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Thread: Which spotting scope?

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    Default Which spotting scope?

    Looking to spend $500.00 on a spotter scope.
    Which of these three do you think is better?
    Cabelas big sky 20-60--66
    Cabelas Alaska guide- 20-60--70
    Nikon XL II 16-48--60

    Lets say weight and length are not an issue.
    -Cutty

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    Default well...

    Quote Originally Posted by cutty View Post
    Looking to spend $500.00 on a spotter scope.
    Which of these three do you think is better?
    Cabelas big sky 20-60--66
    Cabelas Alaska guide- 20-60--70
    Nikon XL II 16-48--60

    Lets say weight and length are not an issue.
    -Cutty

    Cutty, add $99 bucks to your $500 amount and get the Pentax 65 From Doug, and don't look back!


    Frank

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    Smile for what it's worth...

    Quote Originally Posted by cutty View Post
    Looking to spend $500.00 on a spotter scope.
    Which of these three do you think is better?
    Cabelas big sky 20-60--66
    Cabelas Alaska guide- 20-60--70
    Nikon XL II 16-48--60

    Lets say weight and length are not an issue.
    -Cutty
    I would look beyond what you have listed. I really think you can get a lot more scope for the money you want to spend. Get in touch with Doug at Cameraland and tell him what you want the sope for, your price range and what you were thinking. If you can scratch up and additional $100 I would not be surprised if he put you on a Pentax. By the time you pay shipping on any of the above, you will be at the same price. Doug will take good care of you and ships for free!

    The Pentax scope I am referring to is the PF 65 ED series. You will get a good clear image, but not entirely out to the edges of the scope. If you are willing to give another $150 or $200, you can jump up to the PF 65 ED II series and IMO you get a lot more scope...image is clear to the edges of the scope, similar to a Swaro 60mm series (not the same class of optics, but some would argue that both ways).

    Oh...and the eyepiece is what makes the scope! Hit up Snyd for detailed information on that. He has posted a ton of information on the above scopes on this very forum. Do a search for the scopes and you will have lots of info at your eyes!

    You can visit cameraland here.

    Good Luck!

    -Buck

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    Default

    I too am thinking about spending the same, thanks for the info, and the thread Cutty

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    Default which eye piece?

    Looking at the Pentax PF65ED.
    Which eye piece between the 8.5-46 or 20-60?
    Do you ever go above 45-50 zoom?
    -Cutty

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    Pentax makes 2 zooms. The XF Zoom - 6.5-19mm which gives 20-60 X on the PF 65 scope. The other zoom is the BIG (as in 19oz and the size of a can of soup) and is an 8-24mm zoom which gives 16-48x on the PF 65 scopes. The big zoom is the Pentax flagship zoom and has a reputation of being one of the best zooms made. It is best used on th 80 and 100mm scopes. It's really to big for the nice little compact PF 65.

    I would say don't buy either one! Just get the scope body and get one or two fixed power eyepieces. The nice thing about the Pentax scopes is that they accept standard 1.25 inch astronimical eyepieces giving you the option of hunderds of eyepieces. Pentax made astro eyepices long before they made scopes. The Pentax XW series EP's are the best on the planet, along with Meade. Check out some of the astro forums and you will see.

    The Pentax XW14mm eyepiece gives a superb view on the PF 65. It is 28x but is so crisp and clear and stable that it will blow you away. Plus it is a whopping 70 degree field of view! As opposed to 40 or 60 at best on most high end zooms. A fixed power eyepiece will ALWAYS give a better image than a zoom. It's just the nature if things. The XW's are spendy but worth it.

    Pentax also makes the XF eyepieces that are superb and will give a better image than any zoom. They weigh about 5ozs each. The XW14 weighs about 13ozs

    You can get the XF 12mm that will give 32.5x and the XF8.5mm that will give 46x. You can get both of these for about 300 bucks and have a scope that will rival any of the expensive euro glass for only around 800bucks. Plus the scope and eyepices are waterproof.

    I have the XW14mm and the XF 8.5 for when I think I need higher power. The XW resolves detail so good at 28x that the XF at 46x doesn't give much of an advantage. It makes the image larger but does not bring out any more detail. Under certain conditions it is great but under other conditions it's unusable. The higher mag increases mirage, tripod vibration, etc. I used both on my sheep hunt this year.

