Spotters: Over $1600 / Price no limit

 

Updated in January 2023

I do not look at spotting scopes as much as I used to, but I do keep an eye out.  As I have previously mentioned, I am a shooter not a birder, so I do not anticipate purchasing a spotter for my own personal use that does not have a reticle any time soon.

If you are simply looking for the best possible spotter, highest end models from Kowa, Swarovsky, Zeiss and Leica are very good.  If you can put up with the size, larger objective gets you a better image, so I think Kowa and Swarovski have a little bit of an edge there.  Kowa has a new 99mm Prominar.  Swarovski has an even larger 115mm design.  This is where you sorta have to figure out how much money you are willing to spend.  If money is no object, the largest Swarovski with the dual BTX eyepiece is your hucklberry.  Otherwise, I really like how Kowa does spotters.

With reticle spotters, my perennial favourite Hensoldt looks to be discontinued.  Given that, if I were buying a high end spotter for my personal use, it would be Swarovski STR80.  I used to have one and regret letting it go.  Mine had the original 20-60x eyepiece.  The new wide angle 25-50x is better and I would lean toward that.  

If you do not feel like dropping $5k, there are a couple of other variable magnification options with FFP reticles: Leupold Mark4 that I am not a huge fan of (it could use an update) and possibly the new Sector Optics S1.  They announced it last year, but it does not appear to be on sale yet.  It has clever EO integration, so I am itching to get my hands on a full production version.

Otherwise, if you want a reticle, you have to settle for a fixed power eyepiece.  85mm Vortex Razor is not quite as good as the more expensive stuff, but it is up there.  Given the cost, it is a very appealing option.  For me, it would definitely be in the running, now that there is a 22x reticle eyepiece for it.  There other fixed power eyepiece is a LER wide angle design and it was absolutely excellent when I tested it.  The reticle eyepiece is pretty much the same thing except with a reticle.

With smaller spotters, or a couple of years Kowa’s 55mm Prominar was my go to.  However, Swarovski’s recently released ATC/STC might be even better.  No reticle in either, but the performance in a compact package is very impressive.

Meopta S2 25-70x spotter is pretty much alpha level optical quality for a bit less (though still a lot) of money.

Personally, since my use of spotters is somewhat less frequent now, I have mostly switched to mid-range designs that have become very competent.  At some point, I will get into the $2k+ range again, I am sure.

 

 Posted by at 10:51 pm