I have a good friend who is getting ready to go out west on a hunting trip. One of the key components to maximizing your efforts toward a trophy is being able to distinguish between a good rack and a great rack at long distances. There is nothing worse than making a several hundred yard stalk and then finally seeing that was not the trophy you had expected. This wasted time hurts when you may have limited time for the hunt and when the chances of getting another kitchen pass validated next year to go out West are slim. When my friend was looking for a good spotting scope, he was willing to make a financial investment for quality and reliability. He ended up purchasing the Leupold Gold Ring HD Spotting Scope Kit for around $1400 plus S&H.
The Leupold Gold Ring HD Spotting Scope Kit comes in a durable case as shown below.
When you flip the case over, you can see the specifications for the kit attached to the case. During this review, you can click on any photo and it will bring up a higher resolution photo so you can see more detail.
When you open the case, all the components of this kit are nicely stored in there respective locations in the case. I'm not exactly sure which ones came in plastic wrappers, but once you take them out, this is what you see.
When you take all the components out of the case, this is what is actually inside the case.
- Spotting Scope
- Spotting Scope Cover
- Tripod Cover
- Window Mount
- Camera Mount
- Four Camera Adapters
- Product Registration Card
- Gold Ring Sporting Scope Operating Instructions
- Digital Camera Adapter Instruction Manual
The information below in italics was taken from the Leupold website and describes their Gold Ring HD Spotting Scope Kit.
Unmatched clarity at the highest magnification levels thanks to HD technology.
- High-definition, calcium-fluoride lenses ensure incredible clarity at all magnification levels.
- The Index Matched Lens System maximizes maximum brightness, clarity, contrast, and color fidelity.
- Folded light path technology helps achieve a compact, lightweight design.
- Constant 30mm of eye relief is the longest you’ll find, for comfortable extended viewing.
- The soft-side, form-fitting case protects your optics, and can stay on the scope during use.
- Armor coated, rugged, waterproof, and covered by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee.
- The Leupold Golden Ring 12-40x60mm HD spotting scope offers impeccable optical performance with unmatched resolution and brightness, even at the highest magnification.
- The compact tripod features adjustable legs and a swivel/tilt head.
- The Leupold digital camera adapter makes digiscoping easy. Compatible with most digital cameras.
- Window mount makes in-vehicle use simple.
- The hard-side case is rugged and features a padded interior to protect your valuable Leupold optics.Actual Magnification 12.7x - 38.1x
- Linear Field of View (ft/1000 yd) 168 - 52
- Linear Field of View (m/1000 m) 56 - 18
- Angular Field of View (degrees) 3.2 - 1.0
- Weight 37.0 oz / 1049 g (The review item weight in at 40.0 ounces)
- Length 12.4 in / 315 mm
- Obj. Aperture (mm) 60
- Twilight Factor 26.8 - 48.9
- Exit Pupil (mm) 4.8 - 1.5
- Eye Relief (mm) 30.0 - 30.0
- Close Focus Distance 36.0 ft / 11.0 m
I decided to get a weight of the spotting scope by itself to compare against Leupold's specifications. This scope weighed in at 40.0 ounces. Leupold's specifications says 37.0 ounces. I'm not sure where the difference is, but I'm surprised there is such a difference. I already returned the scope to my friend, otherwise I would have checked the weight of the eye cup, but I doubt it weighs 3 ounces.
The next thing I wanted to do was to check out the optics. To be honest, the clarity was a little better looking through the spotting scope directly and not using the camera. In these photos, I had to hold up the camera (adapters didn't fit my lenses) and try to get everything lined up and in focus (the spotting scope and the camera) for the shot. I was impressed with both the clarity and brightness of the scope, which I should be, considering it is Leupold's "top of the line" spotting scope.
67 Yards, 12 Power
67 Yards, 40 Power
130 Yards, 12 Power
130 Yards, 40 Power
202 Yards, 12 Power
202 Yards, 40 Power
When using the scope, there are two adjustment rings. The one closest to the eye cup is used to focus the spotting scope. The one with the 12, 20, 30, and 40 marks is the power adjustment rings. Both provide a firm resistance when making an adjustment. I would expect this firmness since Leupold advertises this as a waterproof spotting scope. I'm sure they have a good fit on any o-rings to prevent water from getting in the wrong places.
