Best Long Range Scope under $300 / £300

Levenhuk Blaze Spotting Scope

People often write in asking for recommendations for a particular use and within a specific price range, which is perfectly understandable and a great place to start when deciding what is the best spotting scope for you.

This question relates to all those looking for higher powered scopes in what I call the Mid level price range ($130 – $300 / £130 – £300):

Have A Question For Me?Question:

We recently moved to an apartment overlooking the English Channel and my husband is keen to own a scope for looking at the ships which are around 12-30 miles out on the shipping channel and wildlife etc, with maybe an odd star or two thrown in!

I have looked at many pages of reviews and lots of different scopes online, but just wondered what you would recommend with a budget of £200-£300?

As he has to have it placed near balcony doors or on the balcony a tripod is a must though we could get that separately.

Please would you be kind enough to advise? I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks


Answer

Thank you for the question and I will try to answer it to the best of my knowledge, but it is also very important to remember that I can only fully recommend a scope that I have actually used, tested and reviewed. So obviously the will be many, many others out there that are just as suitable and possibly even better, but I have not as yet used and so whilst I may offer them as an option that I think are worth looking at, I cannot be fully committed in suggesting them to you.

What you get for your budget

Whilst from the outside most scopes within this budget look very similar and indeed almost identical to ones that cost much more, but I think it is important to stress that in order to keep the manufacturing costs down, certain compromises have to be made.

So whilst none will match the best, it also does not mean that you are certain to get poor quality scope within this budget, you just have to be realistic with your expectations and look more carefully for the hidden gems that have made these compromises in non critical areas.

Body
As far as the chassis goes, you probably wont get a magnesium frame. Instead most scopes at this level will use a polycarbonate chassis. Whilst this is not quite as tough or luxurious as a metal one, it is lighter and obviously cheaper to produce.

Even if you don’t plan on going out in the rain, I would still make sure of is that it is both water & fog proof as this a good sign that it is still of a good quality and the seals will also prevent dust from entering the system.

Optics
Whilst very few (if any) in this rage will use ED glass (extra low dispersion) elements within their lenses, ensure that the optics are still fully multi-coated optics and if they mention it, look out for ones that have phase correction coatings on their prisms that are at least silver mirror coated.

Cheap spotting scopes usually have integrated eye-pieces, but there are some within this price range that have removable ones. This not only gives you more flexibility in the future as you can change your eye piece depending on what you are using your scope for, but once again is another indicator of a better quality instrument.

To start with look for scopes with a zoom eyepiece included as the variable magnification will mean that the scope will be far more versatile right out of the box. Just make sure that the price of the scope you are looking at includes the eye-piece as well.

Configuration
For longer distance observation, you obviously need higher magnifications (60x – 90x). The problem is that this higher power brings with it a number of complications that are important to be aware of:

Firstly and especially with scopes that have lesser quality optical components, it is important to choose a scope that has a large diameter objective lens. As you will be using it from a fixed point and using it on a tripod, weight and size are not a major factor, which is good.

Larger diameter scopes capture more light and thus will potentially look to have a brighter image. Combined with a high power magnification, they will also have a larger exit pupil than those with smaller objectives, which apart from helping deliver more light to your eyes, also makes it far easier to line your eyes up with the shaft of light exiting the eye-piece and thus view the full image without any annoying black rings forming on the edges, which is often the case one cheaper high powered scopes.

So my advice is to try and go with an objective lens that is 80mm or larger.

Recommended Spotting Scopes under $350 / £300

So keeping all this in mind, below are firstly the instruments that I have reviewed and thus can recommend within this price level and then I have also added a few others that I also think may be a good choice and worth considering at the bottom of the page:

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 Spotting Scope

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90x90 Spotting ScopeCosting only $220 / £200, when I reviewed the Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 scope I thought that it was a really good buy for the money:

It has a very large 90mm objective lens and fully multi-coated optics so not only will this Levenhuk scope collect more light than smaller instruments, but more will gets transmitted to your eyes than those with fewer coatings.

What is more, it comes with a high powered and interchangeable 30-90x zoom eyepiece, so good for the longer distances that you require as well as for viewing objects at closer ranges.

Also worth noting is the included table-top tripod. Whilst not quite as good as a good quality full sized tripod, it was of comparatively higher standard than most I have come across, is simple to adjust and holds the scope steady enough to get a completely shake free view.

Main Features

  • Very large 90mm Objective Lens
  • Water & Fog Proof
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • BaK-4 Roof Prism with Silver Mirror coatings
  • Supplied & Removable 30-90x Zoom Eyepiece

Shopping BasketPrice Range
The Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 scope currently costs around $220 / £200, which I think makes for excellent value for money:

 

Acuter DS20-60x80A Spotting Scope

Acuter DS20-60X80A Spotting ScopeStrengths of this Acuter scope within this price bracket include the use of an Aluminium chassis instead of a polycarbonate one used on most others. It also has a removable 20-60 eyepiece included and a two speed focus knob that at this price is not a common feature.

The large 80mm objective and fully multi-coated optics will ensure a brighter image than smaller scopes, or those with less coatings.

Main Features

  • Large 80mm Objective Lens
  • High Quality & Waterproof Aluminium Chassis
  • Duel Speed Focus Knob
  • Supplied & removable 20x-60x (8-24mm) Zoom Eyepiece

Shopping BasketPrice Range
The Acuter DS20-60×80 scope currently costs around £260 in the UK and where available around $300 in the US:

 
 

More Options

Whilst I have not used the scopes below, to me they look to be a good option and have all the right qualities to suit your needs:

Celestron Ultima 100 Spotting Scope

Celestron Ultima 100 Spotting ScopeAccording to Celestron, the super large 100mm objective lens delver an image that is more than 50% brighter than the same scope with a 80mm lens.

However this is against the same quality scope and these come with multi coated optics and not fully multi-coated, so it probably evens out against a slightly smaller scope that is fully multi-coated.

