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Old Jul 22, 2002, 12:20 PM   #1
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Default Consensus on most desirable Cam for DS?

Ok, so I've seen what you all use. What is your dream digi-cam, among the latest products? Also, where are the best places to buy the stuff for mounting? Any good US places?

Thanks for your input!

PS- and Lin, thanks for your help on my other post
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Old Aug 13, 2002, 9:18 AM   #2
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Default Better "late" than "never"....

There are so many choices it's difficult to narrow it down.

As for cameras - the new Nikon CP4500 has got to rank right up there. Four megapixels resolution - super light weight - excellent zoom and very good color with relatively low noise with decent lighting.

For scopes - a lot depends on whether or not one needs portability. If you are in an area where you can set up in a semi permanent location (on a deck near a bird feeder, etc.) then it's hard to beat one of the larger astro-telescopes with a William Optics DCL-28 eyepiece. Something like the Celestron 5 inch Maksutov Cassegrain gives incredible brightness and sufficient focal length to maximize the potential of the camera.

To spend less, the Meade ETX-90 will do a great job at a significantly lower price. The advantages of these type scopes is that there is absolutely zero chromatic aberration introduced by the lens. Since they are mirror types, there is no possibility of CA and the images possible are incredibly sharp and clean.

If there is any need for portability, then a high quality terrestrial telescope is absolutely required. The better terrestrial spotting scopes are weather proof, light, have incredibly clean optics and, on the down side, cost a bundle!

Of the spotting scopes, my personal favorite is the Swarovski line of HD 80's. Either the ST (straight) or AT (45 degree) models work wonderfully. Other excellent candidates are the Leica APO's and the Pentax 80's. Swarovski quality control is probably the best overall, but they are also the most expensive. Rock bottom prices with the 20-60X eyepiece run around $1300. Pentax is the least expensive averaging around $950. Pentax has been found to be either incredibly sharp barely average depending on which "expert" you talk to. Since most who use them for this purpose are truly "experts," the consensus is that the Pentax quality control may not be up to par and that indeed that some are incredibly good and others marginal. One of the most knowledgeable and experienced photographers doing digiscoping is Lawrence Poh. Laurence used to use the Leica 77, but switched to the Swarovski 80 because he found it gave consistently sharper images. That's pretty much been my experience as well.

To digiscope one needs a camera, a means of connecting the camera in close proximity to the eyepiece of a telescope and of course the scope itself. Other peripherals which greatly help are a sunshade (so you can see the LCD which you must use to focus), a sighting device to help find the target, possibly a good external flash with a beam concentrating device to get greater range (Fresnel) and an external battery pack to avoid the necessity of changing batteries in the middle of the day.

I personally like the William Optics DCL-28 24mm eyepiece for the CP Nikon's with 28mm thread size. This eyepiece works with any telescope which can accept a 1.25" astro-type eyepiece. This includes most all astro-type celestial scopes and their spotting scope counterparts, the Pentax 80 terrestrial spotting scope (which uses astro type eyepieces) and the Swarovski terrestrial scopes with a Swarovski adapter ($65). The Leica 77's can use the 1.25" astro eyepieces, but the cost of an adapter is well over $400 so not a likely match.

With the terrestrial spotting scopes, a 4x zoom Nikon (995 or 4500) and the 24mm eyepiece, the maximum focal length is only about 3000mm because of the shorter focal length of the tube. With the astro telescopes and their longer focal lengths, the match is often better, yielding 6000mm or more of useful focal length. Since scopes are widely available on the web - I'll confine the rest of this post to peripherals.

Places to purchase these accessories:

1. Eagle Eye in the U.K. has a broad selection of incredible quality adapters including the Xtend-a-View sunshade (an absolute necessity), the Dual-Force Pro batter pack (5000mAh and highly recommended), a wide variety of mechanical adapters and lots of great information. Wonderful people to deal with and absolutely the highest quality peripherals available.

http://www.eagleeyeuk.com

For many peripherals including the Eagle Eye line (U.S. Distributor) and the home, inventor and manufacturer of the Xtend-a-View, PhotoSolve. Incredible people to deal with and top-notch quality peripherals.

http://www.photosolve.com

For the William Optics 24mm eyepiece for the 28mm filter thread size Nikon CP cameras.

http://www.williamoptics.com/

Well, that's my contribution - let's hear from some others.....

