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Thread: Let's go shopping... for Scopes!

  1. #1
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    Default Let's go shopping... for Scopes!

    Some exciting news at work today, after chatting with my manager about replacing our crumbling tripod, she has agreed to not only replace our tripod but also invest in a new scope . I have been allocated about $2000 for the scope + money for a tripod.

    Iím wanting to know three things: what scope should I get, what tripod and where should I get it from (somewhere in Vic apart from Bintel). At this stage I am looking at a mid-range Kowa or low end Swarovski. I'm after any suggestions though...

    I have about a week

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    A spotting scope at work, that's cool! Looking at prices the budget limits you to about 2 models of Kowa and one Swarovski, you've got a 60mm Kowa prominar, an 82mm Kowa and a 65mm Swarovski all with 20-60x zoom eyepieces and 45į prisms. They are all waterproof/nitrogen filled. The Kowa 60 has a "lifetime' warranty and the Swarovski 10 years, Swarovski do have a reputation for really standing behind their products. All assuming you want to spend all or most of the $2000.

    The top line Kowa and Swarovskis have a great reputation for optics, but if the light is dim then the 82mm will come into its own, so it comes down to a choice between ultimate optical quality and light grasp and of course the 60-65mm scopes are much smaller/lighter for travel. You'd be best placed to know which of these is most important to you. I'd suggest going to a store and trying them out, I know Bintel is only too happy to let people try products out and the staff are really helpful (I know a few of the Sydney staff).

    Tripods it's hard to go past Manfrotto, though the Slik ones are quite OK. Most people seem to go for really light models. My preference is for models without centre stays as they are easier to set up on uneven ground.
    Chris Ross
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    www.aus-natural.com
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    +1 on Chris's Bintel comments. I've just bought a pair of Nikon 10 x 42 binos from them last week, after trying them out in the Melbourne store, and they were very helpful in letting me go through all the various types on offer - though the Swarovski binos were $2800........
    Consider Gitzo tripods as well, specially the ones with the new non - rotating leg locks - not the cheapest (maybe 2nd hand on that 'bay Auction website??), but a breeze to operate - and things don't snag in the leg locks as they do with the Manfrottos..... Whether you're going to use it as a camera support as well as a spotting scope will determine the size needed - Rating: go about double your total weight - say if your combo is going to weigh 3kg, then get a 6kg rated tripod.
    Camera Lane is a good Vic seller. Alan Lane's been in the photography biz for over 25 years in the one location in the city. They have a website, so you can check out his tripod range
    Cheers, and good luck!!
    John

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    Thanks Chris and John! You both have excellent advice. Does anyone else have anything to add?

    We would be prepared to spend a bit of money to get a top quality tripod. Could you recommend a specific model?

    I will probably go with Bintel for at least the scope, I willl however need to provide a range of quotes from different stores to prove I have gotten the cheapest possible option. That means I could provide quotes from interstate if someone has a favourite store near them?

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    Hi Chris,
    I bit the bullet a few years ago after selling my old Hasselblad gear and bought a Swarovski AT65 ? i think? with a 20-60X zoom eyepiece.
    So glad i spent the money and bought a swarovski. For mine there was no point buying a cheap scope because the whole point of a scope is to see things you can't see with your bins.
    My only comment would be to have a look at the different eyepieces. I'm not convinced the 20-60X is the best option. It really isn't very good at more than 40X so you find you don't bother. I reckon if i was buying again i would look at a better fixed eyepiece. Food for thought anyway
    I also bought mine from Bintel in Sydney (where i also bought my Kowa bins). Very patient and helpful. Worth a bit extra for the service. I reckon its a bit rough when people go there, try everything out in their store and then buy cheaper online.
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

    Aus Life List IOC= 684 - Grey Honeyeater
    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


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    Quote Originally Posted by David Stowe View Post
    I also bought mine from Bintel in Sydney (where i also bought my Kowa bins). Very patient and helpful. Worth a bit extra for the service. I reckon its a bit rough when people go there, try everything out in their store and then buy cheaper online.
    What's even worse is when after buying the item from a box handler ( they import boxes, stick an adress label on them and forward them to you, no service backup or support) they come to Bintel and expect them to sort out any problems they have or ask to show them how to use the equipment. I know the some of the staff there and it does happen! They had one guy who spent the best part of a day there going through specs and asking questions on an astro scope, then bought it elsewhere for maybe $100 less (on a $4000 item), then came back and expected them to help him set it up!!
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    So here is what I'm looking at so far based on Bintel's online prices...

