Gear Review of 60-65mm Multi-Purpose Spotting Scopes Part 2

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August 9, 2018
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August 29, 2018

Gear Review of 60-65mm Multi-Purpose Spotting Scopes Part 2

Finding a vantage point and using a good spotting scope allows not only better odds at spotting and evaluating game, but also a better view of the surrounding terrain. Photo: Zach Mansfield

Part 2 of 2 – Missed Part 1? Click here.

Testing Procedure: How We Tested Spotters for the Review

Finding a vantage point and using a good spotting scope allows not only better odds at spotting and evaluating game, but also a better view of the surrounding terrain. Photo: Zach Mansfield

A direct, head-to-head performance comparison would require comparing apples to apples. In this case, there was a whole basket of mixed fruit. Because it wouldn’t be accurate to compare scopes of various magnification range and objective size against each other, the review focused on the individual performances of each scope across a range of evaluation parameters.

With the help of a couple assistants, scopes were all set up and examined under the same environmental conditions, at the same targets, at the same time. The order of scopes being tested was drawn at random for each test. Testing occurred over the course of three days under dawn, mid-day, and dusk conditions. Targets included a standard vision test eye chart, 1951 USAF resolution test chart, a yard stick, a dollar bill and natural vegetation (trees/rocks). Tests on paper targets were carried out from 35 to 200 yards. Tests on vegetation were done at 435 and 790 yards. Scopes were also packed and used in actual hunting situations.

The results were a bit of a surprise to all involved in the testing. All scopes performed at a very high level; a testament to the dedication of all the manufacturers to produce top quality products. We thought it would be easy to spot outliers when it came to things such as sharpness or brightness, when in fact the biggest differences were merely in ergonomics or subtle nuances.

Leupold
GR 12-40 x 60 HD
Magnification/Objective – 12-40x / 60mm
Eye Relief – 30mm
Exit Pupil – 4.8/1.5mm
Field of View – 168ft/1,000yd (12x); 52ft/1,000yd (40x)
Weight – 38 ounces
Overall Length – 12 inches
MSRP – $1,689.99
www.leupold.com

Sharpness ****1/2
Contrast ****
Brightness *****
Focusing ***1/2
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity *****
Construction ****
Overall ****1/2

Leupold GR 12-40 x 60 HDThe Gold Ring 12-40 x 60 HD by Leupold is an excellent scope for hunters who spend a lot of time hunting with a pack on their back, deep in the backcountry. The combination of compact size and light overall weight makes it a dream to carry, and the magnesium housing with rubberized exterior will hold up to heavy use. Calcium-fluoride lenses produce excellent brightness and great overall image quality. Clarity across the entire field of view was also excellent, thanks in part to phase coated roof prisms.

The GR 12-40 x 60 HD is very well balanced. A tripod mount located at the center of the unit allows a hand to be placed over the middle of the scope for increased stabilization. Focusing is made via a single band near the eyepiece, allowing the user to focus while also using the hand to shield ambient light from the eye. There was a resistance point mid-way through the range of adjustment that made fine focusing difficult at times. A fold down style eyecup and generous eye relief allowed a clear sight picture while wearing glasses. The magnification range and objective size are well-suited to all but extreme distance spotting, and produce a good field of view and low light performance.

Leica
APO-Televid 65 w/ 25-50x WW Aspheric eyepiece
Magnification/Objective – 25-50x / 65m
Eye Relief – 19mm
Exit Pupil – 2.6/1.3mm
Field of View – 123ft/1,000yd (25x); 84ft/1,000yd (50x)
Weight – 56 ounces
Overall Length – 14.375 inches
MSRP – $2,748
us.leica-camera.com

Sharpness *****
Contrast *****
Brightness *****
Focusing ****1/2
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity *****
Construction *****
Overall ****3/4

Leica APO-Televid 65 w/25-50xWhen the first reviewer looked through the APO-Televid 65, the only thing said was, “wow”. Fully multi-coated apochromatic fluoride glass elements produce an absolutely stunning image with crisp edges, excellent color, sharp contrast and a wide field of view. Coarse and fine focus with great resistance and no noticeable slack allow for fast and precise focus adjustments which allowed for being able to read the date on a dollar bill at 35 yards. Much of the weight of the APO-Televid 65 sits at the focus knobs, behind the tripod foot, which caused a bit of vibration when making focus or magnification adjustments.

