Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I got into digiscoping almost by default.
You see, one day a couple of years ago, my wife Apiradee (Audy)
started noticing pics of birds on the Thai forums she frequents that
were done by a method called "digiscoping".
At the time we just had the one camera and we would both go out and
take turns with the camera.
as can be imagined, the need for a second camera setup soon presented
We decided to look into a digiscoping setup for Audy as i would handle
the 80-400VR D50 kit.
I ordered a 60mm Nikon Fieldscope III ED + FSB-4 camera bracket and
the current camera of the time, a Coolpix P4.
Well, we took the setup out to Maplewood Flats that evening and soon
realized that the tripod, scope etc. setup was just too much for Audy
to handle. plus, getting a handle on manually focusing the scope
before auto-focusing the camera just seemed like too much fiddling, i
can understand that LOL.
So, i took up the banner of digiscoping since someone had to do it and
that's that.
I currently use a Nikon ED82 fieldscope with straight body (which
bucks the trend of angled i know) + FSB-6 camera bracket (w/ cable
release) that threads onto the Coolpix P5100 - a 12.1 mpx camera that
works well in most conditions.

Along with a lightweight carbon fiber tripod i use a medium sized
ball-head as i have a habit of trying to digiscope everything i see,
no matter how flighty. The quick action of the ball-head helps get the
action since you typically only have a few seconds to set up, then
it's just a matter of rattling off as many shots as possible.
Hopefully one will be good.
The scope/camera setup is quite light and easy to hike around with all
day long. i usually carry the tripod caveman style so that much like a
gun-slinger in a showdown i can bring the tripod and scope into
position in front of me in one fluid motion,without startling the bird.
I like that i'm flash-free and with the big 82mm ED lens on a tripod i
can usually get enough light to get by with just ISO 64 and push 100
in grey situations. Anything over that however and grain becomes an
issue on dark days.
grain bad.
I like that with either the 30X DS wide eyepiece or 50X (which i
hardly use anymore due to vignetting) i can stay farther back from the
action with less stress to the bird.
For us, it's important to get the shot so that we can count it in our
life list, if we don't get a Flickr-postable shot then we sadly have
to wait for next time before checking it off. With digiscoping, i can
get a decent enough shot of say, a far-off Clarks Grebe so that Audy,
with the penalty of only 400mm can concentrate on birds closer in.
Together we cover all the bases.
I guess i get a kick out of doing something a bit different although i
realize now that birders have been doing it for years, or at least
since Laurence Poh pioneered the technique in 1999.
There is a certain intimacy that can be achieved by digiscoping a bird
from a distance in it's natural setting, at ease and hopefully
unaware. i always notice the eyes more in good digiscoped pictures (of
which there are many, as it's very popular in Spain, Portugal, Europe,
UK and Asia).
I've given myself a few more years of perfecting the craft before i
decide one way or another which direction bird photography will take
I now know however that i will always think of myself as a birder
first, photographer second.

whenever you compare your digiscoped shots to similar DSLR shots, they
can come close but will never be on a par as far as quality of image,
it's simply because point 'n shoot pixels aren't the same as DSLR pixels.
Some people have used DSLR's and scopes to digiscope with great
success, all you need is a DSLR adapter.
It's something i might consider one day, seeing as the D50 is now
vacant since Audy upgraded to a D300.
For now i'll stay retro with my P&S setup since i love to be able to
view everything on the 2 1/2" view screen.
I guess the biggest con is the need to manually focus scope beforehand
which is another reason sharpness or rather softness of image becomes
an issue when compared to a razor sharp auto-focused DSLR'd image.
I usually do a fair bit of post processing in PS but never more than
is needed to bring out the shot. sometimes levels and curves need to
be tweaked.
I don't know what more to say, i've only ever known Nikon product and
have never used the scopes in any other way other than with a camera
attached to the eyepiece. Pure digiscoper i guess. : )

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The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area