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Thread: Spotting Scope For Sheep

  1. #1

    Default Spotting Scope For Sheep

    I need a spotting scope for an upcoming sheep hunt in the Brooks Range. I can use some advice on the top 3 brands, power, objective size, zoom range, and most importantly-Angled or Straight? Any help from you guys that have been there would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    I prefer the angled myself. Much easier on my neck. Plus you can sit and look up on the mountainside like my friend in this pic with my Pentax. If money, size and weight are no object then go for the big dog Pentax 100mm! Just kidding, a little too big for a sheep scope. You'll get lots of opinions on the "top 3 brands". The nice thing though is that us consumers really have a wide range of choices for high quality glass. All these companies make high quality scopes in different shapes, sizes, weights, and price ranges. Pentax, Swaro, Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Kowa, and William Optics is making their 25-75x83 SWAN APO waterproof scope now also.

    A guy really needs to find the best compromise between cost, image quality, size, weight ,magnification and probably a few others. Not mention personal preference. Figure out how much you are willing to spend and how much you are willing to carry. Don't forget, that big powerfull heavy scope will need a big heavy stable tripod also.

    Personally I don't think a guy needs to spend $1500-2500 to get a high quality spotting scope for hunting. My Pentax PF65 EDA II with the WO Zoom is 17-52 power, has an excellent image at 52x, 66 degree FOV, great eye releif, weighs 48ozs, is about 12 inches long and cost me $725.00. For ME it is a great compromise of what I mentioned above. Might not be for other guys. Lots of guys use and love the 17-45x60 Nikon Spotter and Spotter II scopes. Some guys won't touch anything but a big 20-60x80mm Swaro, Leica or Zeiss. With the exception of at dawn and dusk under low light you won't see THAT much difference between a 65 and 80mm objective lens, all else being equal. I used to have a 17-45x60 Burris Spotter which had a decent image but the eye relief was lacking for ME.

    If I were in the market for a $2000 85mm scope I'd be looking at the Zeiss 20-60x85. Fairly light and short for a scope that size.

    Have fun shopping and call Doug at Cameraland NY. He's a great guy sells lots of optics at terrific prices. I bought my Pentax from him.

    My .02

    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

  3. #3
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    Default Yukon Al,

    I've had an opportunity to use all of the top 3 manufacturers' spotters.........I personally settled on the Swarovski 80mm.....my 80mm w/Swaro zoom eyepiece weighs 48 ounces.....I finally purchased an angled model and will never again own a straight tubed model that I have to pay for..........I still don't like the focusing ring on the Swaro and it gets stiff in the cold making it harder to keep on target on higher magnification when focusing........everything else is incredible.......the big Zeiss is brilliant also and usually a bit more inexpensive....the big Zeiss has a 5mm larger objective(<fifth of an inch)....can't go wrong there........the Leica is great, extra 2mm objective diameter, and, I think, Leica make the best binos........their spotters come in a close third..... .their new models will be out in 2008 and should be stunning optically and pricewise........then come all the rest, as far as I'm concerned.......yup, they're expensive, but they're worth every penny for serious glass.

    I've never heard an owner of the three listed in this post ever say they wished their glass was almost as good as Pentax, Nikon, or others.......

    Look at them all, try them out, spend your money........I have a pair of 45 year old(or there-abouts) Zeiss binos relegated to boat duty along with a 5 year old Pentax model that was a gift from a client........client carries Leicas now......the Pentax are far and away the second choice on the boat........in all fairness the Pentax are a compact model, the Zeiss are FULL size(big & heavy)but easier to hold steady.

    Take your time, get what's right for you, all the while keeping in mind, you're sheep hunting, not birding or star gazing, unless you do those things also........ you're also making a major investment.

    I'll also mention that I use my binos way more than my spotter when sheep hunting, birding, or viewing........I'll also be using all of my glass during the Christmas Bird Count that started here last Saturday.

