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Old Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 11:00   #1
gregbaker
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VideoScoping - camcorder or camera?

I currently have a camcorder based video set up that includes a Canon XH-A1, a Panasonic HC-X920 and a Sony HDR-HC3. The Canon and Panasonic are great for general usage and shoot good quality 1080p footage. I used the Sony for longer range videos and attached it to my Swarovski ATS80 telescope using the old Eagle Eye optics DS Eyepiece. Given that eyepiece is only 10x magnification and the camcorder was also 10x, I could get good quality video with no vignetting from about 30x zoom (3x on the camcorder). However the camcorder only shoots 1080i footage and the LCD screen has now broken. I also have a Canon S95 which works Ok using a DCA adapter but is limited to 720p video.

So basically I'm now looking for a replacement video camcorder or camera to work with my ATS80. My available eyepieces are 20-60x, 30x WA and of course the old 10x DS eyepiece. I also have Swarovski DCA and UCAs.

I cannot find anything compatible with the DS eyepiece. My X920 has vignetting across all its 12x magnification range however much I play around with the eyepiece eye relief and other settings. All other camcorders with full 1080p seem to have either too high magnifications or like the X920 have too large a lens.

My options seem to be as follows and I would welcome any insight anyone has on similar setups or issues:

Option 1: find a camcorder that will work with the DS eyepiece. Does such a thing exist with full 1080p video?

Option 2: Go with one of the latest Micro 4/3rds cameras (GH3 or GH4) with a Swarovski TLS APO adapter. These seem to have great video quality, albeit with a long focal length start point and no ND filters, but the TLS APO has zooming limitations on the ATS80

Option 3: Replace the S95 with something like the Sony RX100M3 which has great video and a ND filter but seems to need to be regularly adjusted in the field to avoid vignetting and probably would require the purchase of a new telescope adapter

Option 4: Given I also have access to top quality Canon lenses (100-400mm and 300mm fixed) consider the Showtime 35mm adapter fitted to the Panasonic HC-X920. This looks a bit bulky and cumbersome however.

Any comments very welcome.

Cheers

Greg
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Old Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 14:30   #2
Muratfaik
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Hi Greg,

I will shortly eveluate your options according to my point of wiew:

1-There are camcorders usable with Eagleye eyepiece and Swaro scope, but currently they will not satisfy you in image qualitywise after you use Pana X920.

2-Pana GH4's image quality is comparable with Pana X920's image quality (do not consider the bit rates, since algoritms are different and final qualities are almost equal). But you will use 5 optical system until the image comes to the sensor: Spotting scope (consist of three parts: lens, prism and eyepiece. You may consider as one optimized system, but actually not.), TLS APO and camcorder's lens. Although every part seems high quality, when you assemble them, you will see the degredation on the final image. You will get high contrast, sharp and noiseless images without any detail. It is quite hard to find a M43 lens that is completely compatible with the scopes eyepiece.

3-sony RX100M3 is a very good camera with one inch sensor. On this option, you will use one optical part less and the quality is expected to be quite good since it uses XAVCS codec. But you can only take HD footages, not 4K.

4-first of all, please do not consider the Canon 100-400 and Canon 300mm at the same league for digiscoping. You can see how the image will degrade on the 100-400mm lens, when you full zoom of the camıcrder used (at (400mm). On the other hand, canon 300mm is an excellent lens. It will give you 6X magnification with Showtime adapter and 12X magnification with Kowa TSN-VA3. If you use it with Panasonic X920 camcorder, you will get 2400mm without using digital zoom. Add 2.5x loseless digital zoom on that. The result you will get, will be satisfactory. If you use Sony RX100M3, you will reach only 420mm with Showtime adapter and 840mm with Kowa VA3. You can add 5.8X digital zoom but, I do not know the quality comparison. But theoratically can not reach Pana X920's quality. This option (X920+showtime Adapter+300mm lens is not bulky and as heavy as you said. It is under 2 kgs. Scope and sony RX100M3 is almost same weight.

Hope these helps. Best wishes.

Murat F. zelik
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Old Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 15:36   #3
Neil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbaker View Post
I currently have a camcorder based video set up that includes a Canon XH-A1, a Panasonic HC-X920 and a Sony HDR-HC3. The Canon and Panasonic are great for general usage and shoot good quality 1080p footage. I used the Sony for longer range videos and attached it to my Swarovski ATS80 telescope using the old Eagle Eye optics DS Eyepiece. Given that eyepiece is only 10x magnification and the camcorder was also 10x, I could get good quality video with no vignetting from about 30x zoom (3x on the camcorder). However the camcorder only shoots 1080i footage and the LCD screen has now broken. I also have a Canon S95 which works Ok using a DCA adapter but is limited to 720p video.