    I would say buy the PF65 ED II in either straight or angled along with either the XW14 (28x) or the XW10 (39x)and go from there. OR both XF eyepieces. One XW will run you the same price as 2 XF's. If you can't afford all that tha just get the scope body and the XF 12mm eyepiece for starters and you can always get more later on.

    Ir you REALLY want a zoom than buy a Vixen 8-24mm. Lots of guys are using this combo on the PF 65 in the birding world. I'ts cheaper than the Pentax XF zoom and has better eyereleif. Buy that now and later on get an XW14. Then uyou will have the XW14 as your go to eyepiece and the zoom for when conditions may allow higher power.

    In my never ending optics quest I may sell my XF8.5mm and buy an XW7mm which would give 55x. I sure would like to see that image on th PF 65. It would be killer under the right conditions!

    Here's a great place to learn more about Pentax scopes and eyepieces.

    http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=396


    My long .02
    Last edited by Snyd; 09-22-2007 at 23:11. Reason: Typo.... It's Vixen not Vixem.
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    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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    Default Another possibility for a zoom

    This may be a real nice zoom on the PF 65. A guy would just have to buy it, try it and see if it will reach full focus on the Pentax. If not you could return it. It's a high quality wide angle astro eyepiece zoom that will give 17-52x on the PF65. Should be sweet if it reaches full focus.

    http://www.williamoptics.com/eyepiec...2_features.htm
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    Default ....and another

    The Proxima zoom is supposed to be pretty decent also.

    http://www.handsonoptics.com/ep_gto.html
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    Thumbs up excellent info, Snyd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    Pentax makes 2 zooms. The XF Zoom - 6.5-19mm which gives 20-60 X on the PF 65 scope. The other zoom is the BIG (as in 19oz and the size of a can of soup) and is an 8-24mm zoom which gives 16-48x on the PF 65 scopes. The big zoom is the Pentax flagship zoom and has a reputation of being one of the best zooms made. It is best used on th 80 and 100mm scopes. It's really to big for the nice little compact PF 65.

    I would say don't buy either one! Just get the scope body and get one or two fixed power eyepieces. The nice thing about the Pentax scopes is that they accept standard 1.25 inch astronimical eyepieces giving you the option of hunderds of eyepieces. Pentax made astro eyepices long before they made scopes. The Pentax XW series EP's are the best on the planet, along with Meade. Check out some of the astro forums and you will see.

    The Pentax XW14mm eyepiece gives a superb view on the PF 65. It is 28x but is so crisp and clear and stable that it will blow you away. Plus it is a whopping 70 degree field of view! As opposed to 40 or 60 at best on most high end zooms. A fixed power eyepiece will ALWAYS give a better image than a zoom. It's just the nature if things. The XW's are spendy but worth it.

    Pentax also makes the XF eyepieces that are superb and will give a better image than any zoom. They weigh about 5ozs each. The XW14 weighs about 13ozs

    You can get the XF 12mm that will give 32.5x and the XF8.5mm that will give 46x. You can get both of these for about 300 bucks and have a scope that will rival any of the expensive euro glass for only around 800bucks. Plus the scope and eyepices are waterproof.

    I have the XW14mm and the XF 8.5 for when I think I need higher power. The XW resolves detail so good at 28x that the XF at 46x doesn't give much of an advantage. It makes the image larger but does not bring out any more detail. Under certain conditions it is great but under other conditions it's unusable. The higher mag increases mirage, tripod vibration, etc. I used both on my sheep hunt this year.

    I would say buy the PF65 ED II in either straight or angled along with either the XW14 (28x) or the XW10 (39x)and go from there. OR both XF eyepieces. One XW will run you the same price as 2 XF's. If you can't afford all that tha just get the scope body and the XF 12mm eyepiece for starters and you can always get more later on.

    Ir you REALLY want a zoom than buy a Vixem 8-24mm. Lots of guys are using this combo on the PF 65 in the birding world. I'ts cheaper than the Pentax XF zoom and has better eyereleif. Buy that now and later on get an XW14. Then uyou will have the XW14 as your go to eyepiece and the zoom for when conditions may allow higher power.

    In my never ending optics quest I may sell my XF8.5mm and buy an XW7mm which would give 55x. I sure would like to see that image on th PF 65. It would be killer under the right conditions!

    Here's a great place to learn more about Pentax scopes and eyepieces.

    http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=396


    My long .02

    I didn't know alot of this stuff.
    Thanks for taking the time, bro.

