Gary Eliseo of Competition Machine is now (again) manufacturing adjustable heads for spotting scopes. These work great for High Power, Three Position, Across-the-Course, Prone, and F-Class shooting. The head fits on a scope stand, so it can adjust to any height you need. This is a super-high quality unit according to our buddy Dennis Santiago: “They’re back — the best scope head on the planet is back in production. Direct from Gary Eliseo this time. Uses any 3/4″- or 1″-diameter shaft stand.”
Gary tells us: “I had so many people ask me to bring my scope head back into production I thought I’d try a trial run to see how they were received. Well, the first run nearly sold out just by word of mouth! I do have some still available from the first run, and we’ll do another run. Price is $185.00 plus shipping. You can choose from 12 Cerakote colors.”
Eliseo Universal Scope Head Features
Scope Head can be mounted above or below scope body.
Scope Head works for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. 6.25″ Offset.
Scope Head works with 3/4″-diameter and 1″-diameter uprights.
Integral dovetail mount (saves wear and tear on spotting scope base threads).
Coarse and fine elevation settings require no tools to adjust.
Adjustable windage disc brake friction.
The Competition Machine Universal Scope Head is available right now — a few units are left from the first production run. To order, call 714-630-5734. To see other Competition Machine products, including tube gun chassis kits, visit www.GotXring.com.
Nightforce Optics will unveil new products at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits this upcoming Friday. The big news is an 82mm spotting scope — the first-ever spotter from Nightforce. We knew Nightforce was planning an important product launch, but frankly this announcement caught us by surprise — Nightforce has always been a riflescope company. This is new territory. Why is Nightforce rolling out a high-magnification spotting scope now? Kyle Brown, Nightforce’s Director of Sales and Marketing, explains: “Our customers have asked for many years when we would introduce a spotting scope. The answer was, ‘at a time when we could produce a spotting scope equivalent in performance and quality to Nightforce riflescopes.’ That time is now.”
The new TS-82™ Xtreme Hi-Def™ spotting scope features a large 82mm objective, plus high-quality, European-made APO Fluorite Glass. The “street price”, including a 20-70X eyepiece, should be $2522.00 ($2600 MSRP). Shown above is the straight-body version, but the TS-82 will also be offered with an angled body for the same price ($2522.00 including 20-70X eyepiece). Nightforce promises that, by the end of 2013, an optional wide-angle 30-60X eyepiece will be available. In addition, Nightforce plans to offer an accessory mount for attaching a red dot sight or a laser rangefinder. This is good news for long-range hunters — you can locate your target through the spotter and then instantly range distance-to-target with an LRF aligned precisely with the spotting scope lens. Nightforce will also offer a handy iPhone accessory mount for digiscoping.
At the NRA Meeting in Houston, Nightforce will also introduce a new, side-focus 2.5-10x42mm NXS riflescope. For years, the Nightforce 2.5-10x32mm NXS Compact has been a popular optic. The new Nightforce 2.5-10x42mm NXS Compact, with its larger objective, should be more effective in low light. Yet the scope is still fairly light-weight (19 oz.–20.5 oz.) and compact (11.9 inches in length). Expect “street price” to be around $1740.00.
The notable feature of the new 2.5-10x42mm NXS is its side parallax adjustment (25 yards to infinity). It’s unusual to find side parallax control on an optic with 10X max magnification. The new 2.5×10 also incorporates red or green reticle illumination with adjustable intensity settings. Six different reticles are available, including the new IHR™ (International Hunting Reticle). The 2.5-10x42mm is offered with .250 MOA Hi-Speed™ or .1 Mil-Radian adjustments on exposed turrets, or, alternately, enclosed (capped) turrets with .250 MOA clicks. For more information, visit NightforceOptics.com
At long range, small bullet holes are much easier to see in the white than in the black. When you’re practicing at long range on high power targets, one way to enhance your ability to see your bullet holes is to print a “negative” version of the regulation bullseye target.
