Kowa Spotting Scope Review | Should You Buy It?
Kowa is One of the prominent spotting scope brands worldwide. They have some good quotes for birding, hunting, and for shooting. The brand is recognised for their high quality glasses and durability of the products.
Let's take a good look at 3 of the amazing ranges of spotting scopes that Kowa has to offer, to see which ones are great for shooting ranges, birding, hunting etc.
1. Kowa TSN-880 Series Spotting Scope
The TSN-880 scopes are Kowa’s flagship spotting scope line. Made with a large 88-mm objective lens that positively delivers more light to the eye than any other scope available today.
The Kowa TSN-880 is also something of an engineering marvel. Even with that big lens, the TSN-880 scopes weigh just 53.6 oz., and are quite compact at 13.0-13.5 inches long.
TSN-880 scopes feature a dual focus mechanism with separate focus knobs for coarse or fine adjustment, and a locking mechanism to secure eyepieces in place.
Kowa TSN-880 scopes are available in both angled and straight configurations with the PROMINAR fluorite crystal objective lens in angled or straight versions.
When coupled with Kowa’s fluorite crystal eyepieces, the Prominar TSN-880 models provide the brightest and sharpest images possible. Kowa’s digiscope adapters can rapidly turn any TSN-880 scope into an amazing telephoto lens.
All 880 scopes are made with Kowa’s heavy metal-free Eco-Glass process.
The telephoto lens design of using 5 lens elements in 4 groups has successfully shortened the overall length of the scope while keeping a large diameter objective lens without sacrificing optical performance.
The adoption of an inner focusing system has made the prism box light and compact and at the same time decreases the amount of image movement when compared to conventional prism focusing systems.
The highly achromatic objective lens makes the scope compact without sacrificing performance.
This body, designed to be user-friendly, is light and compact despite its large objective lens and metal construction. Tailored to meet the needs of the most demanding user, every technical and ergonomic detail has been well perfected.
Users of these advanced spotting scopes will know that they possess an instrument of extremely high quality.
The magnesium alloy body made by a sophisticated molding process called thixotropic molding has the feel and strength of a traditional metal body with decreased weight when compared to other large-diameter scopes.
The rugged structure can tolerate the severest conditions and provides confidence and a sense of security for the user.
The well established Kowa focus system has progressed to a new dual focus system. The quick focus, with a large and easy to turn knob, will focus from infinity to five meters in two revolutions.
The fine focus, with smooth movement and pinpoint accuracy, is extremely useful at high magnifications and for digiscoping systems.
Kowa's standard eyepiece bayonet mount has been passed down to these new spotting scopes with a new attractive feature. An eyepiece locking mechanism has been added to the mount to prevent the eyepiece from getting lost unexpectedly.
The addition of a brass insert to the tripod mount of the scope allows the scope to be secured to both 1/4 and 3/8 inch mount tripods.
The housing is waterproof to JIS Protection Class 7 and filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent the lens from fogging.
2. Kowa TSN-501 50mm Angled Spotting Scope
Spotting scope, though an invaluable item for birding, hunting, or viewing distant objects, sometimes may cause you enough trouble if it weighs too much. As you might generally anticipate, the better the optical quality, the more the weight.
So, this portability issue will create trouble for you from time to time, restricting you from availing yourself of the highest potential of a spotting scope.
However, the Kowa TSN-500 series can be a panacea for you if you are looking for a versatile spotting scope, providing you the ultimate freedom of portability.
Kowa TSN-500 Series is one of the most ultra-compact and lightweight spotting scopes available on the market. There are two different scopes (TSN-501 and TSN-502) available under this series.
The 501 model has an angled eyepiece. Note that angled spotting scopes are often more preferred than the straight counterparts since they can be used with a shorter tripod, and for glassing up the steep terrain efficiently, and are usually more comfortable to use.
On the contrary, you will be getting a straight scope with TSN-502. Straight scopes are more preferred over the angled one because they can be easier for an inexperienced person to use and when looking down severe downhill angles.
The generous 50mm objective lens, along with multi-coated optics, will create brilliant high-contrast and sharp images. The chassis is made of polycarbonate materials which ensure an excellent build quality.
Unsurprisingly, the TSN-501 comes with a nitrogen filled and waterproof porro prism body, so you will never have to worry during adverse weather conditions.
Altogether, you can get it for yourself if you are looking for unmatched portability, wide zoom range, precise observation, and better optical quality within an affordable price range.
3. Kowa Prominar Series TSN-553
The Kowa TSN-550 series, one of the best compact spotting scopes available all-around, comes in a super lightweight package and bags an unrivaled optical performance.
These scopes are built with Prominar fluorite glass that can eliminate chromatic aberration to a great extent, resulting in better optical quality and brilliant image in all conditions: extremely low and bright light.
