Kowa Spotting Scopes

Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scopes

Established in 1894, Kowa have grown into becoming the 5th largest trading company in Japan and have a presence in the world's three largest markets, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

In 1952 the Electronics and Optics division of Kowa began producing quality spotting scopes designed to be used in shooting events and were the official spotting scope used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. It was not long after this that they were discovered by bird watchers and today Kowa spotting scopes are one of the most popular optic brands in the world for both observation and digiscoping.

>The Kowa Spotting Scope Range

Kowa have one of the widest ranges of scopes available and produce scopes in 6 main sizes with 88mm, 82mm, 77mm, 66mm, 60mm and 50mm objective lens diameters. Each size forms part of a series and are available in either angled or straight body designs. 

Kowa Prominar Scope
You will often see the Prominar brand name used with their high end spotting scopes, this is because on some models Kowa use the very high spec XD Lenses from Prominar for a higher optical performance.

In all Kowa have 20 spotting scope models, most of which are sold as "body only" and eyepieces are purchased separately. 


>Kowa Telephoto Lens / Spotting Scope

Kowa Telephoto Lens ScopeUnlike digiscoping where you are converting a spotting scope for the use of photography, the Kowa telephoto lens is for super telephoto shooting (350mm, 500mm or 850mm), that can also be used as a spotting scope. This means that you can use this high-performance telephoto camera lens as a spotting scope as well. This is achieved by simply connecting it to the optional prism unit and eyepiece using a bayonet mounting system, making the switch between photography and observation a fairly quick simple operation.

What is more, the Kowa Lens/Scope is smaller, weighs less and is cheaper than the equivalent "standard" SLR telephoto lenses on the market. For more details:

Reviews
Read my full review of the Kowa Telephoto Lens / Spotting Scope.

Price Range
Whilst the Kowa TP556 Telephoto Master Lens that comes with a TX10-C 500mm f5.6 Mount Adapter may cost more than many other top of the range spotting scopes, you must remember that this is essentially a high quality super telephoto lens that costs MUCH less than what many other SLR telephoto lenses do and you can also use it as a spotting scope for pure observation. For this reason I think it will appeal more to the person looking for a large telephoto lens for photography, rather than someone looking for a scope to do the occasional "digiscoping" with:

Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scopes>Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scopes

The TSN-880 series of spotting scopes from Kowa is their flagship range and all four models have the very large 88mm objective lens.

The 88mm objective lens diameter does not only have excellent light-gathering qualities even at high magnifications, but the fluorite crystal lenses in the Kowa TSN-883 and TSN-884 models almost eliminate color fringing (chromatic aberration), one of the major causes of deterioration of viewing quality and so dramatically improves resolution and contrast.

The focussing knobs on the Kowa TSN-883 Spotting ScopeEven though these Kowa scopes have large objective lenses, they are as light and compact as possible. Their body's are manufactured from a magnesium alloy that is much lighter, yet still maintains the same feel and strength of a traditional metal body. Whist their telephoto lens design using 5 lens elements in 4 groups has managed to shorten the length of the scope without sacrificing optical performance.

All Kowa TSN-880 Spotting scopes are waterproof and have been filled with dry nitrogen gas to make them fogproof, an important feature especially in places where there is high humidity or rapid temperature changes.

The duel focusing mechanism is another excellent feature of these Kowa TSN Scopes, in that the one wheel permits you to quickly focus from near to far in only two revolutions, whilst a second wheel is used for fine tuning your focus. Other features include an eyepiece locking mechanism on their bayonet mount that prevents it from accidentally falling off and a brass insert on the tripod mount that allows you the freedom to secure the scope to both 1/4 and 3/8 inch tripod mounts.

