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Digiscoping

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So, what is digiscoping?

Well in plain terms it is the relatively new art of attaching a digital camera to your telescope, to effectively achieve a very powerful camera lens. It is proving an excellent way to attempt bird and other wildlife photography; it is a lot cheaper than the SLR alternative, although producing slightly less in terms of quality. There are a couple of closely related terms which you may come across - Digi-binning (using your Binoculars instead of telescope), and phone-scoping (substituting your camera for one of the latest camera phones!).

There are various ways in which this can be achieved and no end of equipment that can be used, but for this introduction I will stick to the most commonly used items. Firstly you will need a camera, and the camera of choice seems to be a Nikon Coolpix type (990/995/4500) - they have swivelling bodies which aid positioning as well as having no external zoom, which means they can get close to the eyepiece of the `scope, and not move. Secondly you need a telescope, any will do but the 80mm types tend to have the best light intake, and the high definition glass used in modern scopes is also advantageous (Swarovskis AT/ATS80 HD or Leicas APO77 are ideal). Thirdly you will need some way of attaching your chosen camera to the telescope. There are various ways to achieve this, from hand holding the lens to the eyepiece; buying one of several designs of adapter (there are many of different styles from tubes to hinges), to making one of your own.

However you choose to connect the two together, the important thing to remember is that stability is of the utmost importance and the closer you can get the two lenses together the better - this reduces vignetting which is getting a dark circle around the photo. You may also choose to add optional extras, such as shutter releases (electric or manual), sighting devices (attached to the end of your scope to help line up the shot) or sun shades, to improve visibility on the imaging screen. Once you have all the gear you need, then it is time to practice! Remember DO NOT be disappointed if you are not an expert from the off. I have been trying for around a year now and am still improving, although I have only this year (2004) upgraded my scope which has immensely improved the end product.

There are plenty of websites available to help you learn the best set-ups, and now there are even short courses being taught. Of course, you may just get lucky and bump into one of the experts in the field, most of whom will lend a hand if asked. As for the quality of photographs being taken using this method, you only have to look at Lawrence Po in Malaysia [acknowledged as the inventor of digiscoping] or Paul Hackett in the UK, to discover how good they can be! If my humble attempts can turn out half as good as theirs I will be a happy man.

I was first introduced to Digiscoping in 2000, when a friend of mine, Steve Blain, was using his Sony digital camcorder to record his sightings, since then it seems to have exploded, and rarely a day`s birding goes by when you do not meet at least one digiscoper in the field. Since that first encounter I have waited patiently until I was able to purchase the correct equipment and start myself. My own set up is currently a Nikon Coolpix 4500 camera, a Swarovski AT80 HD scope with a home made adapter, and I am steadily getting better shots. Pictured with this introduction is one of my many attempts, however I intend to update it as better pictures are taken, so you will be able to witness at first hand my improvements!

The one thing you will learn is that along with the joy of capturing that elusive rarity or common bird in a perfect pose, there is an awful lot of heartbreak involved, you would not believe the number of times a leaf crosses the bird just as you shoot, or the bird moves at the vital moment, or even that the light is too poor to capture the bird. What ever happens don`t lose heart, the next shot may be the one!

Contributor

Ashley Crombet-Beolens

Milton Keynes, UK

Useful Information

Secrets of Digital Bird Photography

http://www.DigitalBirdPhotography.com
A free on-line book of over 800 pages…

Other Links

Yves Leduc - Feathered Memories

Website

Feathered Memories was conceived shortly after I retired in 1996 as a project combining my three great passions (the Internet, bird-watching and photography); and having one very specific goal: to put on the Internet a visual checklist of birds shot in extreme close-up through my Swarovski AT-80 telescope.

Webring - French Speaking

Website

Ce webring est destiné a regrouper les sites des digiscopeurs (nimériscopeurs) de france et d`ailleurs

Webring - Digiscoping Today

Website

The webring for those who would like to share their personal websites featuring photography, tricks, tips, etc. from this new and exciting technique.

Stefan Tewinkel - Digital Photography in Bavaria

Website

An offshoot of the popular and informative Bavarian Birds site, Stefan Tewinkel has published a new page to illustrate the magnification possible with a digital camera in combination with binoculars or scope (even he was impressed!). If you are non-technically minded and still need convincing - see read on…

Richard Ford - Digitalwildlife

Website

This Web site has been created as a place for me to display my wildlife images. Most will be taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera, in Hampshire or certainly the south of England…

Paul C Hackett

Website

Some terrific images from this excellent Australian photographer…

Miikka Kajaksen - digiscoping-kuvia

Website

Yet another brilliant Finnish digiscoper…

Laurence Poh

Website

This site is a collection of bird pictures I have taken since Feb 1999 with the Nikon Coolpix 950 and Coolpix 990 digital camera in combination with a Leica Apo-Televid 77 mm spotting scope. All photos were taken by natural available light with exception of one nightjar which was lit by incandescent bulb. Most of the birds are Malaysian species with some foreign birds shot abroad. In Malaysia we have over 600 species of birds. Some are migratory birds that are seen only during the northern winter months. What I have here is just a small collection. In my own way, I am trying to promote Malaysia as a birding destination as the birds are much prettier in real life than my pictures can depict.