Forum member Watercam uses a Pentax PF-80ED spotting scope. With his 80mm Pentax he can see 6mm bullet holes in the white at 600 yards (in very good conditions), but holes in the black are only visible out to 400 yards or so. Accordingly, Watercam uses a modified “reversed” black-to-white target for 600-yard practice.
Watercam told us: “I just received my Pentax PF-80ED-A angled spotting scope the other day and it is awesome. Great quality. I traded a straight Kowa 77mm fluorite for it through SWFA.com. Eye relief with the Pentax 10-60 power zoom is 18-22mm (much more than the Kowa zoom), so I can use glasses with no problem. The view through the Pentax is very sharp and contrasty with great color.
With my 6mm and limited mirage I’m seeing defined, 6mm holes in the white out to 600. In the black, I can see bullets holes at about 400 with my eyes. I am printing reverse-color targets for training without a pit partner at the 600-yard line.”
Brits Use New White-Field Target for F-Class
In the UK, ranges are now using a “reverse-style” target with a mostly white area. Laurie Holland says this allows shooters to see shots much more easily. Laurie reports: “Here’s a photo of the 500/600 yard F-Class match target we use in PSSA comps at Diggle Ranges with club members Chris Hull (L) and Terry Mann (R). We now use this target form at all ranges up to 1K for F-Class, and, yes you can often see your hits at 600 on the target before the markers pull it. Regards from England — Laurie”.
Day-Glo Stick-on Targets
If you’re not concerned with official scoring rings, you can use an all-white target with a bright, fluorescent target dot in the middle. A 2″- or 3″-diameter stick-on target dot is highly visible at 600 yards. With a high-quality scope, you can use the small black diamonds in the center for precise aiming. The Birchwood Casey Target Spots® assortment (item #33928-TSA) offers neon orange target dots in 1″, 2″, and 3″ diameters. This “value pack” includes 72-1″, 36-2″, and 24-3″ self-adhesive circles. Current Amazon price is $4.48 with free shipping.
I have been looking for a bag that can securely carry a large spotting scope as well as chronograph hardware, wind meter, and camera gear — all the extra stuff I typically take to the range in addition to the essential cleaning and shooting products that go in my regular range kit. The folks at Grizzly Industrial told me to check out their new 20″ Range Bag by Bald Eagle. These 20″ Range Bags, are very versatile and well-made. With eyepiece removed, my jumbo-sized Pentax PF-100ED spotting scope fit perfectly inside the padded central compartment. At the same time I could haul ALL the peripherals for my PVM-21 chronograph, plus a camera, wind meter, spare Pentax eyepiece, AND a netbook computer. Without the netbook, there is room for four pistols along the side channels. If you don’t need to pack a large spotting scope, the main compartment could easily hold 3 more pistols in Bore-Store socks, plus holsters, ammo boxes, and earmuffs.
Watch the video to see how much stuff will fit in this bag. NOTE: If you carry a tripod or windflag stand using the straps under the case lid, be sure to position the foam padding carefully to prevent any direct contact with a spotting scope in the main compartment. Overall, the 20″ Range Bag is a remarkably capable gear-hauler. With the nicely-padded interior it will safely carry expensive items such as laser rangefinders, and binoculars. There is also a slash pocket on the rear side (not shown in video) that will hold thin items such as target stickers and shooting log-books. The 20″ Range Bag is offered in four (4) different colors: Red, Black, Green, and Camo. Price is $59.95 for solid colors and $61.95 for camo.
Smaller, 15″ Range Bag Offered Also
Grizzly also sells more compact, 15″-wide Bald Eagle Range Bags. There are six (6) color choices for the 15″ Range Bag: Red, Black, Navy Blue, Green, Hot Pink (for ladies), and Camo. Solid colors cost $45.00, while the Camo Bag costs a couple dollars more ($46.95). If you don’t need to haul a spotting scope, you may prefer the smaller version. The 15″ version still offers lot of carrying capacity — it’s big enough to hold ammo, muffs, target stickers, and much more.
