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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 13:18   #1
hinnark
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Superzoom vs. digiscoping

Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post or the camera forum. I'm interested in experiences and opinions about the differences in image quality. How does the results a superzoom camera can give are able to compete with those one can get via a classical digiscoping scope/adapter/digicam setup, given the cameras are in the same price league? Which alternative could produce basically better and sharper images?

Steve
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 14:32   #2
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Hi Steve,

With Superzoom you are getting by far more better quality photo's. Especially in the range 10-150 meters. The costs of the equipment is also much more expensive than digiscoping.
With digiscoping you can get very good pictures and the addional costs are not that much.
Other advantage of digiscoping is that you have your scope always with you With a small camera you can do birdwatching in the same way if you are not taken pictures.
With Superzoom you have a tripod and a big lens with body. A scope is extra, so you have to wear a lot of stuff!
So if you like birdwatching go digiscoping. If you are more a photografer buy the biggest lens

Greetings,
Lennaert
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 14:55   #3
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I think by “superzoom” the OP is referring to a point-&-shoot type camera with an extended zoom range, not a full-fledged DSLR/big lens combination requiring a tripod.
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 15:18   #4
hinnark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fugl View Post
I think by “superzoom” the OP is referring to a point-&-shoot type camera with an extended zoom range, not a full-fledged DSLR/big lens combination requiring a tripod.
Yes, this is correct. As for superzoom cameras I'm thinking of cameras like e.g. Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, Sony DSC-HX100V and Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR.
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 16:18   #5
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Digiscoping

Having used both the Canon SX30 IS and a Nikon 500 I find the combination of my Nikon ED82A and the Nikon P300 gives me equal or better quality photos, in most cases.
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 16:27   #6
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Originally Posted by onegoodbird View Post
Having used both the Canon SX30 IS and a Nikon 500 I find the combination of my Nikon ED82A and the Nikon P300 gives me equal or better quality photos, in most cases.
Lets not forget that you are talking about about a $3k+ tripoded assembly that weight 5kg... vs.... a handheld $500, 0.5kg, little camera.
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 17:30   #7
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Originally Posted by IvanCavallazzi View Post
Lets not forget that you are talking about about a $3k+ tripoded assembly that weight 5kg... vs.... a handheld $500, 0.5kg, little camera.
I take the scope with me most of the time but donīt like tedious fiddling with the camera and adapter on the scope very much. With an additional superzoomcamera Iīd hope to get faster the image.

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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 19:17   #8
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Hi Steve,

here is an example of each:

Canon SX30:
24 – 840 mm focal length
€ 380 idealo.de
600g dpreview

Swarovski ATM80 HD, 25-50x & Canon S95:
1000 - 5250 mm
€ 2950 idealo.de
2075g (telescope, eyepiece, UCA adapter, camera)
+ 2000g (CT Travel tripod + DH101 head)
As I have never used the Canon SX30, I quickly looked for some example images on flickr, just out of interest. There are quite possibly better examples somewhere, but here is one taken at 840mm:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedsla/...n/photostream/

Here is one image I found quickly using a Canon S95 and Swaro 65mm scope at, I estimate, about the same focal length (840mm):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparver...n/photostream/

Compared to digiscoping, super-zooms have the advantage of size (especially the little travel zooms like the Canon SX230). The focal length range of digiscoping starts where that of the super zooms ends, i.e. much higher magnification. I believe that if one is in to birding (i.e. has an additional use for a telescope) and would like to photograph birds or not disturb shy animals, then digiscoping is the way to go. If you have a suitable compact camera on something like the DCB adapter, you can have the camera ready (set up at the beginning of the day) and ready to swing down, turn on and take a photo quickly. No fiddling.

