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Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

 
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  #1  
Old 03-10-2011, 01:26 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Sabinal, TX
Posts: 48
Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

I need help picking a spotting scope for work- I am the ranch manager for a large South Texas hunting ranch and I'm the head guide. The ranch is primarily thick brush and we don't have a LOT of elevated places to spot from, so the maximum range I will be spotting from is about 700 yards; and 75% of it will be inside of 400 yards. Most of my spotting will be from a vehicle and where I will be carrying it, I won't have to tote it over long distances on foot. So, weight is less of a concern than it might be in other situations. Primarily I'm looking for whitetail deer and trying to judge their age, antler score and overall health. However, we do offer year-round hunting so I am also out at times looking for exotics, predators and hogs; which means I do a fair amount of glassing at night when the moon is full.

I am mainly considering Leupold because I am in an outfitter program that will enable me to buy a Leupold spotting scope (my choice of model) for significantly less than any retailer can sell it. So, it will be the best 'bang' for my buck. I don't necessarily need the "best" money can buy- I just need something that will get the job done well/adequately at the lowest price. Twice as much ($) for something that's 10% better is NOT worth it to me - the extra money needs to get me significant improvement in order to be worth it to me.

Here are the questions I have:

1. Are the Gold Ring models really that much better than the Kenai models? Even with my discount there's a LOT of savings if I get a Kenai over the comparable Gold Ring models. I don't make a lot of money so price is always a concern if there's not that much to gain by buying one over the other!

2. Is the 'HD' really better than the non-HD model? Would the Kenai HD model be pretty equivalent to the non-HD Gold Ring Model, in terms of optical quality?

3. What is "HD" when it comes to spotting scopes - what does it mean (technically) and what, if any, are the practical benefits of the feature?

4. How useful/comfortable is the "Angled Eye piece?" It looks like a much more comfortable/ergonomic setup for glassing in the field and from a truck. I'm pretty tall and it's sometimes hard to use a spotting scope from window mount on a truck, because I have to slouch to look through the eye piece. I would love to hear from some folks that have tried both- to hear their impressions of which setup is more comfortable/useful!

I'm sure their are better spotting scopes out there but these are the one's I'm able to afford. So, please stick to commenting on these two Leupold product lines.

Thanks to everyone that posts!
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  #2  
Old 03-10-2011, 08:25 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Searcy, Arkansas
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Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

For the distances you are glassing the Leupold should work great. A buddy has one of the Gold Ring models that he uses elk hunting in NM. I was surprised how well it stacked up against my 80mm Zeiss and a Swaro another guy has out there. We are glassing long distances (3 to 5 miles). At those distances the higher dollar scopes have an edge but the Leupold hangs in there quite well.

1) Yes, the Gold Ring model is much better than the Kenai. If you can afford it you will not regret the decision later.

2,3) I read an article on optics a while back that talked about the HD glass. "HD" stands for "high definition". This leads one to assume it is talking about the level of detail the scope is capable of resolving. However, this article said the HD has to do with "high definition color". In other words the HD model is more color true than the standard model, not more "clear". Again according the article, the only ones who would benefit from the HD model are bird watchers and professional photographers.

The only personal experience I can give is that I have looked through two Swaro scopes side by side (in the field, not in a store) one was an HD the other the standard model. The HD was about a year older model than the standard model. I simply could not tell the difference. We looked at close and very long range (we were in the Gila in NM) I was specifically looking for color difference because I had read the previously mentioned article. Color is important to me because that is one thing I really key off of glassing for elk. We looked at elk, we looked at trees.....etc and I we just could not tell the difference. Others may disagree, and tell you the HD is worth every penny and maybe it is, but that is my experience. Others may have better eyes than me!

