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 Alpen Birding Scope Receives High Praise 
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Post Alpen Birding Scope Receives High Praise
Alpen Birding Scope Receives High Praise
by: Vincent Saponar

I just love reading Consumer Reports or other similar publications that pit products in the same price class or same product category versus one another. It’s completely intriguing to me. An exhaustive amount of research is done by scientists, engineers, product experts, and industry enthusiasts. Every product is put through the same scientifically comprehensive performance tests. Every product feature is tested and analyzed at great length to determine whether or not real value is actually derived from it. And at the end of the day, judges and testers assign a numerical ranking to each product, with the highest ranking going to the winner, or in the opinion of test sponsors and administrators-the best product.

As a both a birding and sports optics enthusiast, I was pretty excited to come home to see the June edition of Birdwatchers Digest in the mailbox. When I opened up the magazine I was even more excited when I noticed there were ten pages of the magazine dedicated to reviewing and evaluating “Mid Priced Birding Scopes”. The test was administered by Diane and Michael Porter, operators of the website, Any person or birder who frequently visits knows that Diane and Michael Porter are well respected in the birding community for their knowledge, passion for birding, and integrity. For me, this meant that the results of the review just had to be completely authentic even before I read them.

What really jumped out at me was the fact that ‘mid-priced’ scopes were being reviewed. Mid-priced scopes per this article/review ranged anywhere from $100 all the way up to $899, meaning that I would generally be willing to pay for many of the scopes being evaluated. Personally, when I think of mid-priced scopes, I think the range is anywhere from $200 to $600. But the point here is that the high priced birding scopes were out of the discussion. Yes!! Anyone who’s been a birder for even a short while knows that birding scopes made by high-end manufacturers such as Zeiss and Swarovski can run you $2,000 or more. While the optics performances of these scopes are certainly superior to most brands, they are simply out of my price league.

The mid-priced scopes review was broken into three categories by size, each containing about three to five products each. You have your 50mm sub-compacts, your 60-70mm compacts, and your full size 80mm scopes. Scores from 1 to 5 were given for Resolution, Image Quality, Focus Knob, and Ergonomics. The highest combined average score were winners in their respective size categories. The $700 Nikon Fieldscope ED50 blew away the subcompact competition; while the $899 Pentax PF 65 EDA II 20-60x65mm also won by a wide margin in the compact category. No surprises there as both contests were won by the most expensive scope in the category. However, there was a pleasant surprise winner in the full-size 80mm scope category: the $434 Alpen #788 20-60x80mm won by a wide margin over both the $500 Bushnell Legend Ultra HD and the $750 Vortex Skyline! Being the sports fan that I am, I would almost call this a major upset.

As an avid birder with a limited budget, seeing Alpen win was very satisfying, almost vindicating. I will admit that I am an Alpen fan and have purchased optics products from Alpen before. But how could anyone not be impressed with what Alpen has done in the sport optics market after being in business only 11 years? Anytime a ‘David’ beats a ‘Goliath’(or in this case two ‘Goliaths’), whether it be on a playing field or in any other competition, it is human nature to be impressed with the accomplishment. In this case I obviously liken ‘David’ with Alpen while Bushnell and Vortex are ‘Goliaths’. Maybe the reason l like reading product reviews so much is that there is always a good chance that the ‘little’ guy can actually win because the playing field is usually completely fair.

About The Author
I live in Morristown, NJ am enthusiast for most anything that involves being outdoors. I am an accomplished golfer (10 handi-cap), an avid back yard birder, and a great fan of most spectator sports; particularly professional baseball and golf. I have acquired a great deal of knowledge and expertise around sport optics instruments over the past five years, mainly through bird watching. I am the founder and web master of, a retail a store that offers high quality sport optics instruments and accessories.

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Mon Feb 21, 2011 2:40 pm
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