Happy birding,
Dale
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Old Friday 17th June 2011, 19:22   #9
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Steve said:
Yes, this is correct. As for superzoom cameras I'm thinking of cameras like e.g. Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, Sony DSC-HX100V and Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR.
Steve

When people post their photos on birdforum they usually list their equipment. On the gallery page you can search for the camera, I did that for the 3 cameras you listed and the only one that came up with any results was the SX30. If you look at the results for the SX30 most pics are record types with little detail.
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Old Sunday 19th June 2011, 18:24   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinnark View Post
Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post or the camera forum. I'm interested in experiences and opinions about the differences in image quality. How does the results a superzoom camera can give are able to compete with those one can get via a classical digiscoping scope/adapter/digicam setup, given the cameras are in the same price league? Which alternative could produce basically better and sharper images?

Steve
Hi steve,

I'm not sure but thinking that you might have same questions like me. I'm a really beginner in digiscoping and not clear about the best equipment to use. Reading the threads her in the forum does'nt make thing clearer to me. I'm thinking about DSLR and a scope (maybe celestron). Is it right that your place is Hamburg/Germany? Well I'm from there and maybe we can have a contract via e-mail if you want. To talk about all those very interesting thing.
Ok, if you want to contact - my e-mail: whitehill@t-online.de

See you
Heinz
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Old Monday 20th June 2011, 05:43   #11
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I think it is important to look at how you bird and what you expect to get from your birding....is it photography? Is it nature and getting to know the habitat of the bird?

The art of digiscoping is not just pointing and shooting, even if you are using a point and shoot camera. Digiscoping is an art where you have to sit and wait more for the birds to come to you, just because the digiscoping equipment has to be set up, bird found, focused from scope....camera swung down to focus on bird, photo taken.... This is a process and takes time to master as well as just time to take a photo with.

A super zoom camera will give you that feeling of walking around, finding a bird and essentially photo'ing it. Raise camera and shoot...simple.

In both cases, distance of bird will make a huge difference when photo' shooting.

If you are doing a lot of walking and bird...the camera might be a better fit. If you like to stay in one place for a while and observe nature etc...the scope is a good option too.

I do know that if you get a cheap digiscoping set-up, your photos will be hurting, so cost comes into play with that option.

I have both....I use a superzoom if I am traveling and don't want to take around my entire set-up (scoping or camera/lens)...and use my scope when I am ID'd far off birds, or want to digiscope. To me it is not always about getting the best looking shot photo wise, but getting the most from birding.
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Old Monday 20th June 2011, 20:56   #12
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Thanks very much for all the input! Imans, your answer is well balanced and does lead me a step forward. I do in fact more walking around and birding and unfortunately donīt have that much time to wait for the birds. I love to watch the birds, while photographing them is more of a not always that much welcome work for me. But as probably most of us know, there are these special moments that wonīt come back too soon, if ever, and only a photo can catch it for the long run. What I forgot to mention is that Iīm also fascinated by dragonflies and butterflies and even plants and mushrooms and want to do some spontaneous macro photography as well, if a good opportunity arises. It seems to me that the superzoom is more versatile and simply faster and would probably fit my bill more than digiscoping. If only image quality is good enough. I canīt help but soft and noisy images can easily drive me nuts.

Steve

P.S. Heinz, you have PM

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Old Saturday 27th August 2011, 10:03   #13
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Just to add.
Usually when we compare systems and ways on internet we end up with the impossible task to compare one image, took by one guy, at one light setting, pointed at one target... opposed to another image took by someone else, in another light setting, pointed at another target.

What completely defeat the purpose.

So, to equal the stakes I attempted to take the best I could for detail resolving with each.

The target is a large painting can in the roof at the other side of the street.

First, Canon sx30 at max zoom, and then heavy cropped for detail.(Pics 1, and 2)

Then, Regal65 + T3 at 48x, and then also cropped for detail(Pics 3, and 4)

(Comparing the zoom here, both at maximum the sx30 is at its real 17x(840mm) vs the 48x of the regal)

No edit at all, just resize + cropped.

(Look, this is just a detail resolving test... that is why I pushed both in the crops, obviously we wonīt take birds pics like that)
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Old Saturday 27th August 2011, 12:35   #14
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Just to add, this is how the target looks at 55mm(human eye).

It is in the center of the image.

