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 Post subject: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:56 pm 
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Anyone ever use or own any spotting scopes? One piece of astronomy equipment I've never used or had in my stable. Maven has an 80mm fluorite model about on par with Kowa & Meopta, & a bit less than Leica price wise. About half the price of Swarovski. Their binos supposedly compare very close to the Euro Alpha glass Swarovski Swarovision.

I know there are different levels just like scopes, and aside from the 45* angle, I'm curious as to their utility compared to a regular 80mm telescope. Easier to move and transport? About the same? Strengths? Drawbacks?

Thanks! :shakasmile:

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:47 pm 
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I have a Nikon Prostaff 65mm spotting scope. Nothing fancy, I think it was about $400 new when I bought it about 10 years ago. It sits in our loft where we have a big window looking over the trees. I like to watch the ocean waves crash in 12 miles away. I thought I'd get more birding use out of it but the birds we get tend to move too fast. Binos work better for most of them. Though every now and then a Northern Cardinal, a yellow billed, or red crested cardinal will be calling in the trees and the view is pretty awesome.

I have a removable Nikon zoom eyepiece and it works pretty well, though the FOV is pretty narrow. I've tried it for quick stargazing and it works well except the tripod I have it on is way too shaky for astronomy.

That's pretty much the extent of my experience with spotters other than comparisons I used to do at Scope City. The Nikon has good color correction, though I can detect some CA with birds and tres against a bright blue sky background.

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:48 am 
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Thanks Erik! I was maybe looking at having a small scope that I could leave setup by the door for daytime birding in the backyard, and double as a quick peek scope for night use. I really don't want to leave the Stowaway setup where it might get knocked around accidentally. I suppose I could do this with my bins as well, but 25-50x in the scope would be a nice range to use from the fixed 8x and 15x of the binoculars.

I just thought of this while checking out the Maven site. I don't need a fluorite spotter and would not want to fork out the dough for that, but a decent, reasonably priced 65-80 might be useful. Could be fun to take on short driving trips to northern AZ as well when I won't have room for a scope & larger mount.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:55 pm 
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Yeah, the fast setup time is a real plus. And despite how narrow the zoom eyepiece is, I still like not having to ever swap eyepieces etc.

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Homebuilt 16" Truss Dob
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SV 80mm ED Nighthawk NG on M1 ALT/AZ
Nikon Prostaff 65mm spotter on Trekpod
Konusvue 20x80 binos/Peterson PipeMount


"Newt Gingrich is what stupid people think smart people sound like."
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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:57 am 
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Okay, after reading your second post I'll retract my inevitable response. I was going to say that if you're going to consider $2k for ANY spotting scope, you might get much more out of an APM 70mm or 82mm ED binocular telescope. Looks like they are finally hitting he market. But since it looks like that's not the price range you are looking for...scrap that. :grin:

I think the spotter idea is a great one for grab and go stuff, especially if you want something for birding/terrestrial that will most likely be moisture and dust resistant. I'm not sure I would consider one if astronomy was ever a likelihood. I don't own one, but imagine the color fringing would get wonky on stars unless you opted for fluorite, or at least ED. Erik, how is yours at nighttime?

BTW, Kerry, you can leave that Stowaway set up in my living room, no risk of having it knocked down. Done, problem solved.

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:36 am 
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Checked out Vortex, and they have models that mirror their bino lines. So the Diamondback line, which is one step below my Viper HD bins, is $499 for the 80mm, 45* angle spotter. That includes the 20-60x zoom which maintains 15-20mm eye relief. Sliding dew shield, rotatable tube, twist up eyecup, case, & "view-thru" cover.

The Viper HD to match my bins is $899. Includes all of the same above, but has the HD glass, a few ne focus knob, and ability to mount a red dot finder. Either one would work.

Check out the vids under the "media" tab. When it's done it will bring up more video links.

Diamondback

https://www.eagleoptics.com/collections ... ting-scope


Viper HD

https://www.eagleoptics.com/collections ... ting-scope

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:40 am 
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Yep, grab n go without the need to carry or change EPs is appealing. My Viper bins don't really show much if any color on bright objects in focus. Might get a thin green line on the moon's limb toward outer part of field. Daytime color is well controlled. Just a very dim thin purple fringe on telephone poles against a bright sky.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:25 pm 
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I really like that Viper! Looks like a perfect solution. I will throw the Pentax 80ED out there. Same price, and at that price unfortunately doesn't include an eyepiece. However, as in all Pentax scopes, it uses a 1.25" focuser. And since you already own some fantastic eyepieces, probably far better than the zoom with that Viper, you wouldn't explicitly need an eyepiece. I imagine the 10mm Delos would be the bomb in the Pentax. Just a thought.

