| Swallow 80MM | Viking | 20-60x Zoom | 1327g | Stay-on Case Included | 5-Year Guarantee | £229.95 |
The Technical Stuff:
|Objective lens diameter||80mm|
|Minimum focus distance||7m|
|Field of view (degrees)||2.0-1.0|
|Eye Relief (mm)||16|
A lightweight and portable scope with good light transmission, resolution and colour contrast which can be taken with you wherever you go. Due to the compact nature of the Swallow it can be conveniently packed in travel luggage or kept at hand to study wildlife in your garden.
The Key features are: Waterproof – Twist down eyecup for spectacle wearers – Supplied with stay-on case – Weight: 1327g – 5-year guarantee
I’m surprised that Viking has so little to say about its low cost telescope range because they offer tremendous value for money – I’ve seen the 80MM discounted to under £200 and that is hard to beat as a ‘starter’ birding spotting scope. (Note to Viking, a ‘review’ presented just as a video may be fashionable but some of us prefer the written word when comparing brands or models, and some of us are hard of hearing!)
I really put the scope to the test taking it out to do some sea-watching in a 45MPH gale with rain lashing against me and the scope. In such conditions a ‘stay-on’ case is essential because the last thing optics need is a saltwater shower. It was easy back home to clean the lenses and the very few other exposed parts of the scope, the case dried out in no time too.
My immediate impression was very favourable. My own scope is 80MM with a 20-60 zoom too which retails are around 10 times the price! Optically, the Swallow was hard to fault. Given that this is not ED glass I was impressed with the clarity it afforded. OK, so, right at the very edge one can detect minor distortion, but so little as to be negligible. A foggy ocean was in pin-sharp clarity, despite the weather. On such a grey day it’s hard to pronounce on how colour true the image is, but in my limited experience, again, I found it spot on.
So, optically it’s a winner, and value astonishing, why pay more? Of course, it ain’t as pretty as my scope but we’ve been together two decades and they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What other shortcomings are there? Well, the stay on case was not as tight fitting as I would like and being a bit bulky it made using the zoom awkward and keeping the flap in place over the focusing wheel to keep the rain out was also not perfect.
In use the things I least liked were the zoom adjustment and focus wheel. The former is narrower than I am used to so I found myself often looking down to find that it wasn’t turning because I was holding the scope body or the eye-relief cup by mistake. When my hand was in the right place there was no issue. The focusing wheel is a bit ‘hair trigger’, the smallest adjustment seemed to make a lot of difference and when watching lovely plump sanderlings run along a beach I often over steered the wheel and had to turn it back. Looking out to sea at a couple of cormorants on a post I had to make several attempts to get the focus spot on. I guess the ‘gearing’ could be improved; using a small wheel when trying to make very fine adjustments is not as easy as it could be.
Those worries aside, and at this price with a five-year guarantee, newbie birders will find this ‘first’ scope bridging the gap between only using bins, and having a top of the range scope as a lifetime birding companion. It is certainly among those two or three scopes at the bottom end of pricing I would happily recommend out of the dozens on offer, pitching for this slot.