Choosing a spotting scope is no easy task. There are so many factors to consider when deciding which Scope is right for you:
- Quality of Glass
- The list goes on and on
I own a Carl Zeiss FL 20x60x85, and I absolutely love it! The Zeiss FL has a fluoride lens, which is basically their version of an HD lens. Recently I had an opportunity over the course of 3 weeks to compare it side by side with a Swarovski HD 20x60x80, and a Vortex Razor HD 20x60x85.
During the comparisons I felt that the Zeiss and the Swarovski were very, very close in quality and performance, and stood out from the Vortex Razor. (for a grand more they should)
- Both were incredibly crisp, bright.
-Both had amazing clarity through the entire focus range.
When comparing the scopes I came to the opinion that the best overall performing scope was the Carl Zeiss FL 20x60x85
Why did I feel this way?
- The Zeiss seems to have a slight advantage in light gathering, at first light and at dark, I could get a few more minutes of viewing out of the Zeiss.
- The Zeiss seemed to have better quality of color.
- I also personally, prefer the design and functionality of the Zeiss. Itís easier to focus. The eye piece and zoom function is similar on both scopes, but the location and style of the focus dial on the Zeiss make it a little bit more user friendly.
All of that being said, both the Zeiss and Swarovski spotting scopes maintain amazing clarity from 20x magnification all the way up to 60x magnification, which truly sets them apart from other scopes.
Most spotting scopes have a clear field of view on 20x magnification, but very few maintain that clarity throughout their entire range of magnification.
As mention above, based strictly on quality and functionality, my personal preference is the Zeiss. However, they are all great spotting scopes. You canít go wrong with any one of them.
The Vortex Razor HD is also a great scope, but doesnít perform quite as well as the Zeiss or the Swarovski. The Razor is clear and bright on 20x magnification, but not quite as crisp as the others. It loses some of its clarity when zoomed up to 45-60x magnification. Itís a great option for the cost, probably one of the BEST!
The design of the Razor is very similar to the Swarovski with the exception of the focus dial, which is similar to the Zeiss, making it a very easy scope to use. If you canít afford a Zeiss or Swarovski I would highly recommend the Vortex Razor.
When it comes to warranty, Vortex wins hands down. Their warranty is the best in the business. When it comes to price, Vortex wins again. The Razor HD spotting scope retails for around 1,600 dollars, almost exactly half what the other Zeiss and Swarovski retail for. Itís definitely a good quality scope, and a much better option than any of the middle price range scopes. I guarantee youíll be happy with it as long as you arenít comparing it to a Swarovski or a Carl Zeiss.
What the winner, Zeiss can Improve
1: Zeiss could improve on is the availability of accessories such as protective sleeves and camera adapters for their products. Most sporting goods stores that sell quality optics carry accessories for Swarovski spotting scopes in stock. Because Vortex optics are designed very similar to Swarovski optics, there are accessories readily available for them as well. I have had a difficult time finding a camera adapter for my Carl Zeiss. Most Zeiss accessories have to be ordered directly from the company. It seems to me that would be an easy problem to fix. They simply need to stock accessories for their products in any stores that sell them.
2: I have a problem with Zeissís warranty, and their customer service.
A few years ago I let a buddy borrow my spotting scope. When I got it back from him the front lens was damaged. When I sent it in to the company to have it repaired, they charged me 900 dollars to replace the lens. Not only that, the customer service was horrible. It took over five months to get my scope back. You would think a scope that retails for over 3,000 dollars would come with a better warranty than that, and that they would value their customers enough to keep their business.
In Summary, all great scopes!
Zeiss in my winner based on the testing.
Vortex flat out takes care of people, consider the Razor if money is of concern, and if you are worried about warranty issues.
Swarovski is also a great company and a very good option.
Hope this helps!