Bushnell Spacemaster 15-45×50

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When I reviewed the Celestron Landscout 12-36×50, I thought it was the smallest 50mm spotting scope available. Technically that’s still true. But about 10 years ago there was a smaller scope: the collapsing Bushnell Spacemaster.

The Spacemaster has a telescoping design (no pun intended) where the tube body collapses inside itself when stored. This reduces the overall length of the scope almost in half. This makes the spotting scope very convenient for travel where packing space is a premium. The scope comes in an old-school hard travel case with a compact folding tripod.

The optical quality of the scope is as good or better than any 50mm scope I’ve reviewed. I could see little or no chromatic aberration with good sharpness from center to outer edge of the field of view. Sharpness was among the best 50mm scopes.

Unfortunately, the scope was discontinued by Bushnell a few years ago. And as far as I can tell, no scope currently sold has the same telescoping design. I purchased mine used on Ebay for just under $100.

USAF-51 Resolution Test

Group 0: Element 1

SPECS

15-45X zoom plus 25x fixed power Eyepiece

Fully coated optics

Long Eye relief (14mm)

Collapsible spotting scope with 15 to 45x magnification

Telescoping design packs down ultra-small for travel

Fully coated optics produce bright, crisp views

Long eye relief; integrated window mount

Measures 8 inches long; weighs 22.8 ounces

Roxant Blackbird 12-36×50

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The Blackbird is a small, light-weight, 50mm spotting scope from a brand I’d never heard of before. I had seen it come up in my Amazon “suggestions” when I started this series of episodes reviewing various 50mm spotting scopes for 22LR range use but on the surface it seemed to me to be yet another Chinese Off-Brand scope. But Maria Freed, a Subscriber to my YouTube channel, posted a comment suggesting I check out the Blackbird.

The Blackbird is small for a 50mm scope. Not quite as small as the Celestron Landscout but still small. It also had the best external features I like in other spotting scopes:

  • Captured lens caps so you can’t lose them (both front and back!)
  • Rear pop-up eyecup
  • Magnification ring turns independently of the eye-piece.

The optics are bright due to the PAK4 prism, but I found in the 100yrd range test, it was not as sharp or detailed as comparably priced scopes (save for the terrible Barska Colorado) with noticeable distortion on the edges of the image. When enter focused at the USAF resolution chart it managed to resolve down to element 6 in the -2 group, placing it near the bottom of previously reviewed 50mm scopes in terms of resolution and sharpness.

It runs about $70-$80 which is cheaper than an Orion but about $10-$15 more than the SVBony S28 which has slightly sharper image resolution. It’s still a bit better in color and brightness, so this scope may be a better choice for bird watching.

PRO

  • Built in Sun Shade
  • Pop-up Eyecup
  • Captured lens caps

CON

  • Middle of the road optical quality

USAF51 RESOLUTION
Group: -2 / Element: 6

AFFILIATE LINK
AMAZON: https://amzn.to/3mT1g8t

Gosky 13-40×50 Spotting Scope

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If you’re looking for a good cheap long-range spotter, don’t bother watching. This is a “dumpster diving” review of a budget spotter I’m only using for 50yrd pistol matches or 100yrd rifle matches. In this case, size and weight are key deciding factors.

The 13-40×50 GoSky is one of the best rated compact spotting scopes on Amazon (which doesn’t mean much since most of those reviews are fake or underinformed). It retails for about $99 but I purchased it on sale for $70 putting it closer in price to a SvBony SV28. Making this the best spotter I’ve tried that currently retails for under $100.

PRO

  • Well built eye-piece with an independent rotating zoom dial. 
  • Good to Great optical clarity for a sub $100 “budget” spotting scope
  • Nice geared tripod that works better than it looks

CON

  • Warm cast on image
  • Cheap looking tripod
  • Clunky company website with minimum info

USAF51 RESOLUTION
Group: -1 / Element: 5

PRODUCT LINK
Amazon https://amzn.to/2VEKYH3

SvBony SV28 15-45×50

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SVbony is one of the bigger brands in budget-to-midrange astronomy optics, so I wanted to see if any of that telescope expertise made it down to their least expensive spotting scope, the SV28.

The optic clarity is in the top 5 for 50mm scopes and for a $60 scope, I suppose it’s actually pretty good. But the image is noticeable chromatic aberrations at high magnification. Personally, if your budget is $60, I’d recommend saving a bit more and buying an Orion or GoSky.

PRO

  • Built in Sun Shade
  • Compact and light (as are most 50mm scopes)
  • Budget price

CON

  • Small objective lens
  • Chromatic aberrations

USAF51 RESOLUTION
Group: -1 / Element: 3

PRODUCT LINK
Amazon: https://amzn.to/3fxAyQ3

Spotty Scope: Barska Colorado 15-40×50

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The Barska Colorado is a spotty scope instead of a spotting scope (feel free to use this Dad Joke). It is a compact spotting scope with a nice list of specs and a rugged exterior, that is in a word: disappointing. Well, there are many other words you can use to describe it, many comprising of four letters.

The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is certainly true here. The scope was less than $35 on Amazon and 3.9 stars out of 5 with almost half of its reviewers giving it 5 stars. These reviewers either have never seen through another spotting scope or are awaiting cataract surgery? There is one positive thing I have to say about this scope: I can still return it.

If your friend asks you about this scope, remember: friends don’t let friends buy Barska.

PRO
• Cheap

CON
• Blurry
• Milky
• Terrible optical performance

USAF51 RESOLUTION
Fail (no groups or elements could be resolved at 100 yrds)

PRODUCT LINKS

Barska Colorado https://amzn.to/3flcTlO

Celestron 20x binoculars: https://amzn.to/3rQWuuy

Vilux 12x binoculars: https://amzn.to/3A68Wcq