Vortex Razor HD Spotting scope
Tried to post during the past week, but my post seems to have disappeared. Hope this one goes through.
I got too impatient and ended up buying the Razor scope before seeing Joannie's review. Thus, I will share my impressions.
First, I am not an optics professional and I do not have access to other scopes for direct head to head comparaison, nor do I have charts or any other testing equipment. I have I have been birding for over 30 years and have had a 22 X 60 mm scope for 25 + years. While I have used other scopes, this has been limited to brief looks throug others' scope while on outings.
I got the 20 - 60 X 85 angled scope, the specs for which are available here:
http://www.opticsplanet.com/vortex-razo ... scope.html
The scope appears to be solidly built. The eyepiece locks firmly in place and both the dual focus and zoom are smooth. The lens covers appear to be sturdily built, but are held only by friction; simply slips over for the eyepiece and fits snugly on the end with a lip holding on the inside for the objective lens. There should be no issue with the lens cap, but I wonder if the objective cover will always be such a snug fit or will it eventually be too loose to stay on? These covers do not come wtih any tethers, but do have eyelets one can use to tether them to the scope, which I did using black twine.
The objective end of the scope is threaded to accept, I assume, filters. The sn shade operates smoothly and easily. The tripod ring has click-stops at 45 and 90 degrees on each side. The eyecups (I also bought the 30X eyepice) twist in and out smoothly and stay in place even though there are no click-stops.
The scope comes with a padded see-through case. A form-fitting case is also available, but I did not purchase this optional piece. The zippered objective "cap" of the case is equipped with velcro so that it can be fastened out of the way underneath the scope. The lens cover can also be tucked inside this cap and is held in place underneath the scope. The lens cap stays in place only on account of the stiffness of the case material. I suspect that this will not last and that I will have to put some additional velcro if I want to keep doing this. The flaps covering the eyepiece can be folded inwards and are held together with velcro to allow these to be tucked underneath the scope for viewing. The eyepiece cap can be tucked in the pocket formed when the two flaps are velcroed together. Unlike the objective, I do not expect to have to add velcro to the lens cap to keep it secure when using the scope.
Given the location of the focus knobs, one needs to open up the case very widely in order to use the scope. Thus, I wonder how much protection the case would actually give the scope if it were to fall over when the case is open for viewing. Thus, I wonder if this is the reason Vortex offers a form-fitting case.
I have now had a chance to take the scope out under both overcast and sunny conditions and was able to compare it directly, not only with my old scope, but also with that of a friend. I have tried it on a car window mount and on a Manfrotto 128 RC head on sturdy legs.
I tried using it on a car window mount and, as expected, while it can be done, it is very awkward. One needs to turn it 90 degrees using the tripod ring. I think I will keep my 60 mm straight scope for this purpose!
I never used bothered using a sight in the past, but I had to try. Well, either I do not know how to use one, or the peepsight is useless.
On an overcast day, I took it to a beach to look across the water at some distant objects and to compare it to my old scope (60 mm Bushnell Spacemaster with a 22 wide angle eyepiece). When I compared the two scopes, there was no comparaison. The Razor certainly is a better scope. The scope was bright and sharp, the colours appeared to be true and edge to edge sharpness seemed very good, at least to me.
I looked across the water and was able to read the word "MOTEL" on a sign 6 kilomters away (measured using Google Maps). The letters were easily visible and very sharp. But granted, I had seen the sign before and the letters are huge. I was also able to make out, but with quite some difficulty, the brand name of a travel trailer located 1.1 kilomters away (measured using GPS).
Several days later, on a bright sunny day, I again went to the same spot. The viewing conditions were so difficult that I could barely locate the motel sign, let alone read it. I was amazed at the difference viewing conditions can make!
Later, again when overcaste, I took it to another location, and again, I was quite impressed, in that I was able to identify a distant swallow as a Cliff Swallow. Returning home, I used Google Maps again to calculate the distance - over 1 kilometre.
Another time, I decided to join a fellow birder conducting a hawk watch, hoping that someone there would have another scope with which to compare my new scope. Conditions were overcast again, but I was in luck as there was a scope set up with which to compare my new scope. Two of us, both birdwatchers for over 35 years, looked through both scopes. Our first reaction was that at the same power, there was no diference between the two scopes. However, after looking through both scopes with critical eyes, we agreed that the other scope was marginally brighter and had better edge-to-edge sharpness, but overall it was very very close. Was I disappointed that my new scope did not beat out the other? Not really, when you consider that the other scope was a Kowa 884 with a 20-60 zoom.
I also compared the 30 power to the zoom eyepiece and as expected, it has a wider field of view and is brighter.
I do have one issue with the scope, or more precisely, with the zoom. At 20 power, it appears, that one is looking through a tunnel, but this effect disappears as one zooms in. I find this annoying, but not having used zooms very much, I do not know whether this is simply how zooms work, or if it is more noticeable in this particular scope. Perhaps one gets used to it, but for now, I fing it somewhat annoying.
Well, that about sums it up. Thus, despite the fact that it is not the absolute best, I am quite satisfied so far, especially considering the price I paid.
All the best,
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Thank you for the review. It is very encouraging to see how well the Razor compares to the Kowa...widely considered the "best" spotting scope currently on the market.
I wanted to mention that statement about the tunnel-view you experience through the zoom at lower magnficiation. This is normal for most scopes. Almost all conventional zoom eyepieces (with the exception of the Zeiss, Baader, Swarovski, Leica and Zen Ray wide angle zooms) suffer from a narrower apparent field of view at the lowest magnification setting. This is because of the design of most zoom eyepieces.
For what it is worth I would keep an eye out for Vortex to introduce a 25-50x wide angle zoom in the near future. That would address that one concern of yours.
I agree. Those wide angle 25-50x zooms we are seeing on the high end stuff are really quite remarkable, but oh so darn expensive.Vortex appears to have made a successful entry into the premium spotting scope category, so perhaps they will add one of these wide-angle zooms in the future.
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