Main Features

  • Giant 100mm Objective lens
  • Multi Coated Optics
  • 22-66x zoom eyepiece
  • Waterproof Soft carrying case

Shopping BasketPrice Range

The Celestron Ultima 100 currently costs $290 in the US and £300 in the UK and so is bang on budget:

 

Vanguard TripodTripods:

Whilst many scopes in this category will come with what is quite often a fairly decent table top tripod to get you started (obviously you will need a table on your balcony!), but ultimately you will most probably want to invest in your own full sized tripod that can more easily take the weight and keep the image perfectly still on a larger scope like this.

Over the years I have used a large number of tripods and in general my advice is not to skimp too much in this area as not only are cheap tripods less likely to hold a large scope completely steady for a completely shake free image which especially at higher powers is imperative, but are also often much more of a pain to set-up.

For more advice on which tripods I use and recommend, please take a look at this article: Best Tripod for Large Spotting Scopes

Have A Question For Me?Have a Scope Question?

Should you have any questions on a subject that I have not already covered here on BSSR please feel free to Contact Me Here.






Best Wildlife & Stargazing Spotting Scopes Under $550 / £500

Vanguard Endeavor HD - Ideal Wildlife Spotting Scope

I get a number of questions relating to people wanting advice on a spotting scope for both terrestrial uses in the day, as well as for stargazing at night. Whilst this is possible, it is important to remember just as a telescope that is specifically designed to look at the heavens at night will never perform as well as a spotting scope for daytime use, a scope will never perform as well as a specially designed telescope at night. So when deciding on what type of device to get always consider your main use for them and choose accordingly:

The first question below is from a reader looking to get their first spotting scope. Their main interests are wildlife and basic astronomy and have a budget of between $350 / £300 and $550 / £500:

Have A Question For Me?Question 1:

I’m looking to buy my first scope manly for wildlife spotting and star gazing.

I was thinking about something like 20-60×80 for under £300 (approx $350), but also consider something up to £500 (approx $550), but like I say you have so much info and me being a newbie to this I can’t work out what would be the best scope for my money.

Can you recommend a scope or narrow it down for me please.. any help or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


The next question is actually very similar and is why I have included it within the same page:

Have A Question For Me?Question 2:

I’ve recently moved in to a place with a great long range view. You also get the moon and whatever stars it’s possible to see all night and I was wondering if you suggest a spotting scope that might be able to let you gaze over land but also look up at the stars.

Also and I know this is a bit of a silly one but something that looks good preferably in black.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Answer

Many thanks for your questions. I think that it is one that may be of interest to other readers here on BSSR, so I have decided to publish my answers to you on the website:

Spotting Scopes for Astronomy?

Whilst a spotting scope is specifically designed for terrestrial use, it’s design is basically that of a refractor telescope and so in many ways, there is no reason why a spotting scope can’t be effectively used for stargazing and basic astronomy, allowing you to view open clusters, planets like Saturn, Jupiter and its Galilean moons as well as objects like Albireo, Mizar, the Pleiades as well as get some fantastic views of the moon.

However having said that there are a number of differences and considerations to keep in mind:

Eyepiece Angles

Most astronomy telescopes come with an eyepiece that is set at and angle and this is often at 90° to the barrel. This is because it gives you as the user a very comfortable viewing angle. Spotting Scopes on the other hand usually have a straight through design or one that is angled at 45° because they are designed for mostly looking downwards, level and at shallower angles up into the sky.

Pointing a telescope or indeed a spotting scope with a straight through eyepiece design high into the sky can be very awkward and even uncomfortable and you will almost certainly need a tall tripod, or place yourself lower to the ground to make it more comfortable.

So firstly my advice is if you look towards the sky fairly often, then I would opt for a spotting scope that has a 45° viewing angle, which will be better but may still not be quite as comfortable as telescope with a 90° viewing angle when viewing stars right above you.

For more on the advantages and disadvantages of each, take a look at my article on Straight Through vs Angled Spotting Scopes.

Objective Lens Size / Aperture
In general, the larger the aperture (objective lens diameter), the more light your scope will capture. During the day and in good light this is not as critical as it is in poor light and at night.

In my experience and through the research that I have done, you want a scope with at least 65mm but preferably with 70mm diameter objective lenses or if possible even larger for effective astronomical uses. So your intention of getting a 20-60x80mm scope is in my opinion a good choice.

Price & Image Quality

I would say that if your budget is under $350 / £300 you will usually get better quality optics on a telescope. This is because they tend to focus more on this area than the rest of the device as optical clarity is so important when looking at the night sky, whilst manufacturers of terrestrial spotting scopes also have to ensure that the outer body is lightweight, tough and waterproof which eats up some of the available budget.

At around $550 / £500 you can get scopes with much higher quality optics and ones that have better quality coatings and that use high quality glass to make the prisms and have features like extra low dispersion glass to ensure that they produce a brighter image that is of a better quality, especially noticeable will be the reduction in color fringing around the edges of objects caused by chromatic aberrations.

Body Size & Weight
One of the advantages of a spotting scope over many telescopes is that they tend to be lighter, more compact and tougher as they are designed to handle bad weather conditions out in the field. So if you want a travel scope for occasionally viewing the heavens, then a spotting scope can be the preferred option.

Conclusion
If astronomy is your main intended use, then I would definitely opt for a telescope. However if you mainly want to view birds and larger wildlife and also occasionally take a look at the heavens, then there is no reason why your spotting scope will not give you everything you need and more.

What you get for your budget

Within your max budget of $550 / £500 you can get some really good spotting scopes that will take you far beyond the entry level options and you will get a very good quality device that utilizes many high end components and features.

This should include a fully waterproof body made from a lightweight and tough material like magnesium, removable and interchangeable eye-pieces the use of ED glass, fully multi-coated optics and phase correction coatings on high quality prisms.

This in my opinion will ensure that you will be very happy with it for many years to come, no matter what level you progress to.

If however you opt for a lower cost scope (under $350 / £300) then you will probably get a scope with lesser quality optics and it will probably have an eyepiece that cant be removed. So whilst you may be happy with it in the short term, this may niggle you should you get into optics more seriously.

However having said that, should you only want your scope for occasional use then this could still be the right way to go for you.

Recommended Spotting Scopes under $550 / £500

Below are the spotting scopes within your price range that I have fully tested and which I can recommend.

