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Old Apr 6, 2006, 12:29 AM   #1
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Apologies in advance for the long post... Always looking for that longer reach, I pulled an old Bushnell reflector telescope out of the garage, attempted to take some of the dust off and tried a quick session to see if it would be feasible to do digiscoping with my FZ5.

First off, I had to mount the FZ5 on its own tripod and align the lens adapter w/my Hoya UV(0) filter about 2-3 mm from the 20mm eyepiece. The telescope is a 76mm reflector with a 700mm focal length at f/9.2...! The 20mm 1-1/4" eyepiece gives about 1/4"-1/2" of eye relief so leaving the UV filter on worked somewhat and gave protection to the Leica lens.

The second thing I realized is that the AF of the digi has a real hard time getting lock. I tried various AF modes, zooms and used the focus lock button. Then I also tweaked the telescope's focus knob to see if I could fine tune the digi focus. I also was having issues with the varying cloud cover as well as it was a bit breezy such that it didn't help the shakes of the telescope due to its mediocre tripod setup. This, I feel, accounted for some of the soft focus in most of the photos.

Based on this quick session, I feel that it can be done but will be very problematic with this type of telescope due to its small 1-1/4" eyepiece, its long focal length and f/9.2 aperature affecting the digi's aperature at f/3.3 when zoomed. As others had said on the subject, you need a fast (low f/xx) telescope, very stable tripod mount(s) and would be best if pre-focused at a bird feeder or pre-staged spot. For in the field, I could only anticipate using this setup on something like looking down on an aerie and waiting for the opportuned time. Forget about any BIF...

The following collages were just a quick session to see what they would turn out like and to see the difference in magnification between my FZ5's 12X; 12X + 4X digital zoom and the digiscope combination. The digiscoping does dramatically give one the reach! But, like adding more teleconverters, degrades the image quality proportionally.

The following was a quick session done while the wife was getting ready to go out to brunch so I didn't spend more than 30-40 minutes with the setup. I did find that it was hard to get a good image without shading the gap between the UV(O) filter and the scope's eyepiece. Likewise, it seemed that the better images were seemingly with lower zooms that resulted in severe viginetting (more to do w/the 1-1/4" eyepiece and/or the distance between the Leica lens and the eyepiece - I didn't want to take any chances with removing the UV(O) filter!)

I feel a lot of the degraded image quality in this session was due to both the slow combo of the f/9.2 + f/3.3 (Is it linear or multiplied in combo...?), not enough variations in getting a better/best focus and wind shaking on the scope.

Given more practice and cooperative subjects, it may well be able to get a good photo every now and then. It should be interesting to see how this combo does on a quarter - half moon with some good clear skies, though...

I'll try a few more sessions with better lighting and weather and, if I get better at some practice images, I may even try to fab a digi adapter to mount the FZ5 to the telecope. This mounting may make it a bit more user-friendly for taking it to the field...

None of the photos were post processed; just resized by Picasa2 when making the collages. The 12X and 12X + 4X FZ5 photos of the wind turbine were original pixel crops before incorporation into collage.

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

[align=center]Image control: Zoom out | Zoom 100% | Zoom in | Expand / Contract | New window[/align]

Comments, suggestions and ideas to try are solicited and welcome...
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 11:07 AM   #2
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interesting post. looking forward to a half moon shot with your setup.
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 12:18 PM   #3
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Very cool, I hope you can find a way to improve your setup. To that point, have you looked at the adapters and fittings over at bugeyedigital?? I think you may be able to find some bits and pieces that could help. Keep trying.

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Old Apr 6, 2006, 1:09 PM   #4
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Good post. This is what I am attempting with a 6" reflector. If I get that to work, I have an 8" reflector in the wings. Thanks, sincerely, for the effort and photos.

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Old Apr 6, 2006, 1:27 PM   #5
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Hi all! Thanks for the comments. My posting and attempts were more to provoke the thought for others that may have the interest of really big zooooms.

The idea was more of a "...can it work..." than anything else since the weather was so-so at the time. I'm convinced that it can but realized that the long focal length of my low priced reflector is not the ideal unless one has a lot of light and a still subject.

Brett- Yes, I've looked at a lot of digiscoping sites and am evaluating a homemade digi mounting adapter for my FZ5 as well as possibly a small fast spotting scope that will lend itself to distant birding beyond what the 12X + Tcon-17 will reach.

KD- I think the 6"/8" reflector may be alright for the moon and super bright subjects --for birds and wildlife, I'm not too sure. Most reflectorshave long focal lengths for astronomical subjects far, far away that don't lend themselves to use for birding etc. -- especially if they have a small fixed f-value such as my scope. But, then again, its a fun exercise to see what can be had with something that one has on hand already.

I just checked and the 60% moon is due to rise here around 1:00PM and transit ~ 8:30PM. I hope to try out the dual tripod FZ5 + 700mm scope combo on it tonight to see the results.

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