Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Digiscoping: Adapters and Extras (Updated 2017)

Adapters Probably the most difficult aspect of digiscoping is 'connecting' the camera to the spotting scope. Precise alignment of camera lens to eyepiece is critical for vignette-free, uniform illumination, and sharp focus. Many options are available and much has been discussed. By 2017 spotting scope manufacturers have gotten onboard with the Digiscoping craze and have made great strides in producing commercial adapters that are easy to use and functional. Since late 2013 I've been using Paul Sayegh's Digidapter™ that has been custom-made for my scope(s) and eyepieces. Check out Andy Bright's Digiscoping Forum for user reviews and discussions of the many options that include:

Handheld You can forgo an adapter and just press the camera against the eyepiece and take a picture. This is hit and miss, and very difficult, and not considered a reliable option...
Swarovski TLS APO 30mm 
Commercial Adapters Today's spotting scope manufacturers have catered nicely to the digiscoping community and have developed digiscoping adapters for their scopes.  If  you have a Swarovski, Leica, Kowa, Zeiss or Vortex spotting scope this is an option for connecting your camera to your scope.  The beauty of a commercial adapter is that it is machined precisely for their scopes and provide proper alignment of camera lens and eyepiece. The downside is that they can be expensive. Be careful, however, since not all adapters are compatible w/ every eyepiece or camera, so talk to the scope manufacturer to make sure before buying.  For your particular scope/camera combination consider contacting Eagle Optics, Andy Bright's Digiscoping Forum, or Yahoo's Digiscoping Forum for answers. 

Digidapter™ Created by Paul Sayegh in 2013 this unit has become very popular among top digiscopers. The Digidapter™ is a tube adapter that has an adjustable base and mounting brackets for mounting most of today's cameras and lenses. I had the opportunity to field-test the original design with my Zeiss 85T*Fl and 20-75X Eyepiece and generated a review based on my findings. With input from me and other digiscopers Paul modified the design and the unit has been a hit with digiscopers all over the world. Check out the Digidapter™ website and contact Paul with your make / model of scope, eyepiece and camera. Until this unit came along I was a die-hard Homemade Adapter user, but the Digidapter™ eliminates a lot of time and allows for precise/optimal alignment of my camera and lens. It is worth the price. 

Homemade Adapters.  I'm cheap. So I used to make my own digiscoping adapters using plumbing supplies (PVC pipe) or household items, like pesto jar lids or plastic tubes.  Check out my Articles list for specific adapters for specific cameras and eyepieces. My original intent of digiscoping was to see how little money I could spend to get the best image possible. So, if money is an issue, then this is a viable route. Take your scope to the local hardware store and play with PVC fittings or caps that can be modified to center your camera over the eyepiece. Early users had success using a plastic NyQuil cup with a hole cut in the center to align the small lens of a point and shoot camera to the eyepiece of the scope.

Extras Optional accessories include cable releases, battery paks for longer camera usage, and viewfinder adapters. The latter is probably most important since the viewfinder can be difficult to impossible to see in bright sunlight. Hoodman makes an Extend-A-View makes an adapter that clips onto the back of most cameras and allow a glare-free view of the viewfinder. I've made a viewfinder using a jeweler's loop wrapped with electrical tape and velcroed to the back of the camera. It provides a magnified image of the viewfinder and shades from glare. With today's mirrorless cameras having electronic viewfinders (EVF) the need for this attachment is no longer necessary (especially if the camera also has focus-peaking). But, things like a cable release can be very valuable. My Sony a6300 has a port for a wired cable release that allows me to hold the button while holding the tripod head handle so that I can keep my second hand free to focus while panning. External battery packs can be attached to the charging port of today's mirrorless cameras, as well. I keep a small external battery pack with me in case the camera dies. It can provide up to 3X the life of a normal camera battery. 

1 comment:

Nick Bonomo said...

Hi Jerry,
Do you still use a homeade adapter, or have you purchased one? Just curious...I'm in the process of upgrading scopes and am starting to think about "serious" digiscoping.