Newcon Optik Spotter LRF - observations

Cynical

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I missed out on the Rapter group buy, and bought the Newcon Optik Spotter LRF to try and meet a goal I had of having a spotter with an attached or included rangefinder that was co-aligned with the spotting scope. The Newcon Spotter LRF seemed to fit the bill.



When I received the package I thought it was nicely done. It comes in a pelican-like hard case which seemed secure, and the foam cutouts were perfect for the unit.



The unit has a pic rail on the bottom for mounting, as well as a ¼-20 threaded hole. Unfortunately, the pic rail is not tall enough to be able to mount the unit directly in a RRS Anvil 30; because the Anvil 30’s ARCA interface touches the spotter before the pic rail can engage the dovetail on the Anvil 30. This leaves the only the threaded hole as an option. Newcon includes an ARCA threaded adapter for this purpose. Unfortunately, threading the adapter still leaves quite a bit of wiggle in the unit once it is mounted in the ARCA clamp. This is very noticeable, and annoying, because at high magnification any wiggle is a pronounced shake looking at a target.



The next problem is exaggerated by the less-than-ideal threaded ARCA clamp. The rangefinder feature of the spotter LRF is activated by what Newcon calls the “action” button on the rangefinder housing. That button to me required a substantial finger press to activate. So when I pressed to range a target, it was a two handed operation because if I did it with one hand the spotter would not stay on target. With my right hand I would press the action button, and with my left hand I would keep the spotter on target. This defeats the point of having the unit. Also problematic, the distance and info is displayed in the very bottom of the picture and the eye relief seemed slightly wonky – in that I had to move my head to be able to see the distance info from the position I was looking at to spot.



The glass itself is middle of the road if I had to put it on a chart. I think the Athlon Cronus spotter has better glass (the only one I could put beside it at present). I can’t (yet) compare it to the Hensoldt 60, but I suspect we know how that comparison would go anyway. Focusing the spotter LRF is difficult: the force required to turn the dial is huge (which takes you off target due to the crappy mounting interface). The adjustments are coarse, not fine, which makes it hard to find the sweet spot when the target is focused well. Changing magnification was similarly difficult in that the force required was more than I think should be needed. Definitely more than any Vortex I’ve seen, or Athlon, or Bushnell, or Swarovski.



Despite Newcon’s website indicating the Spotter LRF is “Bluetooth compatible”, it turns out the Spotter LRF does not have Bluetooth in any form at all (confirmed by email with Newcon). The Spotter LRF PRO model apparently does have Bluetooth.



The Spotter LRF, and the Spotter LRF PRO, only display measurements in meters. There is no option in the settings to change this to yards. I thought to myself, no problem, the NC Cronus APP clearly advertises that you can change distance measurements from meters to yards with the app. So, resigned to the knowledge that there is no Bluetooth that was advertised, I drug out an old trusty Android tablet, downloaded the app (which seems nice), and plugged in the supplied USB cord to the unit. Oh, wait, they included a full-sized USB male end on the adapter cable, so I guess I won’t be using that with my tablet. No problem after all, I scrounged up an adapter to take the cable to micro USB and plugged it in. The app immediately recognized the unit and I thought, great, things are looking up.



In the app, there are settings available on the side. One of those is distance, and the option is there to change from meters to yards. Perfect. I changed it. I then remotely triggered a measurement (which works like it is supposed to) and the display quickly counted up to the target distance…in meters. Hmmm. I tried changing it again in the app from meters to yards. Repeat remote trigger and the distance is again in meters.



It was at that point I went ahead and emailed Newcon my questions about Bluetooth and changing the displayed measurement to yards. The first reply suggested I was an idiot, that they didn’t advertise Bluetooth for this unit (versus the Spotter LRF PRO), and that the specifications for the unit only showed it measured in meters. I had a little distaste from the tone of the email, so I emailed back a couple of screenshots showing where the website said this unit was Bluetooth compatible and that the app could change distance display from meters to yards. The second reply was more technical, and more professional, but confirming (a) there was no Bluetooth and (b) the app could not change the distance to yards.



I made the decision to reach out to the vendor I bought from who promptly took the unit back and was very understanding. I’ve bought from Eurooptic before, but this kind of service earns customers for life. Thank God it wasn’t optics planet, right? My dad was an early buyer from Eurooptic, back when the founder (Alec?) was still in the reserves (if I remember right). I remember him sending my dad a scope to try before my dad even paid for it. Circa 2004?



Aside from the cons I noted above, there is one positive I saw. The lrf range interpretation is user-selectable from first target (foreground) or last target (background) or auto (best reflectivity). I had no trouble accurately hitting a 6” plate at 240 yards, and then hitting the mound behind it. Co-alignment of the reticle and the laser seemed very good to me at the limited distance I had available to try. The theory/thought on this unit was exactly what I needed, and what I think people could use (instead of Frankenstein spotters with plates and lrf’s hanging off the side or top – which is what I’ll end up with now). The execution sucked. Meters only? It’s a simple calculation that could be done onboard the unit, so those of use with everything else based on yards wouldn’t need to convert.



In a nutshell, for what the unit can actually do in real life it works fine. By that I mean, if you aim the spotter right and don’t touch it, have a tablet tethered, and want to know the distance in meters, then you can remotely trigger the rangefinder from the tablet and it will read exactly as it was designed to do. It was accurate in my limited observation to 240 yards (219 meters). It cannot, though, be aimed at a target and triggered by hand easily (because of the wobble from the sub-par mount system), and it can’t read in yards.
 

MarinePMI

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Ummm...ouch. Good info to know, but not particularly a glowing report.

Thanks for posting, it is appreciated (since not many of these are out there in the wild).
 

Cynical

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Yep, it’s not a glowing report. It’s a frustrated and disappointed report.
 

Hollywood 6mm

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Flori-duh.
I'm really hoping to see more support from big companies for either LRF integrated in a spotter, or a LRF and spotter separately being designed to work together. Maybe someone will read this thread and learn from it.
 

dgheriani

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I'm really hoping to see more support from big companies for either LRF integrated in a spotter, or a LRF and spotter separately being designed to work together. Maybe someone will read this thread and learn from it.
I just want a less expensive RAPTAR with AB, haha
 
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wigwamitus

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@Cynical thanks for the report ! I've been looking at these units for years, wondering if I should try one ..

Could you give us a pic or three please !!??

Thx !!!
 
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dgheriani

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To the OP, couldn't the issue with the pic rail be eliminated by adding a pic riser rail to the included rail thus letting you use the Anvil-30? I agree that a single screw holding on an arca plate is a shitty mounting system for a spotting scope.
 
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