MemberI recently started a post titled another swaro vs kowa post. I wanted to share my review and thoughts on both over the next couple days through different settings. I do believe it will be mostly personal preference as I feel everyones eyes gravitate to certain colors and other factors.
I ended up purchasing both to compare. Below is a picture of both for size comparisons. I first purchased the swaro 65 ATS with the 25-50 wide angle eyepiece from a member here. I did this telling myself this was the one I wanted. I received it and was happy as it was in brand new condition. Using it that afternoon it was better than my previous Vortex as it should be. However I started to have that feeling of could the kowa 77 be better? My wife being the most awesome wife agreed to let me purchase the kowa 77 to compare each then keep the one I liked the most.
Today I received the kowa 77 from S&S Archery. After unboxing it I felt good as it didn't seem as big as I thought it would. Holding both the kowa and swaro at first I couldn't tell a difference in weight. I did weigh them both with the lens covers on and no cases. The swaro came in at 49.9 ounces and the kowa was 59.8 ounces.
I set them up on my tripod with my outdoorsman pistol grip attachment in my backyard. I have a mountain range behind me and was glassing anywhere from 1.5 miles to 3 miles away. It was about 90 minutes before dark and complete cloud cover due to rain in the afternoon.
I first used the swaro and picked out a tree with an opening at the bottom about 2.5 miles away. The swaro with this eyepiece I will say is very clear to me upto max 50 power. I could make out the shadow area below the tree but it was still dark. I then looked at some small openings next to the tree to get a sense of color and brightness. The swaro's image to me brings out the green colors very well. I then switched to the kowa and found the same tree. I placed the kowa at the same power being 50. The image did seem a little brighter but feel this shadow area was too dark for anything to see into. I then looked thru the same openings as I did with the swaro and again it appeared to be a little brighter. To me the kowa brings out brown colors more and the swaro brings out more green colors. I then focused on a dead gray tree about 3 miles away with the kowa. At 50 power its was extremely clear. As I zoomed to the max 60 power the image was still good but did distort some, however not hardly as bad as most other manufacturers at their highest settings. Using the swaro and looking at the same tree at the max 50 power the tree was also very clear with no distortion, but the overall image just a shade darker than the kowa. Now its hard for me to explain as im not a glass scientist but when I say a shade darker I feel it must be the objective difference as the whole fov of the swaro is very crisp to me.
I then used both to scan and grid with. This is where it I feel the swaro was better. The swaro to me has very good edge to edge clarity as I scanned and moved my eye around it felt very lasered in to the surroundings. I then switched to the kowa. Scanning with the kowa was good but to my eye did not have as good edge to edge clarity however the image in the center was really good.
As it was getting dark I glassed various distances at the same objects. I did have to turn the swaro down to 40 power to brighten up the image and the kowa just to 50 power. This should be due to the kowa having a 77 objective to the swaros 65. It was here where I still noticed the swaro really bringing out the greens and the kowa the browns so not sure if this is why the kowa appears brighter at times even before dark.
Up until 15 minutes before dark I was really struggling between the two. The swaros overall edge to edge gave it a very nice image making it comfortable to scan with but did appear darker. The kowa was brighter and the image was good but not as great edge to edge. As I mentally focused on the edge to edge with the kowa I feel that made it not as comfortable. Now during the last 15 minutes of light I will say the kowa did take the lead letting me see more detail at about 10 more power than the swaro.
To me its easy to say who cares about last 10 minutes of light as how will you get on that animal. However if your mountain hunting and glassing various ridges to gameplan for the next day those last 10 minutes can be vital.
As of now I am kind of torn but I am not done. I am going to examine both side by side for several days, morning, mid day and evening in clear bright sky, heat of day with mirage etc. Today was almost a toss up. At times the swaro seemed clearer and at times the kowa did. It very well might come down to whether that extra 10 power magnification and a little more lowlight is more important than size and weight.
As far as handling the scopes I do feel the swaro is more comfortable. I mentioned earlier both felt around the same weight. But while switching them out back and fourth, the swaro did feel lighter. It was also just easier to grab due to swaros rubber armor and slightly smaller size. The kowa has an aluminum body but a slightly rougher coat so I won't say slippery but on a cold morning grabbing the swaro would feel safer to me. The swaro is also more round throughout just making it easier to grab as well where the kowa with the focus dial makes it a little bigger. I know that sounds like a dumb complaint but I am just imagining switching out a spotter to and from binos alot during glassing periods. The eye cups on the swaro also felt tighter and smooth being able to adjust it right where you want it. The kowas have locking settings and was a little looser. They both worked fine but just preferred the swaros. The focus wheel on the swaro is their barrell adjustment. Its smooth as usual and since I am use to that it was easy to adjust it. The kowa has the finger wheel on top with the main and fine adjustment. It also worked well but due to me never using this type of focus took me some time to adjust to it. I will say I could adjust the swaros focus without causing the spotter to move or shake much. The kowas focusing wheel is a little tighter and found it would move the spotter a little more while adjusting. Again that could be me as I am not use to it. I will say the kowas focusing dial does feel like you can fine tune it to great accuracy where the swaro feels like once your there you are just there. Weight wise yes the swaro is lighter and smaller. The swaro to me can be packed in a spotter pocket without a case in my mind do to the rubber armor coating. The kowa I would definetely want a case and most are around 5 ounces I have found. That would take the kowa to right about 1lb heavier than the swaro. However size wise the kowa is not a deal breaker for packing as its the same length and just a little fatter.
Again I will compare these throughout the next week in different conditions and follow up on this thread. I am not a digiscoper but will see if they make universal scope mounts so I can capture some images to share. I really want to love the kowa and hope it wins mainly due to all the love it gets while comparing to the 65. Time will tell. Here are pics of the two side by side for size comparison.