I have also included a few options of scopes that I have not tested, but to me look to be a good option for you and your needs:

Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope

Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting ScopeWinner of my award for the Best Spotting Scope of 2013, the Endeavor HD has recently come down in price meaning that is now just within budget (in the US), which in my opinion makes it one of the best value higher end spotting scope currently on the market.

It has only been available for a short time in the UK and so at the time of writing it is still a little over your max budget. In which case I would take a look at the older Vanguard Endeavor 82A or the Endeavor XF. Whilst these lack the ED glass, they are still high quality scopes that should meet your requirements.

Main Features

  • Large 82mm Objective Lenses
  • 20-60x Interchangeable Eyepiece
  • 100% Fog and Waterproof
  • Dual Focus Wheel for Fine and Coarse adjustments
  • Extra-low Dispersion Glass (ED) elements
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • Phase Coated BAK Prisms

Shopping BasketPrice Range
With an original price of around $860 these can now be found for around $530 in the US, in the UK they at the time of writing are about £650. However the Vanguard Endeavor XF 80A costs about £370 and the Vanguard Endeavor 82A without ED glass is about £450:

 

Celestron Regal ED Spotting Scopes

Celestron Regal 100 F-ED Spotting ScopeCelestron are best known for their astronomy telescopes, but their very high quality series of Regal F-ED Spotting scopes have impressed many, including myself.

Whilst I reviewed the very large 100mm Regal F-ED, that offers an incredibly bright image making it ideal for astro use as well, it is a little over budget.

However Celestron also make the Regal with smaller 80mm and 65mm objective lenses that are cheaper and bring them within budget and I would highly recommend as they are truly excellent.

Main Features

  • Available with 100, 80 or 65mm Objective Lenses
  • 100% Fog and Waterproof
  • Dual Focus Wheels
  • Extra-low Dispersion Glass (ED) elements
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • Phase Coated BAK Prisms

Shopping BasketPrice Range
The Celestron Regal 100 F-ED costs around $900 / £680, whilst the 80mm version costs around $680 / £550 and the 65mm Regal is available for about $500 / £320 and would be the one which I would highly recommend.

 

Cheap Spotting Scopes for Astro and Terrestrial use:

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 Spotting Scope

Levenhuk Blaze 30-90x90 Spotting ScopeEven though it only has a price tag of only $220 / £200 and even though it does not quite match a top end and very expensive instrument, I was impressed with both the quality of the exterior as well as the internal optics on this Levenhuk scope.

What is more, the fact that it has fully multi-coated optics (multiple coatings on ALL glass surfaces) and a very large 90mm objective lens, it means that not only does this scope collect more light than smaller instruments, but more will get transmitted to your eyes than those with fewer coatings on only some of the glass surfaces.

Added to this the more powerful and included 30x-90x zoom eye-piece may also appeal to stargazers looking for a little further reach.

One last thing that may interest you is the fact that it comes with an included table-top tripod, which I thought was of a good standard and if positioned on a fairly low table, combined with the angle of the eye-piece can make for quite a comfortable position to look up towards the heavens.

Main Features

  • Large 90mm Objective Lens
  • Water & Fog Proof
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • BaK-4 Roof Prism
  • Supplied 30-90x Eyepiece

Shopping BasketPrice Range
As mentioned earlier at the time of writing, the Levenhuk Blaze 30-90×90 scope costs around $220 / £200, which I think makes for excellent value for money:

 
 

More Options

Below are some scopes that I have not reviewed, but to me look like a good option within your budget and definitely worth placing on your shortlist:

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80 Spotting Scope

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 Spotting ScopeWhilst I have not had the chance to test the spotting scope, I have used the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars, which were excellent.

The Legend Ultra HD Spotting Scope matches many of the optical components and coatings as that of many scopes much more expensive than these and as such I really do think they are worth considering.

Main Features

  • 80mm Objective Lenses
  • 2-speed dual focus wheels
  • ED prime extra-low dispersion glass
  • RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • BAK Prisms

Shopping BasketPrice Range
With an RRP of of over $830, they are now available in the US for around $450 and as such these Bushnell Spotting Scopes offer American shoppers excellent value for money. In the UK they are currently available from about £580 with the 50mm version for just under £500 – Check Amazon for latest prices – link below:

 

Nikon ED Fieldscopes

Nikon ED50 Angled FieldScopeThe range of Nikon Fieldscopes is excellent and whilst their flagship EDG fieldscopes are above your budget, their second tier ED fieldscopes are just within range and still contain many of the high end features of the EDG:

Main Features

  • 85mm, 82mm, 60mm or 50mm Objective Lenses (choose the larger ones if you want better results at night)
  • ED (Extra-low Dispersion) objective lens
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Fully multilayer-coated lenses
  • Compatible with 9 different eyepieces

Shopping BasketPrice Range
In the US, the Nikon ED50-A Angled FieldScope costs about $430 and in the UK it currently costs around £330, which I think offers great value for money for this compact and lightweight scope. However the smaller 50mm objective may put you off if astronomy is really important to you. Other size models are available from around $600 / £700 – Check Amazon and other online retailers for latest prices – link below:

 

Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope

Vortex Diamondback Spotting ScopeNot readily available in the UK, however for US shoppers, the Vortex Diamondback looks to be one of the best mid range spotting scopes about.

Available with either 60mm or large 80mm objective lenses (which is what you should go for if you intend to also look at the stars) they come in either a straight through or 45° angled eyepieces with a 20 – 60x magnification.

Main Features

  • 60mm or 80mm Objective Lenses
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Vortex Proprietary XR Anti-Reflective coatings

Shopping BasketPrice Range
As I mentioned, I have not yet seen these in the UK, but in the US, the 60mm Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope costs approx $400 and the 80mm version now costs around $500 – Check Amazon and other online retailers for current prices – link below:

 

I hope that I have been able to adequately answer your question. If not, please feel free to get hold of me again. It would also be great to hear which scope you do decide to opt for and to get some feedback on how well you get on with it.

Further Reading:

Have A Question For Me?Need Some Scope Advice?

If you have any questions regarding a spotting scope or indeed anything on optics that I have not covered on this website, I would love to try and help. Send me your question here.






