Scope zoom range for shooting outdoors

Andyt23

Member
As I very much look forward to shooting outdoors again and begin the inevitable fantasy shopping for outdoorsy things like folding chairs, sun hats and thermal mugs, my thoughts have also turned to scopes, not having previously owned one.

I'm quite happy finding a budget and doing some research but as a starting point, has anybody clever worked out or got experience of what would be an archer's ideal eye-piece zoom range to cover distances of anything from 30-100 yards, with the hope of filling the lens with the target face at either extreme, or at least coming close ? I guess I could get away with just as far out as the blue at the closer range if that's expecting too much, or maybe at 30 I could just see them myself...

I understand the front lens is just about letting as much light in as possible, so an 80mm will be brighter than a 60mm scope, but will also be bigger and heavier, so there will be a compromise there (how do people find 80mm? too big and heavy? Will 60mm generally be okay in all but the dullest dimmest days/night when we should be at home anyway?)

And I know that I can buy the eye piece separately, or it may also come with the scope.

thanks
 

Corax67

Well-known member
As I very much look forward to shooting outdoors again and begin the inevitable fantasy shopping for outdoorsy things like folding chairs, sun hats and thermal mugs, my thoughts have also turned to scopes, not having previously owned one.

I'm quite happy finding a budget and doing some research but as a starting point, has anybody clever worked out or got experience of what would be an archer's ideal eye-piece zoom range to cover distances of anything from 30-100 yards, with the hope of filling the lens with the target face at either extreme, or at least coming close ? I guess I could get away with just as far out as the blue at the closer range if that's expecting too much, or maybe at 30 I could just see them myself...

I understand the front lens is just about letting as much light in as possible, so an 80mm will be brighter than a 60mm scope, but will also be bigger and heavier, so there will be a compromise there (how do people find 80mm? too big and heavy? Will 60mm generally be okay in all but the dullest dimmest days/night when we should be at home anyway?)

And I know that I can buy the eye piece separately, or it may also come with the scope.

thanks

Hi Andy - I use my birdwatching scope for my outdoor archery, it's a Leica Apo Televid 77, and although it's overkill it is a piece of kit I have been using hard in the field for over 15 years.

Front element is 77mm and will still work at light levels approaching "black cat in a coal cellar". It's not unduly heavy, lighter than the comparable Swarovski or Nikon were at the time I bought it & I have trawled it around on a solid tripod for many hours over hill & dale without really noticing it too much.

Eyepieces - I have two, a 32x wide angle and a 20x-60x zoom, the 32x has a much larger lens than the zoom eyiece. When used for archery I leave my 32x on. Reason for this is mainly because I shoot 100 & 80yd rounds at club and 32x fills the eyepiece nicely with the target plus the larger lens makes picking out my arrows rapidly easier and offers better eye relief. I suppose with my zoom I could actually score line cutters from the shooting line but I am only using the scope for rough guidance as to my grouping, others may do differently.

Were I to come down to 30yds I would definitely fit the 20x-60x otherwise I would be seeing nothing outside the red in all likelihood - although in theory I shouldn't be getting any of my arrows further out than that anyway :)



Karl
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
As I very much look forward to shooting outdoors again and begin the inevitable fantasy shopping for outdoorsy things like folding chairs, sun hats and thermal mugs, my thoughts have also turned to scopes, not having previously owned one.

I'm quite happy finding a budget and doing some research but as a starting point, has anybody clever worked out or got experience of what would be an archer's ideal eye-piece zoom range to cover distances of anything from 30-100 yards, with the hope of filling the lens with the target face at either extreme, or at least coming close ? I guess I could get away with just as far out as the blue at the closer range if that's expecting too much, or maybe at 30 I could just see them myself...

I understand the front lens is just about letting as much light in as possible, so an 80mm will be brighter than a 60mm scope, but will also be bigger and heavier, so there will be a compromise there (how do people find 80mm? too big and heavy? Will 60mm generally be okay in all but the dullest dimmest days/night when we should be at home anyway?)