REVIEW Disclosure: Grizzly Industrial provided the 20″ Range Bag for testing and evaluation.
Having heard many good things about Vortex spotting scopes from our readers and Forum members, on Day 1 of SHOT Show we headed over to the Vortex Optics booth. On display was the entire line-up of Vortex Viper and Razor spotting scopes (both HD and non-HD), with objective diameters ranging from 50mm to 85mm. We know that the 85mm Razor HD has been very popular with our readers, as it offers excellent “bang for the buck”. This spotter runs $1599.00 complete with 20-60 power eyepiece. That’s about half the cost of the big name Euro-brand spotting scopes with comparable objectives. Making the Razor HD even more attractive this year is the availability of a new 18X/23X long-eye-relief eyepiece for Vortex’s flagship spotting scope.
For 2013, Vortex has added much-requested 65mm and 50mm models to its Razor HD line of spotting scopes. This is good news for guys who prefer a lighter, more compact spotting scope, or who don’t need the extra light-gathering power of a big 85mm objective. The 65mm and 50mm Vortex Razor HD models should be available by mid-spring 2013, and they will be priced quite a bit lower than their 85mm big brother shown above.
Watch Video to See Vortex Spotting Scopes and NEW 2.5-10X FFP Tactical Scope
Watch Factory Video on Vortex Razor 85mm HD Spotting Scope
After reviewing Vortex’s spotting scopes, we checked out an all-new, compact first focal plane scope from Vortex that we predict will be very popular with three-gun and tactical shooters. The New Vortex Viper PSD 2.5-10x32mm tactical scope features an FFP design. This enables rapid ranging with the provided reticles at all magnification levels. This scope with be offered with mil-based clicks and EBR-1 milrad reticle, or with MOA-based clicks and a EBR-1 reticle with MOA-based subtensions. We were also pleased to learn that Vortex will add a 6-24x50mm model to its Viper HS riflescope line.
Following shoulder surgery, our Contributing Editor German Salazar moved to F-TR shooting, replacing his sling and iron sights with bipod and scope. German has done remarkably well for an F-TR newbie, winning his first two 500-yard matches (in F-TR class) at Phoenix-area ranges. German has been shooting his “old Palma rifle with a scope and bipod attached”. This rig features a Gilkes-Ross action in a Robertson/Sitman Highpower Prone stock with an Anschütz 5020 trigger and 30″ 1:11″-twist Krieger barrel. The rifle is fitted with a Canadian-made Rempel “Ski” bipod and a Leupold BR 24X scope.
On his Riflemans’ Journal website, German has crafted a helpful article with advice for “sling shooters contemplating a busman’s holiday into F-Class.” Even seasoned F-Class shooters can learn something from German’s observations in his F-TR: Scoping it Out article. Here are some highlights from the article:
Carpet Under the Bipod
“I quickly learned that a piece of carpet was an essential component under the bipod. Without the carpet, [on dirt surfaces] the bipod tends to dig into the dirt with every shot, resulting in odd elevation shots. On the concrete it isn’t quite as essential, but it smooths the recoil movement appreciably and is worthwhile. [I used] a short-nap carpet remnant for this, but my car floor mat also worked well.”
Clicking vs. Holding Off
“I’ve been shooting iron sights and clicking sight knobs for most of my life; trying to hold off made me very uncomfortable and the reflex pull of the trigger just wasn’t there. Once I returned to holding center and clicking, I was more comfortable and was able to execute my shots more quickly and cleanly. By zeroing the windage knob I can also easily return to a previous setting when conditions warrant.”
