Originally Posted by marinetowgunner
Depending on price point, I would consider the following:
$2000 ish price range ,my choice would be the Meopta
S2 82mm which will come with wither a 30-60x wide angle eye piece or a 20-70x eye piece
$1600 ish price range, I would consider the Vortex Razor HD
with the 20-60x eye piece and the 85mm body. They also offer a 30x ranging eye piece which is cool.
$1100 ish price range I would look at the Kowa
20-60x 82mm body.
I noticed that you refer to zoom eyepieces, but often refer to resolution as a priority. That's high on my list as well, but we do differ slightly. In optics it's a well known thing that "prime" lenses and other optics always perform better than something like a zoom lense or eyepiece. I have used to 15x-45x and 20x-60x eye pieces in the past, and have found that a strait up 45x is better than a 60x everytime. I use a 27x eyepiece, but have often thought about buying a 45x one (probably will sooner than later)
I looked thru a lot of spotters before I bought the one I use. I learned a couple things in the process. Resolution is king! And I hate mirage! But on the otherhand some scopes are great, but also seem to be kinda hard on your eyes (figure?). I found that out with the Liecas (others said the samething as well), but they are great scopes for sure.
I did a test a few years back in 90 degree heat over a black top parking lot. Scopes were about 12 inches off the black top and the target was about 400 yards. Mirage was always there. The best scope I used was a Swarovski, and was the only scope that I could use the 60x in the noontime bright sunshine. The Liecas might have worked well with somekind of a filter. Nikon ED's worked quite well, but their resolution was not as good as the Swarovski at 400 yards. (still plenty good enough). Tried a 77mm Kowa with the 60x zoom lense and standard glass. About as good as the Nikon, but we all felt it had just ever so slightly better resolution. While we were doing this, somebody loaned us a B&L that was extremely good (what model I don't remember). We also tried several other brands including the low dollar Leupold and their very best one (thats the one the dealer was pushing). Later we tried an 82mm Kowa and another pair. The 82mm was better than the 77mm in resolution, plus was a little brighter (we got these scopes from bird watchers), but the 82mm scope also had the Flourite lense. You could use it at 60x on that same blacktop in the high heat. Mirage was near zero and only the Swarovski showed up better. I ordered an 82mm with standard glass that afternoon. The one scope we all wanted to try was the high end Pentaxes, but couldn't lay our hands on one anywhere.
What makes me mad is that two weeks after I bought the Kowa, the old man that owned the Swarovski offered it to me for $1500 with two eyepieces and a hard case!!! Still without question the very best scope I've ever looked thru. One otherthing not brought up in this thread is the quality of the tripods used. I used a very heavyduty short camera tripod (Monfretto) with a claw mount head. I had to add the claw to the scopes so I had to buy a half dozen of them. The difference between the factory supplied tripod and this one was huge, and all scopes did better with it. I sold that short tripod later, but kept the head. Now I wish I still owned it!