Construction details are also excellent. An optically neutral front lens shields the more sensitive objective optic. Magnesium body with rubberized exterior is tough, scratch resistant and waterproof to 17 feet. This heavy duty construction does come with a bit of weight, making the APO-Televid 65 a bit more noticeable in your pack on long trips. A sliding lens hood helps to reduce glare and also features a sight aid for quick target acquisition with the angled design. The lens cap also locks the hood in place to prevent any accidental movement or damage when packed. The twist up eyecup locks in three positions and allowed a full field of view while wearing glasses.

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Zeiss
Dialyt
Magnification/Objective – 18-45x / 65mm
Eye Relief – N/A
Exit Pupil – 3.6/1.4mm
Field of View – 120ft/1,000yd (18x); 69ft/1,000yd (45x)
Weight – 48 ounces
Overall Length – 16.1 inches (with lens covers on)
MSRP – $1,599.99
www.zeiss.com

Sharpness ****1/2
Contrast ****1/2
Brightness *****
Focusing ***1/2
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity ****
Construction ****1/2
Overall ****1/4

Zeiss DialytThe streamlined and strangely attractive Dialyt by Zeiss looks military-grade despite that it was originally designed for alpine hunters. Suffice it to say, it is built rugged enough to withstand anything you can throw at it. A thick, rubberized exterior is slim and sleek, with only a small tripod mount extending from the spotter body. The 18-45x eyepiece is permanently affixed to the scope body, and is well-suited for all-around uses. Fully multi-coated elements produce good overall image quality, with only a very slight degree of chromatic aberration noticeable on higher contrast targets, and a slight bit of blur around the edge of the field of view. The field of view is a bit on the narrow side, which may add some difficulty to viewing fast moving animals when glassing; however this is much less of an issue on slower or stationary targets. The objective end of the Dialyt twists to adjust focus and is designed to allow the scope to be quickly braced against a tree or object and held in hand for rapid focus and viewing. When used on a tripod, this focus adjustment causes a large amount of shake and disturbance to the sight picture. The fold down eyecup also did not allow enough eye relieve to be used while wearing glasses.

Vortex
Viper HD 15-45 x 65 Angled
Magnification/Objective – 15-45x / 65mm
Eye Relief – 17.8 – 19.6mm
Exit Pupil – 4.5/1.5mm
Field of View – 136.5ft/1,000yd (15x); 65ft/1,000yd (45x)
Weight – 62 ounces
Overall Length – 14.5 inches
MSRP – $849.99
www.vortexoptics.com

Sharpness ****
Contrast ****
Brightness *****
Focusing ****
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity ****1/2
Construction ****1/2
Overall ****1/4

Vortex Viper HD 15-45 x 65 AngledThe newly redesigned Viper HD from Vortex is proving to be a popular option with hunters looking for performance and dependability without a huge price tag. HD lens elements feature proprietary XR™ fully multi-coated treatments to produce bright images with good sharpness. Contrast was good, but lacked a bit of crispness on target edges. Clarity seemed optimal up to around 35x, then diminished a bit. During the dollar bill test, testers were unable to read the serial number at 35 yards. Brightness and low light performance were quite good, especially at lower magnifications, and adjustment of the magnification settings were very smooth.

The new streamlined design features a wide helical focus band mid-body. The size and location makes for easy manipulation, even with heavy gloves, and even though the Viper has more weight shifted towards the eyepiece, because the focus band is so close to the tripod foot, it greatly reduces vibration and shake when adjusting. Field of view was a bit on the narrow side, and weight is definitely noticeable when packing for extended periods. A four position twist up eye cup and generous eye relief allow a clear field of view while wearing glasses. An extendable objective lens hood helps cut glare.

