70-80mm Spotting Scopes

Pentax 80mm Ed Spotting Scope

I have always wondered what would happen if an optical company designed a spotting scope from the eyepieces forward, rather than the objective back. Many birders are surprised to discover the limiting factor in a spotting scopeís performance is, most often, not the big chunk of glass out front, but the little lenses in the eyepiece. All the objective lens has to to is to form a tiny image of the bird, an image that floats in the air within the tube of the scope.

Leica Televid APO

I don't think I have ever gotten as many calls or requests for information as I have on the new Leica Televid 77 spotting scopes. Everybody wants to know. What is it? Is it good? How does it compare? What everybody is hoping for, obviously, is the final killer scopečthe one from Leicačthe one that is going to blow everything currently on the market away.

Swarovski AT80HD with 20-60X zoom

Let's say it right up front here: the Swarovski 20-60mm zoom eyepiece sets the standard against which all other zooms must be measured. I like a zoom for its obvious convenience, but until I saw the Swarovski (and the Nikon, see below), I religiously avoided them because of their uniformly poor (unacceptable!) optical performance at anything over their lowest power setting.

Kowa TSN 824: 82mm Fluorite

The new Kowa is an obvious sibling to the current TSN series. It shares the same contrasting light and dark olive, rubberized exterior, with a built in lens shade...one of the more attractive scope finishes once you warm up to the color...and certainly one of the nicer ones to handle. The slightly tacky rubber gives a very positive grip and seems quite durable. The body itself departs from traditional scope design by mounting the prisms horizontally instead of vertically.

Swarovski Habicht CT 75 and 85

The two Swarovski draw tubes are typical of the design. The fully collapsed CT75, with the 3 inch zoom eyepiece attached, still measures under 16 inches, and weighs just 2.5 pounds. The CT85, which uses two draw tubes instead of the 75's one, collapses to 13 inches with the zoom attached, and weighs 3 pounds. Fixed power eyepieces subtract about another 2 inches, and some weight.

Optolyth APO TBG 100

Optolyth is not as well known in the US as it should be. Their older style Alpin series porroprism binoculars were always some of my favorites...the 8x30s held the Mid-sized Reference Standard for several years until the introduction of the Leica Ultras...and I am anxious to test the redesigned Alpins.