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Adapter Advice

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Old Tuesday 4th March 2003, 21:38   #1
Andy Bright
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Adapter Advice

It is possible to take reasonable images by simply holding the camera up to the scope’s eyepiece but the results will often be blurred due to camera movement, this is especially true in gloomy Northern Europe where light conditions will rarely allow fast shutter-speeds to be used to counteract ‘camera-shake’ or any other unwelcome vibration. A digiscoping adapter will hold the camera securely to the eyepiece with an absolutely minimal distance between eyepiece glass and camera lens, this will allow you to use a greater range of magnifications without the appearance of vignetting.

The digiscoping adapter is often a tube-like device with a thread at one end to attach to the camera lens’s filter thread, the adapter slides over the eyepiece and can be secured with the aid of numerous locking screws, although only one screw is needed with a tube that is snug fit with the eyepiece barrel. Alignment between eyepiece glass and the camera lens is extremely important, a good adapter will ensure this without the need for careful and time consuming adjustments of the locking screws, adapters made for specