Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Gifts at Cley Spy

Stuck for a gift idea for someone special or just plain awkward? Cley Spy has more to offer that you might think. With over 180 models of binoculars and over 40 scopes plus second hand equipment to choose from we can accommodate almost any requirements or budget when it comes to optics, but that's not all. We also have tripods, a range of outdoor clothing and hats, bags, bird food and feeders, nest boxes, books, toys and much more.

Here are a few of our most popular gift lines.

Our ever popular tripod carrier, specifically designed to make carrying even the heaviest scope and
tripod easy and comfortable. Built to live up to the expectations of the most demanding birders. It has become a standard piece of equipment for birders, making it easy to take your scope on long walks. Many people have commented on how they have been using their scope a lot more since they got their Mule.

Easy to fit to almost any tripod and available postage free to UK addresses for just £59.

Swarovski's CL Pocket. Small, light and perfect.
Compact binoculars.

Whilst binoculars are a very personal choice, a small pocket size compact is always a welcome addition to any birders kit, and indeed very useful for anyone who enjoys the countryside, architecture or the theatre. We have an extensive range of compacts from under £20 to over £500.
Here are a few of the most popular models that give excellent optical performance for their price and are very user friendly.

Smart phone digiscoping adapters.

Watch the birdie!
The Viking Smartphone Adapter.
This method of bird photography has really taken off in the last two years, being by far the easiest way to attach a camera to a scope or binoculars. The adapters are light weight, have little bulk and make use of the ever improving camera technology in mobile phones. These are a great way to take good quality photos and video of what you see through your scope quickly and easily without carrying any heavy equipment or cumbersome adapters.
TheViking Smartphone Adapter is an adjustable adapter that can hold almost any phone securely on the scope eyepiece. It can be supplied with rings to fit a variety of scope eyepieces, see our website for details.
Perfectly formed. The Kowa iphone adapter.

TheKowa iphone adapter is purpose built to attach the Apple iphone 5 and 5S to Swarovski ATS/STS zoom eyepieces and to Kowa's own TSN 880 and 770 series scopes. Being designed just for this one model of phone and these two scopes it is an excellent piece of functional and economic engineering that hardly adds to the bulk of the phone.

The Kata Digital Rucksack.
Separated space for cameras and kit.

We have a selection Kata and Lowepro bags for camera kit and dual-purpose bags that are like conventional rucksacks, but with padded camera/optics compartments. The Lowepro Scope porter is a bag designed with the birdwatcher in mind, featuring a central padded compartment for transporting a scope.


These bags are designed to be comfortable and ergonomic, and to put as little strain on you back, shoulders and neck as possible. They have proved to be a great hit with our customers over many years and have become one of those products that spread by word of mouth. They have become the handbag of choice for all our female staff!

Optical equipment can be a tricky thing to buy for someone else, with comfort, size, weight and individual eyesight being important factors in finding the perfect piece of equipment. Gift vouchers are a good way to give someone a contribution to purchase their own choice of optics. Vouchers can be purchased in the denominations listed on our website or you can call us to get a voucher of any value. Gift vouchers can be used to purchase any of our stock, not just optics.

What else?

In addition to all of the above we also have a range of bird food, feeders, Tilley hats, books and toys that are only available in store. Come and visit us at Glandford where you can take a brake from the city centre hustle and bustle to enjoy Cley Spy, the Birdscapes art gallery, The Art Café and the Bayfield Wildlife Walk.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Making water flow uphill

Just three months after being dug the pond was already looking
good. The water from the roof enters the pond under the pantile
in the centre of the far bank.

When we moved into our new shop at the top of the farmyard at Glandford we also took over the
managing of the half-acre field at the back. This became our wild flower meadow and viewing area for customers to test binoculars and scopes in a real world situation looking at some real birds and wildlife. One essential part of any wildlife garden is a pond, but being half way up a slope on sandy heathland soil that drains as freely as a colander made this a tricky thing to achieve. Obviously a pond liner was going to be essential and we also wanted to make use of the rainwater caught by the roof of the shop. In spite of the pond being up hill from the shop, with a bit of lateral thinking the solution was arrived at. The downpipe from the shops gutters went underground to a soak away some ten metres out into the field. It was a relatively simple task to find the end of the pipe and extend it to the location of the pond. Careful shaping of the pond edge has
How it works. Rain water from the shop roof fills the pond.
allowed the pipe to fill the pond and then to overflow back into the soak away. Even though the pond is higher than the the soak away and shop ground level there is a great enough head of water in the downpipe to push it up the slope and into the pond. Thanks to the size of the roof area, for every 1cm of rain 600 litres of water flow into the pond. This helps keep the water fresh and has kept the level up even in the driest spells over the last two years.