    Frank

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    Default world of info

    Snyd, Thanks for all this great info.
    Now its which eye pieces to start with.
    The xw14 sounds great.
    If you could do it over would you still have got the xf8.5?
    Sounds like the best set-up would be the xw14, xw10, and the Vixen
    8-24mm zoom. I can't afford all that but its sounds nice.
    Let us know if you ever get that xw7, and how she does.
    If you think the xf8.5 is'nt worth it, I may go with the xw14 and the vixen.
    Then again, I don't know...
    To many choices.
    -Cutty

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    Quote Originally Posted by cutty View Post
    Snyd, Thanks for all this great info.
    Now its which eye pieces to start with.
    The xw14 sounds great.
    If you could do it over would you still have got the xf8.5?
    Sounds like the best set-up would be the xw14, xw10, and the Vixen
    8-24mm zoom. I can't afford all that but its sounds nice.
    Let us know if you ever get that xw7, and how she does.
    If you think the xf8.5 is'nt worth it, I may go with the xw14 and the vixen.
    Then again, I don't know...
    To many choices.
    -Cutty

    The XF 8.5 is a fantastic eyepiece. It gives a very crisp image, very good detail and of course 46x. I don't regret buying it. I used is a lot on my sheep hunt last year. In fact, if I would have gotten the XF 12 instead of the XW14 in the beginning I would probably be very happy with the XF12 and XF 8.5 combo. Afterall, Pentax designed these eyepieces for the PF65, 60 FOV, 18mm eye relief, superb image. Those two only weigh 10oz combined were as the XW 14 alone is 13oz. But, if I were starting over again I may just buy the scope and and try the Willim Optics zooom. It is a high quality wide angle zoom with 20mm of eye relief. It may be a fantastic compromise of cost, weight and performance. 17-52x on the PF65 and about the price of one XW eyepiece. As a zoom it may not be quite as good as fixed eyepieces but it may be more that good enough for my eyes and what I want to do. They have a 15 day return policy. You could buy it, try it and see if it reaches full focus and how the image is.

    http://www.williamoptics.com/eyepiec...2_features.htm


    You are right. So many choices.

    XW14 and XF 8.5 28x and 46x - 18ozs about $430
    XW14 and XW7 28x and 55x - 26ozs about $560 (best eyepieces on the planet)
    XW10 only - 39x - 13ozs about 280 bucks (might be a great do it all eyepices)
    XW14 and a vixen zoom - 20ozs about $430
    Only a Vixen zoom - 16-48x 10ozs about $150
    XF12 and XF 8.5 - 32x and 46x 10ozs about $300

    I don't think a guy needs to lug around an XW14 an XW10 and a zoom. the XW14 will show tremendous detail even a couple miles away in windy, hot sunny conditions. If conditions allow then a guy can use "mo powa"!!
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    Default eyepieces

    I don't own a Pentax spotter, but having recently researched this subject and purchased a spotter, I found that Pentax stated that the XF series of eyepieces were designed for the 65mm models and the XW series for the 80mm & 100mm models.......that's not to say they don't interchange, just stating what they're designed for........the XF series is not waterproof while the XW series is. I would also add that 1.25in astronomical eyepieces can be used on most brandname scopes with the purchase of an adapter.

    Joe
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    Quote Originally Posted by ovis View Post
    I don't own a Pentax spotter, but having recently researched this subject and purchased a spotter, I found that Pentax stated that the XF series of eyepieces were designed for the 65mm models and the XW series for the 80mm & 100mm models.......that's not to say they don't interchange, just stating what they're designed for........the XF series is not waterproof while the XW series is. I would also add that 1.25in astronomical eyepieces can be used on most brandname scopes with the purchase of an adapter.

    Joe
    This is sort of true. Actually Pentax has made eypieces longer than they have made spotting scopes. The current XW serires replaced the previous XL series which had been an industry standard and benchmark in the astro eyepiece world for years. Then, Pentax came out with the 80 and 100mm scopes and of course made them compatible with thier superb eyepieces which happen to be the industry standard 1.25 inch astro EP's. They also came out with the BIG 8-24mm zoom along with those scopes.