And I know that I can buy the eye piece separately, or it may also come with the scope.

thanks
Unless you've got a huge amount of money to spend, don't go for a zoom. Cheap zooms are just not worth it.
Pick a reasonable fixed mag (25x?), and a good sized objective lens (80?). Magnification is less important than the amount of detail you can see. 100x through a fuzzy lens would give you less information than a pin sharp 15x. Yes you see more space around the target, but you also see finer detail on the target...
Higher mag = less light, more shake, both of which also don't help. If you start pushing up the magnification, then the tripod suddenly starts to become very important, as you need a very stable platform.

At the shortest distances, a pair of relatively cheap bins is probably handier than a scope.
 

Munsterman

New member
its a bit of overkill but here are small MAKSUTOV-CASSEGRAIN types of scope with 130-160mm apertures, that make light collection easy.
 

Andyt23

Member
Thanks guys, there are a lot of options I see. I can see the value of a fixed magnification and how it could yield greater clarity which is after all what we're after. Maybe a x25/80 would be a good place to settle Rik, cheers for the suggestion.

I like the Maksutov-Cassegrain idea, what a statement - a little bulky perhaps (would need a suitable tripod) but I'd love to try one! When the light fades on an evening shoot (and everyone else went home an hour ago with their silly little apertures) I can stay and look at the stars :)

I was going to say it's a shame we can't try before we buy and look at some targets at varying distances, but of course if I wait until we go outdoors, I can have a nosey at some of the others' scopes on the line and do some comparisons with magnification/brightness etc.

I was intending to be organised and get one up front, but when I can actually field test them in a few weeks time, that now seems unwise.
 

KidCurry

Well-known member
Paying a bit for good quality optics can be a good option. If you are a bird watcher like Karl or myself it's an easier decision. I used my Leica APO 77 with a 32x lens. I paid ?750 + cover for it at least 15 years ago. I sold it last month for ?950. It was still in excellent condition :)
Money is king in optics. I have looked through a number of ?100 ish scopes and one or two have been fine but all struggle at 100yds compared to my Leica. If you can go upwards of ?300 then you are going to have a large selection to choose from.
It will need to be waterproof as standing on a grass field for hours at a time allows moisture, not necessarily rain, to get onto the inner surfaces and fog the optics. And not all waterproof optics are equal. There are different grades of waterproof so look to the guarantee if buying new. Some scopes will list WP but will not include the zoom. Second hand is also a good option but you do need to look through them if possible.
32x fixed with 60mm+ objective lens will all work fine.

update
Forgot to mention you will need a solid tripod. Something heavy like a Manfrotto Aluminium. No point in spending money on a scope if the lightest breeze sends the image into oscillation.
 

bimble

Well-known member
Supporter
Fonz Awardee
Ironman
for archery, waterproof is really important... nothing is more annoying than your scope misting up a couple of dozen into a day long shoot*! Otherwise, as above, if the optics are nice enough x30 is more than enough to spot your arrows at 90m (unless you're shooting with someone with the same fletching/nock combo). Mine came with a x22-x60 eye piece, and when shooting I think I've rarely moved it to above x25.



* - unless you're a fair-weather archer and if it's raining you're staying home!!
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
Thanks guys, there are a lot of options I see. I can see the value of a fixed magnification and how it could yield greater clarity which is after all what we're after. Maybe a x25/80 would be a good place to settle Rik, cheers for the suggestion.

I like the Maksutov-Cassegrain idea, what a statement - a little bulky perhaps (would need a suitable tripod) but I'd love to try one! When the light fades on an evening shoot (and everyone else went home an hour ago with their silly little apertures) I can stay and look at the stars :)

I was going to say it's a shame we can't try before we buy and look at some targets at varying distances, but of course if I wait until we go outdoors, I can have a nosey at some of the others' scopes on the line and do some comparisons with magnification/brightness etc.

I was intending to be organised and get one up front, but when I can actually field test them in a few weeks time, that now seems unwise.
My only comment about Maks is be careful. Cheap ones can be dire and temperature stability can suck. I had one which was unusable in variable sunshine, as it was a pain to keep focussed.

