Follow Optics Blog:



Monthly Archives: March 2008

31 Mar

Jupiter is climbing higher in the southeastern sky in the early morning hours, so you’re going to have to get up before the birds if you expect to see it in a telescope. The good news is that it is rising earlier each night and, by late summer, you can catch at a more convenient hour. The bad news for me, here in the Chicago area, is that it is locked in Sagittarius and that constellation never gets high in the sky this far north. Still, it’s a favorite of mine, both in a telescope and a binocular. No, it …

Continue reading

27 Mar

More snow, today, but it does seem that these snow storms are losing their punch as the weeks slip slowly into spring. Makes it hard to think about binoculars, spotting scopes, cameras and all the other optical equipment we sell, here at OpticsPlanet, but I know people will soon be out and about, trading TV sets and computers for sunshine and the outdoors. I’ve been out all winter, so just want everyone to know it’s been nice having the woods and trails largely to myself. I’m the people type, though, so come on out and join me. I will be …

Continue reading

26 Mar

Spent some of my childhood years in the state of North Dakota and remember it for it’s wonderful prairie potholes as well as its friendly people. With that in mind, I have been thinking of setting up a birding tour some day. What does a prairie birder on the move carry? A birding binocular, of course, but also a spotting scope. In fact, you may be using a spotting scope more than a binocular for this type of birding. Eastern birders sometimes fail to appreciate how essential a spotting scope is for western birding. Think of it this way. How …

Continue reading

25 Mar

I expect to hear the calls of Sandhill Cranes, any day, now, as they migrate south. I usually hear these birds long before I see them in a binocular, though some of our local marshes do attract them long enough to provide good views in a binocular or even a spotting scope. Of course, I have never seen Sandhill Cranes here in the Chicago area the way I used to see them in Nebraska, but, even when high overhead, they always bring a smile to the face of this homesick prairie girl. Central Nebraska, this time of year, is crowded …

Continue reading

24 Mar

Our lakes are showing signs of ice out, at last. Picked up some extra miles on the bike, the other night (just before our recent snowstorm) with a ride around one of our suburban lakes. There was open water along the edges of the shoreline! Hurrah! Of course, open water means ducks and geese. So far, haven’t seen much more than the usual Mallards, but I expect that to change, soon. To that end, I will be supplementing my ever present Nikon monocular with some compact binoculars and, as soon as the birds make an appearance, I will add a …

Continue reading

20 Mar

Had a look at the new Pentax DSLR, the Pentax K20, yesterday when our Pentax rep stopped by for a visit. He also had one of the new Pentax 300mm f/4 ED lenses. Have to say I was tempted to go down the SLR road again. Loved the way I could see a preview of the image on the LCD screen of the K20 and the optics on the 300mm ED (450mm 35mm film equivalent) Pentax lens blew me away. Wish they had had this kind of stuff back in the days when I was doing more wildlife photography. I …

Continue reading

19 Mar

Hard to believe, but most of our local lakes are still iced over and this is very late for us. That means no spotting scope action on birds for this gal. Ouch! Hey, according to the calendar, spring is less than a week away! Never has a birding nut and her spotting scope been so ready! The forecast? Snow, of course and more cold weather. I have a feeling that when the birds come, it will be one big show. I better have my birding binoculars and spotting scope ready to go on a moment’s notice.…

Continue reading

18 Mar

One of the birds I miss from my years in Nebraska is the Bobwhite. Have yet to see one in the Chicago area and I doubt I ever will, since this is a bit north for that bird. Hey, it’s even tough to see a pheasant around here. In Nebraska, we would hear the Bob’s call more often than we would spot one, but, now and then, we would get lucky and see on in the binocular or spotting scope, especially in spring when the males sometimes sat on fence posts to call. I even got a pic with a …

Continue reading

17 Mar

Spring is spotting scope time for birders. The action kicks off with waterfowl and a bit later, shorebirds and waders. All of these bird groups make ideal subjects for a spotting scope, since all are usually observed over long distances over open water or impassable marshland. I am often asked whetther to go with a 15-45x spotting scope or a 20-60x spotting scope. My answer is that 45x will work for nearly any application. The exception will be shorebirds at extreme distances. This kind of work calls for the best scope and you will often be pushing your scope up …

Continue reading

13 Mar

There was a time when SLR cameras ruled the roost for serious wildlife photography and an SLR with appropriate telephoto lens is still the first choice of professionals and serious amateurs who need to make and print enlargements or submit photos to magazines. However, over the years, I have gone to digiscoping with a spotting scope and small digital point and shoot for wildlife photography. I get access to much more magnification – much more than I could ever get with an SLR. Pic quality, especially with a high grade spotting scope, is anything but shabby – certainly more than …

Continue reading