Compact Scope Advice
1. Will either of these scopes provide a better image than the Bushnell at the higher magnifications or will the reduction is size offset the higher quality of the optics?
2. Is there much of a difference between the HD and non HD versions? I've seen some info that indicates the difference is very slight.
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2. There won't be a lot of difference in bright daylight and at moderate magnification. However, you will most likely be able to distinguish between them when using them at high magnifications, or in low lighting. That being said - the non-HD version is pretty darn good.
You might also look at the Kowas and the Pentax 65mmED combined with their high-end zoom lens (or their excellent primaries), and not their zoom lens that it is often bundled with.
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Yes, the Swaro 65 HD has been, consistently, the best 65mm scope in my tests for overall optics. Excellent scope in either the standard or HD version and, true, the difference is slight, but the difference is there. Not going to see it at magnifications much under 40x, but you will see it at 60x when birding. If you opt to do some photography, the HD will always get you sharper pics at any magnification.
I can also tell you that many folks I know who opted to save some bucks by getting the standard version, are now kcking themselves for not getting the HD. I suspect it is the "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" thing, but, it is also a "I spent that much money, anyway, so I should have spent a bit more to get the HD, anyway" thing.
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