CELESTRON TRAILSEEKER 80mm, £375
CELESTRON’S TRAILSEEKER SCOPE offers a cheaper alternative to their popular Regal range, so exactly what do they have to offer? In terms of design, it’s perhaps a little unexceptional looking, but none the worse for that. It’s sleek, and covered with solid rubber armour. There’s a click-stopped rotating collar, a lens hood, and on a tripod it felt wellbalanced. Weight isn’t an issue, either – if you’re going to carry an 80mm scope around, this certainly isn’t any heavier than most. There’s a twist-lock to hold the 20x-60x eyepiece in place, and the zoom control is well textured for easy grip, and around two fingers wide. The eyecup itself is comfortable enough to use, and stayed in place well, but twists up and down a little stiffly. Focusing is pleasantly precise, thanks to a split focus wheel – both the main and fine focus wheels are around a finger wide and textured, although it would be nice if they were separated more. They’re on the right top of the scope, and the main wheel takes a little over four turns from close focus to infinity, travelling smoothly and only moderately stiffly. In most conditions, the 80mm objective lens performed well, gathering plenty of light and producing an image that is bright and true to life in terms of colour, with good sharpness right to the edges. There was some chromatic aberration against very bright light, mainly when tracking a moving bird, and in twilight I did start to find things a bit murky at higher magnifications, but as always with zooms, I did most of my birding in the 25x-35x range anyway. The same goes for field of view – there is a certain amount of ‘tunnel vision’ up over 45x, but you’re unlikely to use that a great deal. Most of the time, this scope does a great job when watching wide vistas of water or mudflat.