Carson 15-45X60mm Everglade SS-560 Spotting Scope (Field Test)

Brand: CarsonField Test of Carson Everglade 15-45X60 Spotting Scope
Model: Everglade SS-560
Magnification: 15-45X
Objective Lens:  60 mm
Focusing Prism: BK-7
Angle Prism:  BAK-4
Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated
Field of View: 115-61 feet/1000 yards
Eye Relief: 16-14 mm
Close Focus Distance: 20 feet
Weight: 2.14 lbs
Dimensions:  12.6 x 6.3 x 3.35 inches
Waterproof/Fogproof: Yes

Price Range: $100-$200

 

Carson Everglade 15-45X60 Spotting Scope Field Test

Carson is proving time and time again that their products are high-quality and high-performing optics regardless of their low prices. More often than not, many cut-rate spotters just don’t have the value or the quality you need to make that long distance call. But, price isn’t always a determinate in measuring quality. The Everglade spotter proves this statement true. How would we know? Let’s see what our field test reveals!

Side View of Carson Everglade Spotting Scope resting in the snow

 

What’s in The Box?

We’ll cut straight to the chase. The spotter came well-protected, each component bagged, and the entire package boxed. Never any concerns in shipping when it comes from Carson.

 Carson Spotting Scope packaging, tripod and carry case

The spotting scope box is well-designed, and all the equipment was nicely, neatly, and securely packed.

  • Everglade spotting scope
  • Carry/fitted case
  • Eyepiece and objective lens caps
  • Table top tripod
  • Lens cleaning cloth
  • Instructional pamphlet

The case itself is decent. You have a set of three zippers: an opening for the objective bell, the underside for tripod mounting access, and a zipper that goes over the scope from under the eyepiece all the way to the objective bell. I found it was very convenient for stowing away in my backpack and for safe-keeping in storage. I even extended the straps to wear around my shoulder when I wanted to scope in a moment’s notice.

The tabletop tripod is a surprisingly grippy, little thing and obviously for use on a table for at the range or something like observation from your porch. However, I like to test optics beyond their limits and see how it holds up. I hit some rocky trails to check it out. The feet have rubber points that allow it to stay steady even in uneven terrain. The pan handle allows for movement up, down, and sideways. You can even lock it in place once you’ve found your desired viewing angle.

Along with that, the center locking ring on the body of the scope allows for rotational movements for the most comfortable and convenient angle. It’s very easy to mount with the screw on the tripod mounting plate that connects to the mounting base of the scope.

It’s not the fastest method like with a quick release plate, but for an included tripod, it’s very decent and I would definitely recommend keeping it.  It’s very lightweight, and it easily fit in my backpack along with the scope and all my other gear for both hiking and hitting the range.

Ask anyone who has bought a rifle scope, binoculars, or a spotter, and more often than not, the included lens caps are cheap and flimsy – not so with the Everglade. The objective lens cap is attached with a small rubber insert slot similar to a lanyard connection on a pair of binoculars.

It’s found on the built-in extendable sunshade. At one point at the range, the spotter took a fall and the cap came off. I thought since it was attached by rubber that it was broken, but after taking a look at the connection, I was able to slip it back into place for a secure fitting once again!

Everglade spotting scope set up on tripod with lens cap flipped down

But, it’s the eyepiece cap that gets two thumbs up. It’s no ordinary “cap-on, cap-off” type of cap – no. It’s a very hard plastic piece that you have to screw into place to ensure that it’s not going anywhere and your eyepiece will be protected at all times.

Carson SS-560 spotter with eyepiece cap removed

 

The Build

Now is the fun part. It snowed on my side of town and I took the opportunity to test out its waterproof and fogproof features. For an affordable scope, I was a little skeptical if it would stand up to the elements. First, I should disclose, “Do not repeat this at home!”  I did what you should never intentionally do to an optic – douse it under running water. I went from the eyepiece down over the focus knob all the way to the objective lenses. I made sure it got a really good bath.

The first thing I noticed was that the armoring completely shed the water. Save for a few drops, you’d never had known I just gave it a tease at what it’s like to drown. Still wet, I took it outside and dumped it in a snow drift. Gave it a good toss, tumble, and turn. After that, I did what any sane hunter would do – scramble to get it out of the snow.

