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The Binocular Advisor

The Scopes Advisor

The Tripod Advisor

Spotting Scopes of Note

Nikon Fieldscope ED50

Mid-priced Scopes Round-up, 2009

by Michael and Diane Porter

Nikon Fieldscope 13-30x50

Not only was the tiny Nikon Fieldscope the winner in the 50mm sub-compact category, but it also rated 4.42 overall, besting even the full-size scopes. Its 30x resolution score was a 4.4, with the 80mm Alpen coming in close behind at 4.3. Small scopes like this one fill a need. Although full-sized scopes can deliver a bright 60x image, they sometimes get left at home because of their size and weight.

"This is a gem!" wrote one of our testers of the ED50. Weighing just 20.1 oz. including the eyepiece, it was the lightest, shortest scope in our trials. Paired with a carbon fiber tripod like the Gitzo 1550 Traveler, and the small Gitzo G2180 fluid head, it makes a complete outfit weighing under 4.5 pounds that disassembled would slip into a handbag or briefcase and go anywhere in the world with you. Diane took an identical outfit to Guatemala last summer and carried it around full time for days, easily and gleefully trekking up the sides of volcanoes with it.

Our judges found the 50mm Fieldscope astonishingly sharp, bright, and free from chromatic aberration. It also afforded the best close focus (9.8 ft.) and the second widest field of view of any scope in the survey. The single focus knob is smooth, accurate, and nicely geared — a pleasure to use. The scope's tripod mount does not allow it to rotate, but that may not be much of an issue with such a tiny scope.

It comes with a 13-30x zoom eyepiece, a good match for a 50mm scope. The stated eye relief is only 12.9mm but we wondered about that since it seemed to work OK even with Michael's aviator-style glasses. Several judges remarked that they would have preferred twist-up rather than fold-down rubber eyecups. And, in fact, Nikon does offer twist-up eyepieces that work with this scope. The Fieldscope includes the Nikon Vue-Thru case, eyepiece travel pouch, and adjustable carry straps.

Nikon Full Lifetime Warranty covers manufacturer's defects and accidental damage. The warranty is transferable, and no warranty card is required. In addition, Nikon's website states, "If your Nikon binocular, spotting scope or Fieldscope requires service or repair not covered by our 25-Year Limited Warranty, Nikon will repair or replace it — even if it was your fault — for just $10, plus return shipping and handling."

Kudos to Nikon for creating a top quality scope small enough to fit into a cargo pocket.

30x resolution score: 4.4; Overall score: 4.42

See price

Copyright 2009 by Michael and Diane Porter.



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