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Best digiscoping camera?

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Old Sunday 4th September 2016, 07:43   #1
Jhanlon
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Best digiscoping camera?

I know this must have been asked many times but it's not always answered and new models clearly come up very regularly so hope no-one minds me asking it now. Is there a particularly good model that's compact and under 200 or is there very little between models?

I use a Leica APO televid 65 as a 'scope and also have a Canon 7D mk1. The only way I know of linking the two is with a 300 Leica adapter which I don't think is worth it, so if anyone knows a cheaper way of doing this I would consider using the Canon in place of a compact.

I've tried phone scoping too with my iPhone 4S but at around 5mp I find the resolution much too low.

Thanks for any advice on this.
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Old Tuesday 6th September 2016, 19:28   #2
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Giving this a bump, someone must know?
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Old Tuesday 6th September 2016, 20:57   #3
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I seem to notice more and more birders using smart phones rather than compact cameras these days for digi-scoping.

As far as I know the iPhone 4s has an 8mp camera, as I've recently just moved from it to a Samsung Galaxy S6. The 4s is now a bit long in the tooth, so it might be something to consider if/when thinking about a replacement.

Not familiar with the particular Leica adapter that costs 300 but I almost exclusively use a Canon crop body (600D) for digi-scoping using a 40mm STM pancake lens with good results (well, good enough for me!). You might find there is some mileage in exploring this further. The Canon 40mm pancake is relatively cheap, sharp and makes a good general purpose lens too.

I connect mine directly to a Swarovski DCA adapter, and use it with a ATS 80 HD scope with 20x60 zoom. I just recently bought a spare used DCA to make a phone-scope adapter for my new phone-the guy that sold it to me had 2 to sell so one might still be available in the classifieds section? This thread implies that it might also be workable for a Leica Scope but I can't confirm this: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=230712

Early results are promising with the new phone, especially for easy/convenient record shots, but I still prefer the Scope/DCA/40mm/600D combo for better quality results.

Many digi-scopers I think now prefer using M4/3 bodies with a short prime lens for really good results, but if thinking about starting from scratch you might be looking at spending over a grand!

Last edited by SteveClifton : Tuesday 6th September 2016 at 21:18.
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Old Tuesday 6th September 2016, 21:35   #4
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I agree, for "cheap" digiscoping, phones are now the best option. I recently bought a 250 $ Samsung S5 mini, and it does decent pics. S6 or S7 should have even much better cameras, but are more expensive (but can do more stuff than just taking pics). Phone adaptors are not that expensive or easy to DIY.

Best cameras for digiscoping, not looking at price, would indeed be m4/3 or good compacts like the Sony RX100. But I now prefer phone to camera, because all is smaller, lighter and easier to handle...
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Old Thursday 8th September 2016, 00:57   #5
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Yes agree with using smartphone for Digiscoping. Fast for sharing it online and editing can be done with apps editor such as Snapseed and Lightroom mobile
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Old Thursday 8th September 2016, 16:37   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveClifton View Post
I seem to notice more and more birders using smart phones rather than compact cameras these days for digi-scoping.

As far as I know the iPhone 4s has an 8mp camera, as I've recently just moved from it to a Samsung Galaxy S6. The 4s is now a bit long in the tooth, so it might be something to consider if/when thinking about a replacement.

Not familiar with the particular Leica adapter that costs 300 but I almost exclusively use a Canon crop body (600D) for digi-scoping using a 40mm STM pancake lens with good results (well, good enough for me!). You might find there is some mileage in exploring this further. The Canon 40mm pancake is relatively cheap, sharp and makes a good general purpose lens too.

I connect mine directly to a Swarovski DCA adapter, and use it with a ATS 80 HD scope with 20x60 zoom. I just recently bought a spare used DCA to make a phone-scope adapter for my new phone-the guy that sold it to me had 2 to sell so one might still be available in the classifieds section? This thread implies that it might also be workable for a Leica Scope but I can't confirm this: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=230712

Early results are promising with the new phone, especially for easy/convenient record shots, but I still prefer the Scope/DCA/40mm/600D combo for better quality results.

Many digi-scopers I think now prefer using M4/3 bodies with a short prime lens for really good results, but if thinking about starting from scratch you might be looking at spending over a grand!
Steve, thanks very much for this useful info, and to the others here who have responded. I am getting the message that a phone should be good enough.

Sorry, I meant to say I have the iPhone 5S but this also has (to my surprise) an 8MP camera. But I'm thinking now the lack of detail in my shots is not down to resolution as when I'm zooming in there is a lack of clarity long before the photo becomes pixelated (this is where I'm showing my poor grasp of some photography fundamentals!).

I'm attaching some shots to see if anyone can tell me what's going wrong. Have I zoomed in too much on the phone in sub standard light perhaps? I'm sure my Fujifilm compact (now falling apart) would have captured much clearer images in these situations. I've captured some clearer macro shots of insects but the few phonescoped shots I've taken have rarely been good and though the phone has been hand-held (as is my Finepix) this doesn't seem to be the problem as there's not really any motion blur.

Anyway, further thoughts appreciated. There may be a way to get better from my phone.
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Old Saturday 10th September 2016, 22:46   #7
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Originally Posted by Jhanlon View Post
Steve, thanks very much for this useful info, and to the others here who have responded. I am getting the message that a phone should be good enough.

Sorry, I meant to say I have the iPhone 5S but this also has (to my surprise) an 8MP camera. But I'm thinking now the lack of detail in my shots is not down to resolution as when I'm zooming in there is a lack of clarity long before the photo becomes pixelated (this is where I'm showing my poor grasp of some photography fundamentals!).

I'm attaching some shots to see if anyone can tell me what's going wrong. Have I zoomed in too much on the phone in sub standard light perhaps? I'm sure my Fujifilm compact (now falling apart) would have captured much clearer images in these situations. I've captured some clearer macro shots of insects but the few phonescoped shots I've taken have rarely been good and though the phone has been hand-held (as is my Finepix) this doesn't seem to be the problem as there's not really any motion blur.

Anyway, further thoughts appreciated. There may be a way to get better from my phone.
The biggest problems for good digiscoping are distance and light quality. The worse the light (and this is also a function of time of day) the closer the birds have to be to get good results. Your insect photo is much better than the birds so I suspect it was taken much closer than the other two. Also you shouldn't zoom in too much on the phone but crop in the computer. The 5s should take better photos than these in good light and they do seem over-exposed. There are some Apps for the iPhones that let you have a bit more manual control over your settings e.g. WB. Well worth trying one.
And practice taking 500 photos in a day and see what happens. I usually take about 2,000 starting at sunrise.
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Old Thursday 24th November 2016, 13:13   #8
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I've been using a Kowa 883 and Samsung S5 for digiscoping. Sometimes I get amazing photos but frequently I'm underwhelmed - things get dark and noisy with magnification. I suspect the phone might be the limiting factor rather than the scope. I keep reading that RAW files are a good idea too. Can anyone suggest a suitable camera to use instead?
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Old Thursday 1st December 2016, 10:15   #9
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I've been using a Kowa 883 and Samsung S5 for digiscoping. Sometimes I get amazing photos but frequently I'm underwhelmed - things get dark and noisy with magnification. I suspect the phone might be the limiting factor rather than the scope. I keep reading that RAW files are a good idea too. Can anyone suggest a suitable camera to use instead?
Micro Four Thirds cameras, Sony A series or Sony RX100 Series are the best these days. Have a look at the Digiscoping threads of the various cameras to find the one that suits you best.
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Old Thursday 1st December 2016, 14:35   #10
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I'm going to disagree on the Sony RX100 series, or any camera with an externally-extending lens for afocal photography: just a major pain-in-the-you-know-what to use and align (among other issues). I tried it a few times and found it utterly frustrating to line it up perfectly on the eyepiece. It is done, and some don't have issues or mind it, but it distracted from my enjoyment, personally.