PF-80ED-A BHPhoto

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:35 pm 
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Reading lots of favorable reviews about the Viper HD optical quality.

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:40 am 
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Thanks for the link on the Pentax. I'll check it out. Nice it takes 1.25s

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:56 am 
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Chopin wrote:
Reading lots of favorable reviews about the Viper HD optical quality.


I didn't look at any spotters at the time, but when I bought the Viper 8x42 HD binoculars, I went to the Bass Pro Shop in Tempe and looked at several Vortex binocular models. The optics in the spotters are supposed to be the same quality and design of their bino counterparts, just a bigger single objective.

A store isn't ideal for testing bins, but it's a huge place with wildlife and vegetation replicas everywhere. It was far enough to test at infinity, and I also looked at the distant mountains through their giant front window. I also used some pinpoint reflections from bright lights to try and replicate a bright star. Not perfect, but it gave me a good idea of comparative performance.

I checked out the Viper HD, their top dog Razor model, a Nikon equivalent of the Viper line (can't recall the name but it was in between the Premier and Monarch 5 lines - can't find it online so maybe discontinued), and the much coveted Swarovski EL Swarovisions.

Of the two Vortex models, yes the Razors were a touch brighter, slightly less CA, which is to say none I could find in the store. The Vipers have a touch but that's it. Although I like watching birds and wildlife, I am not a birder or a hunter and I could not find justification for spending twice as much for the Razors. Yes they were a bit better, but it's the same story - twice the dough for the last 7% - 10% better performance. More like 7% in this case.

I ALMOST went with the Nikons. They were very nice. Almost identical performance to the Vipers, but they had a je ne c'est quoi to them that I really liked. Whenever I can't quite pinpoint what that is my best guess is perhaps slightly better contrast and perhaps color rendition. I could not nail it down. But they were $325 more than the Vipers and again, I couldn't quite justify it.

So against the venerable Swaros, yes the ELs win the day. For $2,500 they damned well better win! Slightly better AFOV, no color, near-perfect edge, excellent transmission, etc, ad infinitum. Keep in mind all were SLIGHT improvements over the others. I'd say 7% better than the Razors which were half the cost, and 10% better than the Viper & Nikon which were about 1/4 and 1/3 the cost respectively. I love their products, but I'd never spend the money for them as there are too many near-equivalents out there for much, much less.

Anyway, for what I was looking to do and spend on an 8x42, the Vipers fit the bill. After over a year with them, I can say I'm very happy with their performance, in daylight (no glare), twilight, and under the stars. Nice & bright, excellent contrast, good color well-controlled CA, and a very good edge. Tough to beat for the price.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 12:03 pm 
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Swaros are the bomb. I've never looked through one that didn't incite stiffage. But yeah, such optical perfection comes with a price!

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 5:48 pm 
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Not sure if you use bird forum very much, but they are a pretty good source for spotters and binoculars.

http://www.birdforum.net

Anyway, the quick and dirty is that the Pentax PF-80ED generally stands up to the Leica and Swaro up to 40x with good eyepieces on board. Between 40-50x the image starts to break down and the favor will go to the top dogs, I'm guessing a matter of prism quality more than anything. It would seem that the focal length is close to 500mm, so eyepieces 12mm and longer are pretty much the recommendation. If you are happy at that length you'll probably love the Pentax. The reason I've always wanted one is because of the 1.25" collet. I rate my Pentax PCF bino somewhere between B+ and A-, and a far cry from the A+ of units like the Swaro and Fuji that a couple of friends have. But then I only spent $119 on them! They really are a sweet ratio of budget to quality. Anyway, if the binos are any indication of the spotter quality I can see where you would be impressed until pushing them. But then, even with my AT72 for spotter use, 50x is usually too much because of rising thermals in the air. 30x is still pretty darned high for a terrestrial scope, IMO. Anyway, just wanted to shoot that out there. Unfortunately many of the reviews use the Pentax zooms, which aren't bad, but certainly not astro level eyepieces.

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:13 pm 
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Are they using the standard 8-24 Pentax zoom, or the 6.5-19.5 XF zoom? I would think the latter would be a much better corrected eyepiece.

Thanks for the rundown on the PF 80 & the link to the bird forum. Not sure I've been to that site. I'll definitely check it out.

What size PCF bins do you have? The 20x60? I had the 16x60 years ago which are no longer made. The optics were nice and sharp and very contrasty under the night sky. However the FOV on most of their bins is quite narrow. On the 20s it's a TFOV OF 2.17*, 43* AFOV. I guess they are going for a highly corrected edge over field size?

