Review: Maven S.1A Spotting Scope
by Matt Cashell, Rokslide Staff
I had the opportunity last year to test Maven's B1 series binoculars and found them to be an excellent entry into their market blending an attractive price with near-elite optical performance with the added benefit of in-paralleled cosmetic customization. The combination has seemed to catch on with fiercely independent western hunters.
For 2016, Maven has increased their offerings by expanding into spotting scopes with the S.1 80mm spotting scope. The S.1 is offered in two configurations:
1. Angled (S.1A)
2. Straight (S.1S)
Like the B.1 binocular, the Maven customer has practically endless options to choose from for customization, including colored accents, custom engraving, and rubber armoring in popular western Camo patterns like those from Kuiu and Kryptek.
Maven was kind enough to supply Rokslide a test unit with the angled eyepiece. It was soon in my hands and on the tripod!
The specs list was filled with the goodies:
1. Fluorite-containing glass in the objective assembly.
1. 25-50x wide angle eyepiece.
2. Dielectric coated Schmidt-pecan prisms.
3. Magnesium/polymer frame.
4. Hydrophobic lens coatings.
Great list, but how was the performance? To find out, I thought I would compare it to what I consider to be the currently best hunting spotting scope available: The Swarovski ATX 85.
The S.1 is a ruggedly built instrument. Overall fit and finish was excellent with an industrial aesthetic. The rubber armoring has a similar soft texture to the Maven binoculars and is really thick. I prefer a well-armored spotting scope, and despise using a case of any type in the field, especially in the backcountry. I never felt the need with the Maven. The eyecup was multi position, but the stops weren't as solid as I would like, as I needed to go one step in from fully extended to get the full field of view with the he 18mm of eye relief. Like the Maven binocular, the objective is recessed deeply, and is surrounded by standard 82mm filter threads. This is a great feature when hunters want to use a filter to protect the objective or polarize the view. The scope has a rotating collar, which is especially useful in an angled scope. The Maven foot fits right in the Manfrotto 128RC head, with no adapter plate required. The spotter also sports a sliding sundshade.
A useful sliding sunshade is included
The focus knob is knurled aluminum. It is a collar-type focused and works well with its high levels of grip, even with gloves. I did notice the metal parts were cold to the touch in cold conditions. The power ring was of similar construction on the eyepiece. Interestingly, Maven chose to go with an integrated eyepiece rather than a bayonet mount. The advantage here, of course, is that an integrated eyepiece virtually eliminates the chance of dust and debris entering the body of the scope. The cost is that scope owners are restricted to only the 25-50 WA eyepiece option.
Maven uses robust knurled aluminum for the focus knob
The list weight for the S.1A is 64.5 ounces. The test unit weighed in at 67.4 ounces on my digital scale with the caps included. While this isn't exactly ultralight, it was still under the ATX's 70 ounces.
I was very happy to see Maven put the excellent hydrophobic and oleophobic coatings from the binoculars on the scope.
Maven went with an integrated 25-50 wide angle zoom eyepiece for general use. The eyepiece can not be removed by the user
Accessories sent with the test Maven include a simple plastic eyepiece cover, pinch-style objective cover. The accessories were basic, and I could see myself losing the eyepiece cover easily, as it can't be tethered to the scope. I would love to see a better arrangement similar to the Swarovski's accessory set, which exude quality.
The S.1's eyepiece is a 25-50x wide. The view throughout the range is impressively flat and maintains excellent sharpness right to the edge of the field. Very good performance in this category and the full field of view is useable for detailed observation. The color fidelity in my sample was neutral. Distortion was very well controlled with only slight pincushion visible through the range.
I tested resolution at 40 yards with an Edmunds Optics resolution chart under afternoon sunny skies. The optical test was performed with both scopes side by side. With both scopes set on 50x, I found the ATX one smaller element on the chart than the Maven S.1. However, when I turned the ATX up to 60x, the extra magnification allowed for yet an additional smaller element to be resolved.
Maven's coatings are excellent when it comes to transmission. Much like the binocular, the scope extends viewing time in low light. With both scopes focused on a windswept Ponderosa two miles distant as evening light faded to black, the Maven faded out just a minute before the Swarovski (both on 50x), even though the ATX had a 5mm objective diameter advantage. This is very good performance, especially given the ATX is a top low-light performer.
This performance translated well in the field, and gave me the performance I needed to reach into the shadows and separate fur from dirt. The S.1A is a solid performing scope.
Aberrations were well-corrected in the Maven. Even chromatic aberration was well corrected, although slight fringing was still visible when observing the high contrast resolution chart. In this area, the ATX was better corrected, but the difference was minor.
The Maven S.1A compared well to Swarovski's ATX super-spotter
Maven has provided another compelling option to hunters in the premium optics market. At a starting price of $2,100, it requires a substantial investment, but the hunter receives excellent optical performance, durable construction, and custom options unavailable in products from other companies. The S.1A nips at the performance heals of the $4,000 Swarovski ATX 85, at a much lower price.
Maven sells direct to the consumer through their website here Mavenbuilt.com, and offers a lifetime warranty on the S.1A as well.
You can ask Matt questions or discuss this article here
Be sure and enter the drawing for this spotting scope before August 19th at that same link.