I recently bought my niece a Mak astro scope. Highly portable, but pound for pound not as good as a reflector. But then she needs to be able to carry it, including on planes. As they say, the best scope is one you use...
 

Andyt23

Member
Fair enough, I understand - it was an entertaining idea though but I doubt I would go for it.
I need something pretty bombproof because a) I'm clumsy and not that great at looking after delicate stuff and b) if there's shooting to be done I'll be there, rain or shine, so because of a) I'd want one that could take it.

So after this chat and a bit of googling, I'm looking for a 25-30x 60/80mm angled spotting scope that can rotate to 45 degrees for a lefty to look through and good waterproofiness.

I have a solid tripod already with a manfrotto ball head I was thinking of using, so I could use that if the scope didn't spin.

Not looked for a scope before so I don't really know makes etc, but if there are any classy bargains anybody knows of, I'd be grateful.

One thing I've realised is that you don't always get an eye piece, but I'd be looking at ?3-350 all in.

cheers
 

WkdWill

New member
One way of getting to try out a scope, is to pop down to a RSPB reserve that has a shop, they usually have a few scopes that are available to try on the reserve, not the same as looking at a target but you'll get an idea about the magnification you need and if a zoom eyepiece will be clear enough, in my experience only the expensive zooms are clear across the whole zoom range, at both ends they lose their clarity at the edges.
 

buzz lite beer

New member
Next time you plan to visit the shop let me know and I'll bring in my Acuter DS-Pro 20-60x80 spotting scope, best ?220 you'll spend if you buy one ☺
 

Senlac

Supporter
Supporter
If possible go for: (a) scope with 80mm objective diameter - for bright image; (b) a zoom eyepiece that will go from (i) 100yds filling most of the image, to (ii) 30yds still mostly filling image, with the image remaining in focus while you zoom (that's a test of good optics...).
I've got a setup that does this: Opticron ES80 GAEDv3 scope + Opticron 40936 SDLv2 eyepiece + rain cover. This results in magnification from 20x to 60x - and you can see tell the score of line-cutters at 100yds.
 

Andyt23

Member
Next time you plan to visit the shop let me know and I'll bring in my Acuter DS-Pro 20-60x80 spotting scope, best ?220 you'll spend if you buy one ☺
Cheers, i'd appreciate that - I saw you mentioned it in an old post and had a google of it the other night to see if it was still kicking about.
Reviews seem very positive and it's a good price for me too, plenty left for maybe a new tripod...
 

Andyt23

Member
If possible go for: (a) scope with 80mm objective diameter - for bright image; (b) a zoom eyepiece that will go from (i) 100yds filling most of the image, to (ii) 30yds still mostly filling image, with the image remaining in focus while you zoom (that's a test of good optics...).
cheers, after a bit of searching I can see the 80mm seems worth going for

I've got a setup that does this: Opticron ES80 GAEDv3 scope + Opticron 40936 SDLv2 eyepiece + rain cover. This results in magnification from 20x to 60x - and you can see tell the score of line-cutters at 100yds.
Sounds nice - for anyone who's curious though, I'm pricing that at over 800 quid, so a bit out of the old budget :(
 

Andy!

Member
I have bought a bit of a range of scopes over the years and I now tend to group them into three groups.
1. Crap.
2. Archery Practical.
3. I don't care, I'm having it.

I tried for ages to prove to myself that 20x was enough. And it is if you're shooting on a target by yourself at 50m. But then that's not happens to everyone.
So then I tried to prove to myself that 25 was enough. It all rather falls apart when you're shooting at 90 with other people and the killer is when they have the same fletch colours.

I have to admit that at this point, 60x is where it's at and more if things don't turn to custard.

Your rules of thumb should be:

You'll probably not be shooting in light that will see a difference between 60 to 80 mm if the objectives are the same quality.

I've seen some sensational 60mm spotters. The Pentax ED60, Swaro 60 and Zeiss DiaScope 60 all rock. As does the Nikon ED50. They're all hella expensive though.