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:59 pm 
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They use orthos for eyepieces in the bins. I have the 8x40. My tag over there is Fowl Mouth, although I visit infrequently since school has started. And yes, I believe it's the 8-24 that most people go for. I agree the XF is probably better. Although I would personally do a Baader III.

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:35 pm 
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[quote="Chopin]

I don't own one, but imagine the color fringing would get wonky on stars unless you opted for fluorite, or at least ED. Erik, how is yours at nighttime?

[/quote]

Yeah it's not great but it's no worse than my old Orion ST80 haha!

There is some color fringing on Jupiter, Venus etc but given that it's just for a casual quick look it doesn't bother me too much. Though I would most often much rather just grab the Stellarvue 80ED.

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-Erik Wilcox
Homebuilt 16" Truss Dob
8" Antares f/5 Newt
SV 80mm ED Nighthawk NG on M1 ALT/AZ
Nikon Prostaff 65mm spotter on Trekpod
Konusvue 20x80 binos/Peterson PipeMount


"Newt Gingrich is what stupid people think smart people sound like."
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Evolution is both fact and theory. Creationism is neither. -Anonymous


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:43 am 
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I kind of agree on that point of the ST80.

Ideally I'd love to use the Stowaway like that, as that was much of its intended use - a portable carry on or quick use scope, neither of which I do with it. I'd never take it on an aircraft, & I'm very leery of leaving it setup near a heavily used door on a Bogen tripod or some other grab-n-go lightweight mount. With my current equipment, I'd rather just use my binos and use the Stowaway for full observing sessions.

I don't know. Maybe a different, small regular refractor would be a better choice over a spotter. 90* diagonal, good 1.25 zoom EP, that will go on my Bogen with the 3-way pan head. Inexpensive enough that I feel comfortable leaving it in a higher traffic area.

I was also looking at maybe the Oberwerk BT70s since they take regular 1.25 EPs, but I found an old CN thread from Mr. Bill and he ended up sending them back. The included EPs have the unit running at 16x, and comparing to his Fuji 16x70s he noticed the Fujis were significantly brighter. So he ran a clear aperture test and it turns out they were only 60mm. Kevin at Big Binos was surprised and took them back with no problem.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:07 am 
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Yeah, I believe there is significant prism clipping in the BT70. 62mm seems the accepted estimation. I think APM is on its way to owning that market right now, but the prices are up there. I think the 70mm APM Achro binoscope is like €1400. The ED version is €1900. They are compact and light weight, though. If you could achieve 1mm exit pupil before noticeable image breakdown, it would be an excellent grab n go solution in my opinion. I'm talking about the ED. Birds by day, stars by night, excellent at both, small enough to carry anywhere. Can you tell I'm dreaming about these...! :grin:

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:13 am 
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:lol:

I hear ya. I'm always dreaming about astro equipment. APM used to have a US distributor but for some reason that failed, which sucked. There is a lot of very interesting stuff he carries that we can't get here, (cough, cough, MATTHIAS WIRTH MAK-NEWT, cough, 120MM ED BINOSCOPE....cough) but dealing with him is sort of a cluster f**k.

It took me half a day to get the bank to release the credit card transaction back when I got my 14mm Leica eyepiece. That was years ago before Paypal had truly taken off, but my friend in CA just bought a couple diagonals from him, via Paypal, and still had to jump through some hoops with the card attached to the Paypal account. I guess he ended up calling Markus and was walked through the crap he needed to do. To me it just isn't worth the hassle. I suppose if I really find something I can't live without I'll break down and do it, but so far that's not been the case.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:59 pm 
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All of the vignetting conversation prompted me to test my two Vortex models. I have a green laser but not a finderscope that's easily removeable as a beam expander to make it larger than the exit pupil. I would have to kludge something to get the Mewlon to sit straight so I could use its finder and have the bins on a platform to raise to the finder height. Heck with that. I just used a bright LED flashlight on the narrow beam setting placed about 2 ft behind the bins.

The 15x56 Vultures came out to 53.77mm, which is 3.9% and within acceptable variation. I figure less than 5% is OK.

The 8x42 Viper HD came out to 41.76, which is 0.6%, so very happy with that one!

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 7:14 pm 
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Nice. Makes me wonder how my binocs are?

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 Post subject: Re: Spotting Scopes
PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:59 am 
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If you don't have a setup near a wall you can rubberband a paper towel or thin white cloth over the objective so the light circle projects on it. Very easy to measure that way too. I'd be curious about the Pentax as well.

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Oh, yeah. The Stifmeister's coming back to Grand Harbor. Deck the halls. Bye-bye, Great Falls. Wipe my a$$ and lick my ba!!s It's Stifler time, baby. Whoo-hoo-hoo. Whoo-hoo-hoo. ~Steve Stifler-American Pie 2 :lol: :lol: :lol:


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