Reading Mirage with Spotting Scope
“In conversations with other F-Class shooters in our club, I found that few were using a spotting scope to see mirage; they were largely relying on the rifle scope. However, the rifle scope is focused on the target, as it must be to eliminate parallax, and thus cannot show mirage with the same clarity as a spotting scope that is focused roughly halfway down the range.”
Positioning Your Spotting Scope
“I position the spotting scope in the same manner as I did when shooting from the sling. It is very close to me and can be used without moving the head from the cheekpiece. The object, as always, is to minimize movement in order to maintain a consistent position and to minimize the time lost between the last glance at the mirage and breaking the shot.”
Carl Zeiss Sports Optics has some very attractive promotions in place right now — with rebates from $50 to $500.00. With Zeiss Field Days mail-in rebates you can save money on premium rifle scopes, spotting scopes, laser rangefinders, and rangefinding binoculars. But time’s running out. The 2012 Carl Zeiss Field Days Promotion runs out on December 31, 2012. CLICK HERE for Field Days Rebate Coupon.
Save $500.00 on Zeiss Diascope Spotting Scopes
Zeiss produces a very high-quality spotting scope. We did a three-way test with a Pentax PF-100ED, 2010-model (one piece) Swarovski 80mm, and 2012 Zeiss 85mm Diascope. Compared to the big Pentax, the Zeiss could resolve very fine lines better and the Zeiss had less chromatic aberration. The Diascope was very, very close to the Swaro in resolution, but it had a slight edge in low light given its larger front objective. Most of our testers gave a slight edge to the Swaro for contrast. The dual-rate focus system on the Zeiss does take a while to master, but it allows faster focusing than either the Pentax (which uses two separate knobs for course and fine focus), or the Swaro (which has one large full-diameter focusing ring). If you’re choosing between the Swaro and the Zeiss, the $500.00 rebate can easily settle the argument. Street price for the Zeiss Angled 85mm Diascope (before rebate) is $2999.99 including Vario 20-60x Eyepiece. Do note, however, that anyone considering a high-end spotting scope should also look at the Kowa 88mm TSN-88X Prominar HD series ($2310.00 street price for TSN-883 Angled, BODY ONLY).
How to Get Your Discounts
All purchases must be made from a Carl Zeiss Authorized Dealer in the United States and rebate request forms must be completed and postmarked within 30 days of purchase. Payment will be made by a ZEISS Prepaid Reward Card by American Express. For promotion details, visit the Field Days Promo Page. For faster payment and real-time tracking, register on-line at Zeiss.4myrebate.com. After submitting your rebate forms, check the status of your rebate with the Zeiss Online Rebate Tracker.
$500 rebate on the 65mm and 85mm VICTORY DiaScope (plus free tripod).
$300 rebate on the award-winning VICTORY RF rangefinding binoculars.
$50 rebate on the award-winning VICTORY 8×26 PRF laser rangefinding monocular.
$100 rebate on the NEW Conquest HD 42mm binoculars.
$100 rebate on the NEW Conquest 30mm Duralyt Riflescopes.
$100 rebate on all riflescopes that have any Rapid-Z reticle.
by Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion
Assess the Terrain and How the Wind Will Interact with It
Before you begin a match, take a few minutes to look around the range at the terrain, any obstructions, range topography (berms and backstop), and trees, buildings or structures that could affect wind flow over the range. Imagine what might happen if the wind was from the left or right, headwind or tailwind. Depending upon the direction, significant effects may be seen on range. A head or tail wind may ripple across the berms, causing elevation changes, both high and low. A tall side berm, like the east side berm at Ben Avery, may cause turbulence when the wind comes from that direction. Blocking features might shield most of the wind but a break along the range can funnel strong gusts through the gap with no other indications. Take a few notes about the effects of different wind directions and refer to them if the prevailing direction changes. (Tip courtesy Tony Robertson.)
