Swarovski vs. Pentax - Spotting Scope

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by drenner43, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. drenner43

    drenner43 Well-Known Member

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    I returned yesterday from my Colorado Elk hunt and have some questions. A little background. Thursday morning we spotted some elk about 750 yards. Cows, a few spikes and one borderline bull. It was early morning, not dark by any means and through my Pentax PF80ED with zoom eyepiece I could not distinguish whether the bull was legal or not. We watched them for quite a while and I never could tell and they eventually moved on away from us. We later caught up to the herd and after a while more glassing I was able to determine he was legal and eventually killed him but that's another story in itself.

    My question though, for those who have used both the Swarovski STM 80 HD and the Pentax, how much more clear is the Swarovski at all powers, especially higher powers? Is it really worth the price difference to upgrade or is it a very small difference in clarity and image? If the Swarovski is much better I am more than willing to pay the price to upgrade as this could make the difference in coming home to KY from a 3000 mile trip empty handed. However if there is little difference I do not want to waste my money, it'll be better spent in other areas. Thanks for any help
     
  2. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    Something doesn't sound right. The Pentax ED is not a bad scope. I can usually see small details at ~750 yds through a good ED scope - except when atmospheric turbulence is bad.

    What was the weather like? Temp? Wind? Sunshine?

    Was the bull in shadow? What was the background terrain - same color as elk antler or different?

    Do you normally wear vision correction? Do you know if you have astigmatism? Were you wearing correction?
     

  3. drenner43

    drenner43 Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely it isn't a bad scope. In no way did I mean to degrade the Pentax. Just wondered if the Swarovski was quite a bit better. The weather was clear and cold, with a little bit of wind. Sunny but slightly overcast. The bull was not in brush however there was a lot of background whether it be tall weeds, Sage brush, and scrub oak. I do not need any vision correction.
     
  4. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    The Swarovski is a better scope in terms of color fidelity, field of view, eye relief, viewing comfort and digiscoping accessories. In terms of resolution in the center of the field of view, however, I think it would be difficult for even highly trained observers to tell the difference.

    If the Pentax wasn't working for me in that situation, I would look at other factors before replacing it. Turbulence-induced blur seems unlikely in cold temps with overcast skies, unless you were looking across very flat terrain. The focus adjustment compensates for near- and far-sightedness, but not astigmatism. If you had astigmatism, you would probably know it. Tripod shake is another possibility, but you probably would have noticed that.

    Low image contrast seems to be a more likely scenario. Poor image contrast due to the background being similar in color to the elk antlers is possible. If the optics were not clean, you could have lost contrast due to light scattering off the objective lens surface. Also, an overcast sky can cause contrast problems, especially when facing the sun low on the horizon. Did you have the sun shade pulled out?

    The Swarovski scope probably does have higher contrast under adverse lighting conditions, but I could not say for sure because I haven't done a side-by-side comparison.
     
  5. timberbuck

    timberbuck Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned the ATM iseries is not made anymore. Swarovski went back to aluminum to keep the price lower. The optics on the new ATS series have actually been improved over the ATM series.

    IMO opinion yes you will see a major difference between a new Swarovski and the Pentax in all aspects (brightness,resolution,contrast ,sharpness and better CA control).

    The Pentax is a decent spotter but is a dated design. It has ED glass but not the best quality of ED glasss that is in the better spotters today. It also falls behind the top spotters in quality of the Zoom eyepiece design and coatings.


    The Meopta S2 would be my pick for a best value scope today and is available with a 20-70 zoom or wide angle zoom. Most reviews place this scope darn near as good or just as good as a Swarovski,Leica,Kowa or Zeiss and it retails for $2000 and will easily best the Pentax.

    One thing the Swarovski ATS/STS 80mm still has going for it is compactness and light weight (compared to the 82-85mm class scopes).

    If you want absolute optical perfection and don't care about weight I would look at the Kowa 88mm prominar with wide angle eyepiece, the new modular Swarovski with 85mm or 100mm body or the Zeiss Victory 85 TFL.
     
  6. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Bruce on a lot of points but $$$$ not withstanding the Swaro is a MUCH better scope that the Pentax. I have the 65mm ED Pentax myself and its "OK" but if I were able to take a ( meaning just 1) elk trip Id get something akin to the Swaro scope.

    I had the chance to sit and try out 5-6 different brands at a bird watching deal...where I bought my Zeiss bino's. Ive got 10 x 40 Pentax binos and now also 10-40 Zeiss HD bino's. The Pentax cost me $205......the Zeiss set me back $995 ON SALE.! Give ya a hint?

    You'll see better with the Swaro but dont put your ammo in the same pocket you had money in prior to buying the Swaro because the hole you ripped in the bottom will let your shells fall thu. Better??...Yes....more expensive...A BUNCH!!