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View Full Version : Swaro 85 or a Vortex or Nikon



crumy
02-29-2012, 12:58 AM
I know there have been a few posts on this topic but I am going to be getting a spotting scope this year and wanted to get a fresh set of opinions based upon your experience. I have spent 3 years with some good binos hunting South Eastern Wyoming but am planning to go to Western Wyoming this year and want to make sure I have all the advantage I can get.

Was thinking about shelling out the money for Swaros 85mm (straight) but now I am not so sure. Should I stay with my original decision which was based on the the rep of Swaro or head some other way. Are they worth it or should I save myself some cash and get Vortex or Nikon glass?

Bitterroot Bulls
02-29-2012, 06:40 AM
Swaro doesn't make a 85mm spotter.

The STM 80 HD is a fine spotting scope, and competes with anything out there. It is also the lightest big spotter, which shouldn't be overlooked.

However, it is the optical equal of the Vortex Razor HD. I have had them side-by-side several times, and the similarity in image is remarkable. The Vortex is available for much less money than the Swaro.

I would look closely at the demo Zeiss 85tFL deal at Eagle Optics, as the new eyepiece does have a magnification advantage, but doesn't give up anything at the low end. I almost sold my Razor HD to fund the purchase of that Zeiss at that price.

The other king-of-the hill spotter is the Kowa Prominar 88. A spectacular instrument.

crumy
02-29-2012, 10:24 PM
Thanks bitter root. And I did mean the 80 HD model. I apparently got overzeralous with the number pad on the side of my keyboard. 8-) My goal is to get something that lasts. I truly believe in the N+1 strategy as getting "just enough" always leaves you wanting for more later down the road.

Graylight
03-01-2012, 05:16 PM
Once you purchase a top end spotter, you will never have to replace it... The bitter taste of cheap equipment remains long after the money is spent and your living with it... It's just like a marriage... "It's best to do it right the first time so you don't have to pay alimony and child support" lol... I guarantee you won't come cryin' with the Swaro but you MIGHT with something else... I love the insurance policy I have when I whip out my Swaro and light is fading fast! I can put it up and see if I have something worthy before it is too late when other glass leaves you hanging!

Small moments during a hunt can determine success afield... If you could have determined that the animal you saw in low light the night prior wasn't a shooter, you wouldn't be back the next morning trying to find it again to confirm your suspicions... What many do not tell you is that most glass works great with good lighting... Where it really works against you is in these scenarios and that can be the difference of a big buck down or you chasing your tail. Good Luck!

Whisky
03-07-2012, 10:31 PM
Go with your gut and get the Swaro. If you don't, you'll be second guessing your choice and you won't be happy. I had the STS 80 HD for quite some time. It was a great spotting scope. Once off season hit I decided to go with something a little lighter and more compact. I ended with a 65mm HD Swaro. If you're going to be packing this thing for many years, I'd heavily think about going with a 65. Weight difference wasn't a whole heck of a lot (5 oz if I recall correctly), but the size difference was worth the move for me. Less bulk at least leaves me with the impression of less weight. :)

I haven't had a chance to really put the 65 to hard use yet. But I suspect it will still do the job the 80mm did.

Firearrow
03-09-2012, 05:59 AM
If you can find a place that has what you are looking to get, and do a side by side comparison at dusk. Your eyes will tell you which way to go. My eyes like the Swaro's, compared to the Zeiss, or the Leica's. When you looking at these scopes, it is a good time to compare tripod too. Just keep in mind your intended use. Backpack hunting, day hunting from camp, ect.

For what it's worth, I use the Swaro 65, the older version non HD, and a compact Nikon Tripod because I backpack mostly.

BOHNTR
03-09-2012, 08:24 AM
There's no comparison in quality.....especially at first light. Buy the Swarovski.

Bitterroot Bulls
03-09-2012, 09:09 AM
There's no comparison in quality.....especially at first light. Buy the Swarovski.

No comparison between the Razor HD and Swaro HD? I have compared them side by side in lowlight, and found them to be optical equals. In fact, the images are so similar, it is my belief that Vortex' design goal for the Razor HD was to equal the Swarovski 80HD. Perhaps that is why the Vortex has an eyepiece that is an exact duplicate of the Swarovski eyepiece.

I don't have any brand loyalty. I currently use and love my Swarovski 10X42 neus. I have several Vortex products that I really like. I have had some Vortex products I didn't like.

The Razor HD is clearly better at controlling optical aberrations (particularly chromatic aberration) than the non-HD swaro spotter.

The swaro is definitely lighter, though, and has a helical focus, while the Razor has dual-ratio knobs. Don't think that I don't like the Swarovski, I do. It is an excellent instrument, and I would take it over the Razor, with all else being equal (including price). However, the Razor offers similar performance at substantial savings, and shouldn't be overlooked.

BOHNTR
03-09-2012, 02:24 PM
Similar performance, yes. But not equal, IMO. Of course my eyes are a lot older than yours.....I need all the help I can get. :)

Bitterroot Bulls
03-09-2012, 03:01 PM
Similar performance, yes.