Meopta
TGA 75 w/ 20-60x eyepiece
Magnification/Objective – 20-60x / 75mm
Eye Relief – 15mm
Exit Pupil – 3.7/1.2mm
Field of View – 93ft/1,000yd (20x); 48ft/1,000yd (60x)
Weight – 55 ounces
Overall Length – 13.375 inches (including lens covers)
MSRP – $1,299.98
www.meoptasportoptics.com

Sharpness *****
Contrast ****1/2
Brightness *****
Focusing ***1/2
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity *****
Construction ****
Overall ****1/2

Meopta TGA 75 w/20-60x eyepieceThe Meopta TGA 75 was unlike any other spotting scope in the review due to a unique, telescoping body design that allows for a compact overall length that is great for packing. A 75mm objective paired with a 20-60x eyepiece makes the TGA 75 well-suited for long distance glassing in open country. Fully multi-coated optical elements produce an extremely sharp, crisp image with vivid color. Clarity was excellent, as ants could easily be seen scurrying around on the 100-yard target, and “WASHINGTON” could be read on the dollar bill at 35 yards.

The focus band had a noticeable amount of slack and created a bit of difficulty when trying to make fine adjustments. The TGA 75 is another scope designed for quick usage via handheld operation, and worked well when braced against a solid object like a tree trunk. Due to the telescoping design, when used on a tripod, the mounting foot is nearly a foot away from the eyepiece, making vibrations from wind or focus adjustment very noticeable. The heavy-duty rubberized construction handles hard use, and a unique strap system not only holds the lens covers in place, but serves as a carry sling. A fold down eye cup allowed use with glasses. A fixed 30x wide angle eyepiece is also available.

Kowa
TSN-663M w/ TE-9Z eyepiece
Magnification/Objective – 20-60x / 66mm
Eye Relief – 16 – 16.5mm
Exit Pupil – 3.3/1.1mm
Field of View – 109ft/1,000yd (20x); 57.4ft/1,000yd (60x)
Weight – 46 ounces
Overall Length – 15 inches
MSRP – $1,700
www.kowaproducts.com

Sharpness *****
Contrast *****
Brightness *****
Focusing *****
Low Light ****1/2
Edge Clarity *****
Construction *****
Overall *****

Kowa TSN-633M w/TE-9Z eyepieceA standout performer in the review was the TSN-663M with TE-9Z eyepiece from Kowa. Extra-low dispersion glass, paired with a concave lens, all featuring fully multi-coated treatments, produces very vivid, sharp, high contrast images with no detectable chromatic aberration. The field of view is bright and clear from edge to edge and there is also good depth of field. A single focus knob, recessed into the scope body to minimize snagging and damage when packing, has a fair bit of resistance and is not easily bumped out of adjustment. Fine focus abilities are very good, producing the clarity needed to read the date and the decorative border pattern on a dollar bill at 35 yards. Long distance performance, thanks to the 20-60x eyepiece, was equally as impressive. Low light performance was excellent from 20 to 45 power. A magnesium body helps to reduce weight. Balancing perfectly on the tripod foot, the TSN-663M proved to be very stable on tripods, even in wind. A four position twist up eye cup and generous eye relieve allows clear use with glasses. Extendable hood helps to fight glare, and is secured in place during packing by a screw on objective lens cover. About the only negative we found was the all metal exterior can be a bit cold, and it does show scratches.

Nikon
MONARCH Fieldscope 60ED-S
w/ MEP-20-60 eyepiece
Magnification/Objective – 16-48x/ 60mm
Eye Relief – 15.3-16.1mm
Exit Pupil – 3.8/1.3mm
Field of View – 135ft/1,000yd (16x) 63ft/1,000yd (48x)
Weight – 58 ounces
Overall Length – 13.5 inches
MSRP – $1,399.95
www.nikon.com

Sharpness ****
Contrast ****
Brightness ****1/2
Focusing ****
Low Light ****
Edge Clarity ****1/2
Construction ****1/2
Overall ****1/4

Nikon MONARCH Fieldscope 60ED-S w/MEP-20-60 eyepieceCompact and solidly built with an aluminum body, the MONARCH Fieldscope 60ED-S from Nikon features extra-low dispersion glass configured in an apochromat optical system to produce excellent brightness and color transmission. All lens and prism surfaces are also fully multi-coated. Sharpness and image quality were good, as was low light performance, especially through the lower half of the magnification range. Field Flattener Lens System creates a field of view that is clear and sharp from edge to edge.

