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Old Jun 19, 2004, 1:38 PM   #1
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I bought a used CP990 to give digiscoping a try and now would like to read more on the different scopes that are well thought of. Some of the material I have found seems to be rather dated. What are the best sources on info on current scopes and what are the best online scope vendors? Thanks.
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Old Jun 19, 2004, 3:24 PM   #2
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It depends on your budget. The "favorite" of the majority of digiscopers who want the best in both optical characteristics and rugged portability is generally the Swarovski HD series. Some use the ST models, some like the AT models. The AT and ST are identical in optical characteristics but the ST is a straight scope and the AT has a 45 degree bend at the eyepice. Personally I like the ST because I find it easier to locate the subject, but others seem to do quite well using sights like the one sold by EagleEye which work quite well.

In addition to the Swarovski, the Kowa, Pentax 80 and Leica 77 APO models are also popular. All these are rugged field scopes with various degrees of waterproof and weatherproof housings.

If your budget doesn't support over $1000 for the scope itself, the Celestron, Meade, etc. astro telescopes (mirror types) make dandy spotting scopes and digiscoping tools in good weather and when care is taken to not drop or abuse them because they are much more fragile. In addtion to my Swarovski ST-80 HD, I also use the Meade ETX-90.

As for where to buy, again this depends on your geographical location. B&H in New York City has pretty good deals on Swarovski, and a web search will find you excellent deals on Celestron and Meade telescopes. You can usually pick up an older model Meade ETX-90 (without computerized tracking) for around $200 or even less U.S. dollars. Swarovski HD models have a MSRP of around $1600 but can be found for around $1300 with a 20x-60x zoom eyepiece. Usually you will want to purchase an additional eyepiece to fit the camera such as the William Optics 24mm DCL-28 or one or more of the ScopeTronix models whch have 28mm threads tomate tothe Nikon filter threads. The Pentax 80 can usually be found for around $1000 as can the Leica, with the Kowa models a bit less. Kowa sells more in Europe and has many more dealers there than in the US.

Swarovski requires a $65 adapter to use the 1.25" astro-type eyepieces such as the William Optics DCL-28 or the ScopeTronix models. The Pentax can use the 1.25" barrel eyepieces directly. Leica requires an adapter which you can purchase from Leica. It's quite possible to shoot through the provided eyepieces, but you get much better zoomback range with the specialized eyepieces mentioned above.

Lin
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Old Jun 19, 2004, 6:38 PM   #3
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Thanks I appreciate the information. Why does it seem that the standard for these better scopes is a 20-60x zoom eyepiece when a fixed 20x or 30x is preferred for the photography? Also you did not mention Zeiss, which I have heard mentioned elsewhere. I am curious why you use both the Meade and the Swarovski? Is their difference in optical quality very obvious?I would think the angled scopes might be a bit easier to hang a camera on. Thanks.
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Old Jun 19, 2004, 7:22 PM   #4
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I suspect that the 20x-60x is more or less a "standard" because the scope makers are not yet terribly interested in the digiscoping market and 20 to 60 makes an ideal range for a field spotting scope used by bird watchers, hunters, etc.

The Zeiss may work well for digiscoping, but has little popularity among digiscopers. Perhaps it's the cost versus perfomance issue - hard to say, but the consensus is that to date nothing beats the Swarovski for digiscoping and that all the less expensive scopes (less expensive than Zeiss) are close in performance and no real advantage at all to the Zeiss so why pay more.

The most popular cameras for digiscoping are the little CP series Nikons (CP800, 900, 950, 990, 995, 4500) and most have swivel lenses so that having the 45 degree eyepiece which makes for very convenient spotting scope viewing is unimportant because you simply swivel the LCD to a convenient viewing angle rather than having the eyepiece at the convenient angle. Having the straight scope makes it a bit more convenient, at least in my experience, to find the subject with high magnification. There are those who prefer the angle AT model and it's more of a "preference" thing than a necessity one way or the other.

I also like to do celestial photography and having a motorized tracking makes it possible to do things which are not possible with the Swarovski. The Meade is a 90mm objective with a longer focal length than the Swarovski (1250mm versus 460mm) so there are advantages for celestial viewing.

As far as image quality is concerned, there is no essential difference. The Meade provides an incredibly sharp image with zero chromatic aberration (none above that introduced by the camera itself) and is easily removed from the yoke assembly of the motorized tracking assembly by removing four screws. The Mead has dual tripod mounts on the barrel itself, so makes a dandy spotting scope. If it's raining, snowing, etc., you can easily get fogging with the Meade - that won't happen with the Swarovski which is an all weather instrument.

Best regards,

Lin
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Old Jun 22, 2004, 8:56 PM   #5
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Yes I have a CP990 just for this application but the selection of a scope has me bogged down. I just ran acrossa review that suggests the Televue 85 is the scope to lust after, at a high price point. Atprices less than the Swarovski there is the Zeiss 85. Some reviews have been favorable to the Zeiss and I have talked to people who digiscope with it.It seems I could go with an astro scope, or spend more and get the Pentax 80, or spend moreand getthe Zeiss 85, or spend moreand getthe Swaro... or go totally crazy and get the Televue.

http://birds.cornell.edu/programs/Al...eview2002.html

http://www.betterviewdesired.com/bigscopes/index.html


Where can I find the best online price on the Swaro?
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