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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 01:27   #1
Neil
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Extreme Digiscoping

I thought it would be fun to push the limits of the sport of Digiscoping and see what people in this forum are getting when they go "way out there". The DSLR guys are happy getting out to around 1500 mm these days with their big 600/800 lenses and teleconverters. We can get out to 5,000 mms plus.
I'm also thinking about extreme conditions too so also would love to see rain/snow/fog images digiscoped at distance.
It would also be useful to see how various cameras perform when stretched.
To start things off I'll put up some images from my shoot on Wednesday with various cameras, but particularly the Sony RX 100 which I pushed up to full zoom ( actually 97 mm in the exif) and cranked up the Swarovski STX 95m to 60/70x ( 30 - 70 zoom on the 95 mm ). About 7,000 mms.
The day was cloudy/hazy with some bright patches ending with light drizzle/mist around 5.00 pm. Distance was about 100 meters. The first image shows the Mai Po Scrape (pond 16/17) at a wide 38 mm. The birds are circled in white.
I'm looking forward to seeing examples from all around the world of Extreme Digiscoping.
Neil

Sony RX 100 and Swarovski STS 95 ( 30-70x eyepiece) and DCB 11 Adapter
Mai Po Nature Reserve
Hong Kong,China
March 2013
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 08:31   #2
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Excellent resolution Neil !
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 09:36   #3
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My main reason for digiscoping has always been to document the occurrence of locally scarce or rare birds. Needless to say, these often appear in poor weather, at long distances, and only stay briefly.

Here's a typical example. The Red-throated Divers were just under 250m away, in mist and light drizzle, with thick cloud cover and no hint of any sunlight breaking through. The pic was taken with a Fuji F30 at full zoom (108mm efl) on a Kowa 823 with 32x ep, cropped and cleaned up as best I could in CS5.

Without a photo showing the wider scene, it's hard to describe just how gloomy the conditions were, but a fellow observer later commented that the pics showed plumage detail which had been invisible to him when viewing with a Swarovski (ATM 80 ED I think) at 60x.

By the way, I now use the V1 as my main digiscoping camera, but have kept the F30 specifically for use in circumstances such as this.

David
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 10:19   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davpen View Post
My main reason for digiscoping has always been to document the occurrence of locally scarce or rare birds. Needless to say, these often appear in poor weather, at long distances, and only stay briefly.

Here's a typical example. The Red-throated Divers were just under 250m away, in mist and light drizzle, with thick cloud cover and no hint of any sunlight breaking through. The pic was taken with a Fuji F30 at full zoom (108mm efl) on a Kowa 823 with 32x ep, cropped and cleaned up as best I could in CS5.

Without a photo showing the wider scene, it's hard to describe just how gloomy the conditions were, but a fellow observer later commented that the pics showed plumage detail which had been invisible to him when viewing with a Swarovski (ATM 80 ED I think) at 60x.

By the way, I now use the V1 as my main digiscoping camera, but have kept the F30 specifically for use in circumstances such as this.

David
Great example David of why digiscoping is still useful. I'm not even sure the big DSLR lens guys would even go out in that sort of weather.
The Fuji always did a good job. Sharpness makes up for the lack of color.
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 15:07   #5
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Not a bird but it is called Ptarmigan, taken from the Rynettin cottages 9+ KM
Kowa883 20-60zoom, hand held Canon Ixus 80. May2012
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 15:27   #6
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Just for the heck of it and to get double duty out of my Nikon V1 I use for digiscoping, I decided to test out the V1 with an old Nikkor 400mm f/3.5 manual focus lens with a matched Nikon TC-301 2X teleconverter. This put me out to around 2160 mm FOV with this rig. It turns out to work pretty well. Here's an example of a Belted Kingfisher I took with this combo. I still digiscope, but good results at this focal length and the light-gathering capacity and resolution of this rig is impressive.

Rick
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 16:46   #7
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A great shot, Rick. Your setup has good potential. When (if?) the weather improves here in the UK I will take some pics with my V1 and my thirty-year-old Tamron SP500 mirror lens. I have already taken some test shots of static subjects, some with a 2x TC, and first results look promising. Equvalent FOV would be 1350mm at f/8 and 2700mm at f/16. Just need a bright day!

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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 17:07   #8
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Yes, that's excellent Rick. I happen to have the Nikon 400mm f3.5 and 2x TC as well. I've kept thinking about trying them on my V1 but haven't yet got round to it. Seeing your Belted Kingfisher has convinced me that it'll be worth it.

David
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 22:38   #9
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Originally Posted by AlecC View Post
Not a bird but it is called Ptarmigan, taken from the Rynettin cottages 9+ KM
Kowa883 20-60zoom, hand held Canon Ixus 80. May2012
That's ridiculous Alec. No doubt you'll be the distance champ. What a difference clear, mountain air makes.
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Old Saturday 23rd March 2013, 22:45   #10
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Originally Posted by bluedubius View Post
Just for the heck of it and to get double duty out of my Nikon V1 I use for digiscoping, I decided to test out the V1 with an old Nikkor 400mm f/3.5 manual focus lens with a matched Nikon TC-301 2X teleconverter. This put me out to around 2160 mm FOV with this rig. It turns out to work pretty well. Here's an example of a Belted Kingfisher I took with this combo. I still digiscope, but good results at this focal length and the light-gathering capacity and resolution of this rig is impressive.