Even the smallest pond can be a haven for wildlife like this
Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly (Libellula depressa)
In this short time we have had a good variety of aquatic life, including pond skaters, water boatmen, diving beetles, frogs, newts and toads and six species of dragonflies and damselflies. More vegetation is becoming established in and around the pond and it is a great place for the birds to come and drink and bathe.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The right tool for the job. Part 4: Dawn, dusk and December

Dusk hunter. Barn owls are just one of the many treats that are seen in the twilight.

The last of 7x42s. Leica Ultravid HD.
The twilight hours at dawn and dusk can be some of the most productive for nature watching. Wildlife of crepuscular habit may only be seen now, whilst at dusk nocturnal animals become active and the creatures of the daylight seek shelter and safety for the night ahead. In the depths of winter in Britain half light can persist nearly all day in overcast weather. These times present challenges to the observer and brightness of image becomes the most important factor in choosing optics for this situation. As ever, the competent all-rounder the 8x42 will not disgrace itself, but other specifications can offer a little more. If size and weight are no object then an 8x56 or a 7x50 will deliver the largest exit pupil, and therefore brightest image, that the human eye can accommodate. These are often not a practical option due to their bulk and so a good alternative is a 7x42. This specification is becoming increasingly hard to come by, Leica now being the only top draw brand producing a 7x42 in their flagship line-up.

If you require a bit more magnification then there is no getting around the fact that they need to be bigger. To achieve nearly the same level of brightness as an 8x42 with a 10x binocular you need a 50mm lens.

The same principles apply with telescopes, with generally the bigger the objective lens, the brighter the image. One partial exception to this rule is with the new Swarovski ATX range, in the case of which the 85mm version can achieve a brighter image at minimum magnification than the 95mm can. This is because the 85mm zoom range starts at 25x, where as the 95mm starts at 30x. Obviously the 95mm will then be the brighter of the two above this magnification, but the 85mm has the greatest potential brightness.

Swarovski ATX 65,85 and 95mm objective modules
In theory, on most scopes a fixed magnification eyepiece can deliver not only a wider field of view than a zoom at any given magnification, but also a marginally brighter image. This is because, as a rule, fixed wide angle eyepieces have fewer lenses in them and so fewer glass surfaces at which light can be lost. The best combination for a bright image is a large objective lens and lower magnification, say 20x-30x and, as ever, good quality glass.

Exit pupil and brightness explained.

The brightness of a binocular or telescope can be calculated by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification (e.g. 42mm/8 = 5.25mm or 50/10 = 5mm). The figure obtained is known as the exit pupil which is the diameter of the disk of light projected by the optics. The larger this is, the more your pupil can dilate in low light.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The right tool for the job. Part 3: Coasts and estuaries.

Large flocks of waders on mudflats are an impressive spectacle
but are often at long range.
Viewing birds or ships out to sea or across mudflats and wide river mouths requires good magnification and a reasonably bright image. In general the high magnifications offered by spotting scopes are more useful for seeing detail at long range, but binoculars are still very useful for scanning across large areas and being easily portable.

Whilst high magnification is useful at longer range the usual problems of holding powerful binoculars steady and the restricted field of view come into play. The highest practical magnification for most people is 12x. A good specification to look for in this power is a 12x50, the 50mm lenses letting lots of light which is essential for use in lower light. A more general purpose model would be a 10x42, being lighter in weight and having a wider field of view.

The Hawke Naturtrek 12x50
If you are able to do most of your viewing seated or from somewhere you can rest your elbows then a higher magnification can be used (e.g. 15x56 or 20x60 etc.) but these will be relatively heavy and bulky.  Tripod mounts are available for most types of binocular that can make these higher magnifications more practical.

Some models to consider are: The Hawke Naturetrek 10x50 or 12x50, or at the top of the range, the Swarovski EL 10x50 or 12x50.

Scopes take over where binoculars leave off, zoom eyepieces typically starting at 15x or 20x and giving up to 50x-70x depending on manufacturer. The highest practical magnification is 60x-70x, and depending on the conditions, even this can be too much. If there is a heat haze, fog or heavy rain it doesn’t matter how good the quality of the optics is, the weather you are looking through will be the limiting factor. However, in clear, still conditions a top quality scope can be a real treat at high power, even in low light.  The best results can be obtained from scopes with larger objective lenses (77-95mm).

