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Old Jan 12, 2003, 12:23 PM   #1
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Default New Member - Digiscoping 101

Greetings - I'm so happy I found this place! I was up until 2:00 this morning reading posts and follwing links. After all the research I am painfully aware of how little I know about digiscoping! This forum is truly an invaluable resource - all the participants make it so.

I would greatly appreciate your comments - and patience. My primary interest is birding/wildlife shots to be used as study shots for my drawings and paintings. Printed enlargements would generally not exceed 4"X6" format however I may want to 'zoom in' on details on my computer screen.

I currently have an Oly C-2020 and am considering a new camera. The 2020 has done very well for general use and I have been extremely satisfied but I am itching for a new, more specialized toy.

I have on order a Leica 77 Televid (non-APO variety) and should have it by Monday or Tuesday of this week. I am hoping to attach a digital camera to this scope and initially thought the Leica Digilux would be the obvious choice. After last night's research, it sounds as though the Digilux is a great little camera but has been somewhat underwhelming when used in conjunction with the Televid (vignetting and functionality issues).

Here are my questions: I had originally decided to go with a Swarvoski 80 (non-HD) but went with the Televid as it was a demo for $400 - 500 less than the Swarv. At this point, I am wondering if I should have a different scope (APO/HD glass). Will the standard 77 Televid produce acceptable results? Should I bite the bullet and go back to a Swarv? As mentioned above, the application is only for study shots - not finished print production or publication.

Secondly, will my humble Oly 2020 be able to do the job for the time being? I was at a site last night that offered an adaptor for the 2020 and I believe it could be used with the Leica - not certain about the Swarvoski but I suspect there is one available for that scope also. Ultimately, I think I would like to have a Nikon CP4500 (based on what I have read) but am hoping to get by with the 2020 for the meantime. Does anybody use a 2020 for digiscoping?

That is my situation in a nutshell - another 'newbie' itching for advice. Am I on the right track or do I need switching? Inundation is welcome!!

Many thanks -
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Old Jan 15, 2003, 2:54 PM   #2
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A couple suggestions. The Leica should be fine for what you intend. The Swarovski ST or AT-80 HD is probably the most popular spotting scope among digiscoping enthusiasts, but lots of great shots have been made with non-HD glass both with Swarovski, Leica, Pentax and myriad other spotting scopes.

My suggestion would be as you have probably discovered - forget the Leica as a camera for digiscoping. The 2020 "could" be used, but you will have problems with vignetting (I have a 2020). The "best" candidates for digiscoping are the Nikon CP series cameras - by far.

The CP4500 is a 4 megapixel 4x optical zoom camera which will get you excellent results at up to 6000mm with a reasonably good telescope. As with any long range - long focal length - application, it's best when used on relatively close in subjects to minimize interference from the atmosphere. Heat, dust, haze, etc., are all enemies of telephoto. But, when you use the telescope for birding, you can get incredibly good close-up images using long focal lengths. Any of the CP series Nikons with twist/swivel lenses and 28mm filter thread sizes are excellent candidates. The CP4500 and CP995 have the added advantage of 4x optical zoom. The CP950 and 990 are also excellent cameras for any telephoto adaptation.

In addition to the camera, you will want to get an Xtend-a-View, which is an inexpensive 2x sunshade/loupe which allows you to use the LCD in bright sunlight for composing, etc. You can get them at:

http://www.photosolve.com

Get the camera first, then get the proper Xtend-a-View to match.

You will need to post process most images with your choice of software. Leveling, brightness & contrast and some correction for chromatic aberration may be necessary, but the end results can definitely be outstanding.

Welcome aboard and don't be afraid to ask if there is something we don't cover - there are plenty of knowledgeable people here to help.

Best regards,

Lin
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Old Jan 15, 2003, 7:55 PM   #3
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Default Thanks for the welcome, Lin, . . .

and thanks for the great advice!

I'm going to try and get a CP 4500. All the comments and reviews are so positive. It sounds like a great camera!

I really do like the 2020 I have but - and I should back up a bit first. First off, the Leica Televid demo I mentioned in the lead discussion arrived. WOW! Is that ever a crisp image. However, I am returning it as I think they demoed the 'never do this to your scope' thing one too many times with this one. It had some pretty major scuffs and dings on the housing. Granted - the glass is where the dollars are but I get a little nervous when I see evidence of rough handling.

The dealer was more than happy to take it back so I took him up on it.

I am probably going to get a Televid APO - but it will be another month to wait. I would really like to try a Swarvoski but I have to get deeper pockets first - all the way to my pants cuffs!

Anyway - back to the 2020. I tried the 2020 on the Leica while I had the Leica here. Photos were pretty good - considering I was handholding the camera over the eyepiece (and the windchill was 20 below zero!!) :shock: Things got pretty exciting when our toy poodle decided to slick the tripod and her tongue stuck to the aluminum tubing. I don't think she will try that one again - poor little thing.


I got a couple of pics of Nuthatches and Chickadees at one of our feeders. They weren't spectacular shots but they were good enough to make me want to do better!

Thanks again for the reply. I hope to hear from others as well. In the meantime I am going to be on the lookout for a CP 4500 and get a new scope. Once I have those two components, I will follow up on the adaptor and other specific accessories like the sunshade you mentioned.