    Joe
    Where there's a hobble, there's hope.

  4. #4

    Default More Questions

    Thanks guys. How does that work with the eyepieces? Are they all interchangeable, and you buy the body, then you have a choice of eyepieces? This is news to me. Also, I guess I have to get up to date on tripods also. What size and fetures am I looking for? My current bino's are 8x32 Swaro's so I'll use them along with a quality spotter. I'm not loyal to any one brand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YUKON AL View Post
    Thanks guys. How does that work with the eyepieces? Are they all interchangeable, and you buy the body, then you have a choice of eyepieces? This is news to me. Also, I guess I have to get up to date on tripods also. What size and fetures am I looking for? My current bino's are 8x32 Swaro's so I'll use them along with a quality spotter. I'm not loyal to any one brand.
    Swaro, Zeiss, Leica, Kowa, Nikon, etc. use their own proprietary mechanisms for attaching the eyepiece to the scope, and of course they make zooms and fixed power eyepieces as well. Pentax scopes will take industry standard 1.25 inch astronomical eyepieces which means you have literally hundreds of eyepieces to choose from (I have a William Optics wide angle astro zoom on my Pentax.) This may or may not be an advantage to you. Pentax makes top of the line astro eyepieces as well. You can get astro adapters for Swaro, Leica, Kowa, Nikon so you can use astro eyepieces if you want. They usually run around $150 for the adapter.

    Lots of tripod options. The ultimate portable tripods are carbon fiber and will run you around $300 or more for a small one. Or, you can go clear to the other end like me and pick up a pretty decent one for $20 at Walmart like the one in the photo. It weighs 26ozs and is pretty stable. The legs splay out flat also allowing me to be able to use the scope prone. I like to be able to either sit like in the pic, or lay prone if needed, some tripods will not allow you to lay prone, they won't go low enough.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

  6. #6

    Default Old News

    Hey guys, just waded thru 3 pages of threads. Guess you guys have already answered most of my questions. Sorry! Appreciate all the great info and learned alot in the process. Hope to learn more from you guys, and maybe just buy one instead of four or five before getting it right.

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    Hey no prob. It's fun talking about this stuff. Besides, it's been 32 below and I can't go downhill skiing yet!

    Lets us know what you end up with.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and donít have one, youíll probably never need one again

  8. #8

    Default Honest Distances

    Thanks Snyd. Pentax and Swaro are the only 2 in the running. Pentax looks good for the price. Realistically, what distance will (most) of my glassing be at- less than a mile, a mile, 2 miles, etc. and what can I expect the sheep to look like with the XW14 in? Clarity, sharpness, FOV, brightness, etc. The spotter I have been using for many years is a 15x45 Leupold(Gold Ring). I know I can do better. I guarantee you guys are going to save me alot of $ and trial and error!! Thanks again.
    p.s. I'll be calling Doug after the holidays.

  9. #9
    Member Jason in Anchorage's Avatar
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    Default swaro

    I don't know if you could go wrong with any of the high end ones. They are all good products IMOP. I went with the Swaro straight eyepiece, 20-60x65 obj. Its good stuff and very clear...not too heavy. Got a small nikon tripod that I use with it.
    Psalm 18:34
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  10. #10

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    I have owned several different mid-level spotting scopes and one Big 3 (Leica Televid 62) I have looked through a Swaro and a Zeiss Diascope 85. Hands down the Zeiss Diascope 85 is my dream spotter would I be willing to spend the money, and most of all be willing to carry it. I believe that with the Big 3 you smply cant go wrong but ergonomics is different for all of us. Try em out and see what you like , then call Doug!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUKON AL View Post
    Thanks Snyd. Pentax and Swaro are the only 2 in the running. Pentax looks good for the price. Realistically, what distance will (most) of my glassing be at- less than a mile, a mile, 2 miles, etc. and what can I expect the sheep to look like with the XW14 in? Clarity, sharpness, FOV, brightness, etc. The spotter I have been using for many years is a 15x45 Leupold(Gold Ring). I know I can do better. I guarantee you guys are going to save me alot of $ and trial and error!! Thanks again.
    p.s. I'll be calling Doug after the holidays.
    Anywhere from a half mile on out to as far as you want to look.

