My Spotting Scope Search

AGPank

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Jan 16, 2013
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954
Last year I finally had set aside some money for a spotting scope (or so I thought). My main use was going to be at the archery range. It's hard to pick your arrow out of the target past 40 yards and call lines with binoculars. I would also like to take on my hunting trips to Colorado. My grandparents have a cabin next to the White River National Forest between Craig and Meeker. There are some great views from on top of the mountain that I wanted to explore with more magnification.

I had a set of Vortex Viper HD binoculars and decided to get the new Viper HD 65mm spotting scope. I ordered the straight model because I had used a Steiner 24x fixed power scope of my dads growing up. I paired it with a Flashpoint carbon fiber tripod from Adorama and a Vanguard SBH-100 ball head. The scope met all my expectations when I first looked around and out the backyard because you can only see a couple hundred yards. It happened to be a full moon that night and I wanted so see what I could see at night. Uh oh, first mistake, I immediately realized I should have ordered the angled model to view elevated objects. I contacted Vortex and they said if I returned it they would send me the angled model! I was just out some shipping charges (great customer service from Vortex).

The angled model worked well through the summer at the archery range. Over the summer I found a great deal on a pair of Swarovski SLC HD 8x42 binoculars that I was going to use for hunting. This was a big mistake because it made me realize my mistake on my Viper 10x50 HD's. They were clear, but did not have the field of view that the SLC's had. They also did not deliver the sharp images that the SLC's did (they were good, just not quite as good. If I would have understood the FOV better I may have been better with the 10x42's). During hunting season I only had a chance to use the spotting scope from the deck of my grandparents cabin. We have excellent views across the valley approximately 1.5 miles away where you can watch elk most the day. It kills the time after some morning hunts. The atmospheric conditions were bad due to the extremely dry conditions and fires out west of us. At highest magnfication and the long distances the images were not that crisp. Later in the week after some rains the conditions improved as did the scope performance, but at some late evenings watching some elk come into some ponds I realized I would like the 80mm objective.

I have begun my search for a new scope and sold the Viper HD.
 
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AGPank

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I began seriously looking for an upgraded scope after the first of the year. I started looking at a 65mm Swaro ATM then decided to save the money for a bigger objective. I found a deal on an ATM 80 (non-hd), but then researched more and decided I should go with HD glass. I've been reading many articles on optics on-line in the birding forums, here, and other websites. Some top contenders that I'm looking at are:

1. Swarovski ATS/ATM 80mm HD (25-50x)
2. Vortex Razor HD 85mm (20-60x)
3. Zeiss Diascope FL T 85mm (20-75x)
4. Meopta Meostar S2 82mm (30-60x or 20-70x?)

I live in Fort Lauderdale Florida and there's not much for selection at any store around that I've found. I would like to enjoy some digiscoping and birdwatching as that is good in the area. A lot of use will still be at the archery range and the annual trip to Colorado.

My budget is driving me to the Vortex Razor HD. I've read nothing but good things about this scope. My concern was long term value of the scope because after watching ebay for a few weeks you see how well Swarovski does retain value. This concern was recently eliminated as I saw a scope with an imperfect objective lens and broken mount sell for $1,300+ on ebay! I guess the Vortex warranty is a known commodity. Right now I think this scope is the realistic front runner I just don't want to regret not spending the money and getting what I want.

Owning the Swarovski binoculars is driving some brand loyalty to them. Unfortunately I missed out on the great deal that Cabelas had in December. I then missed a demo deal at Cameraland. I found one for about $2,000, but not sure if I'm ready to pull the trigger.

I found a used Zeiss Diascope 85mm for $2,000, but again that is the high end of where I wanted to be. I also missed the deal at Eagle Optics about a month ago.

The new item that for some reason has me intrigued is the Meopta Meostar. It's a bit of an unknown brand to me, but I really like the looks and the reviews of this scope. It seems like it is running $2,200 retail and I hate retail. I do love getting a deal, so that keeps driving my search.
 

jherald

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Sep 16, 2012
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Location
Alaska
Search ebay and other hunting forums, you may find a steal or a deal on something great. I've been using a Swaro STM 65 (not the HD version) with the 20-60 eye and have been satisfied with it. I found mine brand new for $1,300.00 with the eyepiece. Seek and ye shall find.
 