Before we dive into the amazing features and advantages of this extraordinary spotting scope, just letting you know that these scopes, in fact, are not cheap and you will have to prepare to spend a significant amount before buying.
However, another thing to consider before spending this money is that you will also get an unmatched product which will definitely awe you with its superiority.
The spotting scopes in this series are specifically made considering both top-notch optical quality and portability issues in the same device. Generally, as you seek more superior quality and better optical performance in a spotting scope, the size and weight both increase astronomically.
Ultra-portability, thus, remained a fantasy for most of the spotting scopes available on the market. Kowa TSN-550 series, however, turned the tables and solved this long-standing problem by delivering an unmatched product in its class.
The aperture is 55mm as you can guess from the series name. However, you definitely did not guess the 58mm objective lens filter threads. The eye relief is quite good at different magnifications.
As a result, you won’t have to worry if you are an eyeglasses wearer, and it is quite comfortable for everyone. If you are feeling disappointed after finding out the maximum magnifications, don’t worry.
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Certainly, Kowa TSN-550 series will provide performance that is unlikely to be found even in a top class 65mm spotting scope.
When a scope promises a magnification of up to 60x – in most cases that maximum is unusable anyway. The Kowa TSN-553 outweighs a Vortex Razor 65mm in most aspects.
The biggest advantage of using the Kowa TSN-550 series is their extremely lightweight body. They won’t weigh more than two pounds (28 oz.).
So, if you are willing to grab a powerhouse and want to have it inside your backpack, you can choose to go for one of the TSN-550 series. You may be wondering why these scopes produce such brilliant optical quality.
The reason is the fluorite crystal lens which is rarely found on non-Kowa products and produces higher resolution and better high contrast image, eliminating any color blurs.
Q - What is Military-grade glass?
Ans - Although the manufacturers never clearly stated anything about this military grade glass feature, we assume this means the glass is more durable and of greater clarity.
Q - Are spotting scopes better than binoculars?
Ans - There is no single answer that fits all. It all depends on the personal preference.
A spotting scope has a narrow field of vision whereas binoculars have greater field of vision that some people can’t live without. Spotting scopes are more complex to use than binoculars.
Some people do not like the one eyed visual of a spotting scope as it makes them uncomfortable to use for a longer period of time. However, a spotting scope has far greater magnification range than a binocular.
If a birder is comfortable using a binocular and then he can easily transition into spotting scopes. With a few days of practice anyone can get used to a spotting scope and realise how powerful a scope is compared to a binocular.
Q - What do the numbers mean on spotting scopes?
Ans - You’ll generally see two sets of numbers on every spotting scope. the first pair of numbers refer to the zooming capability of the scope And the second set of numbers tell the diameter of the objective lens.
Q - What is the difference between a telescope and a spotting scope?
Ans - If your main goal is to look at things on the land, get a spotting scope. Spotting scopes have a very few features and they are easy to use. For bird watching or looking at wildlife - a spotting scope can be very handy tool.
You can also view the night sky with your spotting scope but it will not be as good quality as a telescope. Telescopes are made for watching stars and they are much more complicated as the power is nowhere near the low range of spotting scopes.
Telescopes will give you a wider range of features and if you’re looking for a lot of flexibility in your scope, telescopes are best for your buck. They’re quite complicated to use but for the accuracy of viewing, it’s worthy.
Q - What is better straight or angled spotting scope?
Ans - Angled spotting scopes generally have their eyepiece at a 45 degree angle to the scope body. Angled spotters are a little more difficult to use because your line of sight is now on an angle making it harder to detect moving targets.
Usually, hunters who have some experience with spotting scopes can do better with them.
Q - What is eye relief on a spotting scope?
Ans - It is the space in mm between the eyepiece of your spotting scope and your eye that still lets you to get a complete field of view image in focal point. For usual eyeglass wearers, having an eye relief between 12-15mm is completely adequate.
Q - Is a spotting scope necessary for hunting?
Ans - Most spotting scopes have a magnification somewhere between 15 and 20x. They also have a very large objective lens (the optical element at the front of the scope), which lets in a tremendous amount of light to give the scope unmatched clarity, even in low light conditions.
They are extremely useful for when you’re devising a strategy for your hunt – watching your prey’s movements, examining entry and exit points from where you can make the kill shot, and seeing what kind of obstructions could be encountered along the way.
Q - What is ED glass in spotting scopes?
Ans - ED glass is probably the most important glass type for hunters is ED (Extra low Dispersion) glass. It means low chromatic aberration, giving you a sharper image and more accurate color rendering. They come in standard form in most premium quality binoculars, spotting scopes and rifle scopes.
so hopefully now you have a good understanding of which scope to choose for your needs. just a final reminder that when you purchase your scope, test it beforehand to make sure it’s comfortable with your eyes.