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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have been on the hunt for a good spotting scope, and thought I would share my observations in case someone else is pondering it as well. Dont assume that $ will get you quality. Sometimes it will, sometimes it wont.

Yesterday I compared Zeiss 65 mm, Zeiss 85mm, Swarovski 85 mm, and Leica APO 77mm scopes, using a distant object (a pile of branches on the ground) about a mile away to compare. Back to back tests. I had a friend along, Ted, who is an optics nut, and he and I compared notes afterwards, so we wouldnt influence each other's opinion. Our observations were identical.

First, the Swarovski was a big surprise. Despite being very expensive, I removed it from the lineup almost immediately. It couldnt bring the small branches into focus, and since evaluating antlers is the goal, that scope would be useless. We were both shocked, because the swaro name gets such a lot of play.

Surprise number 2. The difference in resolution between the 65 mm and 85 mm Zeiss was not that great, despite the max power of 45 versus 60 power respectively. I could make out a bit more detail with the 85mm, but it was questionable whether the extra weight and cost would make it worthwhile. Both Zeiss scopes made the Swarovski look like a Tasco.

Next came the Leica 77 APO, compared to the Zeiss. It was no contest. The Leica blew the Zeiss's away, despite both being German glass. With the Zeiss scopes, the image resolution was good, but you had to hunt for it - we both found that we would turn the fine focus knob back and forth, searching for the focus, and sometimes it took awhile to decide you had max resolution. With the Leica, your fingers moved the knob and instantly stopped. When focus happened, it was like someone threw a switch -there was no doubt it was in focus. Very high wow factor with the Leica. Not a subtle difference, a very pronounced difference that left you thinking man oh man, how can I take this home with me. I also studied some water about a mile away, and was astonished to see it was completely covered with thousands of pintail ducks I could not see with the naked eye. I could see their markings and colorings of the drakes, and their beautiful tails.

I am still thinking on it, and dont know if I will be willing to pay the extra dough to get the Leica, but since the wow factor was there I am now spoiled. The Zeiss 65 would get my nod if I dont take the Leica, as it is a pound lighter and much less expensive.
 

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FF, do -U- think that your findings would cross

Over 2- Rifle Scopes ??? Not even sure ttthat Lieca makes a Rifle Scope. The main treason I am asking is the a Friend of mine is looking to put some Hi-End Glass on a rifle that I sold Him & He has been leaning toward the German scopes. TIA Russ.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Leica did make a rifle scope - and it was a very fine one too. I bought one from SWFA in Texas and wish now that I had several. I used one to take the antelope shown in the photo in the link. That 25-06 sendero shown consistently shoots half MOA with the Leica scope, and I have shot some groups in the 0.3 range before.

http://www.riflescopes.com/gallery/entry416.htm

But Leica no longer makes them. Too bad because they are an outstanding scope. If you ever run across one used, pounce on it.

Would the Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, comparison in spotting scopes carry over? I dont know. A field test is a smart thing to do though, ignore the dollars and study the resolution in side by side tests outdoors. And another smart thing to do is to buy the exact scope that won in your comparisons. I am always leery of buying things in the mail. There may be enough manufacturing variability such that a mail ordered scope may not give you the same results. I am struggling with that very thing at the moment - I have a new Leupold VX III in 3.5-10 that simply wont focus very well. My VX III 2.5-8 gives better resolution. Ticks me off.

But without doing a comparsion, I suspect it is a safe bet that most Zeiss scopes would blow away Leupold scopes in resolution and clarity. Hard for me to say that, as nearly every rifle in my safe except one has a Leupold on it.
 

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Tks -4-Feedback ' FF'

Unique part of this is that the Gun I sold was also a 25-06. semi custom Rem 700. Odds -R-long ,but will keep my eye pealed for a Lieca scope. Perish the thought & cost of finding 1 on E-Bay. ARRGH.:)
 

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Good evaluation fellows...

How about KOWA? Is that brand even in the running? I have a Kowa TSN80 20-60 eyepiece and fine it's- well OK? A fellow I know who shoots a fair amount of 1000-1200 yard bench really likes his Zeiss. Not certain what model Zeiss but he says it the best he could find available to non-military folks.

