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.
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.
|ATX/STX 25-60×65||ATX/STX 25-60×85||ATX/STX 25-70×95|
|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
|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
|Straight view||14.4 in
|Weight (g / oz)||Angled view||55.9 oz
|Straight view||57.8 oz
|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: