THE USE OF A REMOTE CORD

In the continuous search of a greater stability when shooting through a scope, I experimented the use of the remote cord provided by Nikon for the Coolpix 880/990/995/4500 (Nikon MC-EU1). This accessory is quite expensive, about 130 USD (180 euros, here in Belgium) and I'm greatly indebted to my friends Steen Hougs and Inge Mardal (Brussels, Belgium) who generously lended me their own cable. 


The remote cord is nothing else than a USB cable, to be connected to the lateral USB port of the camera, with a small LCD screen in the middle. It allows shutter release of the camera of course, control of the zoom, interval shooting with the Best shot selector function, playback functions, switch from one mode to another with choice of aperture and speed. 

This accessory is easy to use, despite the relatively short cord length (approx. 80cm. / 31.5 in.), but it takes quite a long time to be ready to shoot: after having focused the scope and fixed the camera, you have to switch the LCD screen on by pressing the main button of the remote cable, and then focus the camera before starting to take the first shots.  The whole process takes at least 10 seconds! 

Some people experimented the use of an home-made cable release, with various degrees of succes. One exemple is described in details on Donald Granger's page, but you must be aware of the potential risk of this method: such home-made shutter release can apparently break the mode selector dial ! 

Alternatively, I tried to reach the same level of stability by using the self timer included in the CP990/995/4500. By pressing twice on the shutter release button, you decrease the countdown to 3 seconds (instead of 10) - just the time needed to avoid the vibrations produced when you fix the camera to the scope - and get very similar results. The pictures shown below were taken that way, with the remote cord (left) or with a 3 seconds countdown (right). Click for larger files. 

 

For these tests, I experimented a new adapter, using a screw cap from a Nalgene laboratory bottle as recently recommended by Jens Eriksen (Copenhagen, Denmark) on Birds-pix. A centered hole in the polypropylene cap fits the Coolpix lens very tightly, and by removing some of the threading inside the cap with a knife, you got a light and effective adapter. By contrast with the commercial models with 3 lateral screws , this kind of adapter can be placed on the scope eyepiece quickly, fitting both Coolpix 950 and 990 as both have the same lens. Finally the adapter is not using the camera lens threading, and therefore the glass-glass distance is as small as possible. 

  

The caps recommended : 

- for the Leica eyepieces (20x ww, 32x ww and 20-60x zoom) seems to be the following: Nalgene polypropylene screw cap for wide mouth bottle, 500 ml / 16 oz., Closure size 53 mm, Cat. No. 2106 0016. The amber-coloured version minimizes light transmission. Click here for details. 

- for the Swarowski eyepieces (32x ww) is the following: 
Nalgene polypropylene screw cap for narrow mouth bottle, 1000 ml / 32 oz., Closure size 32 mm, Cat. No. 2004 0032. The amber-coloured version minimizes light transmission. Click here for details. 

Cheap, light and easy to use. You should try it.