Since this is a Gold Ring HD Spotting Scope, I didn't think the review would be adequate without a closeup photo of the gold ring. As a note, you can also see I need to get some lint free wipes. I don't think anyone should underestimate the importance of this gold ring. Leupold is known for their customer service and the warranties on their products, and I bet if you ever had a problem with this gold ring product, they would take care of the problem quickly.
I was a little disappointed when I realized that I would not be able to use the camera adapters to mount my digital camera on the spotting scope. To install the camera mount, you first remove the rubber eye cup.
Next you place the Leupold Digital Camera Adapter Base over the eye piece and tighten the clamping knob. The Base Adapter comes with an integral 58mm diameter external thread to adapt directly into a camera lens.
The kit also comes with 4 other lens adapters plates for 28mm, 37mm, 43mm and 52mm lenses. The photo below shows the 37mm adapter installed. I was really disappointed when I found that none of my current Minolta/Sony lenses would adapt directly to the spotting scope. Therefore, I couldn't checkout how useful these mounts will be, but I would expect them to be about a billion times better than trying to hand hold a camera and shoot photos through the scope like I did for this review. The Digital Camera Base Adapter weighed in at 2.10 ounces and the adapter plates ranged in weight from 0.85 ounces to 0.60 ounces.
Most likely when you take this to the field, you will take the cover and the tripod as shown in the photo below.
Leupold did a nice job on the cover. It is designed so that you unzip the eye piece area and fold the two halves back and they Velcro against the side of the cover. Then you flip down the objective cover and it Velcros to the bottom of the cover. It is hard to tell from the photo, but you can also keep the quick release tripod adapter attached to the scope with the cover installed.
The cover itself weighed in at 5.20 ounces. This gives you a 45.20 ounce (2.83 pounds) spotting scope including the cover.
The tripod adapter plate attaches to the bottom of the spotting scope as shown in the photo below. You actually get two of these adapters. They come standard with the tripod and the window mount. The same adapter will work with either the tripod or window mount. Most likely you will not remove the adapter once you install it on the scope, but if you do, it is very easy. The butterfly like screw is used to attach the adapter to the bottom of the scope.
The head of both the tripod and window mount are the same. The tripod adapter tucks under a lip on one side and when you lock it in place, the cam latch automatically closes on the other side making it a firm and secure attachment.
The top of the tripod and window mount are adjusted by rotating a locking lever and swiveling the spotting scope into position and then re-locking the lever. You can see the photo on the right below showing the ball that rotates in the housing when unlocked.
The tripod can adjust from a range of about 13.5" to 30.75" to the base plate attachment.
The tripod legs can telescope in and out as shown above, and they can also be adjusted to three different angles. The photo above on the left represents their first adjustment angle. The two photos below show the other two positions.
The tripod weighed in at 36.95 ounces. This means that if you take the scope and tripod to the field, you are probably taking about 82.15 ounces (5.13 pounds). I'm not trying to point out good or bad, just the reality that you add about 5 pounds to your hunting pack.
The window mount installs easily on the window and is a nice accessory to have on hand. I think most situations would call for the mobility of the tripod, but I can see there would be times when you may want to scope something from your automobile.
It is going to be hard to give an objective "bottom line" because I have not reviewed a bunch of spotting scopes yet. There are spotting scopes on the market today that are less than $100 and some that are over $2000. I'm sure that saying "you get what you pay for" is true for many scopes. I discussed this with a buddy of mine and he has a $100 spotting scope that he purchased on a whim. He was so unimpressed with the optical quality that he didn't even make an effort to take it home from the hunting camp at the end of the season. I think this says volumes on the cheap scope. The two greatest factors you should consider when purchasing a spotting scope is the actual expected usage and how much available cash you have on hand. If your only need is to go to the range and shoot 100 yards, you could probably get by with something in the $200 to $400 range and you will be happy. If you are going to use this for hours at a time trying to identify game on long distance hunts, there is no doubt that the Leupold Gold Ring HD Spotting Scope will be able to perform. The key advantages of this spotting scope are clarity, brightness, and the warranty that Leupold puts on their Gold Ring products. If you are wanting a spotting scope kit to adapt directly to a digital camera, you will need to do your research and make sure your lenses fit the adapters in the kit. If they don't, you will need to get additional adapters.
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