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Old Mar 12, 2003, 11:02 PM   #1
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Default Wildlife Photography - Will This Work ?

I have a question that I hope someone can answer. I am very interested in digiscoping. This June I will be traveling to Alaska to photograph mainly coastal brown bears but other wildlife as well. I will be flying in with a guide to the southern coast of Katmai. The bears will be anywhere between 50 feet to 300 feet and beyond from where I will be set up.
Using Digiscoping at these distances will I be too close to get some nice shots?
I currently don't own a scope but I have about everything else. I have a Nikon 990 that I am quite familier with and have taken over 10,000 photos with. I have an Extend -A -View LCD Hood and a Harbortronics Digisnap Remote Shutter Release. My tripod is a fairly heavy Manfrotto 3211 with a Manfrotto 3030 head with a quick release plate.
I am looking a the Swarovski AT-80 or ST-80 (not the HD) or the Leica Televid 77. Since either of these is quite an expensive purchase I need some advise if these will zoom in too much for what I will be using them for.
My 2nd question is about the Swarovski Spotting Scopes. Will the HD version be worth the extra expense and would the angled or straight tube be easier to use.
Thanks in advance for any advise you might have.

Mike
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Old Mar 13, 2003, 12:39 AM   #2
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Actually, with a Swarovski and a William Optics 24mm DCL-28 eyepiece, you will get about 2200mm with the 990. You have a zoom back range without significant vignetting to about 1100 mm so that combination should do well for the more distant shots. The 24mm eyepiece is designed for the 28mm Nikon filter thread, and has a very large exit pupil to maximize zoom back without vignetting. To use this eyepiece, which is made for 1.25 inch celestial type scopes, you will also need the Swarovski converter ( $65 from Swarovski, or less from some dealers). This is a simple adapter which lets you use any 1.25" barrel eyepiece with the scope. The William Optics or one of the ScopeTronix 18's made for the Swarovski (the 18 will give you closer to 3000mm focal length. You may really want one of each depending on how close you can get. At 300 feet, the 2000mm focal length might be fine for full body shots, but at any greater distance the 18mm eyepiece might be of more use. These eyepieces are a little under $100 each on average.

My suggestion would be to go for the HD model, it really "is" that much better for photography. Whether to use the ST or AT model is a choice thing. Personally, for what you are doing, I would thing the ST (straight) might be a little easier to find the target with, but because of the ability to zoom back, you can have a larger frame to work with which helps to find the subject. Also, you might want to consider purchasing on the the inexpensive "sights" made by Eagle Eye ( http://www.eagleeyeuk.com ) which is quickly mounted with elastic bands, and can be quickly "calibrated" in the field to allow using either an AT or ST model and make quick work of finding the subject.

For those closer in shots, a TC-E3 or an OpticZoom 5x might be worth while. The 5x will give you 570mm and the TC-E3 (3x) will get you 342mm. All calculation I've used are based on a native 3x of 114mm. Some reviewers have said the CP990 has 115mm and some say 114mm. It's difficult to be exact, but an additional 1 mm on the native will result in only an additional 13mm with a 24mm DCL-28, so the calculations are close enough.

Best regards,

Lin
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Old Mar 13, 2003, 6:33 AM   #3
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I use Swarovski binoculars (delighted) but I'm also the happy owner of a Leica scope. I'd seriously suggest that you have a look at the APO Televid 77 in comparison with the Swarovski scope if you possibly can.

You can get a wide angle 20 x eyepiece for the Leica, as well as a 32 x (my choice as the largest thing I've photographed is a Badger !) and a 20-60 zoom.

I find straight is fine as I can angle my CP4500 if required.

Please let us see the results. Best of luck !
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 10:35 AM   #4
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Thank you everyone for all of your good advise and help. I did find a used Swarovski ST-80 HD in "mint" pristine condition. It will come with the Swarovski 20 - 60 zoom so I will try that but will most likely look into the fixed non-zoom eyepiece as well.
If anyone has any advise on a adapter I would sure appreciate it . I have seen quite a few on the internet and also some nice homemade ones. I asked this in another post so I might be repeating myself.
Thanks again for all the help.
Regards, Mike
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 11:37 AM   #5
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Eagle Eye ( http://www.eagleeyeuk.com ) as well as the London Camera Exchange (they both ship to the U.S.) have excellent mechanical adapters which will screw directly to the 28mm filter threads on your Nikon then gently clamp to the 20-60. You will also "need" a large rubber band to put around the Swarovski's zoom eyepiece to stop it from turning. The zoom is controlled by twisting the eyepiece on the Swarovski, and the weight of the camera being attached will cause the telescope to zoom without some additional friction. That's one of the reasons I prefer the William Optics or ScopeTronix fixed focal length eyepieces.

Lin
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