I've also never been happy with photos from phones. My partner and I don't get it really: she has a Samsung Note 5 and I have an iPhone 6+ and...my Canon ELPH 330 HS takes better photos with less distortion in more varied lighting conditions. *shrug* So I have a tough time imagining digiscoping with one. Never tried it myself, just seems...odd...from a quality standpoint.

The obvious "adapters that use the scope as a giant lens" (t-rings and similar setups) are the way to go. Same goes for scopes that you can buy the manufacturer's special adapters. And yeah, MFT cameras are nice for this because of the lighter weight. I came really close to going down this route. If you have an existing DSLR or MFT camera, I'd bite the bullet and just buy the adapter for your scope.

So really it just depends where you want to cut corners.

My favorite was using an old Nikon 900, 950, or 4500 camera which zooms internal to the camera (no protruding lens bits) and a camera-specific mounting adapter (these old Nikons had a threaded ring in front of the lens for filters and adapters!). At 4MP it still does a decent job for on-screen and online photos, though the tiny sensor was limiting in low-light (not to mention my scope limiting it further). You can see photos of my old setup in my signature under 2013 and 2014 (2014 added a stabilizing arm to even better hold onto and aim the camera at the eyepiece).

While I moved-on from digiscoping to using a superzoom bridge camera (to each their own, I preferred this as my "budget digiscoping solution"), I still have the Nikon 4500 and a 950 because I plan to get into astrophotography some day and the camera still has a useful life for that hobby.
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Old Sunday 7th May 2017, 00:35   #11
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I wonder if the quality of digiscoping with a phone is more due to the closeness of the camera lens to the eyepiece. It should only be 1-2mm away and anything more than that will hurt the quality of the photos. The camera on the iPhone is fine, but the adapter might be the issue.

When I used to shoot with my Canon S90, Fuji 30 etc, and when I used a DCB with my Swaro, I could gauge the distance from the extended lens on the camera to that of the eyepiece and make it be 1mm distance from. That helped with the quality.

But as with all digiscoping, the number of keepers is real low.... always has been
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 14:08   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveClifton View Post
I seem to notice more and more birders using smart phones rather than compact cameras these days for digi-scoping.

As far as I know the iPhone 4s has an 8mp camera, as I've recently just moved from it to a Samsung Galaxy S6. The 4s is now a bit long in the tooth, so it might be something to consider if/when thinking about a replacement.

Not familiar with the particular Leica adapter that costs 300 but I almost exclusively use a Canon crop body (600D) for digi-scoping using a 40mm STM pancake lens with good results (well, good enough for me!). You might find there is some mileage in exploring this further. The Canon 40mm pancake is relatively cheap, sharp and makes a good general purpose lens too.

I connect mine directly to a Swarovski DCA adapter, and use it with a ATS 80 HD scope with 20x60 zoom. I just recently bought a spare used DCA to make a phone-scope adapter for my new phone-the guy that sold it to me had 2 to sell so one might still be available in the classifieds section? This thread implies that it might also be workable for a Leica Scope but I can't confirm this: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=230712

Early results are promising with the new phone, especially for easy/convenient record shots, but I still prefer the Scope/DCA/40mm/600D combo for better quality results.

Many digi-scopers I think now prefer using M4/3 bodies with a short prime lens for really good results, but if thinking about starting from scratch you might be looking at spending over a grand!

Hi Steve,

I have just purchased a Swarovski DCA adapter secondhand, with an M52 threaded attachment. I bought it to fit my Canon 40mm STM lens, as you describe in your quote above (two years ago). However, at present the M52 threaded attachment seems too large a diameter to fit into the STM front thread. Please can you advise me as to how you connected your two devices?

Best wishes, Alan
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 16:27   #13
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Hi Steve,

I have just purchased a Swarovski DCA adapter secondhand, with an M52 threaded attachment. I bought it to fit my Canon 40mm STM lens, as you describe in your quote above (two years ago). However, at present the M52 threaded attachment seems too large a diameter to fit into the STM front thread. Please can you advise me as to how you connected your two devices?

