Barr & Stroud Sahara 20-60x80 Spotting Scope Review

 
Barr & Stroud Sahara 20-60x80 Spotting Scope
Price Range: (2/5) Low Cost Spotting Scope       

Best Spotting Scope Ratings:

General Use: Rating for General Use Scopes
Birdwatching: Rating as Birdwatching Scopes
Outdoor Sports: Rating as Outdoor Sports Scopes
Safari & Wildlife: Rating as Safari Scopes

Barr & Stroud describe their 20-60x80 Sahara Spotting Scope (Product Code - 80206080) as 'possibly the best value in the market today' and there is no denying that the Sahara scope is far, far cheaper than the likes of a Nikon EDG Fieldscope 85-A or any Swarovski spotting scope. But to compare the entry-level Sahara Spotting Scope to a top of the range Swarovski scope is a little unfair to them both and is a little like comparing a Ferrari F40 with a Mazda RX-8: Both are excellent cars, it is just that one has things like a carbon fibre body and race ready twin turbocharged alloy V8 engine as well as a price tag to match! Whilst the other is still a great car, just without all the little extras that turn it into a super car... but then again it also has a price tag that many more people can afford.

Entry Level Spotting Scope
Barr and Stroud themselves state that their Sahara Scopes are 'designed for the value conscious outdoor enthusiast and bird watcher', but to make anything good value for money, you have to get a certain amount of performance for your money. So just how well do they perform and what features do you get on a quality budget spotting scope.

The Sahara scope from Barr & Stroud is actually the same scope as the old Bresser Safari spotting scope and offers exactly the same features and performance of the Bresser Safari:

The Body

The angled body (45 degrees) of the 80mm Sahara is made from lightweight polycarbonate which Barr & Stroud say reduces the overall weight and makes it extremely rugged and durable. Weighing 1360g (47.97oz) they are indeed pretty light and match the weight of Swarovski’s "S" series scopes that are made from aluminium and you must remember that the Sahara’s weight includes the eyepice, whilst the Swarovski’s will not.

On top of the body is a rubber armour covering that will not only protect your scope from day to day abrasions, but quiets down any bumps. This may not sound important, but can help in any situation where you are viewing skittish birds or other wildlife.

Waterproof and Fogproof
These Sahara’s are waterproof and because they are nitrogen purged, are also fog proof as well. What this means is the oxygen is purged from the optical barrel and replaced with nitrogen gas that does not condense. This prevents internal fogging caused when your scope is subjected to temperature extremes and is especially important in places that have high humidity.

I also like the attention to detail with the sunshade that slides out over the objective lens of the scope that helps to further reduce glare and will offer some protection to the lens from the elements. The cover also has a nipple on it that allows you to fix the lens cover to the barrel to prevent it from swinging about.

Tripod Mounting
The Barr & Stroud 20-60x80 spotting scope is generally well balanced and comes with a reasonably large tripod shoe with the standard tripod mount screw hole, that provides a large enough platform to ensure a stable connection to your tripod.

Optics

The large 80mm diameter objective lens on the Sahara lets in plenty of light and they use precision ground fully multicoated lenses as well as Bak-4 Prisms. Basically what this means is that the prisms are made of a superior optical glass that produce clearer images than the BK-7 prisms that you often find in cheap scopes. It must have been tempting for Barr and Stroud to go for the cheaper BK-7 option on what is essentially a budget scope. Fully multicoated lenses mean that all air to glass surfaces have received multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings and is again usually only found on more expensive optics.

I am glad that they opted for the more expensive Bak-4 prisms and coatings as I found the view through the scope pretty impressive. Not quite as bright as the very high end scopes, but is still pretty impressive even in poor light conditions. Overall the image produced is really sharp and has a pretty decent depth of field. The colour of the image does take on a slight yellowish tinge and there is some fringing or softening of the image on the periphery, which is understandably slightly more evident at higher magnifications.

20-60x Zoom Eyepiece
The 80mm Sahara comes with a 20-60x zoom eyepiece that is fixed to the scope, which offers you plenty of flexibility, but it would of been nicer if you could interchange eyepieces for even more choice. Adjusting magnifications or “zooming” in and out was simple and smooth, as you would expect.