The Acuter mentioned previously is excellent value. Very archery practical. Be cautious of tilting feet until they get expensive as they're a bit of a weak spot.

Acuter NatureClose ST80A 20-60x80 Waterproof Spotting Scope (45? Angled) - Optical Vision Ltd

I just discovered the Helios 60 with ED glass, which would sway me to have a look, even at 45x.

Helios FIELDMASTER-ED60DS 15-45x60 ED DUAL-SPEED WATERPROOF SPOTTING SCOPE - Optical Vision Ltd

Have a look at the Celestron Ultima 80 as well. The Regals were excellent value, and then someone discovered that they were good and the price went nuts.

At least in the Europe you have far greater chance of looking through a greater range of kit.
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
I have bought a bit of a range of scopes over the years and I now tend to group them into three groups.
1. Crap.
2. Archery Practical.
3. I don't care, I'm having it.

I tried for ages to prove to myself that 20x was enough. And it is if you're shooting on a target by yourself at 50m. But then that's not happens to everyone.
So then I tried to prove to myself that 25 was enough. It all rather falls apart when you're shooting at 90 with other people and the killer is when they have the same fletch colours.

I have to admit that at this point, 60x is where it's at and more if things don't turn to custard.

Your rules of thumb should be:

You'll probably not be shooting in light that will see a difference between 60 to 80 mm if the objectives are the same quality.

I've seen some sensational 60mm spotters. The Pentax ED60, Swaro 60 and Zeiss DiaScope 60 all rock. As does the Nikon ED50. They're all hella expensive though.

The Acuter mentioned previously is excellent value. Very archery practical. Be cautious of tilting feet until they get expensive as they're a bit of a weak spot.

Acuter NatureClose ST80A 20-60x80 Waterproof Spotting Scope (45? Angled) - Optical Vision Ltd

I just discovered the Helios 60 with ED glass, which would sway me to have a look, even at 45x.

Helios FIELDMASTER-ED60DS 15-45x60 ED DUAL-SPEED WATERPROOF SPOTTING SCOPE - Optical Vision Ltd

Have a look at the Celestron Ultima 80 as well. The Regals were excellent value, and then someone discovered that they were good and the price went nuts.

At least in the Europe you have far greater chance of looking through a greater range of kit.
That Helios would be interesting if I was in the market for a scope. Some places have it for as little as ?160. It looks like it's actually small enough to use as backpack scope, for out walking.
 

Andyt23

Member
Thanks Andy!, and Rik
I've been busy googling stuff and found the Helios for ?160 too, that's a great price. And I found a couple of very positive reviews, although it's hard to tell if they are not just trying to sell you one.

I also looked into ED vs larger objective lens, and most seem to come down on the side of ED - especially, like Andy! says, since archery is pretty much a daylight activity (questionable UK weather notwithstanding).

I've been considering though that it would be as well, if I'm buying, to consider getting a scope that I could use to stargaze with my son - he loves spotting them with the naked eye, and using stargazing apps etc. It would be fantastic to be able to get closer to them, especially with a holiday on the west coast of scotland coming up - some of the most amazing skies I've seen...

So that made me wonder if I could get an 80mm AND ED glass, for a reasonable price - and that same site has a Helios Fieldmaster ED in an 80mm version for ?300 - and that's 100-250 cheaper than I've seen it anywhere else, so that's a real possibility for me.
Makes it slightly less portable of course, but not an issue for me.

Now looking for a Helios vs Acuter test - these reviews seem surprisingly hard to find. there are lots of US sites, but annoyingly the scopes all have different names over there, so it's not easy to find what you're looking for.
 

Rik

Supporter
Supporter
Thanks Andy!, and Rik
I've been busy googling stuff and found the Helios for ?160 too, that's a great price. And I found a couple of very positive reviews, although it's hard to tell if they are not just trying to sell you one.

I also looked into ED vs larger objective lens, and most seem to come down on the side of ED - especially, like Andy! says, since archery is pretty much a daylight activity (questionable UK weather notwithstanding).

