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High-end Scopes Review

For Bird Watcher's Digest, November, 2009

by Michael and Diane Porter

Good values in lower-priced scopes

Team Iowa 2009For a review for Bird Watcher's Digest, a team of seven Iowa birders tested and evaluated a dozen full-sized birding scopes, described by manufacturers as their top-of-the-line scopes.

All the scopes were full-sized, with objective lenses of 77mm to 88mm. All were angled design.

Michael and Diane Porter wrote the review, which appeared in the November, 2009, issue of Bird Watcher's Digest.

This is page 6 of the report. Click here to see Page 1.

Celestron Regal ($575)  

Celestron RegalAmong the four $1000-and-under scopes in our survey, the Celestron Regal deserves special mention. It turned in an impressive performance, gaining the highest resolution, image quality, and ergonomics scores of the four. It evidenced the widest field of view and the longest eye relief at 20x. It's also the only one of this group with dual focus knobs.

Most of our survey scopes are available with one or more alternative optional eyepieces. Celestron, however, offers at least 30 astronomical eyepieces, with 1.25" barrels, of various magnification, field of view, price, and quality that will work with the Regal.

By the way, it was the least expensive scope in our entire survey. Great value!

Pentax PF-80ED ($1332 including 20-60x eyepiece)   

Pentax scopeIf you want go up a notch in quality while still keeping cost down, you might want to consider the Pentax PF-80ED, especially if size and weight are not major concerns.

The Pentax has very good optical and mechanical quality, ranking above the Celestron but at a price far below the top scopes in the survey.

There are 12 Pentax eyepieces that work with this scope. In its price range, it is an excellent value.

Price info

Copyright 2010 by Michael and Diane Porter.

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