Best wishes, Alan
Hi Alan, that's puzzling?

My 40mm STM has a 52mm front filter thread, so the 52mm ring that comes with the DCA adapter screws straight on.

As far as I'm aware the filter threads on the newer lenses should still have the same size filter threads. I've had mine about 4 years but worth checking that if yours is newer...?

For what it's worth, 2 years on, I'm still using the same 40mm lens to connect my Canon bodies to the Swaro 20-60mm zoom. I'm increasingly dissatisfied with the results from the Samsung S6 phone which I still have, unless the subject is very close and the light is good (it rarely is here in the UK), and mirror slap can be a problem in low light (causes vibration) with Canon bodies. Therefore I'm thinking about trying a m4/3 camera like the Panasonic GX80. I tried a Panasonic G3 a few years ago, and wasn't too keen, but it seems that m4/3 cameras have moved on a lot since then, with lots of great features that are of benefit to digiscopers (4K video and 4K photo, better EVFs, electronic shutters, focus peaking etc).

With any luck I might still be able to use the Canon 40mm with a cheap Canon to m4/3 adapter I bought back then. The lens is a known quantity that works well with my scope, and no electronic connection is needed-just a mechanical connection between the scope and camera body. All focussing would be done via the scope, so even with a Canon body attached the AF is switched off.

Last edited by SteveClifton : Friday 13th April 2018 at 16:49.
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 20:08   #14
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Hi Alan, that's puzzling?

My 40mm STM has a 52mm front filter thread, so the 52mm ring that comes with the DCA adapter screws straight on.

As far as I'm aware the filter threads on the newer lenses should still have the same size filter threads. I've had mine about 4 years but worth checking that if yours is newer...?

For what it's worth, 2 years on, I'm still using the same 40mm lens to connect my Canon bodies to the Swaro 20-60mm zoom. I'm increasingly dissatisfied with the results from the Samsung S6 phone which I still have, unless the subject is very close and the light is good (it rarely is here in the UK), and mirror slap can be a problem in low light (causes vibration) with Canon bodies. Therefore I'm thinking about trying a m4/3 camera like the Panasonic GX80. I tried a Panasonic G3 a few years ago, and wasn't too keen, but it seems that m4/3 cameras have moved on a lot since then, with lots of great features that are of benefit to digiscopers (4K video and 4K photo, better EVFs, electronic shutters, focus peaking etc).

With any luck I might still be able to use the Canon 40mm with a cheap Canon to m4/3 adapter I bought back then. The lens is a known quantity that works well with my scope, and no electronic connection is needed-just a mechanical connection between the scope and camera body. All focussing would be done via the scope, so even with a Canon body attached the AF is switched off.
Hi Steve,

Looks like problem solved! Your positive conviction made me look at the M52 threading component more closely. I accurately measured both lens and DCA diameters, to find that this particular DCA still has a 55to52mm converter still tightly attached to the M52. All I have to do is remove it somehow and I'm good to go. Thanks very much for your help!

Best wishes, Alan
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Old Friday 13th April 2018, 20:34   #15
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Hi Steve,

Looks like problem solved! Your positive conviction made me look at the M52 threading component more closely. I accurately measured both lens and DCA diameters, to find that this particular DCA still has a 55to52mm converter still tightly attached to the M52. All I have to do is remove it somehow and I'm good to go. Thanks very much for your help!

Best wishes, Alan
Good luck with that!
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 18:46   #16
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"With any luck I might still be able to use the Canon 40mm with a cheap Canon to m4/3 adapter I bought back then. The lens is a known quantity that works well with my scope, and no electronic connection is needed-just a mechanical connection between the scope and camera body. All focussing would be done via the scope, so even with a Canon body attached the AF is switched off."

Hi Steve,

Just came across this thread and can say that I have had success digiscoping with a Panasonic G80 body and Canon 40mm pancake lens. Give it a try!

Mike
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