Hawke Panorama ED 20-60x82 telescope
|OUR VERDICT: Lightweight, with a sharp, bright image with good contrast and low chromatic aberration.|
When thinking of Hawke, the image that comes to mind is of a value optics brand which has recently upped its game and is now selling some very acceptable low- to mid-range optics. However, the established budget optics manufacturer has now taken a giant leap toward the more expensive end of the market with the launch this year of its new 82 mm Panorama ED telescope, which will serve to test the brand’s resolve in previously uncharted waters.
You don’t need to look too closely to realise there is something uncannily familiar about Hawke’s latest offering. Although manufactured in China, it exudes a lot more than ‘just a touch’ of the Tyrol. Déjà vu or not, it is, in fact, an attractive piece of kit, solidly built, well engineered, operating smoothly and looks the business.
This telescope is no lightweight, in both senses of the word, although at a total weight of just under 1,800 g it compares favourably with the top-tier optics to which it aspires. The body is not wholly shrouded in rubber and the armouring is restricted to the porro-prism housing behind the helical focusing ring. The latter also has a broadly milled rubber covering and turns very easily and fluidly, while the objective lens hood is a solid, sturdy structure which extends crisply and smoothly without effort.
Mounted on a fully rotating body ring, which click-stops in 12 positions, the tripod foot is designed to fit directly into the head of a Manfrotto tripod. Attachment to any tripod is also possible, of course, by using a quick-release plate as an interface, but the hole machined in the foot to take a video pin (to stop the telescope spinning and working loose on the tripod head) may be incorrectly positioned for some tripod models.
The eyepiece locks securely into the body via a simple bayonet mount and is released by depressing a recessed catch positioned immediately below the point of engagement. It’s a 20-60x magnification zoom which performs well without any slackness or turning resistance, and the twist-out eyecup locks loosely in two positions above the base setting. At the highest magnification, I found the full field of view only just visible on the fully extended setting and it struck me as appearing rather narrow; however, there is also a fixed-magnification, wide-angle eyepiece available.
There is much to like about the image, but I’ll start with the only negative point, which is that I found the focusing mechanism so sensitive that it was difficult to obtain a truly sharp image at magnifications exceeding 40x. Apart from this, it scored highly. When properly focused, the image maintains its sharpness and flatness right to the edge, where curvature of field is also virtually absent. There appears to be little loss in brightness when the magnification is ramped up and the colour reproduction is excellent with an accurate, true-to-life representation of birds’ plumage tones and landscape hues. Contrast is reasonably good and there is also a pleasingly low level of chromatic aberration, even in the brightest conditions.
A high-quality stay-on case is supplied with the telescope, along with a push-in rubber objective cover and deep eyepiece lens cap.
If you are looking for a scope with character and performance but don’t want to part with a vast sum of money, this model may be the answer.
Price: £1,299 (including zoom eyepiece)
Size: 371x95 mm (including zoom eyepiece)
Weight: 1,794 g (including zoom eyepiece)
Field of view: approximately 35-21 m at 1,000 m
Close focus: 5 m
Guarantee: 10 years