| Viking | Swallow Spotting Scope | 65 | Zoom | RRP £199.99p |
The Technical Stuff:
Key features include being waterproof, having twist down eyecup for spectacle wearers, supplied with a ‘stay-on’ case and a five-year guarantee and the following specifications.
Objective lens diameter 65mm
ED lens No
Minimum focus distance 5m
Field of view (degrees) 2.5-1.2
Eye Relief (mm) 16
Nitrogen filled Yes
Weight (g) 1155
Dimensions (mm) L170xW80xH340
A lightweight and portable scope with good light transmission, resolution and colour contrast which can be taken with you wherever you go. A stay-on case is included.
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.
I had a trawl around the net to find out what other people were saying about this scope and… nada, zilch, um zippo! Why on earth not? This compact scope offers incredibly good value for money with three diameters to choose from.
I tested out the 65mm which has a 16×48 zoom. Taking it out of the box I was surprised to see a quality ‘stay-on’ case already wrapped around it. It’s quite a nifty design too with an inner, drawstring cloth cover for the lens within the case, presumably for extra protection and ease of use. Velcro tabs make it easy to take off the un-needed bits when in use, the exception being the cover for the focus adjustment wheel. This could do with a way to fold it out of the way when using the focus and currently it relies on one being happy to just use your right hand to turn the wheel. There are cases out there that cost as much as this scope with case kit, so it’s astonishing to find at no extra charge.
It was easy to fit the plate for my Gitzo tripod and once on the scope was rock steady.
I took it down to the sea as I find this is the real test of a scope… finding and following seabirds needs clarity, full image and good lenses!
Bear in mind I have used a top quality (and price!) scope for two decades and I expect to have a clear, crisp, colour-true experience in poor light on a windy headland in a November storm. Today it was flat calm with a gentle summer breeze. At the lower magnification end (16x) the experience was excellent. Clear image with no distortion with crisp edges to anything viewed. At higher magnifications the limitations begin to show. I tried the Swallow against my high cost scope and it showed its remarkable value. In good light, at lower magnifications there was not a lot to complain about. It was not a fair test even at low magnification as I use an 80mm scope so get a lot more light and a larger area in the scope. At higher magnifications this begins to tell. The Swallow made far distance objects (a shore line a couple of miles away) appear to be in a light mist and the crispness and clarity were no a good match for the top value optics, but at just 10% of the price, getting for 80% of the performance can’t be sniffed at.
A five-year guarantee can’t match a lifetime one of course, but, again, price for price its damn good!
My conclusion is that this scope deserves to be high on the list of those looking for their first telescope and others wanting a small, lightweight scope to take on the birding holidays. I’d probably spend the extra thirty quid to go for the 80mm model with its 20-60 zoom.
Review Model loaned by Viking