Sorry for the depressing landscape(it is the window next to the cpu)
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Old Saturday 27th August 2011, 20:01   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanCavallazzi View Post
Just to add.
Usually when we compare systems and ways on internet we end up with the impossible task to compare one image, took by one guy, at one light setting, pointed at one target... opposed to another image took by someone else, in another light setting, pointed at another target.

What completely defeat the purpose.

So, to equal the stakes I attempted to take the best I could for detail resolving with each.

T
Hi Ivan,

many thanks for your input here. This is a perfect summary of the comparing situation and I agree very much with your assessment. But you did even the deserving job to do a meaningful comparison by yourself. So it seems that at least in this case digiscoping wins in terms of resolution.

Just a couple of questions. Did you mount the Canon SX30 on a tripod for this shot? Did you use the stabilisation mode? Is your scope the Regal 65 F-ED ? What is T3?

Regards, Steve
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Old Saturday 27th August 2011, 21:48   #16
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Indeed the sx30 was in a tripod.
It looks terrible there to read the numbers in the can label because actually that is a huge crop made above its already max zoom... so it is like pushing it completely off limits(to make the 840 equivalent of the sx30 match the 2500mm equivalent reach of the regal).
Seeing the image again, If I underexposed it and fixed later in photoshop more detail would be possible.

The IS mode was on, it was supposed to be off since it was on tripod... but I donīt think that would make lots of difference.

Yep I am using a Regal 65 f-ed. T3 is the entry level DSLR of Canon(it is nice and it is the cheapest DSLR nowadays). The digiscoping there was actually eyepiece projection... camera body above the eyepiece with a t-ring.
My plan is to do afocal, as the image become far better specially at the edges, but I am waiting a fixed prime lenses to arrive to do so...

But again, do not forget that the advantage in resolution, detail and length you see in the test... is in direct coherence to its disadvantage as it is a 5kg, heavy, tripoded assembly... while the sx30 I just walk around with it in my backpack and I can shot handheld.
When I go to my everyday work, the sx30 come with me in the backpack, the regal+tripod+t3 stay at home.

Last edited by IvanCavallazzi : Saturday 27th August 2011 at 22:15.
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Old Sunday 28th August 2011, 09:32   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IvanCavallazzi View Post
The IS mode was on, it was supposed to be off since it was on tripod... but I donīt think that would make lots of difference.
Thanks. I've seen some reports indicating that tripod-mounted IS-lenses perform better with IS switched off. This is also the case with IS-binoculars of Canon. So if you have the time to do some photos once again with IS off it would be interesting to see the possible differences of IS on vs. IS off.

Steve
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 04:18   #18
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I remade the test with 2 different targets.

First is the usaf chart in the other side of my room, it is 8m away, 2nd is the yellow can kind of far away... 40m

I took each target from 3 distances... wide, half and full zoom, both with the sx30 and the regal. Unhappily it was eyepiece projection instead of digiscoping. My 50mm lense still did not arrived yet and I am struggling to find the correct ring to reduce the filter threads to the t-mount adapter(adorama has it but it is like $25 one simple ring, absurd).

For every target I will post 3 or4 pics of the sx30 and the regal+T3. No photo was edited at all, I just resize the first three... and cropped the 4th for detail. Also I managed to get one pic of the usaf afocal with the camera lenses using the arm as support... I explain later.

Anyway, here is how the targets looks at 55mm(human eyes)[pics 1, 2 and 3... and a pic of the assembly 4]. Ignore the third pick, I decided to take the 3rd far target out because of atmospheric turbulence being more of a hindrance than the optics itself.

Now the IS was off... but honestly I felt no difference.
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 04:36   #19
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SX30 wide, medium, max, cropped.
Target USAF is 8m away.
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 05:27   #20
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Here I need to ask sorry twice.
First because the magnification of the regal at 16 is already too much for the size of the printed USAF. But unhappily I had to make it so to compare to the sx30...

