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Scope Help

Started by waxing gibbous, 03/06/2010 06:16AM
Posted 03/06/2010 06:16AM Opening Post
After many fun-filled years of deriding "Twitchers", I've just realised that I know the difference between a Gang-Gang Cockatoo and a Galah, between a Splendid Fairy Wren and a bog-standard Fairy Wren.
Worse, I enjoy knowing. It might even be said that I have become, to my shame, a 'person who likes watching birds' and their behaviour.
I will accept this and add it to my long list of borderline anti-social idiosyncrases.
To this end:
Can anyone of my new fellows recommend a decent spotting scope in the $200-300 range, with a 12/15-36/45 mag'n (any higher and I'd just use a t'scope). The choices out there seem more prolific than 'real' telescopes.
It should be:
Rubber armoured (I'm pretty clumsy and the terrain here is quite steep)
60mm min (most birds here are crepuscular, so low-light performance is important)
As sharp and as well corrected as any sub $500 scope could be
Have a decent close-focus distance for which I'm willing to trade ultimate magnification as we have quite a few 'socialized' birds visiting that come within 10- 20ft.

Thanks for your input,

12" GSO Dob., Meade 102 APO, 13x50 Binos
Tak, Tel & Pent EP's
Portamaount of pain, HeQ5
Posted 04/02/2010 10:05AM | Edited 04/02/2010 10:06AM #1
I have used a William Optics Z66SD for bird/nature photos. It's pretty small and light for an astronomical scope. It has the disadvantage that you have to focus manually but it's light enough and of short enough focal length you can use it hand held (no tripod).

It has 66mm aperture and 388mm FL.

This is with the WO Z66SD and a Canon Rebel using a tripod:

This is using the Z66 hand held. Note the resolution and note I can use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the propellors. These were _not_ taken at an airshow. The planes were just flying overhead (the airshow was about 10 miles away).

The criteria it doesn't fulfill is that it's not rubber coated/waterproof.

Drew S.
Posted 04/03/2010 05:39AM #2
As Drew said, consider the WO 66sd. I have been doing the bird thing for about 10 years, once I got a small refractor, it was a natural.

With a spotting scope in your price range, the optics are going to be marginal, definely achromaticwith pretty basic eyepiece performance. And typically close focus will be greater than 20 feet. With a small astro scope, you get better optics and you can focus as closely as you wish, using an extension if need be.

The astroscpe is not waterproof, that might be an issue. It is not rubberized, you might make a cover...

Posted 04/13/2010 08:16AM #3

I think I've got just the thing for you. Check out the Pentax 65ED. What's great is it accepts telescope eyepieces. You save right there. It comes angled or straight through. I recommend the angled (regardless of what brand you decide on).
Pretty light weight at about 37 oz.

It think it's still the cheapest ED glass spotter out there. Four years ago I paid $450 for the body. It may be slightly (!) more now.

Here's a review-