Model Kowa TSN-881 Kowa TSN-882 Kowa TSN-883 Kowa TSN-884
Angled Straight Angled Straight
Objective
Lens Diameter
88mm 88mm 88mm 88mm
Lens Type High Grade Normal High Grade Normal Fluorite Crystal Fluorite Crystal
Minimum
Focusing Distance
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
Length 343mm (13.5in) 329mm (13.0in) 343mm (13.5in) 329mm (13.0in)
Weight 1520g (53.6oz) 1520g (53.6oz) 1520g (53.6oz) 1520g (53.6oz)
Filter Diameter 95mm 95mm 95mm 95mm
Digiscoping Compatible yes yes yes yes

TSN-880 Eyepieces
There are three Kowa eyepieces that are compatible with all the scopes in the TSN-880 Series, the TE-10Z (20-60x zoom), TE-17W (30x wide) and the TE-20H (25x LER - long eye relief). For more take a look at this section on Kowa Eyepieces.

Digiscoping with Kowa TSN-880 Spotting Scopes
The large 88mm High Grade and Fluorite Crystal lenses make these the best spotting scopes in the Kowa range for digiscoping especially if you want to get the sharpest image possible. You can use all four models in the TSN-880 series to digiscope with. For more take a look at this section on Digiscoping with Kowa Spotting Scopes.

Reviews
Read my full review of the Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope.

Price Range
Make no mistake these are extremely high quality spotting scopes, and as such expect to pay top dollar, but as they say: "you often get what you pay for" and here you are getting the very best.



Kowa TSN-774 Spotting Scope> Kowa TSN-770 Spotting Scopes

Very similar to the 88mm versions, the TSN-770 series of spotting scopes from Kowa consist of 4 scopes, two angled and two straight that combine high performance optics, with smaller 77mm objective lenses in a light and compact body.

Rather than using Kowa's fluorite crystal lens like in the TSN-880 series, the two top of the range scopes in this series, the TSN-773 and TSN-774 use Kowa's 77mm Prominar XD Lens that also have excellent low dispersion properties that diminish chromatic aberration to improve resolution as well as contrast.

The body's of the TSN-770's are manufactured from a magnesium alloy that is much lighter, yet still maintains the same feel and strength of a traditional metal body and all Kowa TSN-770 Spotting scopes are waterproof and have been filled with dry nitrogen gas to make them fogproof, which is an important feature especially in places where there is high humidity or rapid temperature changes.

The duel focusing mechanism is another excellent feature of these Kowa TSN Scopes, in that the one wheel enables you to focus quickly from near to far in only two revolutions, whilst a second wheel is used for fine tuning your focus. Other features include an eyepiece locking mechanism on their bayonet mount that prevents it from accidentally falling off and a brass insert on the tripod mount that allows you the freedom to secure the scope to both 1/4 and 3/8 inch tripod mounts.

Model Kowa TSN-771 Kowa TSN-772 Kowa TSN-773 Kowa TSN-774
Angled Straight Angled Straight
Objective
Lens Diameter
77mm 77mm 77mm 77mm
Lens Type High Grade Normal High Grade Normal Prominar XD Prominar XD
Minimum
Focusing Distance
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
Length 318mm (12.5in) 304mm (12.0in) 318mm (12.5in) 304mm (12.0in)
Weight 1330g (46.9oz) 1330g (46.9oz) 1330g (46.9oz) 1330g (46.9oz)
Filter Diameter 82mm 82mm 82mm 82mm
Digital Camera
Adapter Compatibility
yes yes yes yes

TSN-770 Eyepieces
There are three Kowa eyepieces that are compatible with all the scopes in the TSN-770 Series, the TE-10Z (20-60x zoom), TE-17W (30x wide) and the TE-20H (25x LER - long eye relief). For more take a look at this section on Kowa Eyepieces.

Digiscoping with Kowa TSN-770 Spotting Scopes
Digiscoping is possible with all scopes in the TSN-770 series. For more take a look at this section on Digiscoping with Kowa Spotting Scopes.

Price Range



Kowa TSN-663 Spotting Scope> Kowa TSN-660 Spotting Scopes

There are 4 scopes in the TSN-660 series, all with 66mm objective lenses that Kowa say have more than 120% the light gathering capability of a scope with a 60mm lens.

All prisms and lenses are fully multi-coated and the two high end "Prominar" models (TSN-663 & TSN-664) come with XD Objective Lenses that have excellent low dispersion properties reducing chromatic aberration to improve resolution as well as contrast.

