High Price Spotting Scopes
High price range. This range spans over $2,000 from the low to high end. Generally, I think you get what you pay for. The products at the high end will do a better job of implementing the features that distinguish these scopes from the mid-range products:
Apochromatic objective lens: The objective is a triplet design using HD/ED/XD glass. Color fringing is nearly absent and the sweet spot over which the image is crystal clear extends nearly from edge to edge.
Field flattener: Image blur near the edge of the field of view due to focus change (rather than color fringing) is also nearly absent. Image distortion is also significantly reduced.
Wide field of view: The eyepieces are enormous by comparison to low end scopes. They provide a wide field of view with a long eye relief that allows eyeglasses to be worn. For people with astigmatism or other vision problems that require eyeglasses, a high end scope is a good investment. The field of view is expansive and there is little or no “bean” obscuration as the viewer scans the eye across the field of view. Eye and neck strain from shifting the eye to avoid obscuration doesn’t happen.
Color fidelity: Lens coatings are optimized for both high transmission and excellent color uniformity. Colors are accurate. Outer objective and eyepiece lens surfaces have hard, hydrophobic coatings that shed water and are easy to clean.
High contrast: Stray light and glare are significantly reduced through the proper use of internal coatings and “glare stops”. The image is so bright and clear that it seems to jump out at you. Low contrast image details are visible, as though you were standing right next to the object.
Precision mechanics: Focus and zoom adjustments have excellent precision and stay tight, rather than becoming loose over time. These products have well thought out ergonomics and are a joy to use.
Durability: These scopes have either aluminum or magnesium alloy bodies, and usually have a rubber coating that protects the scope from scratches and dings.
Environmental: Scopes are rated for waterproofness, humidity and temperature range, just like military gear. This rating means the scope has been extensively tested in an environmental chamber.
Excellent digiscoping accessories: Digital camera attachments that fit in place of the eyepiece or over the eyepiece are offered. Switching back and forth from the eye to the camera is quick and easy.
Examples of scopes in this price range include the Vortex Razor HD (low end) and the Meopta S2 HD (mid range). Of course the high end “alpha glass” includes the Zeiss Victory Diascope, Leica APO Televid and Swarovski ATS/STS. The Swarovski ATX/STX modular scopes are the most versatile spotting scopes in the world. The top dogs in the digiscoping world are probably the Swarovski ATS/STS and ATX/STX because of the TLS APO digital camera lens system.
For most people, these high end scopes are a lifetime investment. They will give decades of service to the buyer and then be handed down to the next generation.