Field of View
The field of view at 1000m that you get with this eyepiece ranges from 29.6m at the 20x magnification to 15m at 60x magnification. For comparison, one of the very best, the Swarovski 20-60x eyepiece ranges from 36m (at 20x) to 20m (at 60x) at 1000m.

The minimum close focusing distance is 8 meters, which considering the powerful magnification is not too bad although the top 20-60x scopes have a minimum of around 6 meters.

At 20x, the scope is good for scanning over an area and then once you have located and locked onto your target, you can zoom right in up to 60x magnification. For those who have never used a scope before your in for an incredible experience, the level of detail you will notice at 60x magnification will blow you away. Instead of just seeing a blue tit on your feeder through some binoculars, a scope allows you to actually see just how it feeds, notice markings that you never knew existed and see colours you never knew were there, incredible.

Focusing
The fairly large focusing knob located on top of the barrel is smooth and made focusing the spotting scope simple, fairly fast and accurate.

Accessories

The scope comes with an excellent olive-green padded carry case that is designed to stay on the scope that not only protects the scope, but also makes it easier to transport or carry with you. The eyepiece cover on the case has a drawstring that can be folded back when you are using the scope (see image below). The focus knob cover also does not have to be removed when using the scope as it attaches to the rest of the case with Velcro, which allows you to slip you hands under it to access the focusing knob. This may get a little tricky in winter if you use gloves and the Velcro does make some noise as you open it, but if you position it right you can avoid having to open the Velcro every time you want to focus.

A screw-on plastic cover for the eyepiece is also included to further protect it when it is not being used.

Digiscoping with the Barr & Stroud Sahara

To digiscope with this Sahara scope is simple enough using either a universal camera adapter that will fit most compact digital cameras or with the Barr and Stroud Spotting Scope photo adapter that enables you to mount an SLR camera, with the appropriate 'T' Mount adapter, over the eye piece of the scope. This adapter has cut-outs on the adapter barrel so the eyepiece's zoom control can be accessed.

Conclusion

Definitely one of the best entry-level spotting scopes on the market, the 80mm Sahara’s have a lot going for them and whilst they do fall short of the very best scopes, I have to say that at around £115 - £140, they do make excellent value for money. In my opinion the Barr & Stroud 20-60x80 Sahara Spotting Scopes are ideal for anyone just getting into birding or wildlife observation and looking to get their first spotting scope or just about anyone who is looking for a good quality budget spotting scope.

Highlights include the really good quality carry case, the attention to detail with things like the built-In sliding sunshade, quality Bak-4 prisms, they are both water and fogproof and of course the very low price tag.

Barr & Stroud 20-60x80 Sahara Spotting Scope

Main Specifications:

  • Magnification: 20-60x
  • [explain objective lens]Objective Lens Diameter: 80mm
  • [explain exit pupil]Exit Pupil: 4
  • [explain twilight factor]Twilight Factor: 40
  • Size: Full Size Spotting Scopes
  • Weight: 47.97ozs (1360g)
  • [explain prism types]Prism Type: Roof Prism
  • Close Focus Distance: 8.0ft
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • Auto Focus: No

Video of the Barr & Stroud 20-60x80 Sahara

 

More Information:



About Barr & Stroud Spotting Scopes | View all reviewed Barr & Stroud Spotting Scopes

View All:

Full Size Spotting Scopes | Roof Prism Scopes | Low Cost Spotting Scopes


Similar Spotting Scope:

Below are similar Spotting Scope that you may also want to have a look at:

Nikon x85 EDG

Large 85mm objective lens, extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and waterproof: Perfect Wildlife and Birding Scopes.


Price Comparison and where to buy the Barr & Stroud Sahara 20-60x80 Spotting Scope

General Price Range: (2/5) Low Cost Spotting Scope

Below is a link that will take you to a page with online retailers in both the US and UK that sell Barr & Stroud Sahara 20-60x80 Spotting Scope this page makes it easy to compare prices and then to buy from your preferred option:



Comments & Opinions

I would love to get your comments and well as your opinions on these optics. Do you want to or do you already own one of this Sahara Spotting Scope? If so please let us know what you think of them giving both the good and the bad points:

 
 
Sherwoods Banner