As well as improved light gathering ability when compared to 60mm scopes, the body's of the TSN-660's are the same length and only weigh slightly more at around 1kg (36oz) making them really easy to carry and handle.

Model Kowa TSN-661 Kowa TSN-662 Kowa TSN-663 Kowa TSN-664
Angled Straight Angled Straight
Objective
Lens Diameter
66mm 66mm 66mm 66mm
Lens Type Normal Lens Normal Lens Prominar XD Prominar XD
Minimum
Focusing Distance
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
Length 311mm (12.2in) 312mm (12.3in) 311mm (12.2in) 312mm (12.3in)
Weight 1010g (35.6oz) 990g (34.9oz) 1040g (36.7oz) 1020g (36.0oz)
Filter Diameter 72mm 72mm 72mm 72mm
Digiscoping Compatibility yes yes yes yes

TSN-660 Eyepieces
There are four Kowa eyepieces that are compatible with all the scopes in the TSN-660 Series that are usually sold separately, the TE-9Z (20-60x zoom), TE-14WD (30x wide), TE-9WD (45x wide) and the TE-17HD (25x LER - long eye relief). For more take a look at this section on Kowa Eyepieces.

Digiscoping with Kowa TSN-660 Spotting Scopes
Digiscoping is possible with all scopes in the TSN-660 series. For more take a look at this section on Digiscoping with Kowa Spotting Scopes.

Price Range



Kowa TSN-603 Spotting Scope> Kowa TSN-600 Spotting Scopes

The TSN-600 series scopes weigh less than 26oz (745g) and this combined with their compact body make them very easy to handle and carry with you. Within this series there are 4 scopes, two angled and two straight and all with 60mm objective lenses.

All prisms and lenses are fully multi-coated and the two high end "Prominar" models (TSN-603 & TSN-604) come with XD Objective Lenses that have excellent low dispersion properties reducing chromatic aberration to improve resolution as well as contrast.

Model Kowa TSN-601 Kowa TSN-602 Kowa TSN-603 Kowa TSN-604
Angled Straight Angled Straight
Objective
Lens Diameter
60mm 60mm 60mm 60mm
Lens Type Normal Lens Normal Lens Prominar XD Prominar XD
Minimum
Focusing Distance
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
Length 299mm (11.8in) 299mm (11.8in) 300mm (11.8in) 300mm (11.8in)
Weight 735g (25.9oz) 720g (25.4oz) 745g (26.3oz) 730g (25.7oz)
Filter Diameter 67mm 67mm 67mm 67mm
Digital Camera
Adapter Compatibility
yes yes yes yes

TSN-600 Eyepieces
All scopes in the TSN-600 series use the same four Kowa eyepieces as the scopes in the TSN-660 Series that are usually sold separately, the TE-9Z (20-60x zoom), TE-14WD (30x wide), TE-9WD (45x wide) and the TE-17HD (25x LER - long eye relief). For more take a look at this section on Kowa Eyepieces.

Digiscoping with Kowa TSN-600 Spotting Scopes
Digiscoping is possible with all scopes in the TSN-600 series. For more take a look at this section on Digiscoping with Kowa Spotting Scopes.

Price Range



Kowa TS-501 20-40x zoom Spotting Scope> Kowa TS-500 Spotting Scopes

The three TS-500 Series scopes all have 50mm objective lenses, that make them incredibly light at 400 grams (14 oz.) as well as compact. This has the advantage of making them easier to carry when hiking or trekking, adding extra enjoyment to outdoor activities. They are also extremely useful in shooting, archery, and other sporting events.

