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Mak Spotting Scopes -- Recommendation for an Intro Model

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Mak Spotting Scopes -- Recommendation for an Intro Model

Postby Butlet2 on Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:30 am

Dear PlanetOptics:

I am interested in purchasing an intro spotting scope that I would also use for some astronomy viewing also. However, as I have found out, unless you spend lots of $$$ and buy something that is made for a specific purpose, you won't end up being entirely satisfied. Realizing this, I am looking for a good quality, Intro Mak spotting scope, that will do well for birding, which will be its main purpose, but I will also get some astronomy use for it. Eventually, I will probably sell it when I determine specifically what I want, realize limitations, etc.

What are your recommendations? Pricewise, I am looking between $200 to $500. Optically, is there quite a difference between a Mak 125 and a very good quality spotting scope? And finally, is a Mak a good thing to "focus" on, specifically for the dual purpose described above.

Lastly, one final technical question, because of the design of the Mak, it doesn't invert the image as in a conventional telescope?

Thanks for the information.


Postby on Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:28 am


Yes, Maks do make excellent multi-use instruments, though, like any design, a Maksutov has some shortcomings. For instance, I don't like Maks for birding for a couple of reasons.

First, Maks are very slow to focus and this is always a potential issue in birding where getting on a bird fast before it moves is important.

Second, it is difficult to get low magnifications with a Mak because of their very long focal length. Low magnifications with their wider felds of view also make it easier to get a bird in the eyepiece before it disappears. Yes, you could use a 40mm Plossl to get 31x, but 40mm Plossls have a very restricted field of view and you still waste time changing eyepieces when you need a closer look.

I'm not saying you can't use a Mak for birding, of course; I'm just saying a conventional 20-60x zoom spotting scope is a more pratical choice for that application.

Is there a difference optically between a 125 Mak and a premium grade spotting scope as far as optics? Yes. I have yet to test any 125 Mak, with the possible exception of the fabled Questar, that will optically compete with the special glass versions of a Swarovski, Leica, Kowa, Zeiss or Nikon.

On the other hand, it's hard to argue with the interchangeable eyepiece feature of a Mak. In your price range, you have several we carry, the Celestron C90, ... scope.html, the Celestron C130, ... scope.html and the Meade ETX-90 spotting scope, Of these, I like the optics on the ETX the best.
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