I've been considering though that it would be as well, if I'm buying, to consider getting a scope that I could use to stargaze with my son - he loves spotting them with the naked eye, and using stargazing apps etc. It would be fantastic to be able to get closer to them, especially with a holiday on the west coast of scotland coming up - some of the most amazing skies I've seen...

So that made me wonder if I could get an 80mm AND ED glass, for a reasonable price - and that same site has a Helios Fieldmaster ED in an 80mm version for ?300 - and that's 100-250 cheaper than I've seen it anywhere else, so that's a real possibility for me.
Makes it slightly less portable of course, but not an issue for me.

Now looking for a Helios vs Acuter test - these reviews seem surprisingly hard to find. there are lots of US sites, but annoyingly the scopes all have different names over there, so it's not easy to find what you're looking for.
Stargazing is a whole different ballgame. You actually need light gathering more than magnification for that (planets - slightly different again). But a decent beginners reflector can be had for much less than a good spotting scope. I'd probably try to keep the two separate, though (back to maks again) Celestron do a spotter, which is basically the same as some of the re-badged entry level astro scopes. But the C90 wouldn't be great for stars and nebula, more for the moon and planets. For comparison with use as an astro scope, look for reviews of the similar 90mm Skywatcher scope.
 

Andyt23

Member
Stargazing is a whole different ballgame. You actually need light gathering more than magnification for that (planets - slightly different again). But a decent beginners reflector can be had for much less than a good spotting scope. I'd probably try to keep the two separate, though (back to maks again) Celestron do a spotter, which is basically the same as some of the re-badged entry level astro scopes. But the C90 wouldn't be great for stars and nebula, more for the moon and planets. For comparison with use as an astro scope, look for reviews of the similar 90mm Skywatcher scope.

haha fair enough, just getting carried away - it'll still give us a decent shot of the moon on a good night, but I totally get the need to keep them separate for performance to be a feature of either discipline.

When the time comes, I see there are plenty affordable astronomical scopes that will do the job well enough to impress an 8 year old.
 

Andyt23

Member
Hi all,
I thought I'd let you know that I've eventually gone for the Acuter Grandvista 20-60x80A

Played with it today out to 80 yards, where I could fill the frame with the boss easily at 30x. Pin sharp. It gets a wee bit milky (still totally usable) at the 60x end of things, certainly not enough to spoil the view for arrow spotting, but I won't need to use it out there anyway. Easy to use with my specs on too, with good eye relief. It's more than up to the job of an archery scope.

I decided after a bit of research that the ED glass wasn't worth going for, for the purpose. I'm sure it would have eradicated the 60x milkiness, but at a price (double the cost for the ED version of this one), and this scope can take a dedicated fixed plossl eyepiece for stargazing which I can get for around 30 quid and should dramatically improve the view (have you tried that Buzz?) of the night sky. It should make it a decent all rounder until (if) I get a dedicated starter astronomy scope if my son is still interested after we've sampled it a little through this one.

I don't think much of the 'stay on' case though. Yes, it stays on, but to use the scope you have to unzip it from the eyepiece to halfway down the length in order to focus it. You can then zip it most of the way back up (being careful not to knock the dial), but it still leaves quite a bit exposed around the neck and shoulders. I guess the scope should be able to take it as it's stated to be waterproof (depends just how waterproof...), It's just not a very elegant case without a dedicated focus access - I may have to make my own wee focus hole. The front end coverage is absolutely fine.

Oh, and I bought a Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 tripod to attach it to, using a ball head that I already have. I'd rather use a pan head for smoother setting up, but it will do for now. It's nice and sturdy without breaking the bank (?125). There may be better/cheaper out there, but they were either makes I've never heard of or they all have such complicated codenames they're impossible to remember from one google search to the next. I went for the manfrotto because I already knew about it and was prepared to buy it without having felt it first. I think ideally you need to have a good feel of a tripod to be sure of sturdiness etc., and there aren't enough photographic shops around these days where you can to do that.

Anyway, for the price and versatility, I'd recommend the above scope.
thanks for the help.
 
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