    The XF series eyepieces were designed specifically for the 65mm scopes as a lowcost, lightweight alternative to the bigger, heavier expensive XL series (at the time) eyepieces. The XF EP's have since found thier way onto many astro scopes because once again, Pantax came out with a superb eyepiece. They are small enough to use with bino viewers where as the biger XL/XW are not. Here is an in depth review on the XF 12mm.
    http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=1438

    Some of the XL/XW eyepieces are not practical to use on the PF65 (or any 65mm scope) only because it would result in too high of a magnification for a 65mm objective lense and would be unusable. Like the XW 5. It would give a magnification of 78X (390 divded by 5). 60x pushes the limits of an 80mm scope let alone a 65. In fact 55x that the XW7 will produce would probably be pushing it. I sure would like to try it though!

    Yes, you can use astro EP's on most scopes with an adaptor. The fact of the matter is that what makes a scope is the eyepiece. The swaro, leica, zeiss, and nikon zooms are superb as well but, they use propriety adaptors. Except for an early model swaro/meade astro zoom. I talked to a guy who had modified an early swaro astro zoom for his Pentax PF 65 and said it was excellent. If I can ever find one I'll snatch it up quick. What I like about the Pentax scopes is that they are as good or better than any scopes on the market but at half the cost or less. Then, put a good eyepiece on it and voila. A swaro 65 or Zeiss 65 with an adaptor and the XW14 will probably give as good an image as the Pentax PF65. But, it will cost twice as much or more for the scope body plus the adaptor. I think that what makes the swaro,leica and zeiss scopes so popular for hunters is the nice zooms. It's really NOT the scope body. I have considered the Zeiss zoom with a 1.25 astro adaptor but the adaptor alone is 125 bucks! and the zoom is about 500.

    According to the Pentax brochure the XW AND XF eyepieces are JIS Class 4 weather proof:
    XF
    • Designed for use with our 65mm scopes.
    • High-refraction, low-dispersion lanthanum glass
    elements to provide high-resolution images with
    minimal aberrations.
    • PENTAX-original smc full-surface multi-layer
    lens coating to improve light transmission efficiency.
    • Advanced computer simulation design technology
    was used to drastically reduce internal reflections
    producing brighter, clearer images.
    • JIS Class 4 weatherproof construction make these
    eyepieces more durable and water resistant.
    • Worry-Free Warranty.


    XW
    • Improved 70 degree field of view for easier viewing.
    • Fully multi-coated lenses increase light transmission
    and color quality.
    • High-refraction, low-dispersion lanthanum glass
    elements deliver bright, high-resolution images
    with minimal aberrations and distortions.
    • Advanced computer simulation design technology
    was used to drastically reduce internal reflections
    producing brighter, clearer images.
    • JIS Class 4 weatherproof construction make these
    eyepieces weather resistant and more durable.
    • Long eye-relief for viewing with or without glasses.
    • Worry-Free Warranty.
    Last edited by Snyd; 09-25-2007 at 12:44.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cutty View Post
    Looking to spend $500.00 on a spotter scope.
    Which of these three do you think is better?
    Cabelas big sky 20-60--66
    Cabelas Alaska guide- 20-60--70
    Nikon XL II 16-48--60

    Lets say weight and length are not an issue.

    -Cutty

    I just caught this. In that case go buy the Pentax PF80ED with the Big SMC Zoom from Doug at Cameraland for $849 and don't look back!!! Then go set it up next to a 2000-2500 dollar Swaro or Zeiss and see how good of a deal you made!

    The only reason I didn't buy the 80 was becauses of the size and weight. Maybe someday I'll pickup a 80 or 100 scope body on ebay if I find a good deal. I can then use my existing ep's on it.


    http://www.betterviewdesired.com/Pen...ting-Scope.php
    Last edited by Snyd; 09-25-2007 at 12:46.
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    Default body?

    It's interesting that the only question Pentax did not answer was why their spotting scope bodies were made in 4 different factories in 4 different countries; Viet Nam, Phillipines, China, & Japan..........could be the reason so many birders have found them to be inconsistent.

    It is true, sort of, that the eyepiece makes the scope.......might want to mention proprietary lens coatings, hand laying up of some crucial internal areas of scope bodies(Zeiss 85), how the glass is ground, who does the grinding, polishing, etc.

    Before you compare that Pentax 80 to Swaro & Zeiss, you might want to wait for the unveiling of the Leica 82......

    Add the XW8-24 Pentax zoom to your 65mm and it'll weigh almost as much as a Swaro 80mm/20-60 all up.......according to factory specs. That Pentax eyepiece weighs 19.4oz.(according to factory specs) hardly something a sheep hunter wants to haul around.

