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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 18:12   #1
Tony Knight
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Just how good are the shade/viewers

I have been digiscoping for about 6months now but still focus the scope, then hold the camera (4500 guided by an untightened eagle eye adapter) over the scope and take the picture. Do you professional chaps/ladies focus the scope looking at a good quality viewer/shade and therefore never need to take the camera off the scope to focus ?? ie are the shade/viewers that good that you can tell when focusing is absolutely spot on ??

The Xtend-a-view at c£28 looks a good if it is up to this job and then I can start thinking about a cable release and bracket.

Appreciate any advice - off to the algarve next weekend so any comments over the w/e would be really useful - I can order on monday for pre saturday delivery !!
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 18:42   #2
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Not sure I'd class myself as 'professional' but to me the LCD viewers whether EagleEye or Photosolve are well worth the money as is a cable release.

If I had to chose between them then I'd go for the cable release with the viewer a close second!
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 18:51   #3
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After looking at Andy B's site ( I think, or maybe on here ), I bought a £1.99 (plastic) slide viewer from Jessops, took the base off and stuck velcro on the viewer and camera and it magnifies a treat, I use a Canon Powershot A80 with a tiny 1.5" LCD!.
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 22:41   #4
Ragna
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I use the extenda view,and think its well worth the money,cant take a picture with out it. get one you'll not be disappointed.Also use a jessops cable release and find it makes all the difference.
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 23:05   #5
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I've bought the Xtend-a-view and in all honesty don't rate it. I'd rather just shield the screen with my hand!
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Old Friday 26th March 2004, 23:07   #6
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Try Warehouse Express, there's a link at the top of this page.
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 11:46   #7
Tony Knight
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Thanks one and all - but are they good enough to enable you to focus the scope without taking the camera away ? Or are they just a handy way of keeping the sunlight off so that you can check the bird is still in the frame after you/ve focused the scope with the camera out of the way ?

ie,if you focus with the camera still attached, is this how you do it ?
Or do you have to take the camera off ?
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Old Saturday 27th March 2004, 12:35   #8
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Hi Tony

Basically the answer is yes you can focus okay with the whole set-up on your scope,as the Extenda-view magnifies the image sufficiently & keeps out the sunlight.
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Old Wednesday 31st March 2004, 16:16   #9
Tony Knight
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Steve

Thanks. I have ordered and received an extendaview plus shutter release and bracket and tried it for the first time today. I had hoped that I could use the whole thing like a "thru the lens" camera and leave the camera attached. However the grainy quality of the screen is so poor I couldn't even tell between rocks and birds (if it moved it was a bird !) let alone if it was a bird of interest. This was with a shoreline to help guide me - a warbler in a bush would be a nightmare. I guess I will have to use the scope as usual, hold the camera for a few quick record shots and then only bolt on the camera and cable release if the target bird is prepared to wait around a while ?? i'm worried it would take me too long to "find" the bird in the viewfinder otherwise - or is it just a case of getting used to it ? Or should I be using binoculars to find the bird and only use the scope to take the picture ?

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Old Wednesday 31st March 2004, 18:45   #10
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Hi Tony

Best advice is to start with something easy like a sleeping duck,or a loafing gull & when you feel more confident then move to a more active bird.Otherwise it is all to easy to get frustrated,trust me it gets easier with practise.
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 07:04   #11
Tony Knight
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Thanks again Steve

But surely you can't actually identify the bird by looking at the grainy image on the extendview - you must take the camera off the scope or use binoculars and then use the scope/camera/extendaview to take the picture ??

Tony
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 17:50   #12
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Hi Tony,

Pardon me for putting in my 2p here....

I certainly find that, using scope with camera with entenda-view attached makes the set-up pretty useless for birdwatching in detail... If you are going to try to identify a Willow Tit from a Marsh Tit through that lot - then good luck!!

Having said all that, it DOES become easier to use the whole set-up permanently attached - I've only had mine for a couple of months and found it really difficult at first, but it does get easier with practice...

Basically you need to decide whether you want to bird-watch or digiscope... but of course Sod's Law steps in and if you go out with camera etc already attached you catch a glimpse of that mysterious bird at distance that you really need to id....or if you DON'T have the camera, you get the opportunity for that 'once in a lifetime' shot!!!

I always carry my camera (with extenda-view) with me, sometimes it's on the scope, sometimes not....

Anyway... good luck - and keep practising!!
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 17:51   #13
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...... Oh. Forgot to mention....

