Things We Love: Leica APO-Televid 77 Spotting Scope

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Before I reveal my deep love for the Leica APO-Televid 77 spotting scope, I wish to tell you all that I am not easily enamored with every item that B&H Photo sells, adorned with the famous “Red Dot” of Leica. That addiction afflicts my father (and many others), but not I. I do own two Leica lenses—my architectural workhorse, the 1980s vintage 28mm f/2.8 PC Super Angulon R (made by Schneider) and a 1970s vintage 35mm f/2 Summicron (made in Canada) with a light fungus on the optics. Neither lens is anywhere near new. I have never owned a Leica camera, but I have used a few here and there.

Now that we have gotten that denial out of the way, let me transport you back 15 years (has it been that long? Ugh.) to my move to Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island, in the great State of Washington. Across the street, right next to where Dave and Naomi live, was a trio of tall coniferous trees. On an almost daily basis, several bald eagles would perch there—scouring the waters below (and skies above) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The design of my living room was begging for a gorgeous spotting scope to fill the glass cupola-like extension of the room.

I did a heavy amount of research and narrowed my selection down to the Leica APO-Televid 77 and the Nikon Field Scope ED 82. Honestly, the Nikon’s optics were just as good as the Leica, and its lower price and larger 82mm objective made it an exceptional value when compared to its German competition. I was also shooting Nikon cameras and lenses and had several Nikon binoculars. Grabbing the Nikon was very tempting. But, someone at Nikon thought that pale green was a great color for a scope. I disagree. Besides, my scope was going to be as much a piece of furniture as it was going to be a workhorse optic. The Leica Televid, however, has a gorgeous silver body. It is beautiful to look at—and look through.

While I was researching which scope to choose, the price of the Euro jumped and, suddenly, the Leica was $500 more than it had been. Oh no! Luckily for me, the local optics store near my home in Washington had updated the price on their website, but failed to change the physical price tag on the Leica in their display case. “I’d like that one, please. Thank you.” The salesperson noted that the online price was much higher than the “sticker price,” but he kindly honored the price tag. Score!

A decade and a half later, I have spent hours looking, not only at those birds of prey, but the Leica APO-Televid 77 has been my trusty 1500mm f/11 (equivalent on APS-C) photographic partner for thousands of images of the moon, sun, Jupiter, Saturn, and more. (I must share that the Leica camera adapter for the Televid is annoyingly expensive. Thanks, Leica.) When friends and family look through the scope, they are always impressed by the view. The optics are gorgeous and there is an intangible pleasure that comes with looking through great optics—be it binoculars or a spotting scope.

Yes, I have been tempted to get the Televid’s replacement, the beautiful-in-black APO-Televid 82 Spotting Scope, which I can tell you is spectacular, but its price point, without an eyepiece, is double what I got my Televid 77 and zoom eyepiece for, so many years ago. I think I will stay with what I have until I win the lottery.

The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.

6 Comments

I've owned one of these scopes for years. I would like to mention one thing that the article doesn't, which is that the color rendition is the best I've ever seen. For birding it's great to see the colors of the bird exactly as it would look if it were two feet away. That's what sold me on the Leica. And I do have one of the camera adapters, it works great.

Hey STEPHEN,

Thanks for stopping by to add your $0.02. I didn't want to make the scope sound too awesome as we no longer sell them and I wouldn't want to send our readers away in a deep depression.

Thanks for reading Explora!

I've owned numerous Leica products over the years and their quality is beyond reproach. With that said, and with all due respect:

(1) Using a spotting scope as a spotting scope, I neither need nor want to take a $3,300 viewing optic to a rifle range. If I'm going to spend that kind of money on glass for shooting, I put it into a rifle scope where it will do the most good.

I bought an angled-viewing Vortex Viper HD scope in a 15-45x65 configuration from B&H. This optic has more than enough visual acuity for spotting at a gun range or looking at squirrels in the woods, while costing well under $1K for the whole rig, a fraction of the price of a new or used Leica scope with eyepiece, tripod, etc. I have several Vortex shooting optics as well, and Vortex makes surprisingly high-quality products for the money.

(2) While I own big glass for photography, for photographing the moon I've been most pleased with the Nikon P1000 camera. I bought the P1000 from B&H for about $1,100 with Nikon filter and bag, and its 35mm FF-equivalent 24-3000mm lens is great for lunar or long-telephoto terrestrial subjects. In fact, the P1000 is about the same size and weight as my spotting scope and could be used at a rifle range as well.

Hey Eric,

All due respect received!

You make a great point with your first comment, indirectly. In the world of optics, there is a gigantic difference between say, a $40 spotting scope and a $400 dollar spotting scope. But, the difference between a $400 scope and a $4000 scope isn't quite as great. The only reason to have a $3300 optic at a rifle range would be the fact that you are using it for birding and other pastimes as well as viewing your downrange targets. Having said that, there are some lower-priced spotting scopes on the market that are stunningly good and exceptional values—like your Vortex Viper.

Regarding the P1000... https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/superzoom-the-moon-with-these-10-tips

Thanks for stopping by!

Very interesting article. So how do you get the XT2 mounted? I thought that the adapters were for specific cameras. Can you elaborate on that. I am considering buying the scope.

Hey Christopher,

I am glad you enjoyed the article!

Great question. I am sorry I wasn't more specific in the text, but I didn't want to put anyone to sleep.

Leica used to sell an pair of SLR Camera Adapters for this scope—not to be confused with an adapter that was made specifically for Leica point-and-shoot cameras. You may still find them for sale floating around the internet. The official names, I believe, are: Leica Photo Adapter T-77 for Televid Spotting Scopes (800mm f/10.4 with T-77, 640mm f/10.6 with T-62) 42300 and Leica Camera Adapter T-62 for Leica Televid Spotting Scopes (1000mm f/13 with 77, 800mm f/12.9 with 62) 42301.

[I just found one 42300 and one 42301 on eBay. Search for both Leica 42301/42300 and Leica T-62 / T-77 on the web.]

In my opinion, these mounts were horribly overpriced [Thanks, Leica!], but they do allow you to use virtually any type of camera on the scope as it is basically a tube with a few (two) tiny elements of glass, the adapter threads onto the scope and has a T-mount thread for mounting the camera. You will need a T-mount to Fujifilm-X adapter as well. We sell three different T-mount to Fujifilm X adapters.

If you are thinking of getting the scope and want to digiscope, I would find an adapter first as they are much more scarce than the scopes these days. Once you get a Leica adapter, grab a T-mount to Fujifilm adapter and the scope and start shooting!

If the search for the adapter proves fruitless, we definitely sell a bunch of great spotting scopes and camera adapters for other brands and I can give you some recommendations if you would like.

Thanks for stopping by!

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