Lin
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Old Aug 14, 2002, 1:22 AM   #3
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Most desirable camera for digiscoping? The Nikon cp4500 is just ahead of the cp990 in my book....bronze medal to the cp995. I'm not a fan of the 4x lens of the cp995/4500, but the extra benefits of the cp4500 make up for it.
Maybe worth holding off on the adapters for a few weeks, as a new design from a certain manufacturer is about to be announced (I'm sworn to secrecy...sorry) Andy B,
London
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Old Aug 14, 2002, 10:26 PM   #4
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Default Spotting Scopes

For anybody to make a remark about Pentax quality and then consider themselves an expert leaves a lot to be desired. I have personally found that most people that use Swarovski spotting scopes are generally biased toward that brand of scope. Brand of scope they purchase is their perogative and I have no qualms with their selection and preference for a spotting scope. Nor would I go out of my way to bash someone else's selection of spotting scope unwarranted. The statement some Pentax scopes are good and others are marginal is unacceptable by any reasonable standards. I have especially found this bias the case among birders in the UK and in particular of the vendor at EagleEye optics in the UK. He will not tolerate anything other than a Swarovski spotting scope. He actually was quite rude to me in a discussion and called the Pentax scope a "bazooka." He insisted that the Swarovski was exponentially better than anything else available. That is a ludicrous and absurd deduction to say something like this. It boils down to that if you don't use the equipment these so called experts use, you have got substandard equipment. Let me assure you that I have a Pentax scope and it is wayyyy sharp. I had the recent chance this spring at a bird convention in the town where I live to look through all the major manufacturer's scopes and I could not see any exponential improvement in view over the Pentax scope. Anybody that makes these claims, in my opinion, are just a big gas bag blowing hot air and deceiving the public. I think it is uncalled for. End of rant! :P
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Old Aug 15, 2002, 12:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
For anybody to make a remark about Pentax quality and then consider themselves an expert leaves a lot to be desired
I'm simply reporting on what has been widely discussed among digiscopers who have tried may different spotting scopes. My personal experience with Pentax has been good, but there are significant numbers who have used the Pentax and not had the same experience.

You can make whatever you wish of this, but when a sizeable number of experienced users (by experienced, I mean users who have published their images) find a particular instrument to not perform as well as others of the same make and model, the only logical explanation is that either all Pentax spotting scopes are not created equally or we have a statistical anomaly.

Your personal experience with "most people that use Swarovski" as "biased" is simply your personal experience. How many people do you know personally who use Swarovski, and what percentage of the Swarovski market does this represent?

It has not been my own experience that this is the case, and I use whichever works best for me. I have used Pentax, Leica, Swarovski, Kowa, Bushnell, Nikon and Zeiss spotting scopes for digiscoping and found that most of them are quite acceptable. That I prefer Swarovski is simply a preference and nothing more. It's neither an endorsement nor a suggestion. I think each user should relate their own experiences here and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

I certainly don't doubt that you have found your Pentax to be excellent, many share your experiences. But to ignore a sizeable number of users who have different experiences would be unfair to the inexperienced who are searching for solutions.

Thousands of people have traveled thousands of miles on Firestone tires without incident. But when a statistically significant number of drivers have died because of Firestone tire failure, do we ignore it and fail to report the failures? Obviously a spotting scope is not a life or death decision, but one should not attempt to cover up adverse experiences simply because they might "believe" that it's a "big gas bag blowing hot air." Reporting published experiences is not "bashing someone else's selection"...

Best regards,

Lin

[Edited on 8-15-2002 by Lin Evans]
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Old Aug 15, 2002, 1:44 AM   #6
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Swarovski scopes aren't that popular in the U.K. The high-end scope market dominated by Leica and Kowa. Most dealers dislike Swarovski as a company.

Carlo was was one of the first to import a Pentax scope and gave it prominence at last years 'Focus on Imaging' show at the National Exhibition Centre.

I was always under the impression that Carlo preferred the Leica APO77 to the Swarovski 80hd.

Look at the photos from the world's best digiscopers (I could name names, but you know them).....what do they generally use?

The Pentax scope will never make it in Europe as it's only available as a 'straight', most serious birders prefer angled scopes (certainly outside N. America)
It's 'officially' unavailable in the U.K. due to Pentax not having the U.K. distribution rights for the eyepieces (strange but true)

Personally, I don't care for misplaced brand loyalty....A red spot or a silver Eagle doesn't mean anything to me.