Rick
Rick,
That's a good example of what the V1 can.
It's a good first attempt by Nikon at Mirrorless cross-over camera that bridges digiscoping and long range DSLRing.
I have used it on a Nikon 500/4 AFS + Nikon 1.4x which gets out about the same magnification. I'm looking to the V3 which might have a similar quality sensor to the Sony RX 100 which gets the megs up to 20.3. Although it would need better quality lenses to get the best out of it.
I would be interested in comparing your photo with a digiscoped image.
I'm not sure if I have one but I'll look through my files.
Neil.
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Old Sunday 24th March 2013, 06:58   #11
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Ah nice shot Rick !
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Old Sunday 24th March 2013, 10:38   #12
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Neil,

Do you preferred using V1 with TLS APO or with DCB II ? For really long distance, how does the V1 fare with other cameras you have in terms of quality, resolution etc ?
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Old Sunday 24th March 2013, 15:50   #13
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Not a forum member posting as such but I thought it was pretty amazing from Swarovski North American Birding Facebook page. Clay Taylor digiscope's the International Space Station!
Scroll down - https://www.facebook.com/swarovskiop...irding?fref=ts
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Old Monday 25th March 2013, 00:35   #14
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Neil,

Do you preferred using V1 with TLS APO or with DCB II ? For really long distance, how does the V1 fare with other cameras you have in terms of quality, resolution etc ?
The TLS APO was designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras but I don't have any of their new ones . I started using Sony as I wanted the best video options.
TLS APO
1. Sony Nex 7 - love the Electronic .viewfinder , Focus Peaking and Sweep Panorama modes and 24 Meg's.
2. Nikon V1 - great Electronic Viewfinder, silent operation in electronic mode, separate settings for stills and video. I use this for the very long distance with its 2.7x crop and very close where I need silence so as not to scare birds.
3. Nikon D7000 - great sensor ,good video but harder to stabilize.

I often need to go wider than the TLS APO on the STX 95 at 30x. I like to start at 800 mm as I want to catch groups of birds. So I want a zoom range on he camera.

DCB 11
1. Nikon P310 has the best range and reliable AF - not ED lens so best under 50 meters.
2. Sony RX100 - has best quality lens and sensor but range is limited to 50-100 mm with no vignetting. Best for long distance with AF.
3. Nikon V1 with 18.5/1.8 lens has good AF and is fast but AF is suspect at long distance (over 50 meters) so I would prefer to us it on the TLS APO
If you based your decision on sensor quality (DxoMark scores) then look seriously at Sony
Neil

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Old Saturday 20th April 2013, 22:40   #15
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I had an afternoon of thunderstorms on Friday but there were breaks out on the mudflats to record all the action that was going on.
These spoonbills were about 500 meters out from the hide and I had the STX 95 eyepiece at 40x using the Nikon P330.
Neil.
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Old Sunday 21st April 2013, 11:32   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I had an afternoon of thunderstorms on Friday but there were breaks out on the mudflats to record all the action that was going on.
These spoonbills were about 500 meters out from the hide and I had the STX 95 eyepiece at 40x using the Nikon P330.
Neil.
Hello Neil,

I'm impressed ! Can you give us more details about the setup ? Tripod, head, locked or floating, shutter release, IS, etc.

Regards
Jules
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Old Sunday 21st April 2013, 12:51   #17
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Hello Neil,

I'm impressed ! Can you give us more details about the setup ? Tripod, head, locked or floating, shutter release, IS, etc.

Regards
Jules
Jules,
I've been testing a little Velbon tripod last week as I'm trying to reduce the weight I have to carry due to a bad back.
http://www.velbon.co.uk/ut_series.html
I replaced the original head with the Manfrotto 701. I have two legs on the shelf and one on the bench. I prefer to have two benches, one for the tripod leg and one for me but I can't do that if there are too many people in the hide as there were on Friday.
The STX 95 with camera on the DCB11 will balance well on the 701 head. I fire continuous bursts of up to 5 frames and try to keep the shutter speed over 1/500th second. I'm shooting the Nikon P330 and Sony RX 100 on the DCB 11 and prefer the Sony for it's 1080/60p HD video and sharp Zeiss lens.
I use the Nikon V1 and Sony Nex 7 on the TLS APO adapter.
For shooting video I often move away from the camera after starting the movie to minimise vibration through the wooden floor. There was a breeze blowing on Friday and so I closed a window to minimise the impact.
I still have to stabilise the video clips in FCP X but that crops the image a bit so I should leave some room for this.
This video was stabilised https://vimeo.com/64449665 in FCP X . The birds were where the arrow is pointing in the photo at about 40 meters.
Neil.
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2013, 23:12   #18
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While waiting for some action that never took place I took these shots the past winter during those many cold days days that offered clear visibility.