Use a Spotting Scope, Even When Shooting a Scoped Rifle
A good spotting scope can “see” mirage much more clearly than even an expensive rifle scope. Take your spotting scope to the line and position it as sling shooters do, close enough to use without much movement. Focus the scope approximately 1/3 of the way down range or where the most significant wind effects are likely to occur. Take a quick look while waiting for pit service, glance at the flags and compare to your scope sight picture. I often see ambiguous indications at the target through the rifle scope, but see a clear indication of wind direction and speed through the spotting scope at the shorter distance. When shooting the Arizona Palma Championship at Ben Avery last weekend, I was scoring while the wind was coming from the east. Shooters up and down the line were out to the left, losing points. Mirage at the target looked moderate and the flags weren’t indicating strong wind. As I focused the spotting scope back, the mirage suddenly looked like it was flowing twice as fast around 500 yards than it was closer or farther. It wasn’t until I realized that the access road cut through the berm there that I understood what was happening. (Tip courtesy Gary Eliseo.)
Don’t Over-React to Something That May Be an Anomaly
On ranges with sizable berms, a headwind or tailwind can cause significant elevation problems. It is generally not possible to see or predict when this will occur. When the conditions exist that cause elevation changes and other competitors are experiencing the same problem, the best strategy is to ignore it. Certainly, avoid shooting when the head or tail wind is gusting, the same as you would in a crosswind. But, if you react to random, range-induced elevation changes, the only likely result is to make it worse. Whether the problem is caused by range or ammunition, maintain your waterline hold until you have evidence that something has fundamentally changed.
My .284 Shehane will usually require a click or two down during a string as the barrel warms. That is normal and manageable. But, if your shots are just bouncing up and down in the 10 ring, leave it alone. The same is also true of an occasional gust pushing a shot into the 9 ring. If the conditions have not changed and one shot just went out, it may be the result of a random occurrence that was not predictable. (Tip courtesy “School of Hard Knocks”.)
Adjust Spotting Scope Focus and Magnification as Needed to View Mirage vs. Target Details
In F-Class we only need to see mirage, spotters, and scoring disks. That does not take a lot of magnification. My scope is a Nikon 25-75x82mm ED. It is a superb scope for the money and makes it trivial to see minor variations in mirage. It is good to have the high magnification available, and it can always be reduced if necessary. I use different power settings for different situations.
Setting Magnification Levels
During a match, in very good viewing conditions, I set my spotting scope at 75X, full power. The mirage is more subtle in the morning and greater magnification is needed.
During a match with heavy mirage I set my spotting scope at about 40X. I have no problem seeing mirage, even at this magnification.
When practicing at 300 yards or closer I set my spotting scope at max power (75X) so I can see the little 6mm holes from my 6BR rifle. I usually need to focus back and forth between shots to see both bullet holes and mirage.
Steven Blair, 2012 California State Long Range F-Open Champion, has been shooting since childhood and competing for over 30 years. Before retiring, Steve spent 16 years in Engineering and IT with General Atomics. He has held Engineering and Marketing positions with several firearms companies and worked on projects from pistols to 155mm howitzers.
While attending the CA Long Range Championship a while back, we had the opportunity to test the performance of a high-magnification (63X) spotting scope in near-ideal conditions (maybe the best I’ve ever witnessed). On the event’s last day we arrived at 5:45 am, literally as the sun was cresting the horizon. I quickly deployed our Pentax PF-100ED spotting scope, fitted with a Pentax SMC-XW 10mm fixed-power eyepiece. When used with the 100mm Pentax scope, this 10mm eyepiece yields 63X magnification. Befitting its $359.00 price, this eyepiece is extremely clear and sharp.
At the crack of dawn, viewing conditions were ideal. No mist, no mirage, no wind. The first thing this Editor noticed was that I could see metal nail heads on the target boards. That was astonishing. As soon as the first practice targets went up, to my surprise, I could see 6.5mm, 7mm, and 30-caliber bullet holes in the white at 1000 yards.