I did take my time in the drying process only giving the optical pieces a pat down. After a few days, I took it out to test again and there is no internal condensation or ruined mechanisms because of this test. Happy to report that this spotting scope is truly weatherproof. Again, we don’t recommend intentionally trying to destroy your optics – you just might succeed!

Carson spotting scope sitting in a snow drift

As a lower powered spotter of 15-45x magnification, you can imagine how compact this scope is. It only weighs 2 lbs and is 12.6″ long. It’s not quite in the “compact” category as we define it, but it’s certainly a packable, portable, and lightweight spotter.

It’s absolutely usable as a hand-held optic. Of course, the best magnification for free-hand use will be the lower power ranges. However, you can still use it at max mag, but it will be a little difficult to get a steady image. It’s better if you’re leaning on something or have the objective bell supported by a solid surface.

If you’re going to go through the hassle of correctly supporting it, you may as well use the quick and easy table top tripod. The size and dimensions makes the Everglade a more than suitable optic for a hunter, target shooter at the range, and a hiker who wants a high-powered device to get a close-up of what’s going on in the distance.

 

Focusing/Optical Field Test

Easy. That’s all there is to it. It didn’t matter if I was inside a house, on a front porch, hitting a trail, or at the range. I could always get a sharp focus for the distance I was looking at. It did get harder to manage contrast, clarity, and resolution at max mag (45x), but for most people’s applications, it will be sufficient.

The dial is a single focus knob. It’s not an auto-focus or anything like that so it might feel like you’re making several turns to get focused, but you’ll appreciate the wide range of focusing you can achieve for your applications.

The knob has a nice grip and texture to it, and it’s fluid enough for smooth focusing. But, it also has an appropriate amount of tension to achieve accurate focusing for when you want to slow down for the sharpest image.

I took some photos of mountain ranges more than 20 miles from where I was standing. On this day, there was moderate mirage with right to left winds at 10 mph. Going up to 45x, it became increasingly difficult to get exacting resolution for that distance with the atmospheric conditions in play.

Approximately 2 miles away, a small herd of cattle were grazing and there was excellent resolution even for 45x power.

Photo of grazing cattle taken at 45x power through Everglade spotter

Coming even closer (approx. 1.5 miles), a small, yellow sign on the highway was barely visible with normal eyesight. At 15x, you could see it if you were looking for it. At 45x, you couldn’t miss it!

Coming even closer, birds sitting on power lines were having a great time messing with me – never cooperating in sitting still or in the same spot for a picture so I could properly focus the scope. However, I did manage to get a few shots, and while they’re not the greatest birding pics ever, it proved it could be done at 45x.

The nice thing about digiscoping is you can always increase magnification ranges on your device to get even closer viewing capabilities both for birding and at the range if you have the time to sit still and cater to that process.

However, for true-to-life color rendition, I wouldn’t recommend this spotter for a birding fanatic. But, for recreational use to see what tweeters are pecking in the yard or waking you up on a frosty morning in the woods during your camping trip – absolutely!

At 1,000 yards away while the setting sun was pouring down on everything, there was a small mountain road I could spot between brush and trees wondering if a bull might crest the top at any moment.

Photo of road 1000 yards away taken at 45x power through Carson scope

Chromatic aberration (CA) was apparent on the very edges of the field of view, however, I’ve seen this on many optics. It was very minimal without a digiscope adapter. The only time CA was a major issue was when it was exaggerated with the use of a digiscope adapter on high contrast targets.

I think the main complaint, if there’s going to be one, is the lack of resolution and sharpness at max power, but this isn’t an issue specific to the Everglade. In fact, most spotting scopes are going to have this problem. Mirage also played a major role in not being able to achieve maximum clarity, and as we know, not even the most expensive spotters are immune to the image distortion of mirage.

 

Range Testing

1

Test 1: Location – private shooting range

56 degrees Fahrenheit, 33 mph wind speeds, right to left winds, 1200-1400 hours

Carson spotting scope set up on extendable Vanguard tripodFinally, the day arrived where I could take this little spotter out to the range. I head out the door and get slammed by 28 mph wind speeds. Pulled out an old but working and accurate Bushnell laser rangefinder to confirm my distances. Set up my table with my gear, get my new targets up, and the Everglade gets mounted on my extendable Vanguard tripod with the quick release plate – done.

