Digiscoping

The pleasure of observing

A small bird sitting inconspicuously on a gray rock.
I zoom in; sure that it’s a Golden Plover. The gold pattern seems painted on its brown feathers. It turns before taking to the air; his black eyes looking directly at me. I press the trigger; the moment capture forever.

Digiscoping is the art of not only observing nature with a high magnification spotting scope, but also taking pictures of the fascinating images.

  • What is Digiscoping?

    What is Digiscoping?

    How often have you looked through your spotting scope at a bird in the far distance and thought: "I wish I had a photo of this!"? How often have you observed a falcon or maybe a butterfly which was so far away that if you had taken a photo with the small digital camera in your pocket it would have been no more than a small dot? How often have you looked at a photo in a birding or nature magazine and thought: "I wish I had taken that"?

    The Pleasure of Observing

    Now, because of the magic of digiscoping you can bring home beautiful, frame-filling nature photos, taken from a relatively long distance and without disturbing nature.

    Digiscoping uses the high magnification of a spotting scope while photographing with a digital camera. Digiscoping opens up completeley new possibilites of photography even beyond the reach of large, expensive tele lenses – at a fraction of the costs that would be necessary for a complete DSLR/long lens outfit.

    Digital reflex cameras with long tele objectives are too large, too heavy, and too expensive for most nature observers – and often they are not powerful enough to capture frame filling pictures of distant birds. When photographers started placing a compact digital camera behind the eyepiece of a spotting scope focused on a bird they were amazed by the quality of the results. When they then published their photos on the internet, other birders could share their enthusiasm.

    Digiscoping spread rapidly. By now digiscoping is no longer limited to birding circles but has found friends in all areas of photography.

    This pages will provide enough information to get you started in the world of digiscoping, so you can concentrate on what really matters: the pleasure of observing and of beautiful images.

    A spotting scope takes you a lot closer to nature

    With its 15 to 75 times magnification you are right in the middle of the action without disturbing nature. A bird, observed at 30 power, will appear 30 times closer to the naturalist. If instead of the observer a camera is located behind the 30 power eyepiece, the focal length of the camera lens is also increased by a factor of 30.

    A digital camera with its zoom objective set to a medium focal length becomes, behind the eyepiece, a super-tele objective with a focal length of approx. 1000 mm. Due to the adjustable zoom, you can easily generate focal lengths and picture details which correspond to a 4000 mm 35 mm format lens.

  • The Equipment

    The Equipment

    It is a natural wish to share what you see with friends or family. Digiscoping makes this possible. Capture detailed, and vivid images with the ZEISS Victory DiaScope spotting scope. With your camera securely mounted you can exploit the extremely long focal length and the high magnification. The Fluoride optical system, with high resolution such as the Victory DiaScope spotting scope offer the best possible conditions. If you look for a camera lens with the same level of quality you will find these are far more expensive and heavy, and perhaps not even available.

    It is not simply a matter of bridging extreme distances. This is often rendered unsatisfactory through mist, murkiness or heat haze. Photographs taken at closer range, between around 20 m and 50 m distance, often give the best, most detailed results.

    Carl Zeiss offers you three different ways of using your spotting scope as a tele lens, which are presented below. We also recommend that you consult the "Fascination Digiscoping" manual, available from Carl Zeiss Sports Optics GmbH.

    Digiscoping with compact cameras and the ZEISS Quick Camera Adaptor

    Most digital compact cameras with a 3 or 4 x zoom lens can be used to simply take photographs through the eyepiece of the spotting scope. Instead of your eye seeing the image, it is captured by the camera. The ZEISS Quick Camera Adaptor ensures that your camera is firmly fixed in place, and offers enough adjustment to position it accurately. Above all, it is quick to make the change from watching to photographing.

    The "total focal length"is easy to calculate: simply multiply the focal length of the camera by the magnification of the spotting scope. A camera with a focal length of 100 mm attached to a spotting scope with 30 x magnification gives a focal length of 3,000 mm – a dream for all nature and animal photographers.­

    Digiscoping with SLR cameras and the ZEISS photo adaptor

    Analogue and digital SLR and DSLR cameras are only suitable for taking photographs through the eyepiece of the spotting scope if they have short, fixed 50 mm lenses­. Here we offer you a different solution in the form of the ZEISS photo adaptor. It is fixed on the spotting scope in place of the eyepiece and changes it to a long-focus lens that is both suitable for analogue 35 mm and digital full format cameras. To fix the body of the camera (without the lens) onto the scope you need an appropriate T2 adaptor for your camera bayonet.

    The ZEISS Victory DiaScope 85 T* FL used in combination with the photo adaptor gives a tele lens of 1:12 / 1,000 mm. Cameras with an APS sensor produce images corresponding to a 1,500 mm telephoto lens­. The f-number 12 cannot be altered. This is calculated by dividing the focal length by the lens aperture ­(12 = approx. 1000 mm / 85 mm). Modern, silent image sensors make it possible to use higher sensitivity values ­­so that the relatively low aperture hardly represents any disadvantage. Depending on the type of camera you can use, the exposure is adjusted by changing the shutter speed manually, or using the camera in aperture priority mode.

    Digiscoping with integrated camera in the ZEISS PhotoScope

    The Victory PhotoScope 85 T* FL offers you in a single device a 15 to 45 x magnification with a wide angle field of view for observation - plus the fascinating opportunity ­to digitally capture key moments at the touch of a button with a 7 megapixel sensor. There is no need to worry about adaptors, external cameras, remote control releases etc. as everything is combined in a single, weatherproof device.

    The Photoscopes Vario lens corresponds to a focal length of 600 to 1800mm, while the largest aperture is 4 to 5.6 – depending on the zoom setting. The remote control function allows operation without producing camera shake.

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