Mini Scope

To: "" <>
Subject: Mini Scope
From: Richard Nowotny <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 07:07:49 +0000

Greg Little, responding to my earlier posting regarding a small, lightweight
tripod, suggested Birding-Aus readers might be interested in a little more
information about the Vortex mini spotting scope which I purchased recently.
So here goes.

I have a full-size Kowa telescope and Manfrotto tripod which I take on
birding trips. They are of course quite large and quite heavy.

But I also travel interstate and overseas frequently for other reasons, when
birding is only one of a number of interests/activities I might engage in
while away. To take the large scope and tripod is often undesirable, but to
be without a scope can be disappointing.

So my mind turned to a small, lightweight scope and tripod combination that
could easily be packed in a suitcase, carried in a backpack or a bicycle
basket/pannier, or tucked away in the (rental) car for easy access when

Some online research led me to an article from 2013 on the
website which I have copied below. Further research only confirmed what was
written in 2013.

So I ordered a Vortex Razor HD 50mm online from B&H Photo in the US and had
it delivered to friends of ours in Boston, from where I collected it last
month when we visited them.

On the Vortex website it was listed at US$999.99 (approx A$1,300), ie it's
not a "cheapie".

However B&H had it at a discounted price of US$699.99 (including a 'free'
tripod which they valued at US$149.99 [approx A$200]), and invited me to
email for an even better price. The result was that I paid US$599.00
(A$795.00) for the scope and 'free' tripod, plus an additional US$49.95
(A$65.00) for an optional fitted neo-prene cover for the scope - although
when I unpacked the scope I discovered that it came with a quite adequate
canvas cover/carry-case (I didn't know that when I ordered the neo-prene

I've used the scope, on the tripod provided, at my local patch (Westgate
Park) since I got back from my trip and found it very functional, clear and
bright, and easy to use (as well as to carry). The field becomes quite small
at maximum zoom (33X) and I feel it performs best at around 25X - a very
serviceable magnification.

All-in-all a nice, useful (but by no means inexpensive) addition to my
birding armamentarium, for which I still need to find a suitable small,
lightweight but stable tripod (several Birding-Aus readers have kindly
offered suggestions which I will follow up).

Interestingly, I discovered via Birding-Aus that a birding friend, Dave Torr
from Werribee, has bought the same scope, for essentially the same reasons,
and is also happy with its performance in the role for which it is intended.

Regards. Richard

Port Melbourne

New Vortex Razor HD 50mm Review

> Vortex Razor HD 11-33x50

Best Small Spotting Scope

The 50mm Vortex Razor HD
> , with 11x to 33x zoom, is one of the smallest and lightest scopes
available. It competes directly with the 50mm Nikon Fieldscope
d/Detail.bok> .

Although it's slightly heavier than the Nikon, by 5.5 oz., and an inch
longer, the Vortex has a greater zoom range of 11-33x, compared to the
Nikon's 13-30x.


We did resolution testing on both scopes at 30 power. They got the same
scores when judged by a person with 20/20 vision. Then we tested both scopes
at their maximum magnification, which was 33 power for the Vortex and 30
power for the Nikon. Again they looked about the same.

Vortex Razor HD 50mmThe third time, we put a 2x doubler behind the
eyepieces. This time, we could see more detail with the Vortex. Both scopes
have excellent optics. However, the Vortex will let you see more detail in a
bird if you have better than average vision.

The Vortex can zoom down to 11 power. We found that we could hand hold the
scope at this magnification. This might help you get a fast look at a bird.
You could rest it on a car window, for example.

Field of view

The Vortex has a wider field of view overall. By Nikon's specifications, at
the lowest power, 13x, their scope has a field of view of 157.5 feet at 1000
yards.  By Vortex's specs, at the lowest power, 11x, their scope has a field
of view of 191 feet at 1000 yards.

We also did our own tests, in which we compared the field of view of both
scopes at the same higher magnification of 30x. The Vortex showed 95 feet,
and the Nikon showed 86 feet.

Vortex Razor HD We also tested at the maximum power (33x for the Vortex and
30x for the Nikon). We found the Vortex still had a 6.5% wider field of view
than the Nikon, even though it was at a higher magnification.

Eye relief

The Vortex has a published eye relief of 20mm, great for glasses wearers.
Nikon, 12.9mm, not as good.

Close focus

The Vortex focuses as close as 6.6 feet, the Nikon at 9.8 feet, a
significant difference.

Size and weight

The footBoth scopes are very compact. We measured the length of each scope
including their eyepieces and found the Nikon to be 9.5 inches long,
compared to 10.3 inches for the Vortex.

The Nikon (at 20.1 oz.) is also somewhat lighter than the Vortex (at 25

Considering that you need to have a tripod and head to use either scope, the
differences in weight and length may not matter much in the field. We
suspect that resolution and field of view will prove more important to many
birders. However, if minimizing weight and size is your primary
consideration, the Nikon offers an advantage here.


Razor Scope CoverThe Vortex body is partially armored, at points of hand
contact, while the surface covering of the Nikon is hard all over.

Lens covers attach to the barrel of the Vortex by elastic rings, so they can
stay attached to the scope while in use.

We also appreciate the view-through case that is included with the scope. It
lets you reach all the controls while the case is on the scope.

Focus knob

The Vortex has the advantage of a dual focus knob. One knob is good for
getting from close to far quickly. The other knob is good for making precise
adjustments to the focus.


A slight flaw of both the Vortex and the Nikon is old-fashioned, roll-down
rubber eyecups. And the tripod mount does not allow rotation of the scope to
different angles.



Nikon 13-30x5o

Vortex Razor 11-33x50

Magnification range



Objective lens diameter

50 mm

50 mm

Weight including eyepiece

20.1 oz.

25 oz.

Length including eyepiece

9.25 in.

10.3 in.

Eye relief

12.9 mm @ 13x

20 mm

Field of view @ 1000 yards

157 @ 13x

191 - 96 ft

Close focus

9.8 ft

6.6 ft.

Weather proofing



Manufacturer's MAP




If you're looking for a scope with good optical quality that you can carry
with you under all circumstances, the 50mm Vortex Razor HD is the new
sheriff in town. Combine it with a small carbon fiber tripod, and you'll
have an outfit
avel-Kit/Detail.bok>  that will weigh under 5 pounds and will fit in any
carry-on bag.

Having a scope with you can make it possible to ID a bird that's simply not
reachable with binoculars.

And did we mention the prices? The Vortex costs less than the Nikon!



Birdwatching Dot Com


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