Wouldn't it be nice if scopes like these Zeiss units had a built-in range finder that would actually work at ranges out to 1500-2000 yards!

Thanks for sharing your evaluation. I've learned something.

You've helped me!

Tom (AceBall) Mac
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I wanted to evaluate the Kowa on this trip because I heard good things about them, but I ran out of daylight. I do plan to go back, and will look through one next time I go up. The place I go (Kesslering gun shop) is some 75-80 miles from where I live, so it is a pretty much all day affair. But next trip up I am buying a scope - period.

My guess is that the Kowa brand is good bang for the buck. Its all relative right? No matter how great a scope you buy, there is always a better one out there. The intelligent thing to do is to optimize quality and expense, something I am not very good at, since I tend to like high end stuff I cannot afford. If your Kowa does what you want it to do, and you arent cursing it (like I do my Burris) then you have the right scope for your needs. Just dont look through a Leica. Ever. Ha ha ha
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Leica 77mm APO $1845, 20-60 eyepiece $579, total $2424

Zeiss 65mm 1200$, 20=60 eyepiece 400$, total $1600
Zeiss 85mm 1500$, 20=60 eyepiece 400$, total $1900

Swarovoski 85mm $1310, 20-260 eyepiece $420, total $1730
 

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Spotting Scope

Nice, informative review. I have a Swarovski 80mm that was purchased several years ago, but I have always thought the Leica was a little sharper and had a better focus mechanism. I use the Leica binoculars and think they are the best available at least in the 7x42 size.
 

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Spotting scopes

FF,

Would wager that my Celestron 100mm and Meopta 70mm spotting scopes will equal those high dollar imports. Both the Celestron and Meopta are equipped with screw in 45 degree detachable eyepieces. The Celestron eyepiece is adjustable 22X-66X. The Meopta 70mm is equiped with two single magnification eyepieces, 25X & 40X.

The Celestron is made in China and the Meopta is made in Czech Republic. Probably not as much snob appeal as the Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski.

My Celestron and Meopta spotting scopes are utilized for spotting hits on Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Silhouettes (200 to 500 meters) and mid and long range BPCR targets to 1000 meters. Very useful for those long distance, high mountain, cross canyon views of big game and tiny varmints sitting on distant prairie dog mounds.

Price? Neither the Celestron or Meopta cost more then $300.00. The Celestron 80mm spotting scope with 45 degree adjustable eyepiece is also a good purchase. Cabela's had a clearance sale on the Meopta HA 70 spotting scopes this past year.

Lastly, the weight of a spotting scope needs to be taken into consideration. Nothing like carrying around a spotting scope filled with glass that weighs as much as your rifle.

From the Land of Enchantment,

Windcutter, SWNM
 

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You may want to take a look at the Non-APO Leica.

I have had one for about 5 years and I am very pleased with it. They sell for about $1200. Also Leica makes a 62mm spotting scope. I haven't seen one yet but it should be sweet.
 

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Oh Yes. The Candy Store, = Kesselrings @ Bow Hill.

Really miss that place , lived about 40 miles N on I-5, Ferndale area 4-20+yrs. Sure wish there was a place like that In Cheyenne . I'm guessing that U-B South & E or W Fm Bow. Sure don't miss all the rain. Tks -4 Eval Data. Russ.
 

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FF , you are absolutely .....

right about how Leica Focuses .... and that includes their Binoculars . I am sold on Leica Optics . I did some very generalized comparisons of the Swaro and Leica Binoculars , but I found the Optical Quality similar except for that Leica " single point type " Focusing . I have never been able to use my resolution Charts and gather together all the high end Spotting Scopes , Binoculars , or rifle scopes . I would disagree with you on the Leica Riflescopes somewhat as these were made by Leupold , and Leica was not satisfied with the Quality and either did not renew or terminated the Contract . So that there is no misunderstanding , I like Leupold Riflescopes .......but there is a big difference between Leupold Spotting Scopes and Leica Spotting Scopes .....or between Leupold Riflescopes and S&B , US Optics , even German Zeiss . Yes , I know they cost a lot more . I did do some comparisons of Spotting Scopes on a hot , humid day , but no one had a Leica . This was at a BenchRest Match . Best of all was a Nikon TV Camera System , but it was very expensive and you would need a big truck to haul it around . Next was a Swaro . The Astronomical Scope ( cant remember what the Terrestrial Version was called ) was awful . Remember , I was looking at targets at 100 Yards with lots of heat waves , and was unable to focus these Scopes because they belonged to the Competitors .
 

