Which Hawke Endurance ED Scope: 20-60x68 or 25-75x85?

This question on Hawke Endurance ED Spotting Scopes comes from BBR Patreon supporter Gary:

Question

I am new to optics and planning a spotting scope as an X-Mas gift.

The use will be wildlife viewing, particularly at Yellowstone NP which is in our backyard.

I read your reviews and I thought you had made my choice easy (Hawke ED 20-60x68 Spotting Scope).

I then noted that the objective lens is “only” 68mm.

Hawke offers a 25-75x85 version which is currently a few bucks cheaper than the 68mm.

Is the 85’s optical performance similar/superior to the 68’s?

I am suspicious that it might be an older model with inferior internals based on the lower price.

Is it likely that the specified FOV will prove problematic for a newbie (5m/75x vs 20m/60x @1000m), or is FOV a linear function, and the FOVs at 60x will be the same? Thanks, Gary

Answer

Hi Gary,

Hawke Endure ED Spotting Scope

I have just checked on the Hawke website and the 20-60x68 Hawke Endurance ED Scope has an RRP of $699 – but I see it is now readily available for around $630

Whilst the larger 25-75x85 version has a more expensive RRP of $799 but is currently retailing for around $619

So you are right, it seems the 85mm Endurance ED scope is being offered at a cheaper price than the 68mm version!

To be honest, I am not sure why. Perhaps it is an overstock problem, but as far as I know, both these Endurance ED scopes are current and have the same level of optics, so even if it is a model from a few years back, I am fairly certain that it will be the same as one made today. 

Low light Performance

So, if you are in the market for a large 85mm spotting scope this is really good news as even though they use the same level of optics, the large lens does have the advantage when it comes to light-gathering and therefore potentially improved image brightness in low light:

If you set both the 68mm scope and the 85mm one side-by-side and set the magnification to the same level (this is important) – so let’s say 25x – I am pretty confident the 85mm Hawke scope would loom to deliver a brighter image.. in low light conditions (this is also important).

In good / normal light conditions, they would probably look about the same, if not identical.

This is because in good light both scopes at this magnification will be capable of delivering enough light to your eyes for you to perceive a bright image.

The Relationship between the Exit Pupil and Pupil Diameter
The Relationship between the Exit Pupil and your Pupil Diameter

Exit Pupil
Much of this can be explained by the exit pupil size: so a 25x85mm configuration produces a 3.4mm exit pupil (85/25) and a 68mm scope at 25x magnification will have an exit pupil of around 2.7mm (68/25), which in good light should both be larger than the size of your pupil.

Obviously, this all changes under different light conditions (when your pupils will change size) and at different magnifications.

For more on this, I urge you to take a look at my complete guide to the exit pupil.

Field of View (FOV)

You say that you are “new to optics”, but once again, with the field of view, you are asking all the right (and important) questions!

Although I think you have some incorrect information as I have just checked Hawke’s specifications and according to them the fields of views for each are:

  • Hawke Endurance ED 20-60x68: 36-20m @1000m / 108-60ft @1000yds
  • Hawke Endurance ED 25-75x85: 30-15.5m @1000m / 90-46.5ft @1000yds

So yes, at 75x magnification the 85mm version understandably has a narrower, more “zoomed in” view than the 68mm scope at 60x, but it is not a massive amount.

Then more importantly at the lowest magnification settings (which you will often use when searching out an object), this once again understandably follows the same trend.

Same Magnification Setting
As I am not 100% sure if they use exactly the same eye-piece design, I can’t be sure if the FOV will be identical at the same power setting, but I would imagine that it would be very similar anyway.

So which you should choose in this area, I feel will depend on the extreme settings:

If you are often going to be viewing wildlife at closer ranges, especially faster moving, smaller creatures like birds for example, and perhaps in more wooded areas, then this is where the 68mm scope with its lower 20x power and the wider view will be an advantage.

On the flip side, in wide-open spaces at longer distances, the higher maximum 75x power of the larger 85mm scope will be great for zooming in to get very detailed images of stationary/slow-moving wildlife. So deer or even birds perched on a tree or wading water birds would be some examples.

Also remember that here, at the longer distances, the narrower minimum FOV would not be as much of a disadvantage as it would be at close range.

Size & Weight

You should also keep in mind that an 85mm scope is noticeable larger and heavier than even a large 68mm one, however, whichever you choose, it will be necessary to mount both scopes onto something like a tripod – so unless you are going to be carrying it about over long distances, this perhaps will not be much of an issue.

Conclusion – Which is Best?

Hopefully, this all makes sense, but as I say the fact that the larger Hawke Endurance ED Spotting Scope has come down much further in price definitely makes it a better deal.

However, I would still be inclined to choose the model that best suits your particular needs and how you mostly plan on using it.

More Info & Further Reading

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