Clarity, resolution?


Well-Known Member
Mar 12, 2003
Schofield, WI.
Hello, If someone was to line up all the popular scopes, Swaro, Leupold, Nikon, Burris, Nightforce, etc., and if you noted that when glassing out to whatever range, you could read an acuity chart or a highway sign or whatever, and assuming that the parallax was perfect in all the scopes, that all the scopes were as clear as the next, wouldn't that say that the scopes were for the most part equal? This could apply to binos as well. Jay
I believe there as many more criteria than can be tested with an standard human type visual acuity chart. (RZONK VDKSN)

There are astigmatism type tests, horizonal and vertical line resolution. Edge distortion (don't know the actual term). Spherical abberation (?), etc, etc.

Many things to test before calling them equal.
Let's assume that all these scopes have no edge distortion, brightness was for the most part the same, and color rendition was the same, just how the optical definition-often called "sharpness" looked through each.
Example: If all these scopes were pointed at a Highway sign 800yds. away and there were various size letters on the sign and each time the letters got smaller the image looked the same through each scope. equal or no, I say yes, what you say? Thanks, Jay

It all depends on the quality of the glass and how perfect the surface is ground. You see alot better with the high end scopes, at a 500 yard shoot, i compared my dads simmons 44 6/20 to my fujinon 6/20 and the fujinon ate that simmons up i was able to see bullet holes and the lettering on the target while with the simmons i couldnt see either. you get what you pay for with glass

[ 02-20-2004: Message edited by: Brian Rybicky ]
Brian, You mean If I took a Burris 3x-9x-40mm Signature($350) and took a $900 4x-12x-50mm Swarofski, both on the same power, the Swaro would look better cause it cost more, cause I've been there, done that, and that wasn't the case, the Swaro was a bit brighter because of a larger objective, but sharpness or optical definition was equal in my eyes. Jay

I'll go with ya there those sworski are a piece of $#!t and definately not worth 1000+ dollars, but say you compare that burris to an tasco, you'll see a big difference. When you get around the higher maginifcation, the better scopes really start to shine.
Jay, optics are really down to what you see...period. If the image quality, brightness, etc are the same, then the performance is the same regardless of price.

At high mag, better quality glass starts to really make a difference. Also, mechanical reliability and repeatability are better, usually, in the higher end scopes.

Saying that, the best optics at any price that I have seen are the B&L 4000/4200 series of scopes. Put them up against anything and you will be amazed. At 1/3 the cost, why not. They just need to fix their small adjustment amounts...Ian keep buggin those guys.

Marketing does a lot to get the price up. The European brands come with a long pedigree and higher Euro buck so cost more. The Leupolds are very expensive for the optical quality they bring, yet have no problem selling all they can make.

At the end of the day, almost all glass used in scopes are made in a few factories in the orient. Manf spec what they want then assemble in NA or abroad. So it is very possible to have the same optical qualities at varying price points.

Just look at what is happening in the bino world. Used to be a Euro game and you paid handsomely for good glass. Now the Nikons and Pentax are beating them (as shown in numerous recent tests) at 1/2+ the price.

Judge quality by what you see, not the fancy box it came in. Some of the worse glass I have looked through, had very expensive price tags...

European scopes - way more expensive. Why? European workers ...especially in manufacturing are the highest paid labor in the world.

Jerry Teo - thoughts on Nightforce optics?
Never looked through a Nightforce so can't comment. They have a very strong reputation from shooters that should know, so would give them a thumbs up. However, they are big bucks.

I have heard comparisons to Nikon Monarchs, B&L Elites, etc. Except for amount of internal adjustment and special reticles, I would go with one of the Japanese models just because of economics vs performance.

If money no object, I am sure you will be very happy. AT that end of the price scale, IOR products may work for you too.

The reason I asked this question was a poster on was saying that he thought, from the tests he's done, that the Zeiss Conquest was the best in class, and I thought from my tests that they were no better than a Burris 3x-9x Signature, I wasn't using a acuity chart like he claims he was using, just a "STOP" signs and letters on the side of a "Holiday Inn" for my clarity/resolution tests, this was done from 400-600yds. away, respectively, all the letters looked the same no matter what scope I looked through, the STOP sign was easily readable from about 400yds., as were the Holiday Inn letters which were about 600yds. all this was done outside holding the scopes in a scope holder on a cement barricade, pretty steady I thought. I say if the objects your "glassing" with the two scopes look the same, what's the big Diff. especially at the range I was testing, overcast day around 1530hrs. BTW. Agree? That's what I thought.

I have to side with the people who find different scopes to be ... different.

Let's assume that all these scopes have no edge distortion, brightness was for the most part the same, and color rendition was the same, just how the optical definition-often called "sharpness" looked through each.

Well, therein lies the trouble. To my knowlege, there is no aspherical glass in ANY brand of riflescope on the market. This is a lens or lenses which when ground, are not a portion of a sphere either on the convex or concave sides. High end camera lenses, read serious big bucks, have aspherical lenses. This is what eliminates (mostly) the edge sharpness troubles associated with spherical lenses. The variations in lens quality and number of lenses will affect the quality of the image you see and no scopes are created equal.

Brightness is also a function of how well the lenses are designed, and how well they are made. Also, some light is lost for every lens the light passes through. It's just life.

All these points affect the color you see. Think about it like this, if you looked at a rainbow and it was way out of focus, what would you really see? ... Nothing. all the light wouldn't be seperated anymore and you'd see just what you normaly see on a rainy day. Rain. As the light passes through the scope, the more "abberation" which takes place, that's, the more the immage gets "smeared around" in simple terms, the more the color is lost. This is why different camera lenses will reproduce nicer color than others on film. They transmit a more natural immage than a cheapo zoom and so it ends up not only brighter, it can be shot faster, there is better color representation, better saturation (color level) and the image is sharper.

Edge sharpness isn't such a big item in a riflescope. It's really overrated. We pretty much look down the centers. Do some looking sometime and REALLY look at the edge image in a riflescope. I think you'll find they pretty much suck for that since they are not designed to be a spotter. Look through a $150 spotting scope and then look through a Geovid or a Kowa (forgive me if I mispelled K.) Wow, what a difference edge to edge. But, that's what you pay for.

This discussion can go on and on but really, look in your scope and if you're happy, let it at that. You may just get 2 of the same model scope that aren't the same at certain distances. I have that myself now.

Another trick some mfgrs use is they reduce the field of view and that sharpens the edges so people think it's more clear. Well, no, they just don't show the outer edges of the immage. NF for one does that. It's like boresighting a gun. Where's the rest of the immage. It's bad enough you can't see through the reticle.

For the person who doesn't look through glass much to make a comparison. I would say that the best way to really compare scope to scope and have the result be fair is to look at color alone. Color is really a culmination of all the other quality factors combined. No light, no color. Distorted image, no color. Edges blurry, no color. Well, look for how pretty colors are through the scope and that's gonna tell 80% of the story. If the color is soso on a good day, then you positively can't use that scope at dusk or early morning for hunting cause it's gonna be d a r k.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>To my knowlege, there is no aspherical glass in ANY brand of riflescope on the market.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

What about the Simmons Aetec line? They claim they are using aspherical lenses. Here's from their website:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>AETEC riflescopes make high-quality optical performance affordable. First used in very expensive binoculars and cameras, the aspherical lens system provides sharper images across the entire field of view. AETEC puts the advantage of this extraordinary optical configuration onto your rifle.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My brother has one on a rifle. The edges of the FOV are very blurry, which is what I thought the aspherical lense was supposed to fix.
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