There are many larger scopes available both new and second hand right across the price range that can zoom up to 60x or more, from the Acuter 20-60x80 at under £200 to the Swarovski ATX 95 at £3000.

As good as it gets.
The Swarovski ATX 95mm has an impressively wide field across the zoom range of 30-70x

Monday, September 9, 2013

The right tool for the job. Part 2: Countryside, wetlands and woods.

A barn owl. One of those special encounters on a walk in the countryside.
This is where the majority of us use our binoculars most of the time, either visiting a reserve, walking the dog or just doing the rounds of your local patch. When birding in these habitats, and woodland especially, never underestimate the benefit of a wide field of view in preference to higher magnification. It can be very frustrating trying to keep up with agile and fast-moving small birds such as migrant warblers at relatively close range in hedges and trees. 7x or 8x magnification is best for both light gathering and field of view.

Sharp, bright and wide,
the Celestron Granite 7x33 ED
The ultimate all-rounder is probably the 8x42. These generally have the best compromise between magnification, brightness, field of view and low weight. In recent years more birdwatchers have been going for 8x32s, which have many of the advantages of 8x42 but are lighter in weight. Whilst 8x32s may not be as bright, they have sufficient light gathering for most situations, especially those at the top-of-the-range (e.g. Swarovski's EL 8x32) and are so light weight that you feel more inclined to have them with you all the time.

The wary ring ouzel. a species best
 viewed with a scope.
As always a good scope can be a useful addition to you binoculars, and again the compromise between weight and performance must be made. There is little point in having a technically brilliant piece of equipment that is too heavy for the purpose you want to put it to. To get the best ratio between size, weight and performance a 60mm or 65mm scope is the specification to go for. Whilst zoom eyepieces are tempting for their flexibility and maximum magnification, you will often get a wider field of view and a brighter and sharper image from a fixed magnification eyepiece. Both have their advantages and it generally comes down to personal preference which is best suited to you. Many top-of-the-range scopes now have wide angle zooms available, the best of which give you the best of both worlds.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The right tool for the job. Part 1: Garden wildlife.

Always to hand, ready for
those unexpected visitors.
Gardens, big or small, can turn up some surprising wildlife be it birds, mammals or insects. From the point of view of watching the wildlife in your garden, it is a quite controlled environment. You can arrange things like the position of feeders and views to ponds so that they can be observed from the kitchen window for example. In this kind of situation factors such as the size, weight and field of view of binoculars are less important.  A larger, higher magnification binocular like a 10x50 Porro prism could be ideal, especially with large range available second hand. These are often a little bulky and heavy to take on a long walk but offer good image quality at a low price for viewing from the house or doorstep.  See our website for our current range of used optics.
For a guide to the basics of binoculars have a look at our video "What the numbers mean"


Feeding your garden birds brings them
into easy view in a predictable location.
A telescope can be useful in a larger garden or to get a really detailed view of birds on the feeders. In terms of magnification less is more given the relatively short distances involved. The best option would be a fixed 20x or 30x wide angle eyepiece because these will be powerful enough without having too narrow a field of view for a confined space.

Next time: Countryside, wetlands and woods.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Birdwatcher starter kit: Just add wildlife

If you have just recently developed an interest in birds and the natural world, or have always wanted to get a bit closer to the wildlife in your garden or in the countryside then here are a few tips for the kind of equipment that can really enhance the experience.

The most important piece of kit is a good binocular. It is not necessary to buy the top of the range to get something of good quality that is very usable, but it is worth while getting the best you can afford. The most popular specification for binoculars is 8x32 (8 times magnification with 32mm objective lenses). This specification gives a good compromise between magnification, field of view, brightness and weight. The birdwatchers' standard is an 8 or 10x42, but the larger 42mm lenses on these make them a little heavy for a lot of people. Unless you are often using your binoculars in low light, the smaller and lighter 32mm is a very good all-rounder that will be light enough to go everywhere. This is in no way to detract from the benefits of large-lensed bright binoculars which can be awe-inspiring in twilight conditions.
Many modern binoculars can close focus down to around 2m (6'6") which makes them very good for observing butterflies and dragonflies without disturbing them.