Model TS-501 20X TS-501 ZOOM TS-502 20X TS-502 ZOOM TS-504
Angled Angled Straight Straight Straight
Objective
Lens Diameter
50mm 50mm 50mm 50mm 50mm
Minimum
Focusing Distance
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
6m
(6.6yds)
5m
(5.5yds)
Length 255mm (8.9in) 245mm (9.6in) 235mm (9.3in) 265mm (10.4in) 275mm (10.8in)
Weight 385g (13.6oz) 420g (14.8oz) 380g (13.4oz) 410g (14.5oz) 430g (15.2oz)
Filter Diameter - - - - -
Digiscope Compatible No No No No No

TS-500 Eyepieces
The eyepieces are included (fixed mount) with these scopes:

  • TS-501 - 20x (Angled)
  • TS-501 - 20-40x Zoom (Angled)
  • TS-502 - 20x (Straight)

Digiscoping with Kowa TS-500 Spotting Scopes
Please note you cannot digiscope with any of the scopes in the TS-500 series.

Price Range




>Where to Buy Kowa Scopes:

 


>>Featured Kowa Scopes

Below are a few featured Kowa Binoculars: View >> All Kowa Scopes reviewed


Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope

Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope

The highest quality optical elements and coatings enclosed in a very light, compact and waterproof body that produces an extremely good image to make this scope one of the very best.

Aimed at serious birders, general wildlife observation, target spotting even occasional astonomy, the Kowa TSN-883 is ideal for anyone who wants the the highest quality scope without any compromises.


Kowa Telephoto Lens Scope

Kowa Telephoto Lens Scope

Two products in one! Use the Kowa Telephoto Lens/Scope as a high quality telephoto camera lens & as a dedicated spotting scope.

The Kowa TP556 Telephoto Master Lens can be attached to a camera using one of three adapter mounts for 350mm, 500mm or 850mm super telephoto shooting, or use the Prism Adapter to use the lens as a straight spotting scope.

View >> All Kowa Fieldscopes reviewed on The Best Spotting Scope Reviews website.

 


Kowa Spotting Scopes on Amazon:


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>Kowa Eyepieces

TSN-880 and TSN-770 Series Eyepieces
For the greatest flexibility, Kowa have 3 interchangeable eyepieces that are compatible with all their TSN-880 and TSN-770 spotting scopes: The TE-10Z (20-60x zoom), TE-17W (30x wide) and the TE-20H (25x LER - long eye relief) eyepieces.

All three eyepieces have a new multi-coating to increase the light transmission through the lenses and prevent the loss of light. The eyepieces are also completely waterproof and filled with dry nitrogen gas making them like the scopes fogproof as well.

   
Model   TE-10Z TE-17W TE-20H
Magnification   20 - 60X, ZOOM 30X, WIDE 25X, LER
Real Field of View   2.2°- 1.1° 2.4° 2.1°
Exit Pupil TSN-880 4.4 - 1.5mm 2.9mm 3.5mm
TSN-770 3.9 - 1.3mm 2.6mm 3.1mm
Relative Brightness TSN-880 19.4 - 2.3 8.4 12.3
TSN-770 15.2 - 1.7 6.8 9.6
Eye Relief   17 - 16.5mm 20mm 32mm
Field of View at 1000m   38.4 - 19.3m 41.9m 36.7m

TSN-660 and TSN-600 Eyepieces
There are four Kowa eyepieces that are compatible with all the scopes in the TSN-660 and TSN-600 Series, the TE-9Z (20-60x zoom), TE-14WD (30x wide), TE-9WD (45x wide) and the TE-17HD (25x LER - long eye relief).

The wide and long eye relief eyepieces are waterproof when mounted on the scope. You can also get a converter (TSN-EC3) that will allow you to use these eyepieces on any of the TSN-880 or TSN-770 spotting scopes

Buy & Compare Prices for Kowa Eyepieces

Shop In the USAKowa Eyepieces on Amazon.com

Shop In the UKKowa Eyepieces on Amazon.co.uk



>Kowa Digiscoping

Connecting a digital camera to most scopes in the Kowa range is very simple using one of their specially designed camera adapters.

