There are those important moments when only the best spotting scope will serve. This article reveals how the NightForce TS 80 Hi-Def Spotting Scope raises the standard for spotting scopes.
There are those occasions when only the best is satisfactory. It can be surprising how many of those important moments call for the ability to see with great clarity and precision when looking upon a very distant object. A surprising number of pursuits require this sort of acuity at long ranges.
Those who most obviously need the absolute best spotting scope are target shooters and their spotters. Whether helping an individual shooter sight a long-distance rifle or recording target impacts in a competition, the spotter must have a vision instrument that provides the greatest clarity at variable distances.
Birders and conservationists also have a great need for the best spotting equipment. Often working in low light conditions, those observing specific animals across vast distances require a scope that is dependable and highly refined.
The highest quality scopes are required as well by individuals involved in a number pursuits, such as hunters, those who work in security and surveillance, eco-tourists, and nature photographers. Truly the requirement for topflight spotting scopes spans many pursuits, but is there one scope that can address each of these concerns? What scope has the flexibility to handle the diverse needs of hobbyists and professionals in so many fields?
A relative newcomer to the array of spotting scopes is the NightForce TS-80. The TS-80 is a follow up to the older NightForce TS-82 Extremely Hi-Def spotting scope, which was awarded Field and Stream Magazine’s “Best of the Best” for scopes in 2014. While the new TS-80 has a great deal in common with the older scope, it’s able to provide outstanding, versatile optic capability for less than the TS-82.
Before examining the numerous uses of the TS-80, let’s take a look at the specifications of this scope. Offering magnification from 20 to 60X through a large 80-millimeter objective lens, the scope is built on an angled magnesium alloy body that is not only attractive but built to handle heat extremes without losing function. Rubber cups protect the objective lens as well as the eyepiece, which is removable. The multicoated lenses are made with extra-low dispersion glass to maintain crisp clarity and perfect resolution with no distortion at the edges of the field of vision. NightForce uses an internal prism design as opposed to a traditional mirror apparatus that impedes certain light rays. With a barrel focus design, the lens can provide clear resolution from six feet to infinity. The result is less eye fatigue, so the scope can be used for a longer period. With less than a 1-inch eye relief, the viewer can get up close to the instrument. At 100 yards, the scope provides a 10.5’ field of vision at 20X and 5.7’ at 60X. At 20X, the exit pupil diameter is 4 millimeters and at 60X is 1.3 millimeters.
The TS-80 is not only built to be accessible to the novice user but also becomes a highly refined instrument in the hands of an expert. The large focus ring can be handled swiftly, even by a user wearing gloves in sub-zero conditions. The locking center ring allows the eyepiece to be used at any position in a full 360-degree range, with set locking points at 45, 90, and 180 degrees. The tube is nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging in all weather conditions.
This rugged scope knows how to take care of itself. Shockproof and waterproof, the exterior is coated with several substances used only by NightForce. The result is a lasting, attractive device, but also one that resists smudging, fingerprints, and water residue. The body of the scope is armored with rubber. Weighing 5.5 pounds, the scope also has a magnesium platform for tripods.
How the TS-80 Fits Scope Users’ Needs
Versatility defines the uses of this high-end optic product. The use of the TS-80 for range shooters and their spotters is the topic that so often comes first to mind. It should go without saying that binoculars are not well suited for target shooters and spotters. Binocular lenses typically do not have the magnification power necessary to focus upon targets, let alone differentiate between impacts points. This is particularly the case when the target is at distances greater than 100 yards, ranges at which most serious long-range shooters sight in their rifles.
It could be said in general that spotting scope magnification picks up where the usefulness of binoculars ends. If the target is close enough and if the binoculars have great enough magnification to see the target and impact points with clarity, it’s almost impossible for the spotter to hold them still enough to read the target. Spotting scope users understand that the sort of accuracy and acuity needed to see impact points at distances of hundreds of yards requires a remarkably good scope mounted on a tripod.
The TS-80 is built for this type of service. The lenses are specifically designed to avoid loss of focus at the edges of the field of vision and to prevent chromatic aberration, the smearing of colors some scopes experience at the limits of their magnification that makes it difficult for a spotter to detect a clearly defined target impact. The outstanding construction of the ED glass lens allows the scope to maintain precision throughout its focal length.
Of course, target shooters and spotters are only two of the groups that need a scope like the TS-80. In this age of conservation, where so many different organizations are entrusted with keeping count of various species of animals and birds, a high end, weather-resistant scope is truly a necessity. The work of verifying types of species and counting them often requires the ability to remain in one position, watching one vista for hours through multiple light conditions. Trying to spot bird or animal varieties over any length of time makes the use of binoculars prohibitive.