Also, I need to better understand the photographic software that is available today. I am trying a demo of PhotoShop 7.0. Talk about bells and whistles. I beleive there is a link in one of these threads that does a good job of covering the basics. That is where I am off to next.

BTW, I think I am getting a 20-60 variable eyepiece. Not for certain but that was what I have been discussing with the dealer. I have to believe the optical quality is superior in a fixed eyepiece - as well as field of view - but I do like the versatility of the zoom. Decisions, decisions.

Thanks again - this is a great resource!
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Old Jan 23, 2003, 6:33 AM   #4
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Jon,

A number of (very good) Digiscopers use a zoom, but having tried both the Leica zoom and the 32WW I've now settled on the 32WW full time. It's a very bright eyepiece with relatively little vignetting on a CP4500. Also, as the CP4500 has its own built in optical zoom you can get some additional magnification that way.

As I tend to Birdwatch first and Digiscope second I find the 32WW a great all-round eyepiece. With the 20-60 zoom I was always fiddling with the magnification.

When it comes to Photoshop I'd suggest starting with Photoshop Elements. It is a lot cheaper than full Photoshop and it will provide the classic functionality that you will need - rotation, cropping, contrast, light levels and un-sharp mask. That way you can spend your pennies on your camera adapter, shutter release and hood / magnifier loop.

Best of luck and have fun.
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Old Jan 25, 2003, 12:57 AM   #5
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Default Thanks for your insights, Graham!

Here is an update on my activity: I have secured a Nikon CP4500 (what a camera!!) and hope to have a Leica Televid 77 APO by the first part of February. I am going to put the 'critical eye' to the 32WW as well. It sounds like a very sensible choice.

After fuddling with the full-blown demo version of PhotoShop 7.0, I think I am more than ready to welcome using an application that may be a bit less robust. PhotoShop Elements sounds like just the ticket for my application.

As it goes with further learning, I find that I remain confused - but at an ever higher level of understanding. With that, I have another question: How useful is the NIkon MC-EU1 Wired Remote Control for this application when compared to other options? Is there a better way to go?

Thanks again for the helpful, friendly assistance!

Kindest regards,
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Old Jan 25, 2003, 6:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Thanks for your insights, Graham!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonMartin
How useful is the NIkon MC-EU1 Wired Remote Control for this application when compared to other options? Is there a better way to go?
I use the Nikon MC-EU1 but I'm still not completely convinced that it's designed with the CP4500 properly in mind.

To explain, the first one that I got was a poor fit into the CP, only going about two thirds of the way into the socket. It kept on "loosing contact" with the camera, meaning that I had to switch the camera of and jiggle the connection to get it working again. I sent it back and the second one has not repeated the problem but it still looks like a sloppy fit.

Also, it has been said that the MC-EU1 is hard on batteries, but I've not found this to be a problem. Anyway the batteries are tiny and I carry a spare.

On balance I'm happy enough with it to the extent that I havn't dashed of and bought a replacement.

However, another option you should look at is Eagleye optics. they produced a remote for the earlier CPs and I'd suggest that you have a look at their options before making your mind up. They also sell CP to scope adapters.
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Old Jan 28, 2003, 11:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
As it goes with further learning, I find that I remain confused - but at an ever higher level of understanding. With that, I have another question: How useful is the NIkon MC-EU1 Wired Remote Control for this application when compared to other options? Is there a better way to go?
Absolutely there is a better remote solution. The best I've found by far is made by Harbortronics and is called the DigiSnap. They have a series of remote releases which have different functions and levels of sophistication. All in my opinion are much better solutions than Nikon's own.

Here's a link -

http://www.harbortronics.com/

Best regards,

Lin
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Old Feb 9, 2003, 2:18 PM   #8
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Thanks for the shutter release tips. The advice that has been provided is very helpful.

I will be receiving a Leica APO Televid 77 complete with a 20X wide angle and 20-60X zoom eyepieces later this week. I am FAIRLY excited!! It was sort of a package deal - I didn't know if I would use the fixed 20 but after reading other threads regarding the 32WW, I thought it would be worth a try for a little more field of view - especially on larger subjects - such as donkeys . . . (don't ask!) :?

I have been looking at the EagleEye products as well as Williams Optics. EagleEye has a 'digiscoping' package that looks very interesting - includes a good combination of what appears to be fairly useful stuff at a better price. I hope to put an order together yet this week.

Thanks again for all the assistance. I am almost there! :mrgreen:

Stay safe -
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Old Feb 23, 2003, 7:27 PM   #9
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Greetings - At long last I have a camera, a telescope and an adapter!

Two observations: First, this is exciting stuff!! Second, I am very envious of the outstanding work I have seen from the folks far more experienced than myself. This is tough stuff too!!

Focus, framing and camera shake at high magnification are killers!!

The attached image is one of my first shots - straight from the camera - no cropping and no enhancements.



It is a Trumpeter Swan that has burrowed in - shielding itself from -20 F. windchills. (Note the frozen water droplets on the Swan's back.) A bitterly cold day for both bird and man!

Thanks again for all the fine assistance - I would be lost without you!

Take care -
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