Testing scopes at our Glandford shop
Telescopes (also called spotting scopes or just “scopes”) are for the most part less frequently used than binoculars by birdwatchers. The purpose of a scope is to get higher magnification than can be sensibly achieved with portable binoculars. The limiting factors with binoculars in terms of magnifying power are being usable hand-held without a tripod and the need for a wide field of view. The same principals apply as with binoculars; bigger is brighter and better for higher magnification, but if weight is a consideration then a smaller and lighter scope may be a better idea. If you walk long distances or go birdwatching abroad then a scope with an objective lens diameter between 50mm and 65mm will be quite portable. On the other hand, if you mostly visit nature reserves with relatively short walks between the hides or like to do a lot of sea watching for passing divers, shearwarters and skuas then a larger (77mm to 95mm) scope will be better for higher magnification and low light conditions.

Insects and plants can prove an interesting
diversion when there are no birds about.
The eyepiece on the scope controls the degree of magnification and if it is fixed at one power or is variable (zoom). Most entry level and mid-range scopes are supplied with a zoom eyepiece, typically giving a range of 15-45x on a 65mm scope and 20-60x on an 80mm scope. Zooms are more popular because they offer flexibility and high magnification, but some people prefer fixed magnification eyepieces for the wider field of view. A resent innovation that is appearing on many top of the range scopes are wide-angle zooms which are designed to give the best of both worlds.

In addition to the Scope itself a tripod or at least monopod is required to keep it stable. For more information on these have a look at our website or click here to read our blog post on the subject.

The final piece of equipment is a field guide.  These range in complexity and coverage from garden birds of Britain to the whole of the Western Palearctic and vagrants to the whole world.  It's best to get familiar with the common ones first before confusing yourself with anything more comprehensive.  We stock a range of field guides at our Glandford shop including the ever popular black-covered Collins guide.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, second hand equipment can be a great way to get started with better kit than you could have got for the same money new.
Kitted up and ready to go
Whatever your budget or requirements we have a wide range of kit that will meet your needs. We also take part exchanges against new and second hand equipment so upgrading can done at lower cost.

Once you are kitted out all you need to do now is look for birds and all the other wildlife. One of the joys of birdwatching is that almost anywhere you go there will be something of interest to look at. If you are also interested insects, plants and mammals then you will never be short of something to watch and enjoy at any time of the year.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Top of the range for less

Just some of our second hand binoculars
It is true for most people that once you have experienced top of the range optics in the field that afterwards nothing else will do. The price of the best equipment is not within the reach of everybody however, but it is possible to make your money go further by buying second hand equipment. Anyone who has been through the tiresome and stressful experience of purchasing a used car may not wish to consider anything else per-owned, but with binoculars and scopes it is a much easier choice. The nature of optics is such that it is easy to tell if they are working properly just by looking through them. There is no great science to assessing the condition of binoculars or scopes, as long as the lenses are in good condition (especially the eyepiece lenses) and you can see clearly through them, then they are all right. Some used kit we still be covered by the remainder of the manufacturers warranty. As an example a six-year-old used Opticron HR66 scope would still have the remaining 24 years of its 30 year warranty.

A few pre owned scopes in all shapes and sizes
Whatever your budget there is second hand equipment available, offering often better optical performance than new models at the same price. This is particularly true of the high end gear where even an older model can deliver a significantly better image than an equivalent priced new item. For example the Zeiss Victory FL was the best model offered by the legendary German firm until late summer 2012 when they brought out the Victory HT. The Victory FLs are now available second hand for hundreds of pounds less than the new equivalent.
Top of the range for less.  Used Zeiss binoculars

We always have a good range of used binocularstelescopes and tripods in our Glandford shop and on the website. The stock is constantly changing so keep an eye on the website and in the shop to grab a bargain.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cley Spy, more than just binoculars.

Bee boxes and
wild flower seeds
Our Glandford shop is the best place to find the right optics for you.  With over 180 models of binoculars and over 40 scopes plus second hand equipment to choose from we can accommodate almost any requirements or budget.  But that's not all, we also have tripods, a range of outdoor clothing and hats, bird food and feeders, nest boxes, books, toys and much more.
Bird seed available in bag from 1kg
to 20kg.
Some of are latest lines include the really rather nice metal containers for bird food complete with a handy scoop for filling the feeders.  The same company also supplies us with the ingenious string tins and the contemporary style nest boxes and insect houses for bees, lacewings, ladybirds and other friendly invertebrates.

