I coupled my camera and my telescope with a home-made aluminium bracket holding the Coolpix 990 in front of the scope eyepiece. This attachment system remains sufficiently loose to allow easy access to the telescope (in particular with the swiveling body of the Kowa TSN-1) for finding the bird and focusing on it. I currently use a simple plastic ring attached to the camera which fits easily around the telescope's 20X or 30X eyepieces so I can get the camera out of the way at any time to relocate a lost target or retune a soft focus. My intention is to test the Nikon telescomicro 8x20D telephoto lens, mainly for shooting birds in flight (practically impossible with the telescope), but also for shooting at distances of less than 20 feet, when the telescope is useless. This type of photography through a telescope is spreading around the world since 2000. In Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Japan, Belgium, USA and the Netherlands, many people now use approximately the same kind of equipment that I have. Among these, the most experienced, my friend Laurence Poh, from Malaysia, has been using his CoolPix 950 and 990 cameras with his Leica Apo-Televid 77 mm since February 1999; his website contains almost a thousand spectacular photographs. I encourage you to spend hours browsing through these albums; it's much more than exotic birds; it's great art !
With the development of the technique,
a specific e-group -digiscopingbirds- has been launched to discuss the
various issues of digiscoping. I warmly recommend you to scan the archives
of the group if you consider to experiment digiscoping. The original listing
of pionners in the field
, together with their prefered equipment is
- many birders already own a spotting scope
- lightweight camera equipment compared with the 35mm heavy equivalent
- 80x magnification power, which allows for non-intrusive picture-taking from long distances
- the chance to visually document rare species
- the ability to take hundreds of pictures, without any additional cost
- the possibility of shooting in continuous mode
- instant results on the camera's LCD can be immediately discarded if not satisfactory
- with current technology (12 Megapixels), it is possible to print quality pictures larger than A4. Prints larger than A4 (two-page presentation in magazine, for instance or a mural enlargement) are not an exclusive territory of 35 mm.
- display of the pictures on the Internet or by printing in only a few hours.
- picture processing, with a full range of photographic possibilities, such as sizing, cropping, etc. with appropriate software. I use Adobe Photoshop version 5.5.
To be fair, one must also list the disadvantages:
- a digital camera with a 3x/4x zoom, capable
of functioning in completely manual mode.
Of course, one has to already have the telescope, a lightweight tripod and the computer.
As for my personal choices (Swarovski AT-80 HD and Kowa TSN-1 / Nikon Coolpix 990/995/4500), they offer three clear additional advantages:
- The combination of the 45 degree viewing
angle of the telescopes, and the swiveling head of the CoolPix 990/995/4500
camera makes it possible to shoot upwards or downwards with the telescope
and always keep an eye on the tilted LCD screen of the camera.
The storage media is another factor to
look into. Currently there are 3 types -Smartmedia as used by Olympus,
Compact Flash (Nikon and Canon) and Sony's Memory stick. The highest capacity
currently is Compact Flash, up to 1 GB (1000 full-sized photos at Normal
compression; fewer high quality pictures can be taken for the highest quality