I've had the PF 80ED, angled, for a couple of years now. I don't have a lot of experience with spotting scopes so keep that in mind. This is the only one I know.
It came with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece. The thing that gives me the most and maybe the only troubles is the eye relief at 60x. Its not very forgiving. I would guess that this issue isn't specific to Pentax. I've checked pricing on other brands of eyepiece but damn, all the high end ones are really expensive and I'm not totally sure that they'd be that much better if at all. I've used it at the range and it will resolve 22 cal. hits at 300 yards. I'd be surprised if you couldn't see 30 cal. hits at 600. My range is limited to 300 so I can't offer any other range performance details than that. Off the range I've seen the rings of Saturn and counted the moons of Jupiter. The moon can show bright enough to hurt your eyes. The focus is easy once you get the hang of it. I'd recommend a good sturdy tripod and head. I usually shoot with a 12-42 56mm NF NXS so I don't take the spotting scope with me very often. That, and my dumbass dickhead brother "borrowed" my tripod and now he can't find it!
I had one, and replaced it with a Vortex Razor HD thinking it would be a major step up in glass based on all the reviews I've read. That was not the case. I never compared them side by side because I sold the pentax first, but when I got the razor, it didn't scream much better glass to me. In fact, objects looked the same. The only optical difference I could tell between the two is that eye relief is much better on the Razor.
I'd like to know what you think of it after you get a chance to play around with it.
I'm not feeling any pressure or anything, but I damn sure hope you like it if my review had anything to do with your purchase.
I shoot with a guy that has one, I would compare it to the Razor HD or the Zeiss spotter 60. Very good glass, can easily see 6.5mm holes on paper at 600. It is a little on the big side but for a range spotter its a great piece of equipment.
I have the Pentax PF 80ED, is a very good scope, at a bargain price compared to the other brands. In viewing actual targets at 200, 300, and 500 meters, we assessed how well this scope could display bullet holes on paper. Resolving bullet holes in the black, at very long distances, demands exceptional clarity, contrast, and sharpness and Pentax can do it.
The cons: The biggest problem is eye relief which was minimal at low power and non existent at high power. No chance of wearing glasses while using this item.
Just curious as to which eye piece you guys are using. Sounds like the XF series (15/11mm ER) .The SMC zoom has 20mm ER which should be more than enough. The price is up there but well worth it in both clarity and ER.
I know I'm a little late here but I'll give my experiences. I have the PF-65 angled version with the XF-20-60 Eyepiece. I have had it for about 10yrs and have used it in a limited capacity for hunting, but mostly just for watching wildlife and target shooting.
I chose the PF-65 over the PF-80 for size/portability considerations. Its small enough to throw in backpack without worrying about a lot of extra weight and size. With optimal environmental conditions and a steady tripod I can resolve 308 holes at 500 yds. Mine is typically used with a Manfrotto with a fluid ball head. At the time Pentax offered the best bang for the buck in terms of price, glass, warranty etc.
I wish Pentax had a reticle eyepiece available such as the Vortex Razor.
In the Pentax brand for punching paper at the range and static use I would go for the PF-80. For portability I would still go for the PF-65 you give up a little, you carry a little.
My opinion is a spotting scope is just like any other scope.... the top end of the magnification range will rarely be used. 20x-40x will be the majority of where the scope will be used. I know a lot of people go with fixed eyepieces such as 28x or 32x. Fixed eyepieces will typically have a little more clarity than a zoom. Plan on spending good money on a sturdy tripod and a smooth head. This is essential to getting the most out of a good scope, especially if you are pushing it at higher magnification. At the low end of the mag you can get away with a less sturdy tripod or even a ruck, tree etc.
If you think you will ever want a reticle in your scope, I would save my money and go with a brand such as Vortex that offers that option.
As always YMMV.
Again, I've been perfectly satisfied with the image it produces and I am very critical. I have no doubt that you could see differences between the Pentax and Leica, Zeiss, Swaro, Vortex and Kowa's top scopes, but keeping in mind that the Pentax can be had for just over half the price of the tops, I think it's a pretty good value. Naturally the look, size and weight in the Top's favor in my opinion. I'll add though that the smoothness of the Pentax focus knob is excellent. Very smooth and without a hint of slack, while some top brands exhibited some noticeable (though tolerable) slack.
My only complaint is the eye relief kind of sucks, but for 1K bucks its a great scope.