Best Tripod for Large Spotting Scopes

I recently received a question from someone looking to pair their large 82mm spotting scope with a tripod:

Question IconQuestion: Best Tripod for Large Spotting Scopes

I purchased the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A spotting scope because of your review.
I live in the mountains of the Ozarks here in Arkansas and the scope will mainly be used at home in the living room looking out several miles from a stationary position.

I never noticed in your review a recommended Tri-pod could you give a few suggestions please.

Answer

Firstly than you very much for the question and I hope that you are happy with your purchase. As I pointed out in my review, I think that the Vanguard Endeavor HD scopes are excellent, especially when compared to others in their class.

Which Tripod?
Vanguard ABEO Pro TripodHowever as you will have seen with their high magnification levels you really do need to have a steady base to work with to get a steady view and thus the best out of them.

Also and as with most large 80+mm scopes, you would have noticed that they are quite heavy as well as long, thus it is no good getting a flimsy and/or cheap tripod as they just wont be up to the task to holding the scope steady and in position.

I personally currently use and indeed highly recommend the Vanguard ABEO Pro 283CGH Tripod, which I have written a review on (just follow the link), so wont repeat myself here.

Made from carbon, it has weight advantages over metal ones, but is not the cheapest tripod in the world.

As you say you will be using your scope from a stationary point in your home, so weight is not a huge issue, so you could also look at metal versions which apart form being heavier, are generally as good in all other areas (they are probably a little stronger as well).

I used the very similar, but much cheaper Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod for many years (indeed I still have it as a backup). Whilst it is heavier, it to is excellent and more than up to holding a full sized scope like the Eandeavor ED.

Me using the Vanguard GH-300T Pistol Grip & a Spotting Scope

Me using the ABEO Pro 283CGH Tripod & GH-300T Pistol grip with the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope

Just a quick side note, for those concerned with weight and size, but who have a tighter budget, I also recommend taking a look at a travel tripod like the Benro Travel Angel 2 Tripod.

Tripod Heads
I also highly recommend using a pistol grip tripod head like the very good Vanguard GH Series, however other brands like Manfrotto also make very good ones, that you can also look at. The main reason I like using them as opposed to a more traditional pan handle or ball head is that it just makes aiming your scope so much quicker and more intuitive.

Note: The latest Vanguard GH-300T Pistol Grip comes with the ABEO Pro 283CGH Kit and you can read about it in my review of the tripod (link above), however you can just purchase the tripod on it’s own and then select another head if you wish.

I hope this helps and I am sorry that I cannot include a whole range of tripods for you to consider as I am sure there are many, many others out there that are as good as these, however I can only give recommendations based on tripods that I have actually used myself.

 

Question Have a Question?

If you have a spotting scope, or general optics question that you would like me to try and answer for you and I have not already covered it on the site, then you can Contact Me Here.






New Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO Spotting Scope Announced

Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO Spotting Scope

May 2014

About SNYPEX, LLC
Based in the US (New York), Snypex sports optics produce a range of mid to high end Sport Optics including spotting scopes, binoculars, accessories for digiscoping and laser range finders. More Info: About Snypex Optics.


It has not been long since the announcement of the new Knight ED binocular series, but Snypex LLC have now just also announced the release of their Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO (20-60x80mm) Spotting Scope which as the name suggests uses high end Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) fluorite glass within their 80mm APO (Apochromatic Lens). Designed to correct color fringing by eliminating chromatic aberration, it is said to produce an image that is true to life with incredible clarity and color accuracy.

Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO (20-60x80mm) Spotting ScopeMain Features & Highlights

  • Large 80mm Objective Lens
  • 20-60x Included Eyepiece
  • Apochromatic Lenses
  • Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass
  • Bak4 prisms
  • Duel Speed Focussing Mechanism
  • Waterproof & fogproof (Nitrogen Filled)
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Weight 2.083kg
  • 16-25mm of Eye-Relief
  • FOV: 78.5ft – 57.6ft @ 1000yds.

The Snypex Knight T80mm ED-APO (20-60×80) Spotting Scope has a straight through body design that is O-ring sealed and filled with nitrogen making them both water and fogproof. The included zoom eyepiece offers magnifications from 20x to 60x and the twist-up eyecup allows for a generous 25-16mm of eye-relief.

This Snypex spotting scope has a dual speed focusing mechanism that has a low gear of 1:10 to make fine-focusing more accurate.

Snypex also offer have a number of adapters for digiscoping and the Knight T80 also comes with a portable and convenient soft carry bag.

Reviews

Shopping BasketPrices & Where To Buy

The Snypex Knight ED Spotting Scope is currently available at $949.00 USD – As it is still very new, I have only thus far seen it listed on Amazon or they can be purchased directly from the Snypex website:

 

Snypex Knight T80mm ED APO Spotting Scope

 

Related Articles

 





Customer Favorites & Highest Rated Spotting Scopes

Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope

Whilst doing some research as to which spotting scope I should consider reviewing next for BSSR, I decided that a good place to start would be to take a look at which seem to be the most popular by those who actually own one.

A way to do this is to take a look at the highest rated ones with the best comments and customer reviews on the websites that sell them. However this can sometimes be tricky as you cannot always be sure that the "customers" comments and ratings on some websites are indeed from real customers. But there are a few optical webstores that I do trust like Eagle Optics that post customer comments and ratings and I figure that those that have the most ratings will contain more from genuine customers and thus will drown out those that are not, making the "fake" ratings less of a factor in the overall result.

I have decided to publish what started out as some research for myself as I felt that this would also make a great short-cut for some who want to quickly find the most popular/best spotting scopes out there.