If you are going with camera etc on scope, you need a decent pair of BINs (my next purchase, just as soon as the credit card bill calms down a little!!)
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 18:57   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJW
I've bought the Xtend-a-view and in all honesty don't rate it. I'd rather just shield the screen with my hand!
I'll buy it if you want to get rid - I struggle to be sure the focus is spot on.
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Old Thursday 1st April 2004, 21:53   #15
mickporter
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I have an extend-a-view, and although it does magnify the screen it certainly also magnifies the pixels too. A fact which I find doesn't make focusing any easier for me. I haven't used it yet during the summer months when the sun shade factor will come into play. Maybe after a few bright days I will learn to love it.

I agree with the fact that it certainly would hinder bird watching, rather than enhance it.
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Old Friday 2nd April 2004, 00:49   #16
Jay Turberville
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby
I certainly find that, using scope with camera with entenda-view attached makes the set-up pretty useless for birdwatching in detail... If you are going to try to identify a Willow Tit from a Marsh Tit through that lot - then good luck!!
This is certainly true. Your best bet is to have an adapter that will quickly dismount the camera from the eyepiece, leaving the eyepiece in place.

I forget what the LCD resolution is, but I think its something like 320x240. Its pretty low resolution compared to what the CCD is recording. So viewing is really going to suffer. And getting fine focus via the LCD will be tough also. It is an interpretive process where you estimate the middle of where the image is clearly out of focus on the near side and out of focus on the far side. I suppose zooming in with digital zoom and than back out to take the picture might work, but that seems awfully cumbersome.

I wrote this up almost two years ago and included an image of the view through my $2 viewer so that people wouldn't be disappointed if they went through the trouble to make one.
http://www.jayandwanda.com/coolpix/CPX_shade.html

I find a magnifying shade extremely useful, but that doesn't mean the image is pretty. :)
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Old Friday 2nd April 2004, 06:28   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Turberville
I wrote this up almost two years ago and included an image of the view through my $2 viewer so that people wouldn't be disappointed if they went through the trouble to make one.
Hi Jay,
what you've got is pretty much the same thing I use, although I have my elastic bands in a different configuration. Two differences with my £2 slide viewer, firstly it was blue but a covering of black insulation tape inside and out soon sorted that. Secondly I have cut and filed away a bit from the bottom of the curved edge to allow even easier access to the control buttons.

I have to say though that I find the enlarged view much more difficult to focus so I only put it on when it's absolutely neccessary. I wear a peaked cap which mostly does the shading job for me.

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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 07:58   #18
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You all make good points. I have some definite views after extensive digiscoping different ways; getting SOME good results with all of them: first hand-held/no sunshade for 3 yrs.; then Xtend-a-View mini and my own design camera mount for a year; and now still with my SDA-100 mount design and the Xtend-a-View Pro Variable.

First point, emphatic: use a sunshade magnifier! Last week I took life-bird photos of Red-naped sapsucker... there are three posted to my gallery. I had the variable Pro shade on order but did not have it, and my old Mini-shade is for 1.5" LCD whereas my new Olympus C-60 zoom has a 1.8" LCD and you can't read your important settings in the LCD if the hood's too small for it.

Here's what happened: The sapsucker shots are all under-exposed. I barely salvaged them with extensive Photoshop levels/ dodge and burn. Why... no sunshade. The C-60's LCD is supposed to be a new better-in-the-sun display, but I couldn't see exposure values well enough, so what'd I do- I turned up display brightness. I used 3x reading glasses going on and off me just to see without the shade-magnifier, and stumbled over branches etc... now the subject was bright, but it was illusion, even in the playback, I thought I had good exposure, but it was underexposed! If you play your camera shots on the TV for quick editing you see this effect, it'll look like a good exposure then you get it on your carefully adjusted PC monitor and it's underexposed!

Two: without magnification, how can you see composition, bird-body position, focus and exposure values? I certainly can't. The Xtend-a-view Pro Variable has up to two diopter focus adjustment! Finally, it's not out of focus like the regular Mini one was after its velcro held it away from the LCD a little too far. Also, they claim that with the Variable Pro you can "detune" slightly if the "hard" pixels bother you. I find it to have excellent range of focal adjustability... that is a lot of rotational twisting makes for small changes in focus... you should be able to find just the right focus for you.

