Spotting Scopes. What do you Have?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Michael Jewels, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Hello, everybody.
    I've always had a decent pair of binoculars.
    Nothing as expensive as, let's say, Swarovski, but a little better than average.

    So, I'm thinking of buying a good spotting scope.

    From a few week's research, I've pretty much settled on this: A Vortex Diamondback.
    It's 20-60 x 60. A 60 millimeter objective lens.
    There's also a 20-60 x 80 mm model.
    The 60mm is about $400, the 80mm about $500.
    I'm not devoted to any one brand, but Vortex has gotten some good reviews.

    The scope will be used for birding, and seashore use.

    What do you have or recommend?

    I would say $500 is maximum budget.
    Scope prices can get out of hand very fast.

    I'm all ears. ;)

  2. LastJaguar


    Oct 10, 2019
    Don’t forget to budget for a good tripod.
  3. dwm74


    Nov 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    Orion StarMax 90...


    I primarily bought it for quick grab-n-go astronomy, but it doubles as a terrestrial spotting scope, and with a 45° diagonal (not shown) it will give a correct image. (Most astro scopes show things inverted/reversed.)

    You can buy a cheap zoom eyepiece for about $60, and the scope itself costs around $200. These Maksutov-Cassegrains are built like a tank.

    The table-top mount shown works fine, but as @LastJaguar mentioned above, a good tripod is something that makes a huge difference between liking a scope or loving it. The best optics in the world aren't worth beans if they're mounted on a flimsy and shaky tripod.
    Michael Jewels likes this.
  4. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    I'll bet you can see a lot of naked people.:woot:
    danesdad and Michael Jewels like this.
  5. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    Vortex generally makes good stuff - I think you’re safe. My spotting scope is an el cheapo one, but when it dies I will probably put Vortex on the shortlist.

    (Hi, Mike!)
    Michael Jewels likes this.
  6. That is already done, LastJaguar.
    I've been into photography for years, and discovered what a diffetence a tripod makes in photography, i.e.: use of slower shutter speeds and consistent framing from shot to shot.
    I have both a medium and a heavy tripod.
    Thanks for the tip.
    Cool username, by the way. ;)
    HeavyDuty likes this.
  7. Dwm74, I was also looking at a Celestron C-90.
    I read a lot of good reviews, and a few reviews which said it was good as a terrestrial scope, but better as an astronomical scope.
    It's only $200 as compared to $400 for the Vortex.
    I have to do a little more research, but that's the purpose of this thread.

    dwm74 and Winslow like this.
  8. LastJaguar


    Oct 10, 2019
    Thanks for the compliment on the user name. While I love big cats (actually all cats), the name was thrown together at the last minute so I could create an account to post in response to something I was following at the time. I bought one of the last Squire VM Jaguar SS available.
  9. Hello, Ken! How are you?
    I hope all is well.
    Right now, I have a Bushnell
    scope that's about 30 years old.
    It has a fixed 25x eyepiece, but compared to my 10x50 Pentax binoculars, it can't compete in image quality.

    Swarovski and Kowa go through the roof in prices, so I'm trying to keep it reasonable price-wise.
    Good crossing paths with you.
    Mike :thumbsup:
  10. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    That's a good value scope.

    Meade makes one that almost identical for the same price called the ETX90.

    I've used both and dont have a preference. They both work great for daytime spotting and nighttime sky watching.
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  11. Winslow

    Winslow Suspended

    Sep 25, 2011
    I picked up a Celestron Travel Scope 50, which comes in a nice little kit with a couple of eyepieces in a basic backpack. Pretty much everything but the glass and screws is plastic, but it's nice and light, and good for road trips, and casual stargazing/spotting. I did put a Manfrotto shoe on it for use on a better tripod, which helps things a lot. :thumbsup:

    Michael Jewels and dwm74 like this.
  12. dwm74


    Nov 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    Yeah, the Celestron, Orion, and SkyWatcher brands are all the same scope made in the same factory, but rebranded by each of the sellers. No difference whatsoever except for the name painted on the side.

    They also make larger aperture models in addition to the 90...102mm, 127mm, and 150mm. For astronomy, aperture makes a world of difference. For terrestrial bird-watching, not so much. In my humble opinion, the 90 should suffice quite nicely for the purposes you cite in your original post. Good luck with your decision!
    Michael Jewels and Winslow like this.
  13. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    @Michael Jewels , you may be seeing more of me - I’m in the (slow) process of relocating to New England, and my partner’s youngest son is starting at SUNY Purchase in the fall. Plus she loves Broadway shows, so I suspect we will be in town fairly regularly.
    Michael Jewels likes this.
  14. Ken, that's great! :thumbsup:
    Once the city returns to somewhat of a normal daily operation, I can give you the grand tour of the city, and my neck of the woods, Jamaica Bay. It's beautiful especially in summer and fall.
    Keep in touch; PM me anytime.
    I'll keep everyone posted on the scope.
    More recommendations welcome.
    HeavyDuty likes this.
  15. Hello, every one.
    I bought a scope, a Vortex Diamondback.
    20-60 x 80mm objective lens.
    I'll have a report as soon as I use it for a few hours.

    I just picked it up today at B&H curbside pickup, which is not curbside at all.
    You buy the item you want online, indicate you want to pick it up at the store, and when you get to the store, they actually let you inside to verify that you paid for the item you're picking up, and you show them ID, and the card you paid for the item with. This was great!
    I actually went into a brick and mortar store, and walked out with something! :hyper:

    Now, the best part: there was a slight delay with my order, so the girl at the desk said it will take about 20 minutes to straighten out.
    I told her not to worry.

    Now, what could I do for 20 minutes at 9th Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan?

    The Sam Ash, Manhattan store is right around the corner on 34th Street.
    To my surprise, they let me in (only 10 people in the store at a time) and what was staring at me as soon as I walked in?
    I am in love with this Old Smoothie! The last time I played it was the day I took this picture, which was March 8th.
    So, I have my scope, but now my lust for this instrument continues.
    Mike :bassist:
    HeavyDuty likes this.
  16. 20200626_164629~2.jpg Ok, I took the scope out today for the first time, and it's a keeper.
    First off, the zoom ring was extremely tight, but after moving it from 20x to 60x about ten times, it loosened up nicely.
    At 20x, its lowest magnification, images are super bright and very clear.
    The scope focuses quickly and holds its focus.
    Images are razor sharp up until about 40x, then, they get ever-so-slighly less sharp.
    It also balances nicely on a tripod, not trying to nose dive.

    Overall, it's a very nice scope worth its price.

    I may have a more in depth review after I've used it for a while.

    Good cracker!
    Good cracker! :thumbsup:

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  17. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Central Texas
    I like the angled design. Vortex makes really nice optics, I’ve been looking at other things they make. Enjoy!
    Michael Jewels likes this.
  18. danesdad


    Feb 24, 2018
    Western PA
    Barska. Got as a gift. It's cheap and it's crap. Don't buy it. With optics, there is a definite proportional relationship between quality and cost.
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