Perhaps you should post some of your Pentax digiscoped photos to show just what it's capable of. I've no doubt it's a very good scope. If you post elsewhere...tell us where and under what name (or pseudonym in your case)
Regards,
Andy B,
London
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Old Aug 15, 2002, 11:19 PM   #7
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Default Pentax Scope

I have had a Pentax 80ED for a year (two?) or so and would have to say that I love the scope, but wonder if it's not as great for digiscoping as some tend to think. I look at those "top digiscopers" and their images and then look at mine and HS's and wonder how much the difference is related to the scope and how much is just lack of practice or set up. I would definitely go for the fixed XL-28 for digiscoping. My images have all been with the zoom and I personally feel that the lower f/stop forced by having to zoom the CP990 out to cancel vignetting is a "shot killer", and will be switching to a fixed power soon.
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Old Aug 19, 2002, 7:14 PM   #8
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Default comments made by 'Mr BilloBaggins'

Hi Everyone,

My name is Carlo Bonacci and I am the owner of EagleEye OpticZooms.

As a manufacturer we do read the forums and listen to what people say to identify needs and try to design and produce products to cater for these. We do not normally participate in the forums unless it is absolutely necessary.

On this occaission it is unfortunately to correct the completely unfounded remarks made by ' Mr BilloBaggins ' on this forum purported to have been made by me :

( "The statement some Pentax scopes are good and others are marginal is unacceptable by any reasonable standards. I have especially found this bias the case among birders in the UK and in particular of the vendor at EagleEye optics in the UK. He will not tolerate anything other than a Swarovski spotting scope. He actually was quite rude to me in a discussion and called the Pentax scope a "bazooka." He insisted that the Swarovski was exponentially better than anything else available. That is a ludicrous and absurd deduction to say something like this " )
For the record, I consider the Pentax scope to be slightly larger than most other scopes commonly available and the zoom eyepiece to be relatively very, very big in physical proportions ( simple facts and pretty much in line with the thinking of others ). The Pentax became available after our Digimount Adapter was introduced and I made an entirely commercial decision not to alter our DigiMount Adapter designs to cater for this one single eyepiece ( although the others e.g. XL28 etc. are catered for ). This was not based on any judgement regarding the quality or competence of the scope or eyepiece.

We have scopes from most leading manufacturers, including Pentax and demonstrate Digiscoping using all of them. We do not reccomend any one above the other and I have never said that Swarovski scopes are the best !

Information about which one is best for Digiscoping is very generously provided by many daily practitioners who pass on their experiences, opinions and views for others to consider and use in their decision making. We often pass this type of information on to people who enquire in very general terms.

I can only recall a couple of conversations / email exchanges regarding this particlar scope about a year ago and certainly do not remember being rude. Frankly my personal views on spotting scopes are not such that they would lead me to be rude to someone simply because of conflicting opinions or differences in requirements.

Perhaps 'Mr BilloBaggins' was unable to understand my commercial reasoning for not catering for his particular eyepiece and interpreted this to be because I felt it was somehow inferior ??...........however, quite how that equates to being rude ( which I am not in the habit of being ) I am not entirely sure.......

My apologies for having taken up the space on this forum with this issue and a big thank you to everyone who constructively participates in progressing Digiscoping.

Regards

Carlo Bonacci
EagleEye OpticZooms
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Old Aug 22, 2002, 1:32 PM   #9
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Default Keeping the Thread Going - Experience vs kit

this is a good thread it seems a shame to see it drying up.

I am a SW65 and C5000 user and have been for 4 months. I am exceptionally pleased with this combination, particularlywith a carbon tripod. This combination has the advantages of ease of use , an exceptional camera and is very light and compact.

It is true that the there can be vignetting with the LCE adaptor, however, if you remember to tighten the screws down, shut the eye cup in fully and put the adaptor on tight then vignetting is avoided and the digital zoom is not required.

I bought the scope for birdwatching and therefore find the excellent zoom and brightness on the SW65 to be sufficient in most light conditions. It is true that a zoom does limit the aperture and hence depth of field. So taking good pictures is as much about experience , location, patience and a little luck as having an excellent rig. Andy and Lin your pictures are cases in point.

In my short time spent at this excellent hobby, a background with Nikon SLR and with the support from the members here, steady improvement can be made. In particular angle of picture to remove AF failure and camera steady using firm ground and a release. In both cases neither camera or lens can help regardless of their outstansing quality or price.


Off to practice some more this weekend in Dorset, seems to be several good species lurking - Stonchat, Black Tern etc
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Old Aug 22, 2002, 3:43 PM   #10
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Hi Chris,

Unless the eyepiece on the 65 is different than on the 80, you simply unscrew the rubber eyecup and then the camera and eyepiece can nearly touch each other and eliminate the vignetting...

Lin
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