Shot with Olympus E620 through the SW 600mm scope and cropped for 1:1 rendering, so it is not "extreme" disgiscoping in the true sense.

The Emirates flight is taken at approximately 60 degree angle, meaning around 20 km distance, Japan Arlines flight is shot at a more square angle, distance something like 13 km.

Some air is visible, but the result is quite OK I think. I suppose it would have been possible to use 2xTC with even better results in those light conditions.
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2013, 23:58   #19
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While waiting for some action that never took place I took these shots the past winter during those many cold days days that offered clear visibility.

Shot with Olympus E620 through the SW 600mm scope and cropped for 1:1 rendering, so it is not "extreme" disgiscoping in the true sense.

The Emirates flight is taken at approximately 60 degree angle, meaning around 20 km distance, Japan Arlines flight is shot at a more square angle, distance something like 13 km.

Some air is visible, but the result is quite OK I think. I suppose it would have been possible to use 2xTC with even better results in those light conditions.
Very impressive. It just shows how important clear air is for digiscoping.
Neil.
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Old Thursday 9th May 2013, 08:11   #20
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Bewick's swan at 500 metres

We recently had a very rare Bewick's swan at my local patch at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg.

The attached shots were grabbed from video footage. The bird was at least 500 metres out.

The first shot is a heavy crop from a grabbed video image, the second is a slight crop of an original grabbed image.

The third image nicely demonstrates the size difference between a Bewick and a Whooper, the Bewick is to the right and the birds were generally the same distance away. This is where long range ID is very useful. The ability to grab images from video is extremely useful since you increase the probability of getting a useable shot. The Bewick took off and kept on flying North ! So I just had one opportunity to get this video. Taking the equivalent in stills would have been almost impossible !

Camera RX100, Scope Celestron Ultima 80 HD with Hyperion zoom EP.

Scotview
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Old Friday 10th May 2013, 13:25   #21
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Kowa digiscoping.

A couple shots of a Kentish Plover & Sanderling taking with an iPhone 4s attatched to a Kowa TSN-883 scope using a Kowa TSN-IP4s digiscoping adapter.
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Old Friday 10th May 2013, 18:51   #22
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Not overly extreme here but just a question to toss out to all to see how everyone else is handing the issue of 'sun'...on the LCD.

I recently moved to a Nikon P310 for my digiscoping, up from a Canon S95 series...I have to say that the 'rapid fire' of that camera and taking 5 shots in a second is something sorely missed in Canons!

But the age old problem of attempting to fine tune focus using the LCD is still present. The sun, light etc...is just too much on the LCD to properly view to fine tune focus.

Do you remember years ago the Minox digiscoping camera (didn't work in practice) ...that was specifically created for digiscoping had a 'sheltered or covered' LCD viewer. While the camera was crap, the idea of providing some sort of shade over the LCD was there.

So we move on to jury-rigging now...Other than standing over and casting a shadow of sorts over your LCD, what does anyone else do? jim
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Old Saturday 11th May 2013, 00:15   #23
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Not overly extreme here but just a question to toss out to all to see how everyone else is handing the issue of 'sun'...on the LCD.

I recently moved to a Nikon P310 for my digiscoping, up from a Canon S95 series...I have to say that the 'rapid fire' of that camera and taking 5 shots in a second is something sorely missed in Canons!

But the age old problem of attempting to fine tune focus using the LCD is still present. The sun, light etc...is just too much on the LCD to properly view to fine tune focus.

Do you remember years ago the Minox digiscoping camera (didn't work in practice) ...that was specifically created for digiscoping had a 'sheltered or covered' LCD viewer. While the camera was crap, the idea of providing some sort of shade over the LCD was there.

So we move on to jury-rigging now...Other than standing over and casting a shadow of sorts over your LCD, what does anyone else do? jim
If you don't want to stand there with a large piece of black cloth over your head have a look at the Hoodman range of lens shades. You can also make a basic one with a cheap slide viewer.
Neil.
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Old Saturday 11th May 2013, 02:58   #24
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Neil,

I think that's the advantage of using the Nikon V1 with its great EVF.
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Old Tuesday 14th May 2013, 06:03   #25
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The northerly migration through Hong Kong is winding down and the remaining birds, although looking very colorful are not cooperating by staying too far away. Also heat and haze are making it very difficult in the middle of the day to get reasonable photos.
I shot some record videos at 80-120 meters of Sandplovers and Stints. Not a great distance but you couldn't see the birds with the naked eye.
https://vimeo.com/66129485
Neil.

Sony RX 100 and Swarovski STX 95 mm Scope and DCB 11 Adapter

Mai Po Nature Reserve,
Hong Kong,China
13th May 2013
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