- Solid, non-nonsense design – good build quality
- Bright, sharp and, for a zoom, pretty wide image
- Even at high magnifications, little reduction in quality
- Focusing is very precise
- Excellent quality at a very price
One of the major trends in the optics market recently has been the wider availability of ED glass at affordable prices. Where binoculars are concerned, that’s meant that it’s now possible to guarantee yourself a high-quality image in even the worst conditions for as little as £300, while you can pay £1,500 or more for a top-of-the-range model and the higher build quality and long-term reassurance that brings. Now birders are starting to be presented with a similarly wide choice in spotting scopes.
First impressions are excellent. The Celestron Regal’s a smart looking, solid piece of kit, with a chunky feel and some good rubber armour that suggests it would withstand all sorts of wear and tear. It’s waterproof, too, and comes with a soft carrying case. Celestron’s literature describes the 20x/60x zoom eyepiece supplied with the scope as ‘wide angle’. A bold claim, in some ways, as the ‘wide angle’ tag usually only gets applied to fixed eyepieces, but in fact this one quickly impressed. At the lowest magnification, the image feels really wide, and even blown up to the maximum magnification (the specification shows the field of view as having been halved between those two extremes), you don’t get the ‘tunnel effect’ that sometimes makes using a zoom hard work. This, presumably, is down to the ED glass. Because there’s little deterioration in the quality of the image even right at the edges, you don’t feel as hemmed in as might once have been the case.
As you might expect, then, the image is bright, with a good, very natural colour. This applied even in low light, one of the times when ED glass really comes into its own, and it also serves to get rid of chromatic aberration. Try as I might, this was almost impossible to find – very impressive indeed. It resolves very well, even at the highest magnification, all of which brings us on to the focussing.
In many ways, it’s really excellent, being very precise. You’re helped in finding that little bit extra by the presence of a fine focus wheel. I did have a couple of reservations, though. One was that the two focus wheels (placed at top right) are just a little too close to each other. If you were using the scope while wearing gloves, for example, you might find this a little frustrating. We’re talking a matter of millimetres, but I’d like to see the divider between the two widened just a little bit. Secondly, you pay a price for that precision, with the wheel taking almost five clockwise turns from close focus to infinity.
The focus wheel on my test model also travelled rather stiffly, and lumpily, but this seems to be something of a one-off – other specimens of the same model travel smoothly and only moderately stiffly. There’s always potential for individual binoculars or scopes, from any manufacturer, to have minor faults, so it’s a reminder to test the actual scope you take home when you buy.
Going back to the eyepiece, it twists up and down to two positions, but I found it was also possible to get it to stay in place at any point in between. Whichever you choose, it’s comfortable to use, even after several hours of use.Also supplied is a ring adapter, allowing you to use the scope for digiscoping with a compact camera, or with DSLRs. Given how excellent the scope is optically, I’d be surprised if you don’t, and this makes it that bit easier. I’d have no hesitation in recommending this scope to any birder looking for ED glass, and all the advantages it brings, at an affordable price. It’s an excellent all-rounder.
REVIEWED BY MATT MERRITT
- Dimensions: 432mm long (without eyepiece)
- Weight 2,041g
- Close focus: 6m
- Field of view: 20x 37m@1,000m; 60x 19m@1,000m
- Distributed by: David Hinds Ltd, Unit B, Chiltern Industrial Estate, Grovebury Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 4TU, Tel: 01525 852 696
- website: www.celestron.co.uk