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Post Info TOPIC: Opticron MM3 Scope

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Opticron MM3 Scope

Many Thanks to Tim Wilcox for the following review:

The new Opticron Mighty Midget MM3 50 ED

I love my monster Kowa Prominar TSN-883. It does everything you want a scope to do: delivers superb colour and image rendering in even the lowest light with pinpoint sharp detail across the field. Perfect in every respect that is except one thing its bloomin big and bloomin heavy if you want to cart it around a set of big reservoirs like Dovestones and Yeoman Hey, up onto the Horwich Moors or around the mosslands. Weighing in at a whopping 2Kg with zoom lens and another 2Kg for the, albeit carbon-fibre, tripod with Manfrotto head thats a lot to lug about. Great mooching on the flat from hide-to-hide, setting up for scanning a marsh, sitting down sea-watching or stationary digiscoping but sometimes want you want is light and nimble.

This is where Opticrons Mighty Midget comes in. Ive had the Mighty Midget 2 for some years which I got via a trade-in for I forget what at In Focus and its superlight and folds away to practically pocket size. With a monopod you can carry it about by bike in a rucksack. Opticron had found a gap in the market for a scope that was extremely light and portable for the traveller. It was also very cheap to buy which meant it was also slightly lacking in performance and the gap between it and my main scope was always slightly disappointing even though I have a fixed HR 20x wide-angle lens on it to increase the field of view. The slide-out-to-use system was always a bit fiddly too and the lens hood always a nasty cheap piece of soft plastic. So whilst it does a job and does it quite well it has never been truly loved. Opticron do great equipment especially in the mid-price range. Its a UK-based company and their support is very good I believe not that Ive ever needed it. My first scope was their entry level IS 60 and I have Opticrons Traveller bins as a spare set and in terms of value for money small bins youll hardly get better value (unless, that is, you dont include Pentaxs unsurpassed super-close focus Papilio bins for insect-watching).

Id been thinking of a small scope upgrade and wondering what to get. Id seen a few Nikon ED50s about and was impressed when Id had a look through them. A clear step up from the MM2. So that was what I was going to get until I learned via Focalpoint that there was a brand new Opticorn Mighty Midget the MM3 50ED which came on the market this January. I went down for a test and was impressed enough to get one. So how good is it?

First of all it feels like a quality piece of kit, its rubber-armoured body being much the same as that on their big scope range. Its incredibly compressed at just 6.5cm at its widest point and 20cm long with no need to extract the lens this time which makes it much shorter than the MM2 when in use. The focus wheel has dual action and is super-smooth and accurate. In fact you barely need the fine-adjustment wheel unless on maximum zoom with the eyepiece. There is a central collar for rotating the scope just as you would expect on a big model and theres a good lock wheel and subtle locking points which click satisfyingly into place as it is rotated. In fact this aspect is BETTER than my big Kowa which has a very rubbish small bevelled locking wheel which tends to need constant tightening. This feature is all important for those hides where the shelf is at the wrong height pretty much every single one you could name! On the front is a rubber lens cover attached to the body by a rubber ring that pulls on around the end of the lens. This is not hugely necessary and indeed comes off quite easily. The first time I used it around Marbury Country Park it fell off onto the muddy path. However the cap itself does fit quite snugly so you can use it if you want and for storage if sticking it in a rucksack. Most important of its physical attributes it weighs in at just 605g making it one third of the weight of my Kowa and with the bigger SDLv2 eyepiece the whole assembly is exactly the same weight as my Swarovski 8.5 x 42 Els.

Opticron show it in their brochure with the HDFT 12-36x zoom and with this eyepiece the whole kit comes in under 500 competing hugely with the Nikon ED50. But its threaded ready to receive a bigger more powerful eyepiece used on their top of the range HR ED fieldscopes. It was no contest really as with the SDLv2 12-36x zoom the scope comes into its own so good is the little 50 objective lens. The bigger eyepiece also enlarges the field of view handsomely to deliver 60/36 at 1000m and its just 100 more.

I tested it first on some obliging Woodpigeons and a myxy rabbit out of the Focalpoint shop window. Colour-rendering was excellent with only the tiniest drop off in performance at the edge of the field of view. In the centre detail was amazingly good. As soon as Id bought it it was off down the road to Marbury CP for a full field test. I didnt have the carry case which will allow me to dangle it off my shoulder with tripod so just hand carried the whole set up with no trouble at all over 2 hours. I discovered the super-close focus of just 2.5m and pointed it from the screen at a Great Tit on the feeders to reveal intense plumage detail. I also tried this on some flies feeding on Wood Anemone and was hugely impressed. I tried tracking some Black-Headed Gulls, some Sand Martins and a Grey Heron and it still performed, even though well off the massive performance from my bigger scope doing this as you would expect. Pointing it up into the trees at a Woodpigeon which was against the light the colour of its plumage was not lost.

The next day down at Pennington Flash was a chance to set it up alongside the old MM2 and have a play. The difference was noticeable in a big way. The MM3 was even able to pick out a Sparrowhawk in a distant tree beyond the yacht club on maximum zoom and it gave accurate colour-rendering and full sharpness on the legs of some Redshanks that dropped in on the spit. I love it! Its a winner and will be given much use especially for all those longer treks. I reckon it will be perfect even on a full coastal walk when I go down to the Llyn Peninsula in May with a chance to pick out those Choughs and Fulmars nests. Cant wait!

-- Edited by Doc Brewster on Thursday 15th of May 2014 11:18:51 AM


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The recently launched Opticron MM3 Trael Scope is proving to be very popular, and not just as a travel scope either. Weight conscious birders are choosing the lightweight scope as a first choice for everyday use. The ED glass and up to date coatings mean an increase in light transmission over the MM1 and MM2 and the design has been radically changed with no pull-out objective end as in these older models.

We hope to have a review of the Scope on here soon smile

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