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Old Jan 22, 2006, 7:58 PM   #1
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I know nothing about digiscoping but am interested in starting this spring when the migratory birds return. Presently I'm using a Canon Rebel XT with an assortment of lenses for bird and wildlife photography. To get birds on the ponds I would need to buy the Canon 500 mm F4 lens - which is probably 10K in Canada. Not going to happen.

Can I hook up the Rebel to a scope and if you had $2500 to spend, what would you buy? Will the Rebel work?

Thanks for your help!

//jim


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Old Jan 23, 2006, 9:44 AM   #2
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killdeer0007 wrote:
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I know nothing about digiscoping but am interested in starting this spring when the migratory birds return. Presently I'm using a Canon Rebel XT with an assortment of lenses for bird and wildlife photography. To get birds on the ponds I would need to buy the Canon 500 mm F4 lens - which is probably 10K in Canada. Not going to happen.

Can I hook up the Rebel to a scope and if you had $2500 to spend, what would you buy? Will the Rebel work?

Thanks for your help!

//jim

Hi Jim

I use the Swarovski AT 80 HD Straight. It's light. If you can get it without the 20-60 eye-piece, you may be able to save some money. The camera adapters are separate and run around $200 a piece - f10 800mm and f13 1100mm. You also need a Tee adapter to mount it to your Canon. The Tee adapter is aqbout $15. That's it. You're in buisness.

The scope is light enough to be hand held - but that takes months of practice - I use a very light carbon monopode but often hold the entire mess up in the air.

The light meter may not work with this scope (or any other for that matter. If you can use an old manual lens and use the meter, then you can also use the meter with this scope.

Leica, Zeiss and others make good scopes as well.

Feel free to ask about the Swarovski - I know nothing practical about the others except some of them are comparable.

Dave
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Old Jan 24, 2006, 11:40 PM   #3
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killdeer0007 wrote:
Quote:
I know nothing about digiscoping but am interested in starting this spring when the migratory birds return. Presently I'm using a Canon Rebel XT with an assortment of lenses for bird and wildlife photography. To get birds on the ponds I would need to buy the Canon 500 mm F4 lens - which is probably 10K in Canada. Not going to happen.

Can I hook up the Rebel to a scope and if you had $2500 to spend, what would you buy? Will the Rebel work?

Thanks for your help!

//jim

There are a couple ways you can go. As Dave mentioned, the Swarovski HD models - both straight through and the 45 degree models accept the Swarovski adapters. They vary in price from $460 to whatever depending on the source, but there are two "flavors" - the 800mm and 1100 mm.Multiply by 1.6x for the effective focal length and you end up with either 1280 mm or 1760 mm equivalencies. You will have to focus manually and quite probably shoot at ISO 400 to ISO 1600 depending on ambient lighting and the shutter speed needed. In either case you will need a tripod for certain and one of Canon's least expensive remote releases (about $20) is highly recommended. In this way you will stay right around your $2500 budget.

There is aMUCH less expensive way to do this and that's with something like a Meade ETX-90. TheMeade can be found for around $200 to $400 and it really doesn't matter which model. The older models without the electronic tracking and computer are just as good and much less expensive. Eitherway you will want to remove the tube from the motorized trackingyoke assembly and this is done in about 15 seconds by removing four screws and simply liftingout the tube.

In terms of image quality there is essentially no difference (I useboth the Meade ETX-90 and Swarovski ST-80 HD with all my Canon dSLR's). TheMeade has a fixed focal length of 1250mm so this give you an effective 2000mm with the 1.6x Canons.

The only down sides to the Meade is that it's a Mirror type scope (zero chromatic aberrations)so the image will be invertedand reversed(left/right) but you can buythe Meade adapter to make the image correct for about $45. It's also much more fragile than the Swarovski, Pentax, Zeiss, Kowa, or Leica spotting scopes in that you can't get it soaking wet, it's not nitrogen purged for anti-fogging in rain and it won't handle lots of serious bumping and banging around like the field scopes will. But as far as costs and such it's MUCH less money and every bit equal in image quality.

So what you need to mount it to the camera is a standard Canon "T" mount and a Meade "T" adapter (available from Meade). So the total cost of a Swarovski with mounting, adapter lens, etc., is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $2000 versus $350 or so for the Meade.If you would otherwise use thevery excellent spotting scope,or also go with a less expensive one such as the Pentax 80 (about $1000)plus adapters, or a Leica 77 which is a little less than the Swarovski, you might consider the much less expensiveway of going with a Meade or Celestron, etc. I havent personally used the Leica or Pentax with my dSLR's so can't vouche for their suitability or availability to connectto a dSLR. I have used both with my various Nikon digicams and they work very well in an afocal manner as does the Kowa. I've not used the Zeiss or Nikon field spotting scopes.

The other alternatives are to try to find a decent used 600mm F4 or even a 100-400L IS with a 1.4x teleconverter. The 100-400 with the Canon 1.4x teleconverter will give you 896 mm effective andby taping three pins on the teleconverter you will be able with yourXT to maintain autofocus and have all the nice Canonelectronics preserved. Frankly, unless you absolutely MUST have the additional focal length I think going with the 100-400 and 1.4x tele would be the much better way.

Digiscoping witha dSLR is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Results are MUCH better for relatively close in birds where you can get great "fill the frame" head shots and such rather than for birds which are just too distant to get decent shots. My very best digiscoping shots whether with my Nikons or with any of my dSLR's are of relatively close subjects rather than for bringing distant tiny subjects close enough to get decent frames.

Just some suggestions....

Best regards,

Lin


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