Nest boxes, insect boxes and
bird feeders

Just some of our books,
maps and cards
In our section for the younger nature enthusiast we have fluffy toys, a range of fun and informative books and a new selection of playing cards depicting birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.

As well as the Paramo, Jack Pyke and Tilley outdoor clothing we are soon going to be having some Stealth Gear jackets and their one and two-man collapsible hides.

Nature playing card packs
On top of all this we have a huge selection of accessories for birdwatchers and photographers including straps, tripods, monopods, heads, bags, cleaning equipment, magnifiers and torches.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Six of the best £200-£500 binoculars

Just some of the large range of binoculars
available from Cley Spy
Here is a brief round-up of some of the best binoculars for a medium budget. The finest binoculars available have prices that are hard to justify if you are not using them everyday or professionally. In resent years a huge range of optics has become available making the choice rather overwhelming. With such a bewildering array on offer it can be hard to see the wood for the trees, but with a little guidance sorting out the best one for your needs can be made a little easier.  Choosing optical equipment is very much a personal decision and because only you can see through you own eyes it is hard to make recommendations.  There are however some binoculars that offer a lot of performance for the money and the price range £200-£500 includes some excellent equipment that does a very respectable job without breaking the bank.

Opticron have a long legacy of good quality and keenly priced optics going back decades, and with a broad range of products from the budget to high end they are a sound choice for many people. This particular model is a well-built and comfortable 42mm binocular, available in both 8x and 10x magnification. Good wide field of view, decent close focus and a 10 year guarantee.

Very popular binoculars, available in 8x36, 10x36, 8x43 and 10x43 models. The ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements in these deliver a crisp, clear image and all the specifications have an excellent field of view for their magnification. 10 year guarantee.

These are one of the lightest weight 42mm binoculars available, fitting neatly in the hand and feeling more like a 32mm in proportions but with the light gathering of a 42mm for early mornings and late evenings. 2 year guarantee.

Light, sharp and ergonomic. Rather than having the traditional choice of 8x or 10x magnification these are available in 9x32 and 9x42 versions. This strikes a good balance giving slightly more power without compromising the brightness or field of view too much. Pentax are one of the few companies still offering a 30 year guarantee.

A good range of models with 8x42, 10x42, and more interestingly 7x33 and 9x33. For me the 7x33 is the stand out specification, with an excellent sharp, bright image and a staggering 9.1º field of view. This coupled with very well controlled colour fringing and close focus under 2m makes for a great summer binocular for both bird and insect watching. It is good to see a company thinking outside the box when it comes to design. 10 year guarantee.

8x42 and 10x42.  Very ergonomic with nicely textured rubber armouring over a robust feeling low weight body. Great optics that punch above their price. 10 year guarantee.

For more information on what to look for in a binocular and the rest of the range available from Cley Spy visit our website, pop in and see us at Glandford and Cley Marshes or give us a call

Thursday, May 9, 2013

iphone digiscoping revisited

The latest new product from Kowa is an updated version of their adapter for attaching iphones to
scopes and binoculars. The TSN-IP5 is based on the previous adapter (the TSN-IP4S) but is made to fit the iphone 5.

Both the adapters are made of tough rubberised plastic and clip on to the phone in the same way that many cases for smart phones do, and has a lug for a lanyard which is provided. The mount that fits on the scope eyepiece is made of anodised aluminium and there are two sizes of felt-lined tube, one to fit binoculars and one to fit the eyepieces of the TSN-880/770 series scopes. The one for the scopes also fits onto Swarovski and Zeiss zoom eyepieces and with the felt removed fits (albeit slightly loosely) the latest Leica Televid 65/82 eyepiece. The binocular tube fits Kowa's own binoculars and the following models form other manufacturers.

Pentax DCF BC 9x42

Minox BL 8x42 and 10x42

Leica Ultravid HD 7x42, 8x42 and 10x42 and the new Trinovid 8x42 and 10x42

Nikon EDG 8x32

Viking ED Pro 8x42 and 10x42.

Barn Owl by Eddie Myers
We have been able to modify these adapters to fit some other scopes not listed above, so it is always worth asking if you have something different. Recently we found that the smaller tube fits neatly onto the 32x wide eyepiece for the now discontinued Kowa 820 series scopes when the rubber eye-cup is removed. These are still very good scopes today and turn up second-hand at good prices.