Having a mobile spotting scope on a tripod set in a sturdy position allows the viewer to be rested and remain alert since the natural camouflage that animals possess as a necessity to their survival often makes it difficult to identify them in their natural settings. Binoculars and lesser spotting scopes exacerbate this through the persistent issues of chromatic aberration, lens fogging, and the unshielded lens.
It’s important to note as well that telescopes are not suitable for conservation work. This is in part because they tend to be fragile and temperamental. Many telescopes are celestial rather than terrestrial, meaning they have been created for viewing the heavens at night. Not only are the lenses constructed differently for this type of viewing, but the view in the ocular will appear to be upside down. Terrestrial scopes often require a special lens for daytime and they tend to be far less portable than spotting scopes.
At this point, it is probably apparent that the TS-80 is an ideal scope for conservationists: rugged, portable, quickly set up and easily adjusted, functional in all light conditions. It should also be noted that the curved body of the scope makes it more convenient for users, especially when there are two or more viewing. For instance, with a straight bodied scope—even on a tripod—a second user is rarely the same height as the first, and so the scope will almost inevitably be touch and jiggled, then the target must be reacquired.
With the TS-80 fixed to a stable tripod, one viewer need only lean away from the eyepiece so a second viewer can gaze down into it. A curved body is also less taxing to the user over a long period of viewing.
Not all who enjoy the sights of the outdoors are conservationists. Birding is among the most popular outdoor activities among Americans. Eco-tourism—traveling to beautiful, ecologically sensitive locations—is expanding explosively in popularity. Observing rare, beautiful birds and strange animals in exotic locales beckons a growing number of outdoor lovers. It seems to be generally agreed upon that the more serious an outdoor lover becomes about nature, the greater the perceived need for special optics like a spotting scope. As it has been said, the veteran birder knows what she or he is looking for and where to find it and typically will not settle for a distant view through binoculars.
One strength in this area that again sets the TS-80 above other optics is its portability. The scope is not so large it cannot readily be carried in a backpack or carrying case. It can be handheld for ease of use and, when the highest resolution is necessary, it can fits easily on a light tripod. Many users of spotting scopes in nature settings travel with monopods rather than tripods. Monopods attach to a scope like the TS-80 through the same universal tripod platform and offer the steadiness of a tripod without the time required for setup. A spotting scope on a monopod can be picked up and carried from one location in a natural setting to another without extensive adjustments.
While we’ve already discussed the benefits of the TS-80 to the target shooter, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the scope as a tremendously useful tool to the hunter as well. Whether watching the movement of game animals at great distances or sitting alone in a deer stand, the portability of the TS-80, its ease of use, and adaptability to changing and light and weather conditions make it an ideal tool for the serious hunter.
There is one other natural use for the spotting scope that should be mentioned before moving on, and that is the celestial viewer. To be sure, the TS-80 has a tremendous ability to scan distant vistas and to home in upon desired scenes with clarity and ease. This, of course, is just what it can do in the daylight. Because the ED lens is designed for optimum light transmission without chromatic aberration, the nighttime user of the scope is sure to receive a magnificent view of the night sky, second only to a dedicated celestial telescope—without the excessive setup, locating and stabilizing a telescope requires.
Reviews of the TS-80
As a relative newcomer to the NightForce spotting scope family, the TS-80 has received only a handful of reviews—however, they’re all five stars. Among the comments, reviewers have consistently compared the TS-80 favorably to other manufacturers of spotting scopes such as Leupold, Vortex, and Swarovski. Those who rated the TS-80 also appreciated that the scope is made of sturdy metal as opposed to plastic. While the NightForce is a high-end scope, reviewers found it was well worth the price, expressing that its quality exceeded scopes priced thousands higher.
Whether we are nature lovers, shooting enthusiasts or conservationists, we will surely find ourselves in need of the ability to see clearly, without distortion, across long distances. Regardless of the pursuit that prompts this need, the best instrument to enable our distance vision may well be the NightForce TS-80 spotting scope. Ruggedly constructed of the best quality material and coming from a family of highly regard optics, the TS-80 has the pedigree, the built-in workmanship, and all the features necessary to give the user extremely high visual acuity at long range.
From its attractive, highly functional design to its finely honed ED lenses, the TS-80 is both a simple instrument for those learning to use the spotting scope and a rugged tool for the advanced user in the field or at the range. From the magnificence of a distant vista brought close to the movement of feathers or fur captured in low light at hundreds of yards, the TS-80 spotting scope has the power to fulfill our intentions in the most exciting ways.