usual there is recurrent correspondence re scope purchases, performance, price,
etc (Margaret Cameron’s recent posting triggered this venture to the
keyboard). A year or so ago I purchased a Swarovski ATS 65 HD scope with
a 20-60 S zoom eyepiece for my wife, Diana. (I myself have an aging Kowa TSN1
which has provided excellent and highly reliable service in many settings and with
which I am reluctant to part because of its marvelous ease of use and overall
high standard of performance, even though its optics have certainly been
overtaken by more recent top-end scopes.)
Swarovski 65mm scopes were (I assume) developed from their very successful, but
quite hefty, 80mm range. And here’s the rub. The 65mm scopes,
while more compact and lighter than their 80mm big brothers, share two key
features which together cause the significant problem which I bring to your
attention – they both have the same integrated foot-plate (a completely
non-adjustable casting) which inserts into the quick-release mechanism on the
tripod, and they use the same hefty eyepieces. I presume (although I have
not verified this) that the 80mm scope is balanced over its integrated
footplate, with the weight of the barrel forward of the balance point matching
the weight of the combined barrel aft of the balance point plus the eye-piece
(a knowledgeable reader might like to confirm or correct this presumption).
I can report from first-hand experience is that the 65mm scope (modified from
the 80mm scope by reducing the size of the barrel in keeping with the reduced
objective lens size, but not adapting the position of the integrated foot-plate
accordingly), while wonderful optically and very convenient size-wise, has the
most remarkable design flaw in view of its cost and optical excellence –
it‘s centre of gravity lies well behind the foot-plate, resulting in the following
highly user-unfriendly difficulties in actual field-use.
the mechanism to tighten the barrel on the tripod is not sufficiently tight the
scope has the distressing tendency spontaneously to tilt backwards (ie point
skywards), often at the most inopportune moment, a tendency accentuated
whenever the scope is being used to look above the horizontal.
Alternatively, if the tightening mechanism is ratcheted down sufficiently
firmly to prevent this unwanted movement it becomes basically impossible to move
the tripod smoothly in the vertical plane, making searching for a bird on a
perch extremely difficult and frustrating, or, even more troubling, trying to find
or follow a bird in flight. Even moving up and down to look at waders or ducks
in the foreground versus the background is severely compromised.
known of this design fault (of which I found no mention in any of the very
positive reviews of the scope that I read before deciding to purchase) I certainly
would not have chosen this model, notwithstanding its significant attributes.
However, I had paid my money (a not unsubstantial sum) and a solution was
necessary to prevent “birder-rage” (certainly mine, if not Diana’s).
In the end we found a large, rather hefty, but effective replacement head for
the tripod (a one-off, courtesy of the Birds Australia shop) which has an adjustable
slide, allowing the scope to be positioned further forward or aft on the tripod
and hence to enable it to be located over the balance point for the particular scope
in question – the Swarovoski 65 uses almost all the available forward
travel such is the degree of balance error it has. The inevitable
downsides are the additional weight and cumbersomeness of the adjustable head,
and more disappointingly the total loss of the quick release option, making
initial setting-up and dismantling slow and awkward (and requiring a tightening
and loosening tool for best results). What a disappointing saga!
would value responses to any or all of the following questions from other
owners or users:
Has this been the experience of others? If not, why not?
Has anyone heard or read of this problem with the Swarovski 65mm scopes anywhere
else? (I haven’t.)
Has anyone had any communication with or from the manufacturer about this
Has it been rectified in subsequent versions? How?
Has anyone else found any other solution to the problem?
M: 0438 224456