Three: I never believed you could bird and digiscope by fixing the camera to the eyepiece. I always felt this was too big a sacrifice, and I'd end up enjoying neither: first missing a shot by keeping the camera un-mounted; second, by having to view some of the bird activity through an LCD even if I wasn't shooting at the exact moment, and then again missing some viewing through the scope while I fiddled with screws, etc. THAT's why I bought unthreaded lens cameras and HAND HELD them through three years. Finally it dawned on me we just needed a different type adapter that swings away, and I designed what became the SDA-100, but it's for straight viewing scopes only; if I get around to it we'll work something out for angled scopes too. I want to add: other BF members made swing-a-way mounts before me if I remember correctly, and graciously shared them with all, the spirit of BF! but they didn't fit MY setup, they fit only theirs. What I did differently was just build in a great amount of adjustability in my design.
After attending a Swaro-sponsored digiscoping workshop with Clay Taylor the Swaro photo pro, I see some good reasons for angled body scopes besides looking higher up easier. I believe my next scope may be angled, but only when there's a digiscope mount for it; mine or a different brand that swings away quickly and easily.

Fourth and final note: you can hand hold alright, but I feel a sunshade is a must. However with a mount and remote shutter I routinely get good results at 1/30 sec. shutter... all you have to do is take enough frames to catch the bird once/ not moving. Even hummingbirds with their side to side continuous head swing pause enough to get many good frames. I slow shutter shots to be absolutely impossible when hand-holding the camera... as most web advice will concur; and you're no better off with a mount if you don't have cable or remote release, or are in a big wind, or anywhere near stampeding elephants!

Last edited by Forcreeks : Thursday 13th May 2004 at 08:05.
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 12:37   #19
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I have to agree with Forcreeks with his repy which is spot on !

I have to use an eyeshade for a number of reasons -

1. My eyesight has suffered with using a laptop for work over the years and i have to wear glasses for reading and the laptop, so i cannot get the focus correct without the eyeshade

2. The Sun or bright light is a killer for most of us so this is eliminated with a sunshade

3. My method of taking pics is to find the bird with the scope, camera in hand switch it on, focus sharp on the scope and then lock the tripod head ensuring the bird is exactly in the middle of the lens , attach the adapter, the camera will now be powered up, zoom the camera to the desired size, undo the tripod head and align as required or not, THEN i use the cable release to lock the focus on the camera with the green and red light flashing on the 4500 and then adjust with the scope focus wheel to find what i call true focus whilst still depressing the cable release, by moving the scope focus wheel back and forth a few times, with the extend a view shade i find that the image is sharpest when the pixels on the screen are dark and sharp along the outline of the bird's beak or wing,this is a good indicator, my hit rate is high using this method and on average takes bewteen 15 to 25 seconds dependant on the subject on some occasions it can be under 10 seconds, it sounds complicated on paper, but to watch is very simple, its a matter of practice and what works best for you ?

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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 14:23   #20
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I would like to thank Alan and Jay for the slide viewer tip ,just been to Jessops and bought one needless to say it works a treat; thanks again.
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 14:26   #21
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I'm a big fan of sunshades and made mine from a $2 slide viewer long ago. I wouldn't be without it.

But if you are trying to verify exposure with a digicam, there is nothing better than using the camera's built in histogram display. For thos that find histograms confusing, this page may help:
http://www.larry-bolch.com/histogram/
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 17:07   #22
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Thanks for the link, Jay. I am just getting to grips with histograms after ignoring their apparent complexity for years. Whoever put that site together certainly understands the ins and outs of explanatory writing.
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 18:48   #23
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Thanks for the link, Jay. I am just getting to grips with histograms after ignoring their apparent complexity for years. Whoever put that site together certainly understands the ins and outs of explanatory writing.
Yes - I like his writing. You can regularly find Larry on the Nikon5000 and oolpix990 groups on Yahoo Groups. He is a retired or semi-retired professional photographer who seems to have a strong teaching gene. He's a huge fan of the CP5000 - as ai am.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 07:07   #24
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Jay, that web site is a fabulous tutorial. I was nearly totally ignorant of use of histograms because none of my previous cameras had them. Now the new Olympus C-60 zoom has added it. Boy would that have solved my Sapsucker problem. You can set the menu to show the histogram on playback, and I turned it off, not knowing how to use the information. Thanks again.

Also, I'm posting two different magnifications/crops of Band-tailed pigeon pair in our tree shot yesterday at 1/20 second shutter using mount and remote. I think its impressive what one can get when all is steady on the equipment.
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Old Thursday 9th December 2004, 18:56   #25
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Sunshades

Quote:
Originally Posted by alan_rymer
After looking at Andy B's site ( I think, or maybe on here ), I bought a £1.99 (plastic) slide viewer from Jessops, took the base off and stuck velcro on the viewer and camera and it magnifies a treat, I use a Canon Powershot A80 with a tiny 1.5" LCD!.
Alan,Interested in your comments. Have just started digiscoping with Canon A70 and Leica 77APO . What camera settings do you use. Hope you don't mind me asking.
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