I have had the Opticron MM3 50 ED for some time now. I have taken it out to several local lakes, quarries and rivers in search of waterfowl at this time of the year. I also spent all afternoon yesterday comparing it directly with an inexpensive 50 mm ED spotter I picked up this past December.
One of the most commonly accepted bits of wisdom shared here in the spotting scope forums is that practically any scope can look good at lower magnifications. It isn’t until you move up the magnification scale that you can begin to notice the difference between an average scope and an exceptional one. This was certainly the case here. The other scope performs at an acceptable level at/up to about 30x. Once beyond that obvious optical aberrations start degrading the image. This wasn’t the case with the Opticron.
The Opticron MM3 50 ED is a physically small scope, even for a 50 mm class model. A comparison pic posted below will bear this out. It is basically the same size as the Nikon ED 50 but with rubber armoring. The review unit was provided with the HDF zoom eyepiece. With this combination the scope is exceptionally light and portable. When I mounted it on my lightweight, travel tripod I was pleasantly surprised by how light and portable the combination is. The title “Travelscope” certainly applies to the MM3.
Quality control on this unit is excellent. The rubber armor is flawless and all mechanical components (dual speed focuser, eyecup extension, zoom speed/tension) function perfectly. The feel of the focusing mechanism, in particular, clearly illustrates the attention to detail placed into this scope.
Another interesting point of discussion worth mentioning is the eye relief. This became particularly evident in comparison to the less expensive ED spotter especially when attempting to Iscope with my Iphone 4. The MM3’s level of eye relief was greater at all magnification settings in comparison to the less expensive spotter.
The MM3 is a stunning little performer. The word “transparency” is often used when most folks try to describe optical performance. I have always understood the term to refer to a combination of two factors….light transmission (usually the result of the quality of lenses coupled with the quality of antireflective coatings) and low levels of aberrations and distortions (usually the result of high quality glass and a well designed optical system).
The MM3 displays true transparency of the image. This comes from a variety of optical performance areas. For one the color representation is entirely neutral. The MM3 displays excellent apparent sharpness at all points throughout its zoom range. I believe part of this is the result of its excellent chromatic aberration control. While the less expensive scope displayed CA in high contrast situations and at maximum magnification CA was practically absent under the same conditions in the MM3.
Contrast and color saturation in the Opticron MM3 50 ED are also excellent. Only in comparison to a similar quality 82 mmspotting scope did I notice a subtle difference in performance in this area.
Apparent brightness was excellent, again, throughout the entire zoom range.
The sweet spot size at all magnifications was extremely generous. I would rate it at close to 95% of the field of view. Only in the outer extremes of the image could one notice the slightest hint of field curvature and, even then, only to a very small degree.
Lastly, since the image is so well corrected in a variety of areas, my eyes had very little difficulty refocusing on various objects in front of and behind the object in focus. Many may refer to this as depth of field but the effect was the result of the flexibility of my eyes not the actual depth of field of the scope itself. I don’t think this would be possible if the scope wasn’t well corrected in the areas mentioned previously.
Lastly, I did take some pics with the MM3 while at a New Jersey beach. Conditions weren’t conducive to excellent image quality and keep in mind that all images are with my Iphone 4 handheld to the MM3’s eyepiece.
…and my most recent use of the MM3 was with the Iphone 5s and its slow motion video capability……..