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I wanted to evaluate the Kowa on this trip because I heard good things about them, but I ran out of daylight. I do plan to go back, and will look through one next time I go up. The place I go (Kesslering gun shop) is some 75-80 miles from where I live, so it is a pretty much all day affair. But next trip up I am buying a scope - period.

My guess is that the Kowa brand is good bang for the buck. Its all relative right? No matter how great a scope you buy, there is always a better one out there. The intelligent thing to do is to optimize quality and expense, something I am not very good at, since I tend to like high end stuff I cannot afford. If your Kowa does what you want it to do, and you arent cursing it (like I do my Burris) then you have the right scope for your needs. Just dont look through a Leica. Ever. Ha ha ha
A few years back I did a test similar to what you've done, but without the Carl Zeis scopes. I did mine on a very hot day at about 12 noon looking over a very large patch of blacktop pavement. The Swarovski was by far the class of the field with the Lieca comming in second. The Lieca was a little more prone to mirage than the swarovski, but seemed clearer and maybe a touch brighter. The fine focus adjustments seemed to be of about the same quality, and had no trouble reading the plates on a car about 1000 yards out. Think the Swarovski scope needs to be serviced as it's the best I've ever looked thru period. The Lieca was so bright that it actually fatigued my eyes, but was unbeleavably clear. I also had the chance to use a KOWA 82mm scope, but it had the 27X eyepiece. For anything I'd ever shoot at it was the perfect choice. Had the best resolution of the three (suspect this was in the eyepiece alone) with no mirage. The drawback with the KOWA as well as the Swarovski was the overall size and weight. The Lieca is much easier to handle. Neither of the three scopes would flare when looking into the sun.
I also tried out the best Leupold and Burris, and put them up due to mirage.
I bought the KOWA with the 27X eyepiece (plan on getting a 45X eyepiece this Spring). Still if I'd done all over again, I'd have picked up a used 77mm KOWA. Reason why? I can use camera filters with it. There are 82mm filters out there, but are not very common (plus not very cheap as well). Later I had the chance to use the Nikon Field Scope, and this is another one to look at as well as the bigger Pentax scopes.
gary
 

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Eye relief

That was very interesting. How about eye relief with someone that wears glasses? That has always been an impediment for me with spotting scopes. I tried one of there binocs one time....man was it clear!:cool:
 

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Leica is good glass..

.. When it was time for me to get some good glass for groundhoggin' I tried several.. And all would give me the headache sooner or later over the course of the day 'cause like Dave said, ya spend the day with the binocular growing out of your forehead.. I ended up breaking down and buying a nice little set of Leica 10x32 Trinovids.. Best glass I've ever had and I've never felt under-glassed for any practical use.. If I had it to do over again I'd get something lower powered for a better FOV.. About my only gripe with them is over the neck string.. I'd have liked something I could attach an aftermarket rig to but maybe I'm being dense and there is an option I don't know about..

..I had a set of "Big Eyes" made of a coupla Kowa's that ended up staying with Richard one trip.. They were schweet but bigger than I had an application for at the time.. He seems to like them a great deal.. :D

..There are many options that will "do" but amongst most "motivated folks" who really give a flip there seems to be a universal appreciation of "good glass".. The only real debate being what exactly constitutes "good glass" for the given application.. And as usual there's an end to the value curve.. It still comes back to individual preference, as always.. Some things are constant..:rolleyes: d:^) Jake
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
That is interesting - I didnt know that about the Leica scopes. I have never done a back to back comparison of my Leica to a Leupold, but my impression is that the glass is much better. I will have to do that next time I have them out. I wonder if Leupold used glass with higher specs for Leica? I cant believe they would have just packaged the same Leupold quality glass in a Leica tube, as Leica would have insisted on higher standards.

My next purchase after the scope is going to be a pair of new Leica geovids. I made the mistake of looking through some while in the store. Ouch. Gotta sell a gun or two. Or three. Dang.
 
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