Opticron MM4 Travel Scope
What do you look for in a spotting scope? With back trouble, one key defining factor to me is the weight of the ‘scope so when I was asked to review the Opticron MM4 50 ED/45 with SDL v2 Zoom and HDF T Zoom eyepieces) for Birding For All I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out this latest light weight travel scope.
For those desiring them I’ll start off by offering up the specifications found on the Opticron website, so you can see weight, sizes and costs before getting into the meat of the review.
|Specifications||50 ED||50 ED/45||60 ED||60 ED/45|
|OG dia (mm)||50||50||60||60|
|Min Focus (m)||2.5||2.5||3.5||3.5|
|Price £ inc. VAT||£329||£329||£429||£429|
- Super-compact ED “extra low dispersion glass” objective
- High contrast FMC optical system
- Close focus to 2.5m (50mm), 3.5m (60mm)
- Removable rubber objective lens cover
- Telephotoadapter option
- 30 year guarantee
SDL v2 Zoom Eyepiece:
5-group, 8-element ‘super’ zoom, the SDLv2 offers superior cross-field definition with exceptional viewing comfort. Waterproof and fitted with a rotating eyecup. Supplied in soft padded case. 10 year guarantee.
|Price £ inc. VAT||£299|
HDF T Zoom Eyepiece:
High definition eyepieces with long eye relief. Fixed magnification models are wide angle (except 40861). Models marked (*) feature alloy twist type retractable eyecup. 10 year guarantee.
|Price £ inc. VAT||£199|
Opticron MM4 In Use
Right let’s start out with the practicalities of the travel scope; the light weight and small size of the Opticron MM4 is the selling factor here, compact enough to slip into quite a small backpack and light enough (619 grams) to not give this guy a sore back (my back is not great with heavy weights, in fact a few hours walking and I can suffer pain).
Next to the weight, and probably more important to most people, comes the optical quality of the scope and eyepieces. In the few weeks that I’ve had the travel scope on trial I have been very impressed. Picking out the finer details on Little Ringed Plover on the far side of my local waterways, has been simple, especially with the zoom features on both eyepieces. Although as with all zooms you do lose light at the highest magnifications, and every movement is magnified so a good tripod is still important.
How does it compare to the bigger, more expensive, scopes out there? As with most modern optics there isn’t much to fault. The contrast is great, there is no noticeable colour fringing and you are getting crisp sharp views, place it side by side any of the optics out there and you won’t be disappointed. At low zooms the light is perfect, the higher you zoom the less light you have but it is still excellent quality.
Opticron offered me the chance to compare two eyepieces, the SDL v2 Zoom and the HDF T Zoom on the MM4 travel scope, and I have to say I can honestly say I struggled to see any noticeable difference between the two optically. The waterproof element of the SDL v2 is a useful feature, but with the SDL v2 being heavier, and larger, it has drawbacks (I like the nice padded case it ships with though, great for keeping it safe when travelling).
The HDF fits better (I think it looks better on the body as well) and is lighter, but has no mention of waterproofing. The eye relief on the SDL v2 is longer, and there is a larger opening in the end you are looking through, but unless comparing directly you are unlikely to notice. My advice would be to choose the eyepiece that suits you better.
The looks and feel of the scope, with black rubber armour, is one of toughness, and makes hand holding possible (especially when combined with the light weight). Adding the eyepieces does give the set up a slight top heavy feel, and makes the scope an odd shape in the bag, being almost as tall as it is long. Perhaps a straight through scope would have been easier than a 45 degree one, but I’m used to the angled scopes.
This doesn’t in anyway detract from the use of the scope mind you it is purely a practical, carrying, issue. Of course, I could have carried with the eye piece off and attached in the field, which might have been easier.
Is it going to compete with the expensive models from Swarovski or Leica? Well yes and no, optically it is up there, although not quite at that level, but then not much is and those things cost well over £2000. What this is a scope designed for is travel (or those like me looking for a light weight alternative) and it excels over the competition here. The light weight nature and small size are ideal to throw in a suitcase or in a backpack, while not taking up room or adding too much weight. The optics are brilliant and will do you in most situations you are likely to encounter.
If you are in the market for a new scope, then check it out, you never know you might save yourself a lot of money and back pain!
Review by Ashley Beolens
For more reviews please read our Reviews Page