    The XW14 give 28 power on the Pentax 65 scopes, 70 degree wide FOV. The XW eyepieces are some of the best astro ep's made. It is an excellent combo. I bought an XW14 and an XF8.5 which gives 45x and 60 degree FOV. Also an excellent view and only 5 ozs, the XW weighs 13ozs. Last year I used both eyepieces but the condition were such where I was able to use the 45x most of the time. I found that with my eyes I like the larger image of the higher power. and, at long distances (over a mile) I could see more detail if the atmosphere, etc allowed. One afternoon though with the heat and sun the XF8.5 was unusable, to much magnification, the XW 14 at 28x was perfect. Now, the XW will set you back close to 300, the xf another 150. I had been wanting to find a zoom that would give me decent eye relief, I have this overhanging brow and have trouble when some guys don't. The Pentax Xf zoom as too little er for me. It's like looking through a straw. I decided to try the WO Zoom II and found a great combo. 17-52 power, 18-20mm ER, 43-66 FOV, wide for a zoom. It resolves excellent detail at all mags. I was comparing it to the XF8.5 looking at a sign just over a mile away, There was 4 inch lettering I could not read with the xf at 45x but I could read it easily with the zoom at 52x, and, I could see as much field. 66 degrees at 52x. After comparing all three eyepieces I determined that the zoom would be a viable alternative to the other eyepieces for what I want. So, I sold the XW and the XF. Hopefully I won't regret it! Now, there is a small 1 dollar, 5 minute mod you need to make to the scope. I posted this in another thread:

    I've posted lots of stuff about the Pentax PF 65 ED A II in the Optics forum. Personally for me the XF 20-60 zoom does not work very well. Not enough eye releif (15-11mm) and fairly narrow FOV 40-60. I have the William Optics Zoom II and it is fantastic. See it here WO Zoom II 42-60 FOV 20-18mm eye relief. I also have used the Pentax XW14mm (28x) (world class and superb) and the Pentax XF 8.5mm (46x) excellent eyepiece as well.

    In order to get the WO Zoom II to reach full focus there is a $1.00 five minute mod you need to make to the scope. I posted pics and instructions here Pentax Scope Mod

    .....

    Tons of good scope info on this Birding sight forum. Birdforum.net Spotter forum I have posted extensively there regarding the PF 65 ED A II and the WO Zoom II combo. I am putting together a write up and will post it in the Optics forum at some point. It ends up being a 3lb, $700.00 17-52 power jewel. Perfect images even at 52X. No loss of clarity at all.
    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 Straight or angled?

    What type of eyepiece is best for hunting applications, straight or angled??

  13. #13
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    Default

    depends on what you are doing and what is comfortable. Using a short tripod sitting it is easier to use an angled (see the pick above). However if you had a taller tripod and could sit back a bit then a straight would probably be easier to use. Personally for sheep I will be purchasing an angled. for moose where I am sitting elevated looking down into a valley (totally oposite than for sheep) my old tasco straight scope works fine.

    Snyd- We need to talk to the folks at camera-land and see if they can set up a combo deal for this setup. Maybe provide a ODD group buy price. I think you have sold quite a few of us on it. Perhaps around feb-march tax return time. The advertising has been done for them all they need to do is cash in on it!

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    I use a 65mm HD Swarovski angled eyepeice,its great.Had a Leics APO 77 and it was a tad better but not enough for the size and weight.The Swaro is the only one that went to 60x in the smaller scopes.Leica is coming out with a new higher power 65mm scope.

    The best tripod I've found for sheep is a Velbon Ultra Maxi SF,Doug can order them.

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