Oh, so there is a comparison, then?:p

The thing is, when comparing optics side by side, you are still comparing one particular unit of one design against one particular unit of another design.

There is the chance that I compared an overperforming Razor to an underperforming Swaro HD. There is also a chance that you had the inverse. Most likely, it is a difference in the lenses behind the scopes: the lenses over our pupils.

I encourage anyone to do as I did, compare them side-by-side, and see what you think.

BOHNTR
03-09-2012, 03:51 PM
I encourage anyone to do as I did, compare them side-by-side, and see what you think.

I did do just that....in the field. I actually won a the Razor HD scope......ended up selling it, though. Not a bad scope at all.......I just saw a difference between the two. If price is not a consideration, I still feel the Swarovski is a better choice.

Bitterroot Bulls
03-09-2012, 04:08 PM
I gathered you did compare them, my advice was for the OP and others considering these spotters, to do just as you did, bohntr.

I wish I would have won a Razor. :(

buckbull
03-09-2012, 06:43 PM
Anybody ever compare the minox md88 to any of the perviously mentioned spotters?

crumy
04-15-2012, 09:45 PM
All - Today I had the opportunity to look through a swaro and vortex HD model side by side outside. I did so at two different times. Early in the morning (not first light but it was overcast) and then during bright sun light later in the day. I can tell you I was amazed by the Vortex. The swaro priced at 3100 and the vortex at 1500. I can tell you that IMO

Clairity - Equal
Field of View - Swaro
Price - Vortex
Swaro appears less bulky

I obviously don't have a lot of experience with the spotting scopes but I didn't see anything that would make me go. "I want to spend and extra 1500 to buy the swaro" .

So I see a swaro HD in my future.

Bitterroot Bulls
04-16-2012, 07:48 AM
All - Today I had the opportunity to look through a swaro and vortex HD model side by side outside. I did so at two different times. Early in the morning (not first light but it was overcast) and then during bright sun light later in the day. I can tell you I was amazed by the Vortex. The swaro priced at 3100 and the vortex at 1500. I can tell you that IMO

Clairity - Equal
Field of View - Swaro
Price - Vortex
Swaro appears less bulky

I obviously don't have a lot of experience with the spotting scopes but I didn't see anything that would make me go. "I want to spend and extra 1500 to buy the swaro" .

So I see a swaro HD in my future.

So, crumy, I am a little confused by your post. You didn't see anything that would make you want to spend the extra dough, but you see spending the extra in your future?

On the field of view: The newest Swaros are usually coming with the 25-50 wide-angle angle eyepiece. The Vortex 20-60 has the identical field of view specs as the Swaro 20-60 eyepiece.

jay
04-16-2012, 09:07 AM
I'd buy the vortex and have 1600 left to buy other equipment!!!

crumy
04-16-2012, 09:17 AM
You are right.. I meant I see a RAZOR in my future. I guess I am still dealing with the shock that I'm not getting the scope that I spent a 6 months researching. 8-) And yes Jay. I have the money set aside for it so that means there may be some other "stuff" .

Umpqua Hunter
04-16-2012, 01:06 PM
I am also looking for an "80mm" spotter and have also narrowed it to a Swarovski or Razor, so this may be a good thread to ask my questions. I started using Swarovski binoculars and spotting scopes about 15 years ago, and am totally sold on their products and warranty work. However, the excellent reports and the advertised warranty on Vortex has me giving them a serious look this time around.

I have been using a "non-HD" Swarovski 65 spotter for several years now. Last fall while hunting Colorado, I was trying to size up a mule deer buck at first light and desperately needed more light gathering. I believe if I go with one of the bigger 80mm+ spotters that will help considerably in that area. I plan to keep my Swarovski 65 for when I want to lessen weight and bulk, therefore I already own the Swarovski 20-60x eyepiece. Here are the questions I am hung up on:

1. HD versus NON-HD: Since I already have the Swarovski eyepiece, I am thinking of going with the non-HD Swarovski 80 (body only) with is similarly priced to the Razor HD 85 (complete scope with eyepiece). How do you think these two scopes will compare optically? One shop that specializes in hunting optics said that with the naked eye I would really not see much difference between an HD and non-HD Swarovski and this difference is mainly seen when digiscoping. If that is true, I can live with that. If I would have a hard time distinguishing a difference (optically) between the "non-HD" Swarovski 80 to a Razor HD 85, I will go with the Swarovski.

2. MOUNTING: This is a lesser issue but still important to me. I have been using my Swarovski scope with a Manfrotto tripod and have found that the mounting foot on the Swarovski spotter will clamp in directly without the need for an adapter plate. I really like that feature! Does anyone know if the Razor HD 85 will also mount directly in the Manfrotto head without the need for an adapter plate?

Bitterroot Bulls
04-16-2012, 01:46 PM
UH:

My thoughts on your questions.

1. The non-HD Swaro spotters show significantly more Chromatic Aberration than the HD Swaro or Razor HD. Whether or not you see CA I couldn't say. Some people just don't seem to notice it. If this is the case the non-HD will serve you well. As I have stated before, I find the image in the Razor HD comparable to the Swaro HD, and a step above the non-HD.