    Swarovski ATM 80 w/20-60x
    Swarovski ATM 65 w/25-50x W
    Swarovski ATM 65 w/20-60x
    Kowa TSN-663 Prominar w/20-60x

    Has anyone else had experience with these scopes? Is Kowa's 'Prominar' scopes at the same/similar standard as Swarovski's non-HD scopes?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Stowe View Post
    Hi Chris,
    I bit the bullet a few years ago after selling my old Hasselblad gear and bought a Swarovski AT65 ? i think? with a 20-60X zoom eyepiece.
    So glad i spent the money and bought a swarovski. For mine there was no point buying a cheap scope because the whole point of a scope is to see things you can't see with your bins.
    My only comment would be to have a look at the different eyepieces. I'm not convinced the 20-60X is the best option. It really isn't very good at more than 40X so you find you don't bother. I reckon if i was buying again i would look at a better fixed eyepiece. Food for thought anyway
    I also bought mine from Bintel in Sydney (where i also bought my Kowa bins). Very patient and helpful. Worth a bit extra for the service. I reckon its a bit rough when people go there, try everything out in their store and then buy cheaper online.
    Thanks David. Would the 25-50x W be a better option? Not a fixed eyepiece I know, but perhaps a compromise between fixed and 20-60x zoom?

    I was also wondering what tripod you use?

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    Hi Chris,
    To be honest i don't know anything about the new eyepieces so i can't offer any more advice on that one sorry. I would definitely try having a look through a few if you can.
    I have a few tripods to be honest but i mostly use either Manfrotto 055 or Gitzo carbon fibre. For a scope and for cost saving i wouldn't bother with a carbon fibre Gitzo. I love it but its another $1000 without a head. Manfrotto 128RC head is what i use for scope. Cheap and effective. I also often use an old 090 Manfrotto tripod with a bung leg - does the job and is small. You don't need it to be too tall with an angled scope either so bear that in mind too.
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

    Aus Life List IOC= 684 - Grey Honeyeater
    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


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    Definitely give em a try first see how they look and if you feel spending extra is worth it over the others. The one's you've listed are hovering around $2.2K. The wide eyepiece gives a wider angle of view at the same mag. making finding stuff and scanning through flocks and the like easier. The thing with high end optics is the law of diminishing returns, as you spend more, the gains while real are progressively smaller. This link may be useful if a little dated:

    http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAbou...opes/sc_review
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    As you can see from our signature we own a scope, definitely not top of the range but not our first one. We have a small amount of advise regarding tripods. The long focal lengths, large magnifications involved with telescopes are definitely better managed with the heaviest tripod that is practical to use, thereby reducing ''instrument shake''. Obviously a firm head is required. Nothing worse than looking through a wobbly scope at a NEW species of bird for the first time!
    Regards Keith & Judy



    .Our land abounds in Nature's gifts. Of beauty rich and rare.


    Life list total (seen by both of us) = 440 Latest addition Tawny Grassbird Ritamada Point QLD.

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    Another thing to consider, tripod-wise, is what sort of head do you want to use with it. I have no experience with using spotter scopes, but I'd consider a ballhead over a pan/tilt head if you are ever planning on using the tripod for any photography work sometime in the future - it'd be good to consider what possible camera/lens stup you may plan on getting, so as to have a suitable tripod first up. I have the largest sized Gitzo carbon fibre 'pod, that'll handle anything put onto it, but it is only 2.8 kg on its own, and surprisingly light and easy to lug about - and still solid as a rock. The aluminium equivalent would weigh a lot more, though much cheaper: what was that saying??: 'The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten'
    Some reading on Thom Hogan's site:
    http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

    John

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    I wouldn't recommend a ball head for a spotting scope, it will work, but the 20x is higher magnification than any super tele lens and fine tuning the aim can be an issue. A video style fluid head with a handle to assist with aiming seems to work best.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
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    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisRoss View Post
    I wouldn't recommend a ball head for a spotting scope, it will work, but the 20x is higher magnification than any super tele lens and fine tuning the aim can be an issue. A video style fluid head with a handle to assist with aiming seems to work best.
    Couldn't agree more!
    Cheers, Dave

    www.davidstowe.com.au WORKSHOPS

    Aus Life List IOC= 684 - Grey Honeyeater
    "So God created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:21


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    Thanks for the comments everyone! It has been a huge help. I have had to put the shopping on hold until after the Chrissy break and will resume in early Jan. At this stage I am hoping to get enough money for the Swarovski ATM80, if that fails I'll get the ATM65. I'll get the 20-60x eyepiece. I think I have settled on the Manfrotto 190XB +128RC tripod as well.

    I'll let you know how I go (fingers crossed for the ATM80 )

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    Make sure you try out the head and see how easy it is to operate the controls to lock the scope down, they are not all the same in that regard. There are heads where the pan handle also unlocks the tilt. It is worth trying a few out. The legs you should be fine with.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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