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View Full Version : Low light/resolution scope and bino comparison?


westcoastr
07-23-2008, 7:30 AM
I am in the market for a new rifle scope, spotting scope and a new pair of binos. While it is easy to compare the size, magnification, weight, and feel/fit, I find it very difficult to compare the low light capability and ability to resolve images at high magnification as there is no single number that explains this. Manufacturers talk a lot about the materials and methods but give little quantatative data on actual performance. I don't trust the gun magazine writers "reviews".

Is there a semi-scientific comparison source out there? I would imagine the tests can't be too hard if you have the equipment but I've yet to find anything.

Btw: The rifle is a lightweight Kimber Montana 84M in 308, and I am looking for both scopes and the binos to be on the light side for backpack-style hunting. I won't buy low-end stuff and I'm not against buying high-end products, but want to be sure it is worth the money. I can't buy all three at the highend this year without a divorce proceeding attached.

LibertyOptics
07-23-2008, 8:08 AM
I compare optics side by side about twice a month, and write the results on my blog. I just tested the vortex viper 8x42 binos with three offerings from Minox, and today I recive the Lupy Gold Ring HD 8x42 to test against the Vipers. The next test will be compact spotters (Nikon ED 50 vs Lupy 14-50x60 Gold ring HD) and after that high end spotters (Kowa Prominar vs Zeiss T*FL). I have done many riflescopes but not published the results other than comments on posts. We are standardizing using resolution charts, a Gretag MacBeth, as well as non-conventional targets.

I would be glad to assist you.

Scott

wildcard
07-23-2008, 8:57 AM
Plus I and many other can vouch for the information and customer service you will get from Scott there.

Solidsnake87
07-23-2008, 10:31 AM
I don't know what your budget is but my Nightforce 3.5-15x50 is pretty crisp and clear in low light and the illuminated reticle helps lots! Leupold is very awesome too!

westcoastr
07-23-2008, 12:17 PM
Scott: I noticed you were impressed by the Nikon 13-30x50 ultralight spotting scope in your blog. it is significantly lighter than just about any other scope out there but is it that great to make up for a 10mm smaller objective lens vs a 60mm? my bino's are 10x42 so is it enough of an improvement to justify bringing a spotter at all or heavier 60mm? I am not familier with the Kruger or Vortex in your comparison. how does the nikon stck up to other better known 60mm spotters?

SoldierSnake87: the Nightforce look great, but they don't make anything in the 40mm range. I have a Leupold VXII 2-7x28mm on my lever gun which is great, but there had been a lot of Leupold bashing lately and I'm not sure if it is B.S. or true yet.

maxicon
07-23-2008, 1:18 PM
This is a big problem in the industry. There are no easily accessible standards for casual reviewers, and manufacturers don't like to publish resolution and transmission data. You're left with totally subjective comments from users about which they like and how they compare to others.

Resolution charts, standardized measurements of repeatable setups, and controlled setup photos would go a really long way towards separating the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's a non-trivial task, in both time and money.

Definitely looking forward to LO's testing results!

LibertyOptics
07-23-2008, 4:19 PM
Scott: I noticed you were impressed by the Nikon 13-30x50 ultralight spotting scope in your blog. it is significantly lighter than just about any other scope out there but is it that great to make up for a 10mm smaller objective lens vs a 60mm? my bino's are 10x42 so is it enough of an improvement to justify bringing a spotter at all or heavier 60mm? I am not familier with the Kruger or Vortex in your comparison. how does the nikon stck up to other better known 60mm spotters?

SoldierSnake87: the Nightforce look great, but they don't make anything in the 40mm range. I have a Leupold VXII 2-7x28mm on my lever gun which is great, but there had been a lot of Leupold bashing lately and I'm not sure if it is B.S. or true yet.



A 60mm spotter with an equivalent optical system would be a trade off of increased weight and but with 30% larger objective, so you would have a brighter sight picture at equivalent magnifications (larger exit pupil). The ED50 is definitely a huge leap above your 10x42 binos, and well worth packing for long range detail. It's that good.

The secret is the Nikon high res ED glass, it really works, and I won't own a spotter without it again. So it will be a step above any 60mm spotter with non-ED optics (up to a point, I guess, a 82mm Kowa 821 might have something to say about that...)

Nikon got it right this year, and I've recommended and sold a few ED Fieldscopes of all sizes and everyone has been tickled pink. I may even add the ED82 Fieldscope to the Kowa/Zeiss test!

LibertyOptics
07-23-2008, 4:24 PM
Resolution charts, standardized measurements of repeatable setups, and controlled setup photos would go a really long way towards separating the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's a non-trivial task, in both time and money.

Definitely looking forward to LO's testing results!

Frank Galli, owner of Sniper's Hide, agrees with you and offered me a lot of encouragement, he felt I was on the right track with the blog and commentary and thought a few standardized setups/distances would be of aid in credibility and consistency in comparison. You're right, it is time consuming and not cheap, but I really enjoy it and will work to do reviews on at least a monthly basis in the very near future. Subjective, yes, but I'm fussy and critical and not easily pleased so if I recommend something chances are you'll be pleased too. At least, so far that's how it's worked out the last few years ;):D

Thanks,

Scott