Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Review: Nikon ED50 FieldScope
Having received a new Nikon ED50 Fieldscope, courtesy of the good folks at Wildbird Magazine and Nikon*, I decided to put it to the test as a digiscoping setup. The scope came with a 13 – 30X eyepiece, but I tested the unit with the 27x DS eyepiece. I used my current digiscoping camera and adaptor (Nikon Coolpix P5000 and homemade adaptor, which consists of a Canon LADC58F and Teflon tape dispenser cap – see my blog post regarding the setup) as it fits very well over the eyepiece and provides proper spacing between camera lens and eyepiece. The following settings were used for the camera: ISO 100, Exposure Compensation = -0.7 unless otherwise specified, Auto White Balance, Center-weighted Metering, Image Size = 3640x2736, Aperture-Priority, Continuous Shooting Mode, Macro Setting, In-camera sharpening set to Normal. My first test was an American Goldfinch at the thistle feeder in the window. From 30 feet away I captured several images at magnifications roughly equivalent to 1X, 2X and 3.5X zoom on the camera. This translates to 27X, 54X and 95X. With the 27X eyepiece the view through the camera viewfinder at 7.5 mm (or 1X) is the same as the view through the eyepiece. With proper orientation of the camera there is no vignetting even at the lowest camera setting. From 60 feet away I then found a willing subject in the form of a female House Sparrow. From this distance I was surprised that chromatic aberration was minimal at best. Only areas with extremely high contrast and/or blown highlights showed slight CA. To test CA I focused the scope on the sunlit white siding of the house. At 30 – 40’ I could not find significant CA associated with this eyepiece. With a steady hand it is possible to digiscope w/ the ED50 without the need for a shutter release or the self-timer. However, I can see that digiscoping in anything but direct sunlight will be difficult since fast shutter speeds will be at a premium. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to keep this scope since I am so happy w/ my Zeiss Diascope 85T*FL. However, this lightweight compact offers a bright, sharp view with a wide FOV and good eye relief. Although I also liked the 13-30X eyepiece I found eye relief to be less forgiving and felt like I had a bit of tunnel vision while wearing glasses. Thus I’ll stick to the 27x DS eyepiece and keep this sweet little beauty for travel. Thank you WildBird, and thank you Nikon! * - First Place in the Digiscoping Category of WildBird Magazine’s 20th Annual Reader Photo Contest (Aug/Sep 2008).