Need Help Picking A Spotting Scope!

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by SouthTXBowhunter, Mar 10, 2011.

  1. SouthTXBowhunter

    SouthTXBowhunter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    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!
     
  2. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    700
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    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!:D

    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.
     

  3. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    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!
     
  4. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    700
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Sako7STW, Thanks for the additional info on what "HD" means. :)
     
  5. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,480
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    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.
     
  6. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,480
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    about 99.5% correct
     
  7. joseph

    joseph Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,238
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    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: Mar 11, 2011
  8. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    RDM416, This might be what you were reading about as it more pertains to color??I will try and make it easy to understand....I hope

    APO or Apochromatic lenses are designed to bring three wavelengths (typically red, green, and blue) into focus in the same plane or point. This allows the best full color spectrum viewing through out the full view of the lens with minimal edge distortion of color (by this edge, I am refering to the edge of the view in the scope). Although very rare APO can be achieved without the use of a Low Dispersion lenses (ED, FL, UD, SUD, ECT) most of the time they do use a low dispersion type of lens. However it is not tens material that makes it "APO" This is mostly achieved by the lens coatings and the curvature of the lens. Lens material does play a major factor as lens materials that have a lower quality distort the image and thus distort color rays by bending the color rays. Low dispersion means less distortion simply put. This is mostly apparent where an objects edge that is...lighter in color for example is next to a dark background and the edge appears to "blend' into the background instead of having a sharp, crisp edge. With a good APO optic, there should be crisp edges and crisp colors without blending. Not all manufacturers will advertise a APO setup as APO as very few people now what APO even is. My guess is just about any of the higher end "HD, ED, FL, ect" type optics will also have very good APO characteristics to them even if it isnt directly named as such.
     
  9. Gone Ballistic

    Gone Ballistic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    If you are trying to ascertain the quality of the animal you are spotting you definately want to go with an HD or ED type lens. It is almost as much difference as looking at a TV in black and white vs color. The clarity is spectacular and it is clear all the way around the outside edge of the lens. A non HD scope will have color abberation around the outside edges that limit viewing clarity and color separation. I understand that you can get a discount on Leupold, but take a look at the new Vortex Razor HD. Also, read the reviews that have been made on this jewel of a scope. I just purchased one this past fall in an 20X60X 85mm and can't be happier. I have a good friend that has a new Swarofski he paid $3700 for and I can't see any difference in clarity between the two. He can't either and he, as well as I, love the focus knobs on the Vortex way over the Swarofski. I purchased the Vortex Razor 20X60X85 HD for $1599 with a lifetime warranty that stays with the scope. My buddy wishes he had seen the Vortex before he purchased the Swarofski. He could have had a good time with the savings.
     
  10. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    If it says Swarovski on it, it hasn't lost much of it's value, if any, IF he has taken really good care of it. So if he truthfully feels that way, then why hasn't he sold it and took the $1,500 extra after buying the Vortex and get him something else? Not saying he is lying or not lying or you for that matter so please dont take that wrong. I see alot of comments on optics simular to this but not alot of action. Action speaks louder than words. Just like if I really like this Theron Spotter I am going to be reviewing, I am probably going to sell my Nikon 60mm ED and keep the Theron as I dont have a need for a small spotter since I dont go horse back anymore. The Theron wil have to be better than the Nikon though or a no go and that's not an easy task. If there was a spotter out there that was "As good as my Kowa and I can't tell the difference" that cost half of what it did, you can bet your arse I would sell my Kowa and buy it. That way I could buy my new rifle scope. So far though, the old addage of you get what you pay for has range true and i still have my Kowa.
     
  11. Gone Ballistic

    Gone Ballistic Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    148
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Sako7STW,
    I appreciate your opinion, however biased it is. Lots of folks have brand preference that they swear by and anything else to them is not going to pass the mustard. I wouldn't have even considered purchasing the Vortex if I hadn't been perusing optics reviews online for several months prior to my purchase. And you're wrong about resale of any used optic. I sold two scopes on eBay that were in superb shape (one Nikon and one Swarofski) and lost considerable amounts of dollars on both. Actually lost less in percentage on the Nikon, how about that! Sure surprised me. I really don't give much of a damn whether my buddy sells his scope and buys one like mine or not. I'd prefer he didn't as this way we can let other people look through both of them and judge. Personally, I can't notice a lick of difference with one exception. If you wear progressive lens glasses the Swarofski allows more eye relief. I can tell you that I compared them to Zeis, Nikon and Leupold and found them far superior. Have you ever looked through one?
    Personally, the person that I was originally responding to in this thread wasn't wanting to spend the money for your Konus, Swarfski, etc. and I was suggesting something I found that works exceptionally well, if not better that most,lightbulb without breaking the bank. Oh, I also forgot to add to my reply to the initiater of this thread, I purchased my Vortex Razor in the angled style. After getting used to it I like it far more than the straight tube. It's a lot easier for others to look through after you have it set on something as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  12. Sako7STW

    Sako7STW Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2004
    Biased? I am biased towards my Kowa yes, for good reason. However I never stated the Vortex wasn't good. I am sure infact that it is very good and most consider it the leader in it's pricing category and with what little time I spent behind one I would have to agree as well. Is it better than the Swaro HD, I highly doubt it. Is it as good as the Swaro HD, Maybe at first look through it may seem as such. Is the Swaro worth the extra money? I think that comes down to what it is being used for and just how much exact detail one is looking for.

    Let's throw this hypothetical scenario out there that I think is actually quiet realistic. If a big Muley is Laying under a pine 2000 yards off and one is trying to get a true idea of point size and number, width, ect. I am betting that's when you will see a difference. Using a good upper mid level scope, lets say it is decided to pass on the buck as you can tell its a buck but just cant tell if he is worth the work. The guy with the Swaro HD can see there is a drop tine on each side and those limbs to the one side arent limbs but kickers off to the side of the horn putting the buck in a 36" class. You see the buck coming out that night on the back of his horse, knowing that's the buck you passed up. Is the extra money worth it then? At first look you may be able to not really see a difference between the two scopes but when the time comes to get down to some serious looking and studying, there is a difference, I would bet on that.

    I know the gentleman said he was looking to save money but when one looks at his profession, can he really afford anything less than upper end? If I looked over and seen my guide using a Tasco (I know extreme but still) I would pack up leave.

    The Vortex is a great scope and Vortex is a great brand, I own their Bino's for a reason....value. I think everyone is missing a few key points the original poster said..."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." Most spotters are atleast 15x at lowest power. 15x at NIGHT is not easily done with any scope yet alone at 20x and will require VERY VERY good optics and a BIG objective to transfer the necessary light. The Vortex will do this pretty well I am thinking, as well as the next step cheaper, the Zen Ray and the Theron. I would have a VERY hard time recommending the Leupy and it's 60mm objective for night viewing even though it goes down to 12X. The mentioned Celestron's may be a very good option to look into as well, especially the 100mm.
     
  13. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,480
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Friends dont let friends pay $3700 for a scope that anyone on the planet can buy for $3220....FACT. And no offense ment but if you two cant see the diff between a top of the line Swarovski and a $1500 Vortex...I think an eye doctor should be called!
     
  14. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,480
    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2011
    Id have to say that IMHO the Swarovski is "superior" but not VASTLY superior. That high buck Leica and Zeiss glass is mighty good ya know!!!