Can you tell the difference between these spotters?

aaronk

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Let's play a little game... Can you guess the "better" spotter? A/B are not necessarily the same spotter in each picture. I'm going to keep this fairly vague in regards to these scopes as I'm really curious as to what people think when brands are removed and prices aren't mentioned.

I tried to match zoom as close as I could, obviously I was a little off. These are 1:1 images from the center of each spotter. A little bit of manual exposure correction to make the main part of the image at approximately the same exposure.

700 yards
1.jpg

750 yards
2.jpg

4-5 miles
3.jpg

130 yards
4.jpg
 
OP
A

aaronk

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It is impossible to tell which spotter is better from digiscoped photos.

I could give you an opinion on which picture I like better, though.
I would agree, although I’ll say that the pictures do represent the differences I saw through each scope fairly accurately. As in, you likely wouldn’t change your mind after looking through them in person if you had judged them by the digiscope picture before hand. Obviously first and last light, clarity at edges, shadow definition, etc all play an important role in which is better, but those aren‘t as easily captured in a picture vs a straight up comparison of the center of an image.
 
OP
A

aaronk

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For those that have already answered and those that will, any noticeable differences in sharpness between the two or are you making the judgements based more on color and contrast?
 

JakeSCH

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based purely on the photos i would chose A for crispness of lines. You can see more detail although the color is way more white washed.
 

rodkazempour

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I rate the photos as follows: B A B A

Not sure what that says about anything but there you have it. A seems brighter in most pictures and seems to have better contrast in the darker regions to my eyes. B maybe looks a little sharper in the last picture but the color fidelity appears better on A.

That being said, this illustrates one of my favorite aspects of any optic, a wide FOV. A appears to have a wider FOV @ roughly the same magnification which I've really come to appreciate when viewing.

Interested to see which spotters these are
 

Matt Cashell

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For those that have already answered and those that will, any noticeable differences in sharpness between the two or are you making the judgements based more on color and contrast?
You can not make a resolution (sharpness) comparison based on digiscoped photos. You have added a new optic (the camera lens) to the optical system, a digital sensor that is collecting the raw image, and the camera’s computer that is processing the image into a file.

I have been down this rabbit hole many times.

The vignetting visible on several of the “A” photos indicates they are either not from the center of the FOV, or they are not taken perfectly perpendicular to the light path. Either of these situations will affect the digiscoped image’s apparent resolution, contrast, and provide varying information to the camera processor. Neither spotter’s optical performance is accurately represented.

There are some optical qualities that can be digiscoped. These include distortion, and in some cases, aberrations. You would need to photograph different objects to show those, though.

Obviously, the images in “B” show more contrast, but this could be due to a difference in effective aperture between the two scopes and/or how the camera is dealing with the different systems.

I applaud the effort though. Like I said before, I have attempted this many times, and know how difficult it is.

My advice is to trust your eyes. Get a resolution chart and note which one resolves better for you.

That is, unless you are using the scope for digiscoping exclusively. In that case keep the one that you get better pictures with consistently with your camera/ digiscoping setup.
 
OP
A

aaronk

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Thanks for playing!

The optics in question are the mini Razor and a Kowa 553. The Kowa pictures are (in order): B - B - A - B. The one thing that surprised me was the mini Razor looked noticeably crisper at longer distances (miles away) then the Kowa, both in person and in the pictures. The fine focus knob on the mini Razor is a lot smoother then the Kowa though, so easier to nail focus.
 
OP
A

aaronk

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Oct 9, 2018
Messages
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Location
NW WA
You can not make a resolution (sharpness) comparison based on digiscoped photos. You have added a new optic (the camera lens) to the optical system, a digital sensor that is collecting the raw image, and the camera’s computer that is processing the image into a file.

I have been down this rabbit hole many times.

The vignetting visible on several of the “A” photos indicates they are either not from the center of the FOV, or they are not taken perfectly perpendicular to the light path. Either of these situations will affect the digiscoped image’s apparent resolution, contrast, and provide varying information to the camera processor. Neither spotter’s optical performance is accurately represented.

There are some optical qualities that can be digiscoped. These include distortion, and in some cases, aberrations. You would need to photograph different objects to show those, though.

Obviously, the images in “B” show more contrast, but this could be due to a difference in effective aperture between the two scopes and/or how the camera is dealing with the different systems.

I applaud the effort though. Like I said before, I have attempted this many times, and know how difficult it is.

My advice is to trust your eyes. Get a resolution chart and note which one resolves better for you.

That is, unless you are using the scope for digiscoping exclusively. In that case keep the one that you get better pictures with consistently with your camera/ digiscoping setup.
First off, I've really enjoyed your reviews Matt, and I agree with you here. Your background is obviously very technical and if comparing these two scopes from a technical perspective, what I did was useless. Where we differ in thought a little is the idea that a comparison picture between two scopes is not necessarily useful. Hardly any optics reviews give pictures, for the reasons that you've stated. But when they do give pictures, especially in comparison to other optics, you can begin to notice differences that would not otherwise be apparent when viewing those pictures alone. Most people could tell the difference between the budget level scope and the scope that's almost universally regarded as the best in it's class despite all these pictures looking pretty crappy and none of them representing the color, contrast and sharpness that I actually saw with my own eye.

It's what I really like about the S&S spotter reviews and the resolution chart pictures. Those pictures by themselves do not give much useful information and one could come to conclusion that spotter A out of a group does not look good, but when compared to spotter B and C, all of a sudden spotter A looks really good.

Anyways, I had the opportunity to compare these two scopes, so I decided to take advantage of it and take some comparison pictures. What I do find interesting as I compare more optics in person, is that there's a certain amount of technical that goes into it, but there's also the human element. One optic can look awesome to one person, but just great to someone else. One optic can leave you questioning whether you can do better, but when compared to something else, can leave you satisfied with what you have. Small details matter to some, to others they can't see a difference. Sometimes those small details cost are going to cost you an extra $1,000 and to some it's worth it, to others it's not.
 

tdhanses

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Sep 26, 2018
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All your pictures are during a bright day, most optics shine in these conditions, even cheap $50 optics can, do your test as the sun is setting, that’s where you’ll see the difference. Focus into dark shadows at a distance. I doubt you have perfect placement to take out camera placement on the pics, I have to say go with what is best with your eyes, use a resolution chart and test them as the daylight fades to darkness, not what you see during the best time of day to look through any optic.

Also the focus is off in the pics, take the autofocus off and use your spotters to focus or your camera will continue to adjust with each change you make.
 
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