Highest Rated & Most Reviewed Scopes

Below are the top three most popular and highest rated scopes at Eagle Optics – what this means is that they have all been rated and reviewed by genuine Eagle Optics customers, have average rating of 5/5 and are in order of the amount of reviews and ratings:

  Vortex Razor HD Spotting Scope Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope Swarovski ATS HD Spotting Scope
  Vortex Razor HD 85 Kowa TSN-883 Swarovski ATS 65 HD
Average Rating 5/5 5/5 5/5
No. Reviews & Ratings 32 11 7
Rec. Price $2000 $2725 $1877
Current Price $1600 $2100 $1690
Objective Lens 85mm 88mm 65mm
ED Glass Lens Yes Yes Yes
Anti Reflection Coatings Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Prism Glass Bak-4 Bak-4 Bak-4
Body Material Magnesium Magnesium Magnesium
Dual Focus Wheel Yes Yes Yes
Interchangeable Eyepiece Yes Yes Yes
Supplied Eyepiece 20-60x Not Included Not Included
FOV @ 20x 117ft wide @ 1000yds    
FOV @ 60x 60ft wide @ 1000yds    
Eye Relief 20mm    
Weight 65.7oz (1863g) 54.7oz (1551g) 39.9ozs (1131g)
Dimensions ? 34cm long 33cm long

 

Other Highly Rated Customer Favorites

I have also selected a few scopes below that caught my eye, like those three of the best above, these have all been rated and reviewed by genuine Eagle Optics customers more than 5 times and have an average rating of more than 4/5:

  Pentax PF-80 ED Spotting Scope Zeiss DiaScope 85 T FL Spotting Scope Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope
  Pentax PF-80 ED Zeiss DiaScope 85 T* FL Vanguard Endeavour HD82A
Average Rating 5/5 5/5 4/5
No. Ratings 32 6 5
Rec. Price $1332 $2666 $860
Current Price $999 $2400 $580
Objective Lens 80mm 85mm 82mm
ED Glass Lens Yes Fluorite Glass Yes
Anti Reflection Coatings Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Prism Glass Bak-4 Bak-4 Bak-4
Body Material Magnesium Magnesium Magnesium
Dual Focus Wheel Yes Yes Yes
Interchangeable Eyepiece Yes Yes Yes
Supplied Eyepiece 20-60x Not Included 20-60x
FOV @ 20x 93ft wide @ 1000yds   110ft wide @ 1000yds
FOV @ 60x 49ft wide @ 1000yds   52ft wide @ 1000yds
Eye Relief 18-22mm   19mm – 20mm
Weight 65.8oz (2149g) 52oz (1474g) 63.8ozs (1809g)
Dimensions 41cm long 35cm long 38cm x 18cm

 

Shopping BasketWhere to Buy & View Reviews

To read all the customer reviews in full written on these as well as all the other customer favorites at Eagle Optics, follow the link below:

To compare prices of these and other scopes at a range of on-line retailers in the UK and the US, take a look at the where to buy spotting scopes link below:

 

 

Further Reading:






Current Offers on Zeiss Spotting Scopes

Zeiss Victory DiaScope Spotting Scope

Current Offers – May 2017

Stars n StripesEx-Demo & Open Box Zeiss DiaScope Spotting Scopes

In the US, Eagle Optics have a selection of open box and ex-demo Zeiss Victory DiaScope Spotting Scopes available and on offer at a significant price reductions:

Examples:

Below are some examples of the savings that you can expect:

Zeiss DiaScope 85 T* FL Angled Spotting Scope

  • List Price: $2,666.66
  • Current Retail Price: $2,399.99
  • Ex-Demo Model: $1,899.99 (Save 22%)

Zeiss DiaScope 85 T FL Angled Spotting ScopeThis 85mm angled Zeiss scope comes with many field leading features including the highest quality fluorite glass and a dual speed focus incorporated within a single knob that automatically adapts the precision and fast focus to your needs.

Main Features

  • Fluorite Glass
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • Zeiss LotuTec Lens Coating that repels water and residue on outer glass surfaces
  • BaK-4 Prisms
  • Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Dual Speed Focus
  • Waterproof & Fogproof

Where To Buy:

 

Zeiss DiaScope 65 T* FL Angled Spotting Scope

  • List Price: $2,111.10
  • Current Retail Price: $1,899.99
  • Ex-Demo Model: $1,449.99 (Save 31%)

Zeiss DiaScope 65 T FL Angled Spotting ScopeThe 65mm Zeiss Victory DiaScope has all the same features as the 85mm version above, but because of it’s smaller objective lens is far lighter and compact making it ideal for those looking for a scope that they can more easily transport and carry about in the field.

Main Specifications

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 65mm
  • Close Focus: 13.1 feet
  • Weight: 39.0oz
  • Length: 11.8in

Where To Buy:

 

Cost & Where to Buy

To check out these and other offers as well as compare prices take a look at the links below for online retailers in both the US and the UK:

UK – Zeiss Scopes


Zeiss Scopes at Wex Photographic


Further Reading






Vanguard Endeavour HD 82A vs Celestron Regal M2 80ED

celestron-vs-vanguard

The question this week comes from a reader looking to get their first spotting scope, which they want to use for both wildlife observation and for digiscoping, but cant choose between two:

Have A Question For Me?Question:

I´m going to buy my first scope for wildlife watching and digiscoping, after reading hundreds of reviews, including yours. I´m considering buying one of these two, the Vanguard Endeavour HD82A or the Celestron Regal M2 80 ED.

I know they are very similar but I will really appreciate if you told me which one you considerate best, thank’s for your advice and time.


Answer

Great question and it can always be difficult to decide which to get once you have narrowed your shortlist down to a few options, but I have found the best way is to go through and compare the main features and specifications of each side by side:

Right Spotting Scopes for Digiscoping?

First off, I would just like to add that you have narrowed your choices down to two great scopes, both of which should work very well for both wildlife observation and for digiscoping.

Indeed both Vanguard and Celestron make digiscoping adaptors specifically for use with these scopes:

For vanguard, look out for their PA series of camera-spotting scope adapters that can be purchased separately. The PA-202 Digiscoping Adaptor works with the Endeavor HD (65A/65S/82A/82S) & Endeavor XF (60A/60S/80A/80S) Spotting Scopes.

Whilst Celestron include a T-adapter ring with the Regal M2 80 ED that you can easily attach to a 35mm or DSLR camera.

Another thing I would like to mention is that whilst I have fully tested and reviewed the Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope, I have not had the opportunity as yet to use the Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scope, but I have used and written a full review on the similar Celestron Regal 100 F-ED, so in this instance, I will assume that the overall quality is about the same.

