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High-end Scopes Review

For Bird Watcher's Digest, November, 2009

by Michael and Diane Porter

Summing Up

It's hard to put in words how good these dozen high-end scopes scopes are. Judges were astounded when they walked over to look at the 25-yard test target and found that they couldn't see details close up as well as they could through the scope. With optics this good, one has to reconsider whether a bird in the hand still beats one in the bush.

A couple of caveats. Resolution scores are objective, and we put a lot of attention on getting them right, but we realize that some manufacturer might have sent us an off example of their scope.

The image quality scores were more subjective. They represent a group average, and reasonable people could disagree about the fine distinctions between scopes. However, we feel confident that everyone would agree that the top six scopes in the chart were all very close in image quality.

Are the top scopes worth their price tags? If you've got the money, yes, of course! To be able to see the vein detail in a cicada's wings, held in the beak of a kingbird at 80 yards, is an experience worth every penny you'd pay for it.

Copyright 2010 by Michael and Diane Porter.

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