Kestrel by Eddie Myers
The capabilities of these phones to capture both stills and video have seriously impressed us. One of our regular local customers and birding legend Eddie Myers has been getting jaw-dropping results with his iphone 4s and Swarovski scope that usually provoke the response “What?! You did that with a telephone?”.

Water Rail by Eddie Myers
This is an exciting new area for digiscoping, allowing the capturing of high-quality images in the field with a mobile phone, a piece of equipment that many people are carrying with them already.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring clean optics bargains at Cley Marshes

Our satellite shop in the old visitor's centre at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Cley Marshes reserve has become our clearance outlet, with all of our ends of lines and one off deals. The spring cleaning has turned up some real goodies, like the last pair of the Zeiss Conquest 10x40s now with £142 off the
RRP. Or the light-weight and optically stunning Eschenbach Regatta 8x42 now down £50 to £399. Come and have a look at all this and many more deals on binoculars and scopes from £20 upwards.

This shop is in the perfect location to test out the kit, with the impressive views over one of the most famous nature reserves in the UK. When the Norfolk Wildlife Trust opened their new visitor centre at Cley in 2007, the opportunity came up for us to have a small shop in the old thatched Dick Bagnell-Oakley visitor centre just next door to the new one. From here you get an elevated view over the reed beds, scrapes and pools out to the shingle bank and the sea around a kilometre away. As well as the impressive list of regular species found at Cley we have had a few notable rarities and scarcities seen from the shop including collared pratincole, western sandpiper, red-backed shrike, water pipit, black redstart and Wilson's phalarope amongst the highlights. Cley's coastal freshwater marsh (the product of medieval land drainage) is an unusual habitat nationally and this coupled with its location on the North Sea, makes it an attractive area for regular and vagrant species.

The stock at our Cley shop will be constantly changing as lines sell through so keep and eye on the shop and the clearance page on our website for the latest bargains and special offers.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wide-eyed: The new Kowa 25-60x wide-angle zoom eyepiece

The New Kowa TE-11WZ Wide-angle Zoom
As has been mentioned in previous blog posts, the big news in spotting scopes in the last couple of years has been wide-angle zooms, giving both the flexibility of variable magnification and a very good angle of view. The latest manufacturer to join the 'one eyepiece for everything' club is Kowa.

Kowa are one of the most respected Japanese optics companies with a particular forte for spotting scopes and a legacy of ground-breaking equipment going back over thirty years. For many birders in the mid to late 1980s the 77mm TSN 1,2,3 and 4 were the bee's knees when it came to near indestructible high-performance scopes. At that time fixed 20x or 30x were the eyepieces to have, not only because they were good lenses but also because the zooms available from all manufacturers were almost useless for birding on account of being soft and having a field of view nearly big enough to get an entire goldcrest in at fifty yards.

These days zooms are much better to the point of outselling fixed eyepieces more than 20:1 and offering fields of view nearly on a par. The latest generation of zooms from Leica, Swarovski and a host of others give a magnification range of 25-50/60x and have much improved field of view. Both of the afore mentioned European companies now only have zooms in the current product line ups and the ATX Swarovski scopes eyepiece is part of a rear module that includes the prisms and therefore most of the glass in the scope.

The TSN-IP4S phone scoping adapter
Kowa have stuck to the traditional body-and-eyepiece format and introduced their first wide-angle zoom, made for the 770 and 880 series scopes. Physically it uses the same metal chassis as the 20-60x that was launched with these scopes in 2006, and so is the same size and near enough same weight.  The biggest advantage to keeping the same dimensions as the previous eyepiece is that Kowa's excellent iphone digiscoping adapter fits it perfectly.  The mechanics and build are up to the high standards you should expect for a scope of this quality, feeling positive, nicely damped and robust.

Optically it has a tough act to follow in the form of the 'old' 20-60x but it in no way disgraces itself, delivering everything its predecessor could and a bit more punch, edge sharpness and of course field of view. I tend not to hold a lot of store in the figures quoted in specification sheets as it doesn't always translate into what the eye sees, so purely for a subjective point of view the new eyepiece is notably wider at 25x than the 20-60x is at 20x and this increase holds up right through the range. One of the real strengths of the 880 series is the phenomenal brightness from the large 88mm objective lens, especially at 60x and the new eyepiece, unlike some manufacturers' offerings, retains the this power rather than restricting the range to 50x.

At £669 it is quite and investment, but it really does deliver what it set out to and will keep Kowa at the cutting edge of spotting scope technology.