So basically I'm now looking for a replacement video camcorder or camera to work with my ATS80. My available eyepieces are 20-60x, 30x WA and of course the old 10x DS eyepiece. I also have Swarovski DCA and UCAs.

I cannot find anything compatible with the DS eyepiece. My X920 has vignetting across all its 12x magnification range however much I play around with the eyepiece eye relief and other settings. All other camcorders with full 1080p seem to have either too high magnifications or like the X920 have too large a lens.

My options seem to be as follows and I would welcome any insight anyone has on similar setups or issues:

Option 1: find a camcorder that will work with the DS eyepiece. Does such a thing exist with full 1080p video?

Option 2: Go with one of the latest Micro 4/3rds cameras (GH3 or GH4) with a Swarovski TLS APO adapter. These seem to have great video quality, albeit with a long focal length start point and no ND filters, but the TLS APO has zooming limitations on the ATS80

Option 3: Replace the S95 with something like the Sony RX100M3 which has great video and a ND filter but seems to need to be regularly adjusted in the field to avoid vignetting and probably would require the purchase of a new telescope adapter

Option 4: Given I also have access to top quality Canon lenses (100-400mm and 300mm fixed) consider the Showtime 35mm adapter fitted to the Panasonic HC-X920. This looks a bit bulky and cumbersome however.

Any comments very welcome.

Cheers

Greg
Greg,
I've tried most solutions you mention ( I have a Sony HDR 8 video cam) with my Nikon 300/4 and Kowa Lens/scope . I haven't tried the Showtime adapter but my mate has one he uses with the Canon 100-400 zoom and C100 with good results.
It's lots of fun playing around with all the kit but you spend some money.
Even the Canon SX50/60 will get some good HD footage at 1200 mm.
But the Sony RX100M3 is hard to beat unless you want 4k.
Neil.
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Old Wednesday 3rd December 2014, 17:47   #4
gregbaker
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Murat and Neil,

Many thanks for your prompt and detailed responses. At this stage I'm not too concerned about 4k footage as that would require an expensive upgrade of all my kit! Good quality 1080p is fine. The Sony RX100M3 is therefore looking like a good option but the downside seems to be that it requires a lot of re-setting to avoid vignetting whenever any zoom is applied. I also believe it is likely to bump against the telescope lens as it powers down if fixed to a UCA or Digidapter.

Any solutions to this? Any idea if it will work with a DCA?

Thanks

Greg
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Old Thursday 4th December 2014, 02:27   #5
Neil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbaker View Post
Murat and Neil,

Many thanks for your prompt and detailed responses. At this stage I'm not too concerned about 4k footage as that would require an expensive upgrade of all my kit! Good quality 1080p is fine. The Sony RX100M3 is therefore looking like a good option but the downside seems to be that it requires a lot of re-setting to avoid vignetting whenever any zoom is applied. I also believe it is likely to bump against the telescope lens as it powers down if fixed to a UCA or Digidapter.

Any solutions to this? Any idea if it will work with a DCA?

Thanks

Greg
Greg,
I set the RX100s up with no battery power down to avoid the problem of lens hitting eyepiece. The battery life is not too bad so you can get a couple of hours this way. I do have 3 batteries though so I can get through 6 hours .
The Digidapter is a very solid solution but sets the camera in a fixed position which makes it difficult to get the most zoom range out of the RX100 lenses . That's why I use the Swarovski DCB11 adapter mostly with this setup so I can easily slide the camera in and out as I zoom the lens to reduce vignetting. I use the Digidapter with my GH3/4 or Nex6/7 with fixed lenses.
Even if you zoom your scope eyepiece you will need to adjust the position of the camera frequently to keep vignetting out.
This was also true with my Sony SR8 video cam as well.
Neil.
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Old Thursday 4th December 2014, 08:05   #6
Neil
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Greg,
Here is a basic setup using bits and pieces that I had lying around. Any telephoto lens will do but around 300 mm is a good quality lens for digiscoping/videoscoping.
The attachments are a Nikon BR3 and a Televue 49mm , 3 screw adapter. Any eyepiece will work up to a point. You may not be able to achieve infinity focus easily with this setup but you can move the eyepiece in and output for close focus.
With this method the image will be upside down and reversed.
I used a Kowa bracket to support the whole lot.
With the Kowa 27x LER or 25x LER you can put a handycam behind it with minimal vignetting.
Neil
ps it's a bit of fun if nothing else.
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Old Thursday 4th December 2014, 11:06   #7
gregbaker
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You're right Neil - looks like playing around with different options is the best approach.

Thanks again to you and Murat for your advice.

Greg
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