Also the eyepiece projection distort the entire thing. I am sorry. I attempted to use the camera lenses but without the proper ring I was struggling with 2 tripods to get the correct angle... and I was afraid to hurt the lense and the eyepiece. So... I will look for that ring and repeat the test when possible... until there I am limited to eyepiece projection. But if you consider only the "sweet spot", center of the image, you will figure out the capability of the afocal method.

Also in the close up it is clear that the last pic was a bit out of focus... sorry again, even with the fine focus sometimes it is too hard to get it right.

Anyway. Regal+T3 at 16x, 30x and 48x
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 05:47   #21
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Second target, the yellow can... it is like 40m away
SX30 at wide-mid-max zoom

The cropped result was just exactly the same as the one I have made before... post #13
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 05:54   #22
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Second target with the regal+t3...16/30/48.

And again the cropped version is just like the one I posted before. Post#13.
So please take a look at the close up regal pic I posted in post #13.
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 06:30   #23
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Finally this is the first target with the regal+t3 but using the camera lenses... I used the manfrotto arm and the tripod to align both.
True digiscoping... far better than eyepiece projection. As I said before unhappily I could not manage to repeat that because I was kind of hurting the lenses and the eyepiece... to put both together in the right angle.
As soon as I find the correct ring and my 50mm arrive I can re-do the test.

Also I would like to say that superzoom and digiscoping... as you can see, are not opposed. By the way one actually starts where the other ends.

SX30 goes from 24 to 840(0.5x to 17x) while the regal goes from 840 and up(16x to 48x). So it is good to have both, as they cover different "reach"/lenghs.

Not only the superzoom and digiscoping supplement eachother in lengh, but also as the things themselves it is coherent. One can be used handheld and go with you in your backpack... while the other is a bit more stationary considering the need of tripod. It is good to have both.

For example my setup is almost inexpensive. The only things I would do different is about the superzoom... comparing images the Nikon P500 is better than the SX30... the nikon has better noise performance at high ISO.
Also my T3... nowadays I would pick a Sony a55 instead... as it lacks the mechanically moving mirror and so it archive a far better burst performance(12/s) and seems to be a great camera.
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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 15:18   #24
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Hi Ivan,

thank you very much for that very interesting and enlightening work. I think you are right that digiscoping starts where the superzoom ends. Dale did say this also.
The amount of resolution or image sharpness of the photos made with the Canon SX30 in message 13 first pict and 21 third picture, appears to be about equal (being the light slightly different). I can read at that yellow can "MASSA CORRIDA interior" in both images and nothing more. With the cropped image at msg 13, second pict. I can even read the letters and numbers at the white label on the right lower corner of the can. So it would be interesting to look at a crop of the Canon SX30made image in msg 21 (with no engaged IS at max zoom).

I'm still looking for the best suitable superzoom/bridge camera with the Canon SX30, Fuji HS20, Sony DSC-HX100V or Nikon P500 in closer choice. I need something really lightweight and versatile because I want to take photos of butterblies, dragonflies but also plants and mushrooms and of course birds. At closer distances, the digiscoping setup operates way too slow in my experience. I really miss a view finder with the digiscoping setup in eyepiece projection, especially when the target is not placed at infinity. I was leaning to the Canon as there is also a filter adapter available for 58mm thread for which I have some gear. But now you make me unsecure because you would chose the Nikon as an owner of the Canon.

Steve

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Old Tuesday 30th August 2011, 15:58   #25
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I never checked out the Sony , Panasonic or Fuji.... but between Nikon and Canon; The Nikon is lighter, far faster frame per second, better lcd, and far better noise control.

Take a look at this samples(it is a very utile site)
http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM

If you go there in the still life iso 800 with both cameras you will notice how Nikonīs can reach a nice result at high ISO while the Canon simply can not.

The Nikon has a little bit shorter zoom (810) vs the Canon (840)... but that little more zoom and the good IS system do not make up to the overall better performance of the Nikon.

Possibly the sony is even better than both, I donīt know...

Today is raining and cloudy... as soon as the sun decides to shine back over the targets I re-do the crop test. Also when I finally manage to screw the camera with lenses on the regal... I ll post the samples.
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