Request for information
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I am sure Jane will chime in with some more specific details. I am not sure what the objective or prism arrangement is on either of the two scopes in question. One might use a doublet objective while the other might use a triplet design. Both, obviously, utilize some form of extra low dispersion glass in the objective design.
Out of the two you mentioned I would think the Kenai would be the better choice in terms of utmost resolution. The larger 80 mm objective lens should be able to provide more light and therefore more detail at higher magnifications and longer distances....assuming all else is equal. Plus you also have to consider that it comes with both a zoom and a fixed power, wide angle eyepiece as part of the deal. That combination should allow you to cover just about any situation.
You did ask for other suggestions in that price range. I hope I am not breaking any forum rules by suggesting two scopes that Opticsplanet does not currently carry. If I am then you have my apologies Jane.
I just recently did an extensive review/comparison between the Theron Optics Mag82 (very similar to the Nikon 82 mm Fieldscope) and the the Zen Ray ED2 82 mm spotter. Both scopes can be found in the $900-$1000 price range. Both offer absolutely superb optical performance for the price and are comparable with scopes costing two to three times the price. The Theron Mag82 comes equipped with a similar combination to the Leupold Kenai...a 30x wide angle eyepiece and, in the case of the Theron, a 25-75x zoom. The Zen Ray comes with a 20-60x zoom eyepiece but a 30x wide angle and a new 25-50x wide angle zoom are also available. I would certainly recommend both in this price range.
For that kind of detailed, long distance work, you'll need all the performance you can get and that means, all else equal, the larger scope would be my first choice. The Gold Ring HD 12-40x60 is a long time favorite pack it in scope for hunting and rightfully so, but it's no match for a good 80mm objective scope like the Leupold 25-60x80HD when it comes to seeing fine detail and those kinds of distances. Yes, an 80 mm scope will be more weight and size to pack and will also require a heavier tripod to support it, but if it is a matter of making or breaking your hunt, I would deal with it and go with the larger scope.
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