Review: Praktica 20-60x zoom spotting scope

praktica spotting scope reviewThis review covers my latest spotting scope from Praktica  – the B00514 which is the angled zoom scope with a 77mm lens and 20 to 60 times eye-piece.  It’s an easy to use spotting scope that is ideal for beginners or those looking for a good general workhorse spotting scope that is rugged and can be taken out into the field.

The Praktica is well-built and is rubber armoured to allow it to withstand all the knocks and bumps that it will inevitably get when in use. The scope is waterproof which allows it to be used in a range of weather conditions though I wouldn’t be too keen on standing out in heavy rain with it if only for comfort reasons.

The scope feels good and solid in the hand and not once have I felt concerned over the way that I handle it.

It comes with a standard tripod thread and it is well-balanced when the scope is mounted on a tripod.

The zoom eyepiece has rubberised strips to help make it easy to zoom in and out and there is an eye-cup for those who wear glasses. The focus wheel is conveniently placed and pretty responsive. I certainly had no problems using the zoom and focus simultaneously to zoom into my quarry.

At a minimum magnification of 20x I would say it’s an ideal scope for estuaries and lakes where you need a larger magnification. A lot of my wildlife observation is undertaken along rivers or close to woodlands and this makes my other Praktica the 15 to 40 times zoom a more useful scope.

Across the zoom range there is a pretty good quality image though towards the tp end I have noticed a little bit of distortion and ‘bleeding of the blues’.

Obviously with the larger 77 mm lens the Praktica is heavier than the 15-40 zoom which has a 60mm lens but it’s still an acceptable weight even for days out in the mountains. For me weight is an issue as I spend most of my wildlife watching days out on foot hiking rather than driving to a nature reserve and parking up next to the hide. Packed into my backpack together with a tripod the weight wasn’t particularly excessive.

One of the issues I have with the Praktica 20-60 zoom is with digiscoping. Using the Samsung compact camera that I have in order to get rid of the vingretting I need to zoom in by about 2.3 with the camera. With the 20x zoom this means that you are working at very high magnifications and even with a 77mm lens it can lose a lot of light. The Praktica 15-40 time zoom for me delivers much better results even though the lens is smaller.

Part of this problem is down to the compact camera I use which is getting a bit dated now and there are much better digital compacts for digiscoping. With the Samsung only delivering 10MP and newer compacts delivering 16MP it will soon be time for a change.

Despite the problems with the high magnification caused when trying to remove the vingretting the Praktica 20-60 zoom scope can still deliver respectable images and I’m sure they will improve as I get used to the scope and set up.

In the meantime it perfectly possible to take the picture at high-resolution and then use a photo editing package to cut out the useable parts of the image – it very much depends on what the ned result is meant to be used for.

Here are some examples of the pictures taken through the Praktica 20-60 zoom using the Samsung S1065 Compact camera.

1. Using the 1x magnification on the camera delivers a very clear vignette :



2. A bit of cutting and pasting can change that image to a respectable picture:


3. Trying to zoom into the vingrette can cause problems as this image was taken with the camera at 2x zoom:


While I was waiting for the otters to appear – they never did today as I turned up with my camera – I did a quick video review which you can watch below. I was a bit on edge as every time I heard a splash  I was ready to rush and photo the otters:




Easy to use and built to last the Praktica 20-60 zoom scope is a good buy for beginners and those looking for a robust day to day workhorse of a spotting scope.

The Praktica has a good solid feel to it and is rubber armoured to allow it to take the knocks and bangs that it will inevitably get when being taken out into the field on a regular basis. The scope is waterproof and nitrogen-filled to help it deal with a range of weather conditions. The 77mm lens lets in plenty of light to allow good image quality throughout the majority of the zoom range with just a touch of distortion at the top end. When mounted on the tripod the scope is well balanced and easy to control. Focusing is quick and responsive with a good size control knob. As with all Prakticas this scope offers a great value for money option delivering good quality optics on a budget.

Rating by Kevin Heath: 4.5 stars