I have a straight eyepiece on my Zeiss, but I do most of my glassing standing up off a tripod. I do have a window mount and use it that way occasionally and even though I am a bit shorter than you, I would still agree the angled eyepiece would probably be more comfortable glassing from the truck.
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 427
Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

Your somewhat right, HD isn't just about color, it is the ability to focus to a higher level do to the lenses ability to transfer the image without the various short shortcoming's such as aberration. They are also believed to have better light transmission. If it is HD it is going to have some sort of Florite, or ultra low dispersion(UD), Extra-low dispersion (ED) type lenses ECT. The problem I am seeing along with some others is there is no real measurments to truthfully classify an optic as HD, APO, or a lens as "ED" or whatever. It is definitely a way for the manu's to to make more money, however, true optics of this sort does take much more time, effort, and costly materials to make so the cost difference is real. During a bright sunny day, you most likely will not see much difference in a true HD type spotter and a regular, come twilight and you will for sure see a difference. Sometimes a HD type can be a PITA though as they will show much more heat registure than a standerd.

That being said, if you plan on doing night spotting at any power beyond 10X then you gotta go big. 80mm is barely enough, 60mm, NO, trust me...I have the Nikon 60mm Field scope III ED! The 100MM Pentax and Optolyth scopes would serve you well as would the 88mm Kowa Prominar TSN884 (I own this scope and I along many others believe it to be the best scope on the market period).

Ok now, if your looking more budget concious, you should take a good look at the ZenRay 20-60x82 Zen ED2 model. Read great reviews on this scope. I am going to be doing a review in the next few weeks on another newcomer, the Theron Optics Mag82 ED scope that is also getting great reviews and is an excellent value where it comes with both a 25x75 zoom eyepiece and a 30x wide angle fixed power eyepiece. I will post my review here but not sure when the scope is to arrive. I should recieve their APO binoculars for review today and i think that will give me a good idea of what to expect in the spotter. Hope this helps!
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  #4  
Old 03-10-2011, 01:09 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Searcy, Arkansas
Posts: 700
Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

Sako7STW, Thanks for the additional info on what "HD" means.
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  #5  
Old 03-10-2011, 05:38 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,893
Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

First off..a scope with a 100mm objective lens...forget it..you cant afford it..period.

80mm is GREAT...more especially for mornings and evenings...that time of day when the sun ISNT up yet..but its still light enough to see. Its perfecto.

"HD" or so called "HD". IF...IF its that companys way of describing "special glass" as compared to their run of the mill glass...then YES its definately worth the extra $$ and usually its a LOT of extra $$. My wife's scope is the Leupold 12X-40 by 60 mm and its a very very nice scope. Light to handle also. My own is a Pentax thats 20-60 power X80 mm. Its very clear..VERY heavy...but man she's a looker for sure.

I bought my wife a pair of Pentax Bino's that are "HD" glass ( actually LS for low dispersion) and you can most assuradly see extra clarity and superb sharpness with them. LD; SD; etc..is well worth the money IF...IF you NEED ( not want now...) it and can actually benefit from it. Glassing for deer...etc...I doubt you would ever see any difference especially if you dont have a non-LD glass instrument to compare side by side.

I have no "HD" spotting scopes because I cant see the difference in glassing elk; moose...etc that I do before stalking them and photographing them using sometimes LD glass telephoto's.
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  #6  
Old 03-10-2011, 05:40 PM
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Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RDM416 View Post

2,3) I read an article on optics a while back that talked about the HD glass. "HD" stands for "high definition". This leads one to assume it is talking about the level of detail the scope is capable of resolving. However, this article said the HD has to do with "high definition color". In other words the HD model is more color true than the standard model, not more "clear". Again according the article, the only ones who would benefit from the HD model are bird watchers and professional photographers.
about 99.5% correct
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  #7  
Old 03-11-2011, 02:07 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: GEORGIA
Posts: 1,199
Re: Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

I have read good reviews on this Celestron 100mm spotting scope with ED glass on sale for $649.95.

52303 Celestron Regal 100 F-ED, Angled Spotting Scope with 22x - 67x Zoom Eyepiece

And an 80mm with ED glass for $549.94.

http://www.adorama.com/CNR80.html

And a 60mm with HD glass for $409.95.

http://www.adorama.com/CNR65.html

I have been buying cameras and equipment since 2000 from Adaroma and have never had a problem with them and they have always had the lowest prices that I could find.

joseph

Last edited by joseph; 03-11-2011 at 02:19 AM.
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