Spotting Scope & Tripod Recommendations?

Hunter79

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I have searched for the same topic but haven't found one that fits my circumstances, so I thought I'd post another one. I am going to buy a spotting scope in the next few months. I'm leaning toward the Vortex Razor 22-48x65 or the 27-60x85. I am going to be exclusively using it to take on family trips and watching wildlife from afar. I don't have a ton of money to spend which is why I'm looking at the Vortex spotter instead of something more high end. Of course, I'm also going to need a tripod that's good for it.

Please give me your recommendations on a good spotter and tripod and why that one is the one you'd recommend. I have absolutely zero knowledge of this but I want to have a good experience for my family when we do go on a trip. For instance, we are going to Yellowstone next year and are in hopes of setting up and viewing wolves, bears, buffalo, antelope, etc. Thanks everyone for the help!
 
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Hunter79

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@Camera Land I'm definitely all ears! I have no idea really what would be a good spotter. I know I like Vortex because of their warranty. But I'm not strictly a Vortex brand specific buyer. I know they get a lot of reviews because they're much more affordable than the higher end ones.
 

chutinlead

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Your best bet is to call them.
 

BadDogPSD

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Stating a budget would help us provide better recommendations.
For the money, the Vortex Razor is hard to beat. Not lightweight, but it doesn't sound like you'll be packing it around. For your stated usage, I'd go with the 20-60x85 1st Gen.
Kowa, Swarovski, Leica make very nice spotters, but they also cost a lot.
 
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Hunter79

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Stating a budget would help us provide better recommendations.
For the money, the Vortex Razor is hard to beat. Not lightweight, but it doesn't sound like you'll be packing it around. For your stated usage, I'd go with the 20-60x85 1st Gen.
Kowa, Swarovski, Leica make very nice spotters, but they also cost a lot.
I meant to put that in my original post. I have an ABSOLUTE MAX of $2000 to spend on a spotter and tripod combo. That's the reason I have been looking at Vortex because all of their spotters fall into that category. Of course, when I add the cost of a tripod, I have to back the cost of the spotter down a bit to make up for that extra cost.
 

BadDogPSD

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You should be able to get a good spotter & tripod for well under $2k, especially if you buy used.
A used Swaro ATS or STS should run around $1400, a decent tripod about $300.
The Gen 1 Razors are $899, tripod $300.
The Gen 2 Razors have slightly better glass (imo), but I preferred the dual focus wheels of the Gen 1.
I'm using a Swaro ATX now, but am thinking about selling & buying another Gen 1 Razor for the range & a Kowa 553 for packing.
 

gr8fuldoug

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@Camera Land I'm definitely all ears! I have no idea really what would be a good spotter. I know I like Vortex because of their warranty. But I'm not strictly a Vortex brand specific buyer. I know they get a lot of reviews because they're much more affordable than the higher end ones.
It would be our pleasure to discuss this with you, please give us a call, 516-217-1000, when you have a few minutes
 

ILPete

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If you go with the Vortex I recommend the Manfrotto 128RC head. The foot of the scope should fit directly into the head without needing a plate and provides a much more stable view.
 

AkMtnRunner

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For $2k I recommend the Kowa 77 and a passable tripod and head for now. Cameraland should be able to hook you up for that. You’ll be glad you went straight for a very good spotter. Upgrade the tripod and head later after finding exactly what features you want.

edit: I agree the Meopta Meostar S2 would also be a candidate.
 
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5MilesBack

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With $2k, I'd be looking for a used Meopta S2. I've owned the Razor, a Swaro HD, and the Meopta. The Meopta S2 was the best of the bunch.......especially if you're not packing it in. I have always found Vortex glass to be grainy at higher powers.
 

OldGrayJB

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For a tripod that's tall enough to stand behind, sturdy, and lightweight, I like the Slik CF-733.
 

bmanb940

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I agree with the Meopta MeoStar S2 82. I have owned over 10 different spotters over the last 15 years and the S2 is the hands-down all-around winner for me. I'm not saying that just because I have been doing some work with Meopta either. My at-the-range and in-the-field experiences have proven this true for me. I know multiple guys who have looked through mine and been disappointed with what they have and others who have purchased the S2. I would suggest reaching out to an Authorized Dealer if you are interested in one. 2 guys who liked mine said they have theirs on backorder right now. Make sure you pick out a quality tripod too.
 

Deadfall

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@Camera Land I'm definitely all ears! I have no idea really what would be a good spotter. I know I like Vortex because of their warranty. But I'm not strictly a Vortex brand specific buyer. I know they get a lot of reviews because they're much more affordable than the higher end ones.
They all have essentially same warranty. The warranty thing is a marketing gimic salesmen use
 

chutinlead

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If you go with the Vortex I recommend the Manfrotto 128RC head. The foot of the scope should fit directly into the head without needing a plate and provides a much more stable view.
Ive wondered why they don't make the bases on tripods arca compatible. Is this just a fluke that it fits or is the manfrotto that much different
 

pc3

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I agree with the Meopta MeoStar S2 82. I have owned over 10 different spotters over the last 15 years and the S2 is the hands-down all-around winner for me. I'm not saying that just because I have been doing some work with Meopta either. My at-the-range and in-the-field experiences have proven this true for me. I know multiple guys who have looked through mine and been disappointed with what they have and others who have purchased the S2. I would suggest reaching out to an Authorized Dealer if you are interested in one. 2 guys who liked mine said they have theirs on backorder right now. Make sure you pick out a quality tripod too.
I also have the S2 it is a nice spotter. I have not looked through a swaro spotter, but gee the S2 is clear and the image is great right up to 70x. I recall reading a review on high end spotters, and only the 95 swaro bettered the 82mm S2 for light gathering ability, and in all fairness its should.
 
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Hunter79

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Ok. So, I have found where I can get a brand new Vortex Razor 27-60x85 for $1000. The Meopta S2 brand new is $2600 and I can possibly get a used one for around $2000. If you were going to use this spotter maybe a couple times a year for family vacation purposes, would you still spend the extra $1000-$1600 to get the Meopta? Or, would you get the Vortex?
 

5MilesBack

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If you were going to use this spotter maybe a couple times a year for family vacation purposes, would you still spend the extra $1000-$1600 to get the Meopta? Or, would you get the Vortex?
Unless something has changed with the Vortex and they've gotten that much better, I'd still get the Meopta. In fact, I'd rather have the Meopta Meopro spotter than the Vortex. But I would never pay full price on any of these. I've seen the S2 for sale on here many times, including the one I sold for $1600 in "like new" condition. Sometimes I wish I'd kept it, like last year when we could see Saturn......but I just never used it.
 
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