John Moore

Website

A collection of his images…

Jens Søgaard Hansen

Website

Another terrific Danish digiscoper…

Jane Zatta

Website

Some excellent images…

Harold Stiver

Website

Brilliant pix from this Canadian photographer

Graham Checkley

Website

All of the photographs in the galleries you see here are taken with my CP4500, but employing a Leica APO 77 Telescope with a 32X eyepiece as a super telephoto. The technique, described as Digiscoping, involves connecting the camera to the eyepiece of the telescope. It also involves good luck, good light, a steady tripod and a co-operative subect.

Gerd Rossen

Website

This website is about my hobby nature-photography, especially the photography of wildlife birds in Northern Germany. All pics are taken with a Nikon digital-camera in Northern Germany and they all show wildlife animals or plants in their natural behavior. I only show nature as it is. If there has done some manipulating photoshop-work to the pics, I write an EBV into the pic. So, I`ll hope you`ll enjoy viewing my pics…

Dylan Mackey

Website

Digital photographs of birds in the UK - Most of the pictures are digiscoped. Use the link at the top of the page to find out more about about digiscoping…

Digiscoping UK

Website

Andy Bright`s excellent site: Using a spotting scope in combination with a digital camera. For more information on this method, visit my Digiscoping Info page. One 2 One Digiscoping Tuition Available In The South Of England…

DigiPhotoExperiments

Website

With a few adjustments you can make better pictures with your digital camera. Use a telescope or monocular to get closer to the objects you want to photograph. With a magnifying glass or monocular you can make better macro-pictures. And with 2 mirrors it`s easy to make 3D-pictures.

Digibird.com

Website

Digibird is a gallery of high-magnification digital bird photography, and a resource for bird photographers. All of the photos are digital originals.

Daniscoping - Dani L Huertas

Website

The aim of this site that is focused on digiscoping is the spreading of Nature by means of pictures of birds in Spain. As far as possible, the web will be updated at least once a week by adding improved pictures and new species to the galleries. There are usually more than one photo of each species. Just click the thumbnails In each gallery to see the original pictures…

Christine Kerihuel

Website

In french - good images

Chris Trott

Website

I have been digi-scoping for about 6 or so months and the pictures included represent some of my best efforts up to now…

Birdingpix

Website

Digital photos and videograbs of birds and other wildlife by: Richard Fray, Rob Fray, Andy Mackay, Andy Brett, Jeff Higgott, Mark Reeder.

Arto Juvonen

Website

Brilliant images from this Finnish photographer…

Andy Bright

Website

This website is devoted to digiscoping U.K. birds, including technical information, digiscoping links/resources and bird photos (images to some). Gives very good advice for would be digiscopers…

Alain Fossé - Digimages naturalistes

Website

Alain Fossé's site in French & English

Digiscoping - & Digital Birding

Website

These pages focus on the technical aspects of digiscoping, a recent technique based on the coupling of a digital camera and a scope. This work has been contributed by many photographers around the world, including Yves Leduc (Canada) - who kindly allowed me to reproduce his notes on the concept (See his website at http://www.digiscoping.ca ); Ann Cook and Laurence Poh, co-moderator of the Birds-pix mailing list. Other contributors are very welcome! A french text (with its original content) has also been written in close collaboration with Jean-Yves Piel (Egypt); Yves Leduc (Canada); Alain Fossé (France); and Lucien Guès (France).

ScopeTronix

Website

Digital Camera Adapters for Astronomy, Birding, Digiscoping, Microscopy…

Photo Digiscoping

Website

In Spanish, with gallery etc…

Digiscope Diary

Website

This website aims to help anybody who is interested in digiscoping, whether a beginner or more advanced, the site features my digiscoping pictures, information on digiscoping equipment and techniques, hints and tips, plus useful digiscope links for further reading. All the advice on this website is written by myself, by no means an expert, that's the beauty of digiscoping, as long as you are confident enough using a spotting scope and are familiar with the basic settings of your digital camera, you can achieve fantastic images….

Digi-dylan

Website

I've been taking photographs since July 2002 when I bought a Nikon Coolpix 4500 camera. I initially bought my equipment for digiscoping but my interest in photography has grown and I have since bought a Canon digital SLR…

Digiscoping Y Observaciones De Aves

Website

Digiscoping BLOG… in Spanish…

Natuurlijk-Erp

Website

The world of Digiscoping…

Kowa Digiscoping with Paul Hackett

Website

He has been at the forefront of the digiscoping revolution since 1998 and has pioneered many of the techniques and best practice used to great success today…

Birding Image Quality Tool

Website

This simple tool is intended for birders who want a score individual digital photos based on image quality parameters. I would see this tool being of particular value to rarities committees and for web-based forums trying to establish the identity of a bird based on less than perfect images. It is really intended as a sense check. If the tool scores an image below 40% that doesn't automatically mean the image should not form part of an assessment, it just means that additional care should be taken with the information presented....