When it comes to spotting scopes, many people would recommend getting a high-end brand if you’re looking for quality. However, in the past couple of years, we’re seeing some really great budget brands that come out with great products for a fraction of the price of those high-end models. What’s even more interesting is that they usually give you a lot of bang for your buck, and you seldom lose out on important features.
One such brand is Roxant. You may have not heard of them, but they’ve got some really great products. A notable example is their Blackbird spotting scope, which we’ll be reviewing below. It comes in at a very, very reasonable price, yet manages to pack an impressive amount of features, without cutting any corners on the important stuff, and without sacrificing any quality whatsoever. If this has you interested, do read on as we have a complete Roxant spotting scope review for you.
Starting things off with the exterior
If you were do judge the price of the Blackbird based on its external appearance, we’d be willing to wager that you’ll estimate a price much higher than it actually is. It has a premium look with an all-black rubberized finish, which does look great. It’s also very comfortable to hold and use, and it won’t slip even if your hands are wet. The entire body is pretty rugged as well, which is nice considering this is an outdoors product. The focus ring isn’t a tiny knob that looks like it’s an afterthought – instead, it’s a large textured ring on the main barrel, so it’s pretty easy to use. It’s also pretty smooth and accurate, so you can make both quick adjustments, as well as small, precise ones when you need them.
Another interesting feature on the outside is the extendable/retractable eyepiece. It allows you to use the Blackbird with or without glasses by moving the eyepiece to compensate for the distance. Also, there’s an extendable sunshade on the outside of the main barrel, which significantly reduces glare and helps prevent sunshine entering the lens when you don’t need it. The scope comes with lens caps, so the glass doesn’t get damaged on the outside when not in use – certainly a nice touch.
Now, Roxant does claim that the Blackbird is completely weatherproof. Water shouldn’t be able to enter the insides of the scope, and you shouldn’t have any fogging in case there is a significant temperature difference. However, there’s no mention of an IP rating, so we would advise that you take this with a grain of salt. It is built really well, but if you get caught in the rain, it’s a smart thing to play things safe and put it inside your bag.
The last thing worth mentioning while we’re discussing the outside of the Roxant Blackbird is the tripod mount you’ll find at the bottom. While some use a spotting scope handheld, sometimes you want to leave it on a tripod and not worry about it – and you can with the Blackbird. To add to that, the mounting screw at the bottom is made of metal, so it won’t snap off your tripod.
Let’s discuss the internals and the performance
The most important thing when it comes to a spotting scope’s performance is the glass it uses. This is also often the most expensive part of the scope and is where many manufacturers decide to cut corners. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Roxant Blackbird, and you’ll get excellent image quality.
To begin with, the optics are fully multi-coated. From the few types of coatings available, fully multi-coated optics is where you want to be for the best possible image quality. All lenses and prisms have multiple layers of coatings, which increases light transmission, while at the same time making sure only useful light gets in, and sunshine and flare stays out. This is also what gives you good contrast and image quality reduces fringing and makes sure the image is as sharp at the edges as it is in the center.
While we’re mentioning prisms, it’s worth mentioning that the Roxant Blackbird comes with a BAK4 prism. It’s nice that they’ve opted for this, instead of the cheaper, but much worse-performing BK-7 prisms that you’ll come across in cheaper spotting scopes. BAK4 gives you better light transmission, and much better edge-to-edge sharpness, both of which play a big role in the Blackbird’s overall image quality.
The overall experience
Roxant has made sure that you’re well covered on all bases when you get the Blackbird. Aside from the inclusion of a tripod and case, they claim they only sell products that they’d use themselves. This is backed by their lifetime replacement guarantee, which has you covered in case something happens to your scope.
In terms of the build and build quality, there’s not much that could’ve been done better. Roxant did a great job of making a sturdy, durable construction that will last a good while, and will resist bumps and hits quite well, too. The focus ring is large and smooth, which is something you don’t see often with many budget models, and the lens caps ensure the glass is protected.
Performance is also excellent. You get a high-quality glass with all the necessary coatings and an excellent BAK4 prism, and the quality of the image through the Blackbird is much better than what you’d expect at this price. Even comparing it to some of its more premium competitors, it performs admirably.
At the end of the day, not all of us are prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on a spotting scope. If you’re one of those people, the Roxant Blackbird should definitely make it on your shortlist.