That’s right, I could see bullet holes at 1000. I know many of you folks may not believe that, but there was no mistaking when I saw a 7mm bullet cut the white line separating the Nine Ring and Eight Ring on the target in view. (I was watching that target as the shot was fired and saw the shot-hole form). And when I looked at the 30-cal targets, the bullet holes in the white were quite visible. In these perfect conditions I could also make out 3/8″ bolt heads on the target frames.
The Human Factor
When viewing the bullet holes, I was using my left naked eye (no safety glasses or magnification). I also had a contact lens in my right eye (needed for distance vision). To my surprise, while I could see the bullet holes without much difficulty with my left eye, things were fuzzier and slightly more blurry with the right eye, even when I re-focused the scope.
Then I invited 3 or 4 shooters to look through the scope. One younger guy, with good eyes, said immediately: “Yeah, I can see the holes — right there at 4 o’clock and seven o’clock. Wow.” Some older guys, who were wearing glasses, could not see the holes at all, no matter what we did to the scope’s main focus and diopter adjustment.
The lesson here — if you have to wear glasses or corrective contact lenses, just that extra bit of optical interference may make a difference in what you can see through the scope. Basically anything that goes between the scope eyepiece and your eyeball can degrade the image somewhat. So… you may be better off removing your glasses if you can still obtain good focus sharpness using the diopter adjustment and focus ring. I did the left vs. right eye test a half dozen times, and I could definitely see small features at 1000 yards with my naked eye that I could not see with my right eye fitted with a contact lens. (I did have to re-focus the scope for each eye, since one had a corrective lens while the other did not.)
Mirage Degrades Image Sharpness and Resolution
The “magic light” prevailed for only an hour or so, and then we started to get some mirage. As soon as the mirage appeared I was no longer able to see raw bullet holes, though I could still easily see black pasters on the black bulls. When the mirage started, the sharpness of the visible image degraded a huge amount. Where I could see bullet holes at dawn, by mid-morning I could barely read the numbers on the scoring rings. Lesson: If you want to test the ulimate resolution of your optics, you need perfect conditions.
Chromatic Aberration Revealed
As the light got brighter and the mirage increased I started to see blue and red fringing at the edges of the spotting disk and the large numerals. This was quite noticeable. On one side of the bright, white spotting disc you could see a dark red edge, while on the other side there was a blue edge (harder to see but still present).
The photo below was taken through the Pentax spotter lens using a point and shoot camera held up to the eyepiece. The sharpness of the Pentax was actually much better than this photo shows, but the through-the-lens image does clearly reveal the red and blue fringing. This fringing is caused by chromatic aberration — the failure of a lens to focus all colors to the same point. Chromatic aberration, most visible at high magnification, causes different wavelengths of light to have differing focal lengths (see diagram). Chromatic aberration manifests itself as “fringes” of color along boundaries that separate dark and bright parts of the image, because each color in the optical spectrum cannot be focused at a single common point on the optical axis. Keep in mind that the Pentax does have “ED” or low-dispersion glass, so the effect would be even more dramatic with a cheaper spotting scope.
If you wonder why top-of-the-line spotting scopes (such as the $3995 Leica APO-Televid 82) cost so much, the answer is that they will deliver even LESS chromatic aberration at long range and high magnification. With their exotic apochromatic (APO), ultra-low-dispersion glass, a few ultra-high-end spotting scopes can deliver an image without the color edging you see in the photo above.
The Pentax PF-100ED is a heck of a spotting scope. Any scope that can resolve bullet holes at 1000 yards is impressive. But if you want the ultimate in optical performance, with minimal chromatic aberration, you may need to step up to something like the 88mm Kowa Prominar TSN-883 with Flourite Crystal lenses ($2450.00 body only), or the 82mm Leica APO ($3899.00 with 25-50X eyepiece).