There are three eyepiece options available for the MONARCH Fieldscope 60ED-S; all attached via locking bayonet mount and can be changed in seconds depending on your needs. The tested MEP-20-60 (16-48x when mounted to the 60ED-S) is well-suited to a range of hunting applications. Adjustment of magnification was very smooth.

The tripod foot is located very near the objective lens, which shifts the majority of the weight back behind the tripod when mounted. This produces a noticeable amount of vibration and disturbance in windy conditions or when focusing. The large focus band is easily adjusted with gloved hands and has excellent resistance, but seems to focus through fine adjustments quickly. Eye relief is sufficient to allow comfortable use with glasses.

Athlon
Cronus 12-36 x 50 ED
Magnification/Objective – 12-36x / 50mm
Eye Relief – 14.99-17.98mm
Exit Pupil – 4.1/1.4mm
Field of View – 171ft/1,000yd (12x); 90ft/1,000yd (36x)
Weight – 28 ounces
Overall Length – 9.875 inches
MSRP – $839.99
www.athlonoptics.com

Sharpness ****
Contrast ****
Brightness ****
Focusing ****
Low Light ***1/2
Edge Clarity ****
Construction *****
Overall ****

Athlon Cronus 12-36 x 50 EDIf you are looking for a spotting scope that is small enough to not weigh you down, yet powerful enough to pick apart the opposite wall of a canyon, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything as functional as the Cronus 12-36 x 50 ED from Athlon Optics.

Small enough to be carried in the pocket of a jacket or small waist pack, the Cronus 12-36 x 50 ED features fully multi-coated extra-low dispersion glass and BaK4 prisms. Image quality was good, though a slight amount of chromatic aberration was noticed on higher contrast targets.

Brightness was good and sharpness was good enough to make out small details on the test targets. Contrast seemed a little flat and there was a slight amount of edge blur in the peripheral field of view. Use at higher magnifications in low light situations was difficult due to a dark field of view and trouble focusing.

Two speed focus system was very smooth and allowed fast focus with good fine adjustment. The ridiculously compact magnesium body is tough, waterproof and is well balanced allowing for use with even the lightest, most compact tripods which can sometimes be inadequate with larger, heavy spotters. The small profile also helps to greatly reduce shake and vibration from wind or when making focus adjustments.

Swarovski
ATX/STX/BTX
Magnification/Objective – 25-60x / 65mm (tested)
Eye Relief – 20mm
Exit Pupil – 2.6/1.1mm
Field of View – 124ft/1,000yd (25x) 68ft/1,000yd (60x)
Weight – 55.9 ounces
Overall Length – 13.25 inches
MSRP – $3,775
www.swarovskioptik.com

Sharpness *****
Contrast *****
Brightness *****
Focusing *****
Low Light *****
Edge Clarity *****
Construction *****
Overall *****

Swarovski ATX/STX/BTXClarity, contrast, color fidelity; just a few of the characteristics of the ATX 65mm spotting scope from Swarovski that immediately caught our attention as we peered through the fluoride-containing HD elements which produced a crisp, bright sight picture with no detectable chromatic aberration. Sharpness was so good, even the slightest detail such as “Secretary of the Treasury” on a dollar bill could be easily distinguished. The barrel style focus wheel has minimal resistance and was the best of such styles tested when it came to fine focus adjustment. Focus and clarity was very sharp through the entire range of magnification. Edge-to-edge clarity is excellent, and the wide field of view was an impressive surprise. Quality of sight picture remained true in very low light situations. As tested, the overall configuration is very compact and easy to carry in small daypacks.

A key attribute of the ATX/STX/BTX spotting scope is the modular design. With three objectives (65mm, 85mm and 95mm), angled (ATX) straight (STX) or binocular style (BTX) eyepieces, and even specially designed digiscoping systems, you’ll never have to make sacrifices when it comes to optical needs for a hunt. The ability to purchase individual components separately eliminates the need for multiple scopes to match various applications, and allows fine tuning of configuration as you learn through use which features best benefit your needs.

By Eric Martin, WHJ Gear Editor

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2 Comments

  1. […] Part 1 of 2 – A High-Quality Spotting Scope Is One of the Most Invaluable Pieces of Equipment To Pack On Any Hunt (Click here for Part 2) […]

  2. Richard Rollo says:

    What about Meopta TGA 75 with 20-60x ?

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