Steve O

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Feb 29, 2012
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Stick with top notch as you learne dwith ypur binos. I bought a Diascope 65mm in 2001 and have enjoyed it ever since and have not once been lured to upgrade...and I have looked thru plenty of newer spotters.
 

Matt Cashell

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AGPank,

Those are all good choices! A Diascope 20-75X85 for $2000 is a great deal.

The Meopta is sweet for sure. I prefer the Meopta 30-60WA over the 25-50WA Swaro.

The Meopta seems pretty mirage-resistant as well, and judging from your post, that is important to you.

Of course there is no way to get around mirage under many circumstances.
 
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AGPank

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Jan 16, 2013
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I missed a used ATM-80HD, I just had a hard time with $2k on a used scope. I think the weight and known Swarovski performance were what had this in my top list, but budget just drives me away. I don't think I'm going to put the time behind it to justify the expense.

I'm very interested in the Meopta, but no dealers anywhere close.

The Vortex Razor may just be the best deal for me. The only real negative I have about it is the weight. I don't pack a lot or near as far as some do, so the weight may not be the deciding factor to me.

Thanks for the input, I'll keep everyone posted on the final decision.
 

dotman

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Feb 24, 2012
Messages
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AGPank,

Those are all good choices! A Diascope 20-75X85 for $2000 is a great deal.

The Meopta is sweet for sure. I prefer the Meopta 30-60WA over the 25-50WA Swaro.

The Meopta seems pretty mirage-resistant as well, and judging from your post, that is important to you.

Of course there is no way to get around mirage under many circumstances.

Matt, did you try the 20-70 eyepiece? I looked at the one my Cabelas has instock and notice this was the one they carry here in KC.
 

mtnkid85

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Jul 31, 2012
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Beartooth Mtns, MT
Matt, did you try the 20-70 eyepiece? I looked at the one my Cabelas has instock and notice this was the one they carry here in KC.

Well are we ready for some more confusion?

I just went down and looked at the Angled 20-70x S2 at Cabelas as well, they did not have the 30-60xWA instock. I asked if they could bring one in for me and after looking on the computer I was told the WA eye piece was only available in the Straight body and that the Angled 30-60xWA had been "discountinued"...
Can anyone confirm or disconfirm this? The fella at the counter, who was very helpful, said it didnt make sense and we would look into it. But I figured Id see what we could find out here as well.

A quick google search pops up several dealers with Angled WA Meopta S2s?

I really liked the S2 otherwise. It seemed to stack up favorably to the Razor I had it sitting next to.
 

Matt Cashell

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mtnkid85,

The 30-60 is not discontinued and will mount on both the straight and angled bodies.

You just got some bad info.

What may be causing some confusion is the Cabelas Euro branded version only comes with the 20-70, but the 30-60 will mount to it, too.
 
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AGPank

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Jan 16, 2013
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I found a zeiss body for $500, but it is imported from South Korea. Red flag for me there.
 
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AGPank

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I finally made my selection and went with the Vortex Razor HD. The biggest deciding factor for me came down to cost. For my hunting style and location I couldn't justify the additional money for a Meopta or Swarovski ATM. I really like the Meopta, but it was such a new product I was hesitant buying one at the top of my budget sight unseen. I liked the security of quality by going with the Swaro and the biggest advantage I saw for the Swaro was the light weight.

The biggest negative I found about the Vortex was the weight. I don't have a long packing distance nor do I spend a lot of time packing every year. The great reviews on the product, warranty, price, and customer service made the decision a comfortable one. I received the scope on Friday and I haven't been able to put it through all the paces yet. I know it is extremely vivid when I look through the scope. I was going to try and get some digiscoping and birding done on the everglades yesterday, but the wind was blowing about 30 mph and at 50 degrees it was too cold to stand there and hard to hold the scope still.

I also ordered a kit from Phone Skope which seems like it will work well too.

I really appreciate all the feedback and reviews other posted. I will post some more performance reviews when I get a chance to use the scope more.
 
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AGPank

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I finally took a few pictures through my iPhone. I'm pleases with these so far. ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362186580.954374.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362186597.920750.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362186612.637864.jpg

These were some impromptu shots out the front door at about 30 feet at 20x zoom.
 

Kevin Root

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AGPank

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I have a self timer app but these were the standard iPhone camera app.
 

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