Best Spotting Scopes
Swarovski ATS/STS 80
Why is the Swarovski ATS 80 one of the best spotting scopes for bird watching?
Swarovski ATS 80 Objective Lens Diameter
The Swarovski ATS 80 has an objective lens diameter of 80mm.
Objective Lens Explained: The Objective Lens is the lens at the top of the scope (the ones closest to the object you are viewing). The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light the scope lets in, and the brighter the image will be. Image brightness is crucial when bird watching because the best times to view birds are often in low light situations, such as in the morning (before and during the sun rise) and towards the early evening (when the sun is getting ready to set). Spotting scopes differentiate themselves from binoculars when it comes to objective lens diameter - as most birders do not use binoculars with anything more than a 50mm lens diameter.
Does the Swarovski ATS 80 Pass the Test?: At Exploringbirds.com we recommend using a spotting scope with an objective lens diameter of at least 55mm for bird watching, so the Swarovski ATS 80, with an objective lens diameter of 80mm passes the test and ensures stellar performance in low light conditions.
Swarovski ATS 80 Magnification Power
The Swarovski ATS 80 can is most commonly used compatible with a 25-50x magnification eyepiece and or a Swarovski 20-60x magnification eyepiece. Note that the eyepiece is sold separately.
Magnification Power Explained: The ability to zoom in on an image/subject closer is what spotting scopes are fundamentally designed to do and what magnification achieves. Magnification is identified by a magnification power number, for example, a magnification power number of 20x means that the object you are focusing on will be appear 20x times closer than it would appear to the naked eye. Spotting Scopes are used in birdwatching to view birds at distances that binoculars (the average bird watching binocular has a magnification power of 8x which usually max out at magnification of 10x) aren’t powerful enough to view in detail. There is a monumental significant difference in the detail in viewing a far away subject with an 8x magnification than there is a 60x magnification.
At Exploringbirds.com we recommend using a spotting scope with an eyepiece magnification power between 20x to 60x magnification for bird watching, both Swarovski eyepieces meet our standards.
Field of View
The Swarovski ATS 80 with the Swarovski 25-50x magnification eyepiece will have a field of view of 126-81ft. The Swarovski ATS 80 with the Swarovski 20-60x eyepiece will have a field of view of 108-60ft.
Field of View Explained: When it comes to bird watching with a spotting scope, the more you can see, the better. Field of View is a measure of the width of the area (usually measured in feet) you will be able to view from 1,000 yards away. Because birds are always on the move, they will be much easier to track if your spotting scope choice has a wide field of view. Generally, the higher the magnification power, the narrower the field of view. Having said this, spotting scopes are usually used to view stationary objects at far distances (such as a Snowy Owl seated in the middle of a frozen marsh), so field of view is of less importance than it would be for say, close-range viewing of constantly moving, dozen warblers in a tree with binoculars.
Both eyepiece options provide enough field of view for bird watching purposes.
Swarovski ATS 80 Optical Quality Features
Precision: Swarovski is world-renowned for its pristine glass and optical quality. All Swarovski optical products are manufactured with with a precision tolerance of 8 μ or less. For comparison sake, a single piece of hair is approximately 60 μ.
HD-OPTICS: The lens glass of the Swarovski ATS 80 are made of fluoride containing HD elements, which minimize color fringing and chromatic aberration, while maximizing color fidelity, resolution, and contrast.
SWARODUR: is an anti-reflection coating that leads to improvements in light transmission, image brightness, color fidelity, contrast, and resolution.
SWAROTOP: is an anti-reflection coating that leads to improved light wave spectrum contrast
SWAROCLEAN: hydrophobic, non-stick coating applied to external lenses, it reduces the amount of moisture (in the form of water, oil, and solid particles) that sticks to the lenses. In other words, the SWAROCLEAN coating protects the optical elements from dust, dirt, and debris. Inspired by the water resistant leaves of the lotus plant, Louc-Tec is a multilayer protective coating on the external lenses of the optic. Louc-Tec prevents residue from water, dirt, and fingerprints from sticking to the lens.
SWAROVISION Technology: eliminates geometric optical distortion, in other words it provides a flat field of view and reduces chromatic aberration for more accurate image rendition.
Swarovski ATS 80 Prism System
The Swarovski ATS 80 features a phase corrected roof prism system.
The roof prism system is considered the most precise optical prism system for spotting scopes. However, when a light enters a roof prism system some colors of light are reinforced, while others are canceled out - a phase corrected coating ensures that the color reproduction is accurate, as no colors are reinforced or canceled out.
Swarovski ATS 80 Durability, Proofing, and Weight
The body of the Swarovski ATS 80 is made of aluminum and is housed in a shock-proof rubber body armor.
The scope is dust-proof, fog-proof, and water submersible up to 13 feet.
The scope weighs 47.3 oz. The 25-50x magnification eyepiece weighs 9.2 oz. While the 20-60x magnification eyepiece weighs 10.2 oz.
This is a rugged spotting scope that checks all the boxes in terms of durability and proofing. While maintaining a lightweight considering the complexity of its internal components.
Swarovski ATS 80 Eye Relief
The Swarovski ATS 80 offers 18 mm of Eye Relief when using the Swarovski 20-60x eyepiece or the 25x-50x eyepiece.
If you wear glasses it is not possible to bring your eye all the way up to the eyepiece, if your eyes are too far off however it will reduce the field of view. Quality binoculars provide eye relief with an adjustable twist cup (usually made of rubber) that enables the user to hold the binoculars at the perfect distance between the eyepiece and eye. Even if you don’t wear glasses, using the eye relief can be helpful and even more comfortable.
At Exploringbirds.com we recommend using a binocular with at least 15 mm of eye relief. Both the Swarovski eyepiece options meet our eye relief standards.
Swarovski ATS 80 Ergonomic Features
Oversized Focus Wheel: makes focusing easy
Angled and Straight Style Available: angled view is great for groups, as there is no need to adjust a mounted scope based on height. The Angled style also makes it easier to view targets at high levels. A straight view is easier to learn/use, which often leads to faster target acquisition. Angled Scopes are more popular among birder than straight style scopes which are favored by hunters.
Removable Sight Aid: helps with target acquisition
Integrated Tripod Collar: makes mounting easy
far great magnication than bincoualrs, scopes are great for distancing viewing of shorebirds, hawks circling