  Celestron-Regal-M2-80ED-Spotting-Scope Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope
  Celestron Regal M2 80ED Vanguard Endeavour HD82A
Objective Lens 80mm 82mm
ED Glass Lens Yes Yes
Anti Reflection Coatings Fully Multi-Coated Fully Multi-Coated
Prism Glass Bak-4 Bak-4
Body Material Magnesium Magnesium
Dual Focus Wheel Yes Yes
Interchangeable Eyepiece Yes Yes
Included Eyepiece 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece
FOV @ 20x 110ft wide @ 1000yds 110ft wide @ 1000yds
FOV @ 60x 52ft wide @ 1000yds 52ft wide @ 1000yds
Eye Relief 20mm 19mm – 20mm
Weight 56.7oz (1607g) 63.8ozs (1809g)
Dimensions ? 38cm x 18cm

As you can see for the table above, these two scopes are very, very similar in almost all aspects, making it very difficult to choose between them.

Objective Lens Size / Aperture

One difference between the two is the size of their objective lenses.

Other than increasing the size and weight (an to a lesser extent the price), a bigger diameter objective lens diameter is usually a good thing.

This is because this larger aperture can capture more light and thus potentially deliver more light to your eyes and thus produce a brighter image. During the day and in good light the difference between the two will probably not be at all noticeable, especially as the quality of the optics and the coatings between the Vanguard Endeavor 82A and Celestron Regal 80 is very similar.

However in poor light and especially when using the scope for digiscoping, the slightly larger lens on the Vanguard will be a very slight advantage, but as the difference is so small, I would not worry too much about this.

Body Size & Weight

Celestron don’t list the dimensions of their Regal M2 ED Spotting Scopes, but as they weigh a little (approx 200g) less than the Endeavor 82A and as they have a smaller objective lens, I would guess that it is a little smaller or at the most the same size as the Vanguard. What ever the case I these two are very similar again and there really is not much to choose between them.

Price

The Vanguard Endeavour HD 82A
had an original price of around $860 in the US, but can now be found for around $530. Whilst in the UK they now cost about £650:

The Celestron Regal M2 80ED
has a list price of $899.95 in the US, but is now available for about $700. Whilst in the UK they were initially sold for £750 and now cost about £650:

Conclusion

It is unfortunate that I have not used the Celestron Regal M2 Spotting scope, so I can’t comment on the view through through them, but even if I had, my guess is that it would be very similar to that of the Vanguard Endeavor HD, which was excellent.

I would say the only ways of choosing to these two very evenly matched optics is either by choosing which you like the most of, which brand most appeals to you or if it was me, I would go with which was selling at the best price where you are.

Further Options

Whilst I know that you are already having a tough time deciding between these scopes above, I have decided to add a spanner into the works by pointing out a few other similar ones that I feel may also be worth considering. Like the others, if you spot any at a discount or on a special deal that may be what swings it for you:

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60×80 Spotting Scope

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 20-60 x80 Spotting ScopeThe Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Spotting Scope matches many of the optical components and coatings as that of the scopes above and because of this, they may also be worth taking a closer look at.

Main Features

  • 80mm Objective Lenses
  • 2-speed dual focus wheels
  • ED prime extra-low dispersion glass
  • RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
  • Fully Multi-coated Lenses
  • BAK Prisms

Shopping BasketPrice Range
With an RRP of of over $830, they are now available in the US for around $450 and as such these Bushnell Spotting Scopes offer American shoppers excellent value for money. In the UK they are currently available from about £580 with the 50mm version for just under £500 – Check Amazon for latest prices – link below:

 

Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope

Vortex Diamondback Spotting ScopeTo me the Vortex Diamondback looks to be very similar to the Vanguard & Celestron above and like those two Vortex have a great reputation of producing an excellent value for money product which is why this looks to be one of the best mid range spotting scopes about there at the moment.

Available with either 60mm or large 80mm objective lenses they come in either a straight through or 45° angled eyepieces with a 20 – 60x magnification.

Main Features

  • 60mm or 80mm Objective Lenses
  • Water & Fogproof
  • Vortex Proprietary XR Anti-Reflective coatings

Shopping BasketPrice Range
As I mentioned, I have not yet seen these in the UK, but in the US, the 60mm Vortex Diamondback Spotting Scope costs approx $400 and the 80mm version now costs around $500 – Check Amazon and other online retailers for current prices – link below:

 

I hope that I have not confused you even more, but would also like to assure you that I am sure that whichever one you do decided to go with, you will not be disappointed with the result. They are both excellent scopes in this price range and come with many of the high end components and features on scopes far more expensive than these.

Further Reading:

Have A Question For Me?Have a Spotting Scope Question?

If you are looking for some advice or if you have any questions regarding a spotting scope or indeed anything on optics that I have not yet covered, I would love to try and help. Ask your question here.






Current Offers on Vanguard Endeavor Spotting Scopes

The Vanguard Endeavor HD 82A Spotting Scope

Current Offers – May 2017

$50 Main-In Rebate on Vanguard Endeavor Spotting Scopes

To celebrate the recent introduction of the new Endeavor HD and Endeavor XF spotting scopes, Vanguard are currently offering a very generous $50 mail in rebate on all models in these two series.

In my recent review of the 82mm angled version of the Vanguard Endeavor, one of the conclusions I came to was that this top notch scope offered great value for money and that was before I considered the discount!

How & Where To Get The Rebate

All you need to do is:

  1. Purchase a qualifying VANGUARD scope from a participating retailer (see links below) before the 31st December 2013
  2. Fill in the official Vanguard Rebate Form, which you can download here or find it on the participating retailers website.
  3. Post the completed form, including a copy of your receipt from the purchase as well as the UPC bar code from the packaging to Vanguard USA. The Address is on the form and it must be postmarked by January 31, 2014
  4. Vanguard say that you can expect your rebate check in the post within 60 days

About the Scopes

Vanguard Endeavor HD Spotting Scopes

Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting ScopeAvailable in two sizes with either the large 82mm objective lens for maximum light gathering or the more compact 65mm version. Both sizes are also available in either straight through or angled eye-piece body shapes, giving a total of 4 different models in the Endeavor HD series.

All models come with premium grade ED glass lenses, fully multi-coated optics and phase corrected BaK-4 roof prisms.