EDITOR’s NOTE: The purpose of this report is to show what is possible… in IDEAL conditions. With this Pentax 100mm, as well as a Swarovski 80mm, we have often been able to resolve 6mm bullet holes at 600 yards. But again, that performance requires really good viewing conditions. By 10:00 am at my range, even with the 100mm Pentax at 75 power, seeing 6mm bullet holes is “iffy” at best. So don’t go out and mortgage the house to buy a $4000 optic with the hope that you’ll be able to spot your shots at 1000 yards. If conditions are anything less than perfect, you’ll be lucky to see bullet holes at 500 yards. The real solution for very long-range spotting is to set up a remote target cam that broadcasts a video picture to a screen at your shooting station.
Meopta USA now offers additional versions of its award-winning MeoPix® iScoping Adapter to fit Swarovski, Leica and Zeiss spotting scopes and binoculars, as well as most popular mid-level optics brands. With this iScoping Adapter, you can use your iPhone to record still images or video of the view through your spotting scope. This is great for capturing views of your target, or to record mirage conditions and flag positions for later study.
Available in several eyecup diameters, the MeoPix® iScoping adapter correctly positions an iPhone® 4/4S to a spotting scope or binocular eyepiece. Proprietary technology provides a secure fit to the iPhone and precise alignment to the spotting scope or binocular eyepiece. Priced at $59.99, the iScoping Adapter is sold by Cabelas.com and major optics dealers. “The overwhelming responses and feedback about the MeoPix iScoping Adapter convinced us to make versions to fit most popular brands of optics” said Meopta USA GM Reinhard Seipp.
The ability to read the wind is what separates good shooters from great shooters. If you want to learn wind-doping from one of the best, watch this video with 2010 National High Power Champion (and U.S. Army 2010 Soldier of the Year) Sherri Gallagher. Part of the USAMU’s Pro Tips Video Series, this video covers the basics of wind reading including: Determining wind direction and speed, Bracketing Wind, Reading Mirage, and Adjusting to cross-winds using both sight/scope adjustments and hold-off methods. Correctly determining wind angle is vital, Sheri explains, because a wind at a 90-degree angle has much more of an effect on bullet lateral movement than a headwind or tailwind. Wind speed, of course, is just as important as wind angle. To calculate wind speed, Sheri recommends “Wind Bracketing”: [This] is where you take the estimate of the highest possible condition and the lowest possible condition and [then] take the average of the two.”
It is also important to understand mirage. Sheri explains that “Mirage is the reflection of light through layers of air, based off the temperature of the ground. These layers … are blown by the wind, and can be monitored through a spotting scope to detect direction and speed. You can see what appears to be waves running across the range — this is mirage.” To best evaluate mirage, you need to set your spotting scope correctly. First get the target in sharp focus, then (on most scopes), Sheri advises that you turn your adjustment knob “a quarter-turn counter-clockwise. That will make the mirage your primary focus.”
The PF-80ED has a large objective lens with high-definition glass. Focusing is fast and precise. You will have to purchase an eyepiece separately — but rest assured, the Pentax eyepieces are some of the best available, with large-diameter, astronomy-style mounts, and wide-angle view with extended eye relief. We use a Pentax PF100-ED and PF80-ED, with both zoom and fixed-focal-length eyepieces. The Pentax eyepieces are outstanding.
We actually prefer the PF80-ED (vs. the PF100) for most duties because it is MUCH more compact, and sits more steady on the tripod. While the PF80-ED has been out for a few years, it still compares favorably with spotting scopes that cost twice as much. To do better, you’ll need to spend over $2000.00 for a Kowa, Leica, Swarovski, or Zeiss spotting scope with low-dispersion Fluorite glass. And that two grand will only get you the body — you’ll then need to spend $400-$700 for the eyepiece. We think it’s hard to beat a PF80-ED at this sales price. Even after purchasing the eyepiece your total cost is about $1000.00.
Disclosure: AccurateShooter.com has an affiliate relationship with Amazon.com.