33 mph wind speeds at this point, and there goes the spotter with my phone attached to the eyepiece as it hits the ground. At the same time, my hat goes flying and my shoot ‘n see paper targets come loose. I put everything back together, pop off a few practice rounds and down come the targets, scope, and phone – again.

This continued for some time. People say you should use the wind to practice and get better, but it sucked all my mojo away. Frustratingly, before I was done, the wind also blew my targets away out of existence with my groupings before I could get to taking the pictures.

With the wind deciding that my day at the range was done, I had to improvise and repeat this process again.

 

2

Test 2: Location – public trail

35 degrees Fahrenheit, 6 mph wind speeds, right to left winds, 0900 hours, clear, sunny skies.

Used the last of my targets to punch some .177 cal holes in it and set it up to take some pictures. Those who need a spotter for the range are going to need long distance grouping identification, and you’re definitely using a higher caliber ammo with bullet strikes a lot bigger than a .177. With that said, the .270 results are from memory, so expect more than what the .177 caliber groupings reveal.

50 yards – excellent grouping identification on both white and splatter targets. I could see both .270 and .177 holes with extreme clarity even at 15x power.

100 yards – at 45x, both .270 and .177 strikes still extremely identifiable on both white and splatter targets.

200 yards – the wind had already blown my .270 grouping target sheets away. With .177 bullet strikes, the groupings were acceptably identifiable with positive identification on the splatter target versus white. With increased mag power from my phone, it was even clearer and I was impressed.

 

3

Test 3: Location – public trail

50 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 mph wind speeds, right to left winds, (1800 hours) 20 mins to sun set with sun behind targets

100 yards – excellent clarity despite poor lighting conditions (excessive sun, windy, and high CA)

200 yards – barely visible bullet strikes. Possible to see groupings with extra mag power through digiscope adapter.

I’m very pleased with the spotter’s optical quality to see groupings this far and this is with .177 caliber holes too! Again, your type of target plays a huge role in positive bullet strike identification. Perhaps neon yellow might be easier for the eye to see than neon pink. Next time I hit the range, let’s hope the wind doesn’t have it out for me again!

 

Quick Word on Carson Optical Customer Service

Before I received the spotting scope, I had a few, generic questions for the company as an unidentified caller. I gave them a call from the number listed on their website and I was caught off guard that I nearly forgot why I was calling. I was expecting an automated machine system, but instead the phone was answered by a human being. How rare is that these days?

My questions were answered quickly, accurately, and very politely. If you don’t enjoy running around in circles before you get to talk to an optics rep, Carson might very well be the brand for you. Here’s to bypassing the bots and getting some human interaction in the 21st century!

 

My Verdict on the Carson Everglade SS-560

The Everglade should be called the “Mini Beast.”  It’s a lightweight, compact, and highly portable scope. It’s a heck of a lot more rugged than I could’ve imagined. It’s so darn robust and tough that not a scratch has been left anywhere on the scope or the armor from the harsh abuse it took out at the range. The hard landings on the gravel were brutal, and more than a few cuss words escaped my mouth and were lost in the wind.

I really put the spotter through the ringer from giving it a bath in both running water and snow, let it get beat by 33 mph winds, and I pushed the limits of its optical capabilities for spotting tiny bullet strikes at one of the hardest times of day in the same direction as the sun. We were ruthless with this scope.

For the very low price of the Everglade, I am extremely impressed. For target range use, you will be able to see groupings to 200 yards no problem with hunting rifle calibers.

It’s an exceptional scope for wildlife observation even out to extreme distances. Hiking, backpacking, and camping to enjoy sight-seeing is what this spotter was made for, and it will be a convenient tool in the hunt. It easily tops all other spotting scopes in this price range – hands down!

Carson has set this trend of high quality products for the lowest price possible, and they haven’t disappointed yet. If you have a tight budget for your spotting scope buy, I highly recommend the Carson Everglade 15-45×60.

It’s a versatile optic at an affordable price that really stands apart from the crowd in its buying class. The proof is in the field use, and we weren’t kind at all. Carson Optical, you certainly don’t disappoint!

 

Many thanks to Carson Optical for sending us this spotting scope to field test. Please note, even though this product was provided by the manufacturer all of the opinions expressed here are our own and are not in any way influenced by any manufacturers.

 

Field Testing
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