2. The Razor HD's foot DOES mount in the Manfrotto head without a plate. However, it fits the long way rather than the wide way the Swaro foot fits. So, if it is a ball head, you are good to go. If it is the 700 RC2 head, it will also work well. If it is the 128 RC head, you will have to use an adapter plate. The foot will fit, but the scope will be pointing to the side.

Drhorsepower
04-16-2012, 01:50 PM
I've been told that as well about the hd vs non hd. I have never looked through hd glass, I have the 80mm non hd and really like it. It is also lighter than the razor. I'm sure there is a difference in optical quality, is it worth the extra $, I guess that is based upon the individual. I really don't think you can go wrong either way umpqua, it would be nice to stay with same brand as far as operations and familiarity though.



Bb, how do you know all of those model numbers and differences, geez.

Bitterroot Bulls
04-16-2012, 02:07 PM
Bb, how do you know all of those model numbers and differences, geez.

I am a real geek about optics, DRH. Come to think about it, I am just a real geek I guess. :(

Umpqua Hunter
04-16-2012, 03:19 PM
Thanks BB for two very good answers. I am not terribly familiar with the term chromatic aberration, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. I can see why improved CA would be beneficial. I have had times where there seems to be a bit of a "blue" shift and that I cannot get that razor sharp "focus" I'm after, so I'm thinking CA could be a factor. I've been hunting for a B&C class antelope the last few years and will draw the top unit in Arizona in 2013. I would like to take every advantage to see every nuance when sizing up antelope

I am using the Manfrotto 128 RC head, in fact this winter I got a great deal on a used 128 RC head and a Manfrotto window mount clamp. Can't wait to try that this fall. I am gonna finally get rid of the cheap jerky window mount I have been using for years!!!

About 7 years ago I owned one of the older grey bodied (no rubber armor) Swarovski 80 spotting scopes. I had a real bad experience with the adapter plates constantly coming loose. Even with the set screws, it just tore up the bottom of the mounting plate on the scope. I don't recall there being detents on that scope base for the set screws to fix into so that may have been the problem. If I could mount an adapter plate to the Razor and know it would solidly stay put I would seriously consider going with the Vortex. Any thoughts there?

DR...I'm with ya on the familiarity with Swarovski. The improved CA really has me thinking though. It's kinda painful to think of making a switch...lol

Bitterroot Bulls
04-16-2012, 03:44 PM
UH,

I use my Razor HD on the 128RC quite often. Today, in fact. I actually torque the QR plate on with a little twist of the leatherman. It doesn't come loose often, and hasn't damaged the foot at all.

Drhorsepower
04-16-2012, 04:50 PM
With your kind of money, go for the swarovski! Just kidding. Buy once cry once

Umpqua Hunter
04-16-2012, 05:29 PM
After selling off some toys this winter, I've got about $1700 to do this with. After what BB said about chromatic aberration, I really am thinking about the Razor more seriously. Also by buying a Razor, I would then have two complete scopes with eyepieces (Swaro 65 & Razor). That would be handy when my wife and I are cruising around in the truck checking out antelope. I see Eagle Optics has a 30 day return policy so that would be a great way to give the Razor a good try out. If you buy quality optics, they retain their value pretty well if you want to upgrade later.

BTW is Eagle Optics the same as Vortex, they both appear to be at the same address?

Drhorsepower
04-16-2012, 05:36 PM
They have a killer deal on Zeiss right now if you want to up your budget a few hundred dollars. 2k. I also know where you can get a used zeiss for 1500$ with tripod and pelican case. About 8 years old but gently used

crumy
04-16-2012, 05:37 PM
I have done a lot of research, asking people and the final test of comparing side by side my initial choice (swaro 80 HD) to a vortex 85 hd. I can honestly say that I will have no buyers remorse for going with the vortex. Seems to be a great product. Talked to several people who have used the warranty and believe that I will be saving money and getting an great product with the vortex. Soon people maybe using the vortex as the baseline instead of swaro.

Bitterroot Bulls
04-16-2012, 06:09 PM
Eagle Optics and Vortex are sister companies. There are a lot of good Vortex dealers, however.

UH, I sent you a PM.

Edelweiss
04-16-2012, 07:00 PM
We do a "bat shoot" here in Australia at night.

We have these little yellow targets with black bats on them and we put them out there at 300 yards. Then we get to sniping the bats and who ever has the most bats, the smallest group, and the most points wins.

Looking at a 2 inch wide black mark on a yellow target a 10 pm takes a lot of optic. Most of the rifle scopes are seriously challenged. The Trijicon 5-20x50 I am using sure is.

But what is a very interesting comparison is the quality between spotting scopes. I had always though Leica was toward the top, and that just isn't the case. Of the 3 companies the Ziess is the best "night" spotter, and the best day spotter. All these are 80-85mm objective using similar powers. I wish I knew more about the individual scopes, as they don't belong to me I don't have all the specs.

I think if you buy the absolute best spotting scope made you will never replace it. Same goes for binoculars.