For those of you who were interested in the optical performance of the Tele Vue 85 reviewed in the last issue of BVD, but were put off by the size and weight, what if I were to tell you that you could get 99% of the daylight optical performance of the 85 in a package that is significantly smaller and lighter. Tele Vue has introduced a 76 mm APO scope. As you can see from the photo it is quite a bit smaller. What you can't see is the weight difference, which is just about three and a half pounds. What is the trade off? The 76, as equipped here for the field, won't take the massive 2 inch mount eyepieces like the Panoptic on the 85 in the photo (you can mount the 2 inch diagonal but it would add significantly to the weight). Still, with the 1.25 inch Radian eyepieces, or the Tele Vue zoom, the image in the 76 is hard to distinguish from the image in the 85, at least during terrestrial viewing (as in looking at birds anywhere from dawn to dusk). The 76 is still bigger and heavier than the largest conventional 80 mm scopes, but the view through it puts all the standard scopes in the shade. It is as bright, as sharp, as detailed as we have come to expect from Tele Vue products. I have had it out in field on a regular basis over the past few months and in never fails to provide an impressive view of the bird. It is a bit heavier than the Ranger (which was specifically designed for field work), but provides both better sharpness and brightness. Certainly, unless my primary use of the scope (or a strong secondary use) was going to be astronomy, I would choose the 76 over the 85 for birding. A very impressive accomplishment, and a fine birding scope for those who dare to be different...and who are dedicated to the best view of the bird possible.
|The 76, in its field dress, won't take the 2 inch eyepieces, but with fine eyepieces like the Radians available in 1.25 inch mounts, you are not likely to miss the bigger eyepieces.|