    Last time I looked, Better View Desired still had the Swaro ATS 65HD as the scope at the top.

    I've also noticed that a lot of the "birder" reviews are dated, some over five years, so the Pentax inconsistencies may have been corrected as well as the cracked graphite bodies on some Kowas, and problems w/Leica due to bad lubricant causing seal problems. A very recent complaint happens to concern Zeiss......rumor has it that all high end optics are being shipped back to Germany for warranty work........taking long periods getting optics back to the customers......Zeiss won't deny this either, so far.

    While eyepieces are very important, they're not going to give you Big 3 performance and quality for half price.

    One thing I noticed about the birding forums, just like hunters, you see the three magic words, "on the cheap." Not going to happen w/optics.

    Joe
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    Oh for a Zeiss 85! Even though it's big it's not THAT big and it's not too heavy, 54ozs I think with the EP. But it's 2 grand +, youch! Ya, you're right about that Pentax SMC Zoom. Too big for the little 65, defeats the purpose. But the XW balances nicely on it. I sure would like to see Pentax get more out of the XF zoom or atleast get the SMC zoom down to a reasonable size and weight like the big 3 zooms.

    My PF 65 EDA II says made in Japan right on it as well as the XW and XF eyepieces. I suppose with all the cheap labor in China and other places in Asia it's just a matter of time before most things are made there. I wonder if the new 63 is made in China? It's a differnt target market anyway. Not in the same league.

    I just always come back to value. The Pentax scopes are hard to beat in that respect. For most all but the most dicerning user a comparable Pentax along side a big three scope there is not much difference. When you factor in cost that tips the scale way in favor of the Pentax. No doubt the big 3 are excellent but are they twice as good optically as a comparable Pentax? I don't see it with my eyes.

    I would argue that one CAN get big 3 performance at almost half the cost with Pentax becuase the cost difference is not that Pentax makes an inferior product, it's that production costs, the euro, the brand name and other factors drive the cost of the Big 3 up to where, in my opinion they are WAY overpriced. Also, the Pentax XW ep's on the same scope as any fixed power big 3 EP's will come down to nothing more that personal preference.

    Leica 82. I bet that will be one nice scope with one nice price tag to boot. I compared my Nikon Monarch 800 rangfinder to AlaskaCubs Leica CRF 1200 this august and man, the optics in the Leica blow it away. Which it should for twice the price.

    I am still hoping that we can get together sometime in Fairbanks here for an optics comparison. It would be great to get a bunch of different optics together side by side. Then we could also see how individual eyes and personal preferences come in to play.


    Perry
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    Default value

    I had a Swaro 80AT..........tough like a boat anchor........I gave it to a young sheephunter this year.........less than 3 months ago, shopping around on the web, I found, several, new in box, AT80/w20-60 zoom for less than $1100.00 shipped........$300 more for HD......that's value........I just bought an ATS80(non HD w/20-6-eyepiece), off the web, from a dealer, for less than the 100mm Pentax shipped........I'm retired on a very fixed income.......I should have kept the AT80.........the ATS80 is my first angled spotter & I love it.......optically it's the same, ergonomically it's much better.......the Zeiss is heavier(Zeiss states 59oz) than the Swaro(45-46oz.) and only tenths of an inch shorter........according to factory specs.

    You may get Big 3 performance from some but it won't last........no Pentax, Nikon, Opticron, Olivon, Kowa, Fujinon, etc. would keep the edge of that AT80 I gave to the young hunter...initially they might, but over the long haul....not gonna happen........I'm talking about using a spotter more than 10 days a year, too. Value vs. Quality is always a conversation starter.

    I still have a Burris spotter that was my first spotter......I keep it as a reminder of how long I saved and did without for the top of the line optics.......it fogged and leaked as soon as the weather forecast read partly cloudy......served a purpose though.

    But, we all have our individual priorities, eh?

    I don't believe the initial post asked anything about Pentax or the Big 3, eh?

    Sorry 'bout that, cutty.

    Joe
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    Wow, what a deal. Are those the swaros that had the 1.25 zooms? Ya, last summer a gal in Anchorage had a Zeiss 85 on craigs list for 1000 bucks! I missed that one.

    Funny how these threads kind of morph. I tend to be too long winded so I'll let this thread get back on topic.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

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