Kowa Camera Adapters
Kowa Optik currently have a whole range of adapters that allow you to attach your DSLR camera or Compact Digital camera to their spotting scopes:

  • Kowa TSN-DA4 Universal Camera Adapter - for cameras without filter threads
  • Kowa TSN-DA1 Digital Camera Adapter - For TSN-660/600 Series
  • Kowa TSN-DA10 Digital Camera Adapter - For TSN-880/770 Series
  • Kowa TSN-VA2B Photo & Video Adapter
  • Kowa TSN-VA3 Photo & Video Adapter
  • Kowa TSN-PZ - Photo Attachment for Digital SLR Camera
  • Kowa TSN-PA6 - Photo Attachment for Digital SLR Camera

Available Downloads:


>Kowa Binoculars

Whilst Kowa are probably best known for their Spotting scopes, Kowa have now also established themselves amongst birders and nature lovers with their excellent range of Kowa binoculars which are very highly regarded.

Popular Kowa Binoculars:
The Prominar Genesis line of binoculars which are also known as Kowa XD Binoculars that contain the Genesis XD44 Binoculars (8.5x44 and a 10.5x44) and the new Genesis XD33 Binocular Series (8x33 and a 10x33) are intended to challenge the high end manufacturers of binoculars including Zeiss, Leica, Swarovski and Nikon.

  • Kowa Genesis XD 8.5x44 Binoculars
  • Kowa Genesis XD 10.5x44 Binoculars
  • Kowa Prominar Genesis XD 8x33 Binoculars
  • Kowa Prominar Genesis XD 10x33 Binoculars

Kowa Fluorite Crystal

Fluorite, which is also called fluorspar is a widely occurring mineral composed of calcium fluoride and is sometimes used instead of glass in some high performance telescopes and camera lens elements.

It is found in large deposits in England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Mexico, Canada. and Kenya, however the fluorite used in lenses is an artificially made monocrystal. This is to ensure that it does not contain any impurities, or emit fluorescence when heated or exposed to ultraviolet rays and is is chemically stable.

Fluorite can be easily scarred and because it takes the form of a monocrystal with the shape of a regular octahedron, it can easily be chipped. Therefore great care is required as well as highly advanced processing techniques when grinding and polishing such a crystal into a lens and that is why is fluorite is only used in the very best telescopes.

Kowa Fluorite vs Standard optical glassBenefits
Color fringing or chromatic aberration as it is known is one of the major causes of deterioration of viewing quality in telescopes. The degree of refraction of light changes according to the color (wavelength). The degree of such refraction is known as 'dispersion'. The focal length of a lens varies slightly according to color, generating a red or purple blur along the outline of an image. Normally, combinations of two or more types of optical glasses with different dispersion properties are used to compensate for one another and reduce color blur. Even so, this blurring cannot be completely eliminated even when using high quality optical glasses.

Fluorite however has an outstanding feature of very low dispersion that cannot be found in optical glass and is the key to eliminating color fringing. This characteristic enables Kowa to eliminate color blur almost completely, which dramatically improves resolution and contrast. As a result, subtle colors and shapes of wings of wild birds, slight changes in color of dark objects set against back lighting, bright star clusters, or details of the moon or planets can be observed as clear and sharp magnified images.


Kowa XD Lenses

Some of Kowa's Scopes that don't use fluorite crystal, use their XD lens. ED lenses have been developed as an alternative to the fluorite crystal that also have extra low dispersion qualities. Whilst XD lenses may not be as effective as pure fluorite crystal ones, they can reduce chromatic aberration a large amount when compared to standard optical glass. With some manufacturers, the word "fluorite" is sometimes used to mean optical glass containing fluorite component (fluorite glass) rather than pure fluorite crystal. Kowa's XD lens is made of this fluorite glass, but not called fluorite lenses because Kowa only use the name "fluorite" in their pure fluorite crystal lenses.


> Kowa Catalog Downloads


>Kowa Contact Details

Electronics & Optics Division
4-14 Nihonbashi-honcho 3-chome,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8433, Japan
Tel: 81(3)5623-8062
Email: info@kowa-prominar.com

Kowa Optimed. Inc
20001 South Vermont Ave.
Torrance, CA 90502
Tel: 310-327-1913 / Fax: 310-327-4177
Email: kowa-usa-info@kowa.com 

Kowa Europe GmbH
Immermannstrasse 43B
40210 Duesseldorf, F.R. Germany
Tel: 49(211)1793540
Email: Scopes@Kowa-Europe.com