, but quite manageable on the hill.

    This is the type of Swarovski draw scope I'm talking about: (Used) Swarovski 30x75 Draw Tube Telescope (Ref 50054) - Used Telescopes Eyepieces - Used Equipment - Cley Spy Basically identical to the Optolyth.

    By comparison, I've never taken the "regular" spotting scope out hill stalking, and I can't anticipate I would do so. For spying from the lodge, the Argo or the car, however, the usability of this design of scope comes into its own.
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

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