Body highlights include a 100% waterproof and fogproof body made from magnesium, detachable 15-45x or 20-60x zoom eyepiece (depending on the size) and duel focus wheels for coarse and fine focussing.

Reviews:

 

Vanguard Endeavor XF Spotting Scopes

Vanguard High Plains 580 Spotting ScopeCheaper than the Endeavor HD scopes and apart from the ED glass, the XF still contains many of their other important features:

You get fully multi-coated optics and phase corrected BaK-4 roof prisms and a rubber armored magnesium body that is submersible and nitrogen charged for fogproofing.

The variable zoom eyepiece gives you a magnification range of 15-45x on the 60mm models and 20-60x on the 80mm versions.


 

Cost & Where to Buy

These rebates are available from the following retailers in the US. I ave also included links to Vanguard Scopes for those in the UK:


Further Reading






New Swarovski ATX / STX spotting scopes

I recently had the pleasure of testing and reviewing the excellent Kowa Telephoto Lens Scope that enabled super telephoto shooting (350mm, 500mm or 850mm) with an SLR camera, but could also be used as a spotting scope. The then unique modular design meant there were no compromises either as a spotting scope or when being used as a telephoto lens and swapping between is both quick and relatively painless.

Swarovski Modular ATX/STX Spotting Scopes

Swarovski Optik have now just announced their own similar version – the modular ATX/STX spotting scopes, available through specialist Swarovski Optik dealers from September 2012.

Swarovski use an interchangeable modular ocular and objective system. With two eyepiece modules, angled (ATX) or straight (STX) and three objective modules that come with objective lens diameters of 65, 85 and 95 mm, it effectively means that in total there are six different spotting scopes to suit most peoples digiscoping and spotting scope requirements.

The benefit of this system is you can mix and match and only purchase the parts (modules) that you need. So if for example need a compact scope for hiking and a large diameter one to stay at home or for the hide, you no longer have to purchase two full scopes, only 1 ocular system and two objective systems.

The other big advantage is that when you break them down and split them apart it makes the scope far more compact to carry or store away and all without compromising durability or optical performance.

I like the look of the body of both the angled (ATX) and straight STX scopes and because they come with the zoom and focusing rings right next to each other, Swarovski Optik say you can very quickly focus on an object and zoom to the desired level with just one hand. This is great for fast moving subjects that don’t stay still for long – like birds.

As you would expect from Swarovski, the ATX/STX spotting scopes come with extremely high quality optical components and coatings, which are said by the company to produce an image that has never before been achieved by a spotting scope.

These optical features include the use of field flattener lenses to produce an image with razor-sharp clarity right up to the edge, without the need for constant refocusing. They also come with HD lenses (made from High Density glass) that provide rich contrast, and exceptional color fidelity. These scopes also come with and all of SWAROVSKI OPTIK’s top end coatings, which include SWARODUR, SWAROTOP, and SWAROCLEAN.

Other optical features of the Swarovski ATX/STX spotting scopes include a wide field of view and extended eye relief meaning that a full field of view without any vignetting is easy to obtain even when wearing glasses.

Digiscoping

When using the scope as a lens for digiscoping there are two options and Swarovski have adapters made especially for the new ATX/STX scopes depending on the type of camera that you use:

1) DSLR Cameras
The TLS-APO slides right over the eyepiece module and comes with a built-in 30mm pancake camera lens that was developed as a complete system to be combined with the ATX/STX spotting scopes. The Swarovski TLS APO makes it easier than ever take photos with your DSLR camera through the Swarovski ATX or STX modular scope as all you need to do is attach your camera body and T-ring (sold separately) to the TLS APO and use the included DR-X sleeve to slide it over the scope eyepiece, and you are ready to start digiscoping.

2) Compact Cameras
The Swarovski DCB II Swing Adapter is designed to be used with most compact digital cameras and is basically a re-invention of the digi-scoping adapter, and have taken all of the best aspects of the original DCB and UCA adapters. The DCB II is now much slimmer and has a far more user-friendly design and function and it is now quicker than ever to go from observation to digiscoping, meaning you have a far better chance of capturing the best images possible.

Main Specifications

ATX/STX 25-60×65 ATX/STX 25-60×85 ATX/STX 25-70×95
Ø65mm Ø85mm Ø95mm
Magnification 25-60x 25-60x 30-70x
Effective objective lens diameter (mm) 65 85 95
Exit pupil diameter (mm) 2,6-1,1 3,4-1,4 3,2-1,4
Exit pupil diameter (mm) 20 20 20
Field of view (m/1000 m / ft/1000 yds) 124-68 ft
41-23 m
124-68 ft
41-23 m
104-57 ft
35-19 m
Field of view (degrees) 2,37-1,30 2,37-1,30 1,98-1,09
Field of view for spectacle wearers (degrees) 2,37-1,1 2,37-1,3 1,98-1,0
Field of view, apparent (degrees) 57-71 57-71 57-71
Shortest focusing distance 6.91 ft / 2,11 m 11.8 ft / 3,6 m 15.7 ft / 4,8 m
Diopter correction at ∞ (dpt) > 5 > 5 > 5
Light transmission (%) Gesamtprodukt 86 86 86
Objective filter tdread M 67 x 0,75 M 87 x 0,75 M 97 x 0,75
Lengtd approx. (mm/in) Angled view 13.3 in
339 mm
14.6 in
372 mm
16.8 in
426 mm
Straight view 14.4 in
367 mm
15.7 in
400 mm
17.9 in
454 mm
Weight (g / oz) Angled view 55.9 oz
1585 g
67.4 oz
1910 g
75.8 oz
2150 g
Straight view 57.8 oz
1640 g
69.3 oz
1965 g
77.8 oz
2205 g
Focal lengtd with TLS APO* (mm) 750-1800 750-1800 900-2100
Functional temperature -13 °F to +131 °F (-25 °C / +55 °C)
Storage temperature -22 °F to +158 °F (-30 °C / +70 °C)
Submersion tightness 4 m (13 ft) water deptd (filled witd nitrogen)

 

ATX / STX Video Demonstration

Below is a great video produced by Swarovski Optik video that goes over some of the main highlights and features of the ATX / STX spotting scopes:

 
 

Cost & Where to Buy

The Swarovski modular ATX / STX spotting scopes will not be available until later on in the year, but Eagle Optics currently have them listed on their site and I think you make be able to pre-order them from there, but I am not sure. Eagle Optics are also a good place to start if you want to get idea of the current prices of the complete system, separate modules and digiscoping adapters for the ATX/STX system:







Review: Vanguard Pistol Grip Ball Heads

Vanguard GH-200 professional pistol grip ball head

Using a Vanguard Pistol Grip Ball Head with a Spotting Scope

I have been using the Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head for over a year now for normal photography with a camera, digiscoping and observation with a spotting scope and I have to say that it is one of my favourite pieces of kit. Because of it’s success, Vanguard have now brought out a new version, the GH-200 professional pistol grip ball head, which apart from a few tweaks looks and works the same as the GH-100. So I thought it was about time that I wrote a review on them and hopefully explain just why I love using the Vanguard pistol grip with a spotting scope.

Ball Head – Fast and Flexible

Most people probably use a pan-tilt head to attach their spotting scope to a tripod which, with a spotting scope is easier to use than a ball head. But tilt heads do not have as much flexibility of movement as that of a ball and socket joint that allows movement of all axes of rotation from a single point and you have to operate a number of different levers, which in the heat of the moment can seem to take an age to get your subject lined up.

Flexibility of the Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball headIf you ignore the pistol part on the Pistol Grip Ball Heads, the design is basically that of a ball head – this means that you get all the flexibility and speed of a traditional tripod ball head, but with the added bonus of having a far quicker and much more intuitive way of aiming your spotting scope or camera which means that it takes you far less time to get your subject into the field of view.

Speed
Whilst a traditional ball head gives you plenty of freedom of movement, adjusting them when aiming, especially with heavy equipment like a camera with a telephoto lens or a spotting scope can take a bit to get used to which is not ideal for things like spotting fast moving birds.

One of the things that I really love about these Vanguard pistol grips is that you get all this free movement with just the squeeze of the trigger and then you aim, and once in position you release. This is very quick and unlike 3-way pan heads for example with all their arms and knobs, it is just so intuitive making it far simpler as well.

The speed at which you can get your scope or camera into the right position can’t be over stressed as I can’t tell you how many times in the field I have missed viewing or taking a shot of a bird because of the time it took to get it into the field of view.

Flexibility
This ball head allows you to swivel your scope around an axis of 360° (panning) as well as tilt it 90° forwards to look directly at the ground, -8° upwards into the sky as well as tilt it about 35° to the right and 90° to the left (useful for taking portrait shots with a camera).

The fact that it can only allow you to tilt your scope -8° upwards into the sky is one of the few disadvantages of using one of these Vanguard Pistol Grip Ball Heads, but fear not as there are few ways you can get around this limitation:

Solution 1
One way is to rotate the grip to the far side of the scope – this has the effect of reversing the head meaning that it will now tilt only 8° forwards towards the ground and a full -90° directly upwards into the sky. The down side to this method is that the grip is now backwards and facing you which does make using it a little more awkward.

Using the Vanguard Pistol Grip Ball Head backwards to aloow you to look upwards

Solution 2 – the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT TripodAnother way to get around this is if you combine the GH-100 or GH-200 with one of the excellent Vanguard Alta Pro tripods like the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod that I use. These tripods have a Multi-Angle Central Column System that enables you to move the central column of the tripod in pretty much a complete circle around the legs – from 0 to 360 degrees meaning that you can have the central colum at an angle making it possible to point the pistol grip and your scope high into the sky. (see image below)

Using the rotating Central Column on the Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod to allow you to Look upwards

The hand grip itself can also be rotated around the ball head, this I guess would suite different peoples preferences, for awkward viewing angles and for comfort. I must say though that for the most part, I only really use the grip in the default upright position.

Panning with the Vanguard Pistol Grip360° Panning

Another nice feature is the 72-click point panorama that enables you to rotate your scope or camera around a 360° plane making it easy to track a subject or take panoramic shots. To operate it you just unlock a lever on the side of the head and your scope will rotate in steps of 5°’s.

Strong Enough?

Both the GH-100 and the GH-200 Pistol Grip Ball Heads have a maximum loading capacity of 13.2lbs (5.9kg) which is more than enough to comfortably take most spotting scopes without any creeping or slipping. For example when I reviewed the large 100mm Celestron Regal 100 F-ED Spotting Scope that weighs 5.6lbs (2.5kg), I used it with no problems at all and it was as sturdy as you like.

Friction Control SystemThese grips have a “Friction Control System” which makes for easy adjustment as it is adjusted via a dial behind the grip which then allows you to change the level of friction on the ball depending on the weight of your spotting scope or camera. For even faster tracking you can completely loosen it, enabling you to change the direction of your scope without even having to pull the trigger, yet your scope is still pretty safe, because you are holding it with the hand grip.

Once the dial is completely tightened, your scope is very sturdy and locked into place – To change direction now, all you have to do is pull the trigger and aim.

Quick Shoe

Like all good tripod heads, these Vanguard Pistol Grip Ball Heads come with a quick shoe that screws into your spotting scope, this is then clicked into the head. It has a safety button that has to be pressed before you can remove your scope, preventing accidental release and damage.

Size & Weight

The GH-100 weighs in at 1.65lbs (0.75kg) and the GH-200 is a slightly heavier 0.8kg’s – so there is no there is no getting away from the fact that these tripod heads are neither compact or light and so may not be ideal if you are after a very lightweight and compact set-up. For me the ease of use and flexibility more than make up for the extra bulk and weight in most scenarios.

Conclusion

I have to admit that I love the Vanguard GH-100 and if I did not already have one, I would get the newer GH-200. I review many pretty cool pieces of kit, but this was so good that after reviewing it I went out and bought one for myself.

The intuitive way it works and the speed at which you can aim your scope are real highlights, which for me far outweigh their extra weight and bulk. Combining it with the Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod which then allows me to easily point the scope high into the sky also really helped to get over one of the issues that it has with only being able to tilt 8° upwards.

Cost and Where to Buy