Spotting Scope Review - Celestron Ultima 100


September 24, 2013, 12:03 PM
Background: I wanted a new spotting scope for use at the range. Until recently, my spotting scope was a 20-60x Bushnell that works alright. By "alright" I meant that at 50 yards I could always see holes in paper, and at 100 yards I could easily see large holes in paper on a bright day. My main complaints regarding this economy priced scope were brightness, eye fatigue, and clarity. When I was 10 years younger it didn't matter, but now my eyes are older too, and it was taking the fun out of R&D at the range.

Initial research in this market was discouraging. Many of the "popular" rifle scope makers also offer spotting scopes, but it seemed like I needed to spend $100-$200 on something similar to my Bushnell, or $700+ on a "nicer" brand which would undoubtedly be really nice. But I didn't have $700 for a scope, so I started looking a little out of the usual box so to speak. That led me to look at other scopes used by non-shooters (e.g. wildlife watchers, astronomers).

There are a lot of options for telescopes out there. That was the tough part, but since I stepped away from "shooting" scopes to other applications, there were also a lot of scopes available for much lower prices (I hypothesize that there is a "market inflicted shooting tax" on us because we spend a lot of money on our rifles and rifle optics).

Ultimately (get it?) I settle on the Celestron Ultima 100 ordered off Amazon. Amazon offered a no questions return policy, so I figured if I hated it, the worst is I could be out shipping charges and of course my time. The reviews on Amazon for this model were plentiful, and mostly favorable. Clearly I am not the first person to think a little outside of the hunting department for range spotting scopes; there were many shooters that wrote favorable reviews for this model, as well as similar products. Other review sites were similar, although the same could be said for many other telescopes in this market. From Amazon, it was a little less than $300, plus another $72 for the Celetrson tripod that also had a lot of favorable reviews.

When the scope and tripod arrived, the first thing that struck me was how much I underestimated the size. Sure, they give dimensions, but I didn't really think about them. Until I took it out of the boxes and set it up in my living room. Wow, this thing is huge. The "100" stands for 100mm and it came with an interchangeable 8-24mm eye piece (~24-66x magnification). It came with a carrying case for the telescope itself and another one for the eye piece (although the carrying case was made to hold the scope with an eye piece in it). The "recommended" tripod is also a beast. It's enormous and quite steady. The legs are easy to deploy, and it worked well with my micro 4/3 camera (although the tiny camera looked ridiculous on it). Also, the tripod comes with two "screw" style fine adjustment handles, one each for vertical and horizontal fine tuning.

Range report: I took this to the range to test some 357's, a 223/5.56 load, and my friend's 8mm, all shot at 25 to 100 yards. One surprise, I'm used to needing to finely center the target in the field of view. That's not necessary with this scope. The 100mm objective provides a really large field of view. I could easily (and clearly!) see both targets hung on the stand. Picture quality in the sun was excellent, and as the day wore on, was still very good around dusk. The 357 and 8mm holes were always easy to see at all ranges. The 223's were a little harder at 100 yards if the bullet hit on a line, or in certain areas of the black. Also, it was a lot of fun to watch produce getting shot at longer range (this is a favorite reactive target of mine, and permitted at my club). The clear picture and wide field of view gave a great picture of terminal ballistics on certain undesirable vegetables (I'm really looking forward to pumpkin season).

Summary: this was a good buy. The price and functionality were superior to other offerings in the "shooting accessory" market by a lot of money, and based on limited testing, a significant amount of performance. The biggest downside is the size and weight of everything. Especially the tripod, which while solid, is really big and doesn't transport in a way that is not bulky and a little awkward. A side benefit, there are camera adapters that can be put on the telescope for SLR/DSLR cameras, so end results could be photographed or filmed (as could other wildlife, the moon, etc).

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September 24, 2013, 02:05 PM
I have also been dismayed at the prices of spotting scopes the rifle scope makers sell. I also bought a Celestron spotting scope which I found through a bird watching site! Look at bird watching for good outdoor optics much cheaper than 'hunting' optics-other than rifle scopes of course.

September 25, 2013, 07:03 PM
I like my Celestron. It's an 80MM. Here it is on my home made stand.

October 10, 2013, 12:07 AM
Origionally posted by Walkalong;

I like my Celestron. It's an 80MM. Here it is on my home made stand.

I am a little late to this thread but I've been thinking about Celestron and Bushnell spotters with ED glass.
The new M2 ED gets good reviews but the 80F ED is discontinued and $100 less than the M2 ED .
Care to add any more info, like hi mag sharpness. color rendition, aberrations, etc?

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