Compact spotting scopes can get a bad rap for being too cheap or not fulfilling maximum optical requirements.
That’s why I field tested the Maven CS.1 15-45x65 spotting scope and will let you in on what I found out.
The Maven CS.1 offers many advantages such as a low price, ED glass, and compactness. Best suited for recreational uses, the CS.1 has the potential to outperform all other alternatives. There are some limitations with the spotting scope but none that can outdo its benefits.
Read on for brutal honesty about how the Maven spotter performs and if it’s worthy to be your travel companion for all things outdoors.
What We Like: Great ED glass
What We Don’t Like: Single focus
Best Uses: Hunting, Scouting, Wildlife Observation, Hiking, Bird Watching, Stargazing, Shooting Range
- Magnification: 15-45x
- Objective Diameter: 65mm
- Coatings: FMC
- FOV: 174-81 ft/1000 yds
- Close Focus: 12 ft
- Eye Relief: 17mm
- Dimensions: 11.4 x 5.6 x 3.1”/40.4 oz
- Interchangeable Pieces: No
Our Verdict: As a travel spotting scope for a reasonable price, the Maven CS.1 tops all competition. Besides world-class hunts and world-travel photography, the CS.1 is ideal for all pursuits. Save on weight and cost, scout a little further, get a little higher, and get on target with the CS.1.
How Does the Maven CS.1 15-45x65 Perform?
Watch the full video review above!
Glass quality is definitely better than average for a compact spotting scope. The CS.1 is easily one of the best spotters for its price point. Even so, there are some things lacking about it as discovered throughout my field-testing period.
You can tell that it has great ED glass benefits, but I did spot some minor CA (Chromatic Aberration) at max power. Due to its inability to fine focus at long ranges above 40x, it was difficult to achieve ultimate sharpness for the smallest of details. Sitting in power settings below 35x was a non-issue.
Using the CS.1 was a delight. The eyepiece is silky smooth, the focus collar is just where you want to it to be with smooth action, zero slop, and enough resistance to not overshoot things.
Even though one of its primary benefits is the compact, lightweight build, you can feel the heavy-duty quality in your hand. It doesn’t feel cheap, and it sits nicely on a full-size tripod for high power use.
Who is the Maven CS.1 15-45X65 Best Suited to?
The quality and compact size and specs of the Maven CS.1 lends itself to observers of all types from beginners to veterans, hikers and bird watchers to shooters at the range.
Its price point is what you would consider affordable and budget for a quality optic. Put this together with appropriate applications and you have a spotter that’s ready to be used in the field, made for travel, and won’t break the bank.
Features & Benefits
Great ED Glass
The Maven CS.1 has fantastic glass for a spotter under $1000. Unlike the rest of the high-end Maven spotting scopes, this C-series spotter falls into the entry-level budget with mid-range performance.
As the cheapest spotter in the series, it sets the bar high with its ED glass, Schmidt-Pechan prisms, FMC coatings, and of course, phase correction coatings for ultimate color fidelity, resolution, and sharpness.
While the CS.1 is Maven’s budget spotter, it’s by no means a ‘budget’ spotter.
When it comes to build, consider me impressed. The frame is made from magnesium and aluminum; it’s tough, rugged, and lightweight; perfect for traveling, scouting, and hiking with. Even so, it has fantastic heft in the hand which speaks to its overall quality.
The heavy-duty feel helps to keep it stabilized, but stabilization is also largely due to the tripod. I discovered that it’s best to pair the CS.1 with a full-size tripod to reduce image instability that can be prevalent with lightweight optics at maximum power.
Like all good spotting scopes should be, the CS.1 is completely waterproof and fogproof. Having been nitrogen-purged and IPX7-rated, internal fogging is a non-issue and pressure-tested benefits allow for watertightness of 1 m up to 30 mins.
During hands-on testing, I paid close attention to the eyecup, power ring, and focus collar. Maven nailed it with a true multi-position eyecup.
Fluidity is smooth, and you can literally gain the exact amount of eye relief for custom comfort and full FOV viewing – including for those who wear glasses.
The best feature of the eyecup is that it does not move under pressure – it stays put. I can’t brag about that enough because it’s incredibly annoying to be glassing and slip from the eyepiece due to a buckling eyecup. Not an issue ever with the CS.1.
The recessed knurling works great for naked fingers and movement is smooth and easy. With that said, Maven found the perfect balance between fluid action coupled with good resistance with these moving components.
The rotating collar knob is a little close to the mount, so heads up to those with bigger thumbs - cuticle scrapes are no fun. The knob is small and out of the way; it won’t catch onto anything. In short, it does the job.
Buyers are always looking for free accessories in a purchase without realizing that the good stuff does not come free. So, if you’re expecting an included carry/during-use case for the CS.1, you’ll be disappointed.
However, Maven does have a very nice molded ballistic nylon case fitted to the CS.1 but must be bought separately.
They did not forget the little things like caps for the spotter. They’re good caps and I find they are well fitted to the scope. Unfortunately, they don’t come tethered. I expected this with the eyepiece cap but not the objective lens cap. This makes it very easy to lose while out in the field.
It’s also interesting to note that the power settings from 16-44 are not numbered. Small circle references mark incremental magnification settings in between 15x to 45x.
The CS.1 spotting scope has standard focus. It is deliberately designed this way for ease of use while also keeping costs down. If you want finer focusing or what Maven calls Veri-speed Focusing in a compact spotter, you’ll need to upgrade to the S.2 for that.
At high mag around 35-40x, I found the single focus to be limiting. I was really left wanting to sharpen and clean up the image for scrutinous details at mid to long ranges.
This is not an uncommon shortfall of economical spotting scopes but is worth noting for those who are specifically chasing minute details at extended ranges.
With the better-than-average glass quality of the CS.1, it’s sort of a shame to be without dual focus to make the most of it. Then again, it doesn’t cost over $1000.
Maven spotting scopes are better than just good as most of the entire line is made with Japanese components and are assembled in the USA. Priced lower than most alternatives for similar and possibly better quality, Maven spotting scopes have quantifiable value.
The Maven CS.1 Spotting Scope is made in China. The Maven S Series of spotting scopes are made with Japanese components and assembled in the USA.
A case is not included with the purchase of the Maven CS.1 spotting scope. However, a fitted case for the CS.1 can be purchased separately from Maven. A microfiber drawstring bag is included in the box.
The Maven CS.1 15-45x65 spotting scope does feature a rotating collar. A small knob allows the user to loosen, tighten, and lock the collar to angle the spotting scope in the position that is desired. The knob is easy to use and out of the way.
A sunshade is not included with the Maven CS.1. However, there is visible threading on the inside of the objective lens bell. Basing the threading as the assumption, it seems the Maven spotting scope may be compatible for use with a sunshade.
Overall, the CS.1 spotting scope is an excellent optic for all things outdoors within close to mid-range distances. The scope has a high-end build made to weather the elements and optical quality that can’t be compared to scopes within its price range.
On that note, the Maven CS.1 stands out as an incomparable scope that tops the competition in compact and travel alternatives.
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