This is borrowed from a post on the Carl Zeiss Birding_US blog.
Until recently I what I told spotting scope shoppers was: “if your spotting scope is going to be used primarily to look at birds, and you don’t plan on digiscoping with it, they you might as well get the 65mm model. It is lighter, easier to carry, and will show you everything you need to see.”
The size difference is pretty obvious in the photo above.
With the addition of the new 15-56x Vario Eyepiece (see the pic above again), this is even more true. There were times when 45x on the old Diascope just did not seem to be quite enough…or at least it was possible to imagine that it might not be enough. A certain percentage of customers feared 60x envy enough to buy other brands just for that reason. (Not a good idea considering the quality and value of the ZEISS DiaScopes.) At 56x the new Vario offers a relatively wide field, exceptional brightness, contrast, and resolution, and cures 60x envy with a vengeance. At 56x I would put the view up against any 60x eyepiece on the market. That makes the DiaScope 65FL just that much more attractive as an eminently portable observation solution.
But there is still that conditional phrase up there in my original recommendation to consider…”if” you don’t plan on digiscoping. My theory has always been that for digiscoping you need the largest aperture available…that the DiaScope 85FL would provide photo opportunities that you might miss carrying the 65.
Of course, every year I get one year older, and while I am still in reasonable shape, I have now passed the official retirement age, and every year I have to reconsider what I am willing to carry far afield. The DiaScope 85 is a totally fail safe solution. If it can be seen you will see it. If it can be digiscoped, you will bring back the image. It is, however, 13 ounces heavier and 3 inches longer than the 65. This might not matter at the beginning of the day. At my age it does matter at the end of the day.
So, I had to wonder just how much I would be giving up if I used the DiaScope 65 with the new Vario for digiscoping as well as observing.
|The tiny Canon SD4000IS|
About the same time, I invested in the Canon Powershot SD4000IS Digital ELPH camera with a fast back-illuminated CMOS sensor and relatively fast f2.8-5.3, 3.8x zoom lens. This tiny little camera mounted on the ZEISS Digital Camera Adapter behind the new Vario on the new DiaScope 65FL, with the whole thing mounted on a light-weight carbon fiber tripod, makes for highly portable digiscoping solution…about as lightweight and as functional as you can get. I carried it all day most days in the field this fall and I can easily attest that it is a lot more fun to carry than most digiscoping rigs I see afield (and that I have carried in the past).
That made the decision to carry only the 65FL that much easier.
At least with the SD4000IS behind the eyepiece, I have not experienced any real limitations in my digiscoping. I have worked successfully in light that pushed the camera to 1/20 second exposures at ISO 800. I have worked in pre-sun-up half-light (1 second exposures at ISO 1600), and well beyond sunset, and brought back the goods every time. The compact, lightweight digiscoping rig has not failed me yet in the field, no matter how bad the conditions got.
In fact, the most trouble I have had is answering the unbelieving questions and comments of other digiscopers when they see me in the field or see my results on the blog here or at my Pic of the Day site. “Why aren’t you using the 85?” they ask.
“I have become convinced that the best digiscoping rig,” I tell them, “is the one you are willing to carry to the birds!”
I can carry the 65FL anywhere, and be more relaxed all day, and way less fatigued when I am done. That makes me eager to get out the next day. I have no excuse for leaving my digiscoping rig behind. This is good.
Would my results be better with the large scope?
Not all the time.
The point is, I am satisfied with the results I am getting and not feeling limited by my equipment.
So, my new line is, “you should not make your scope decision based solely on whether you plan to digiscope with it anymore. Buy the scope that you will carry to the birds and work with it…you won’t be disappointed. Just as long as it is a ZEISS!”
Of course, if you are the type of birder and digiscoper who works the fringes of possibility all the time, or who just wants the assurance that your equipment will be up to any possible challenge…or if you are not willing to look for a camera with good high ISO performance…then go for the DiaScope 85FL. It is just 13 ounces more.