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Old Oct 4, 2007, 11:27 PM   #1
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Hey all. Since some of you really seem to know your stuff, I was wondering if you could give me an idea of what would be the best scope to get for digiscoping for somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 or so (sadly the food, rent, and other necessities keep getting in the way of my hobbies)? Using a Nikon SLR, would primarily be using it for birding. Hope to hear from you all.
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Old Oct 9, 2007, 7:43 PM   #2
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No expert here but maybe if I spout enough nonsense I can get one involved for you

If you are a keen birder, you'll probably want a proper birding scope which is waterproof, robust and quite likely...green (or has a green stay-on case). My understanding is that the favoured cameras for taking photographs with spotting scopes are digicams with modestly specified lenses; not too fast, not too much zoom. The results from using DSLRs if better at all don't justify their extra weight and bulk which has a knock on effect on demands on scope and camera support. If you already have a suitable digicam and your $500 doesn't need to cover suitable tripod, tripod head, digiscoping adaptor, cable release, LCD sunshade etc etc that you may need or want, then it should be enough to buy an 80mm ED glass model such as Celestron, Meade, Swift etc or perhaps the Pentax 65mm model. If you're prepared to consider second user items you may do even better.

If your emphasis is more on getting best quality photographs rather than birding (and perhaps bird in flight photography interests you) your budget would be better put towards a lens for your DSLR. You may then need to work on field craft to enable you to get close enough to the birds...

You can compromise by getting an adaptor to use a spotting scope as a lens with a DSLR, but the f10 or more lens you end up with may not be much fun to use. Or you can compromise on the spotting scope side of things by getting an astro type scope which may make a pretty good manual focus lens for a DSLR but is less appealing as a birder's spotting scope.

Edit : Just realised youwrote Nikon SLR not DSLR. If you have a film camera I'd guess it would be very uneconomic to use for digiscoping since the failure rate on shots is generally reckoned to be extremely high.

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Old Oct 12, 2007, 11:31 AM   #3
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Sorry, I meant DSLR.

The $500-600 is just for the scope itself. I have heard that the Celestrons are not very good for birding. Have you used one? What do you think? Also, what is it about astro types that are not so great? Thanks for the advice.
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Old Oct 12, 2007, 3:09 PM   #4
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Yo! Good news on the budget and DSLR.

'Fraid I haven't tried a Celestron spotting scope. Here in UK the picture for spotting scopes is more straightforward; it's pretty much the case that if you don't have the budget for Kowa or Nikon then you go for the best Opticron model you can :-)

I expect the Celestron Ultima series come from the same Chinese factory as lots of other models you see under different brand names. Quality control has probably improved over the years so maybe they're better than pictured by some older reviews. They still may be a bit bulky and heavy compared to the top marques without offering as good robustness.

If you can't wait to accumulate more funds, the Pentax 65mm scope might be a reasonable choice even though digiscopers prefer the bigger scopes to give them faster shutter speeds. It's really compact, has ED glass and you have the possibility of obtaining a low power, long eye relief eyepiece for it at modest cost. With low magnifications on bright days you may well end up with useable shutter speeds; particularly if you were to couple it with something like the Fuji F31 which can give acceptable results at ISO 400 or 800.

The main downer with astro scopes tends to be lack of water and dust proofing and generally more fragile nature. Also a 65mm astro refractor is typically at least as heavy and bulky as an 80mm spotting scope. Optically they are often better than spotting scopes but can lose that advantage when coupled with a prism which gives a correctly oriented image.
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Old Nov 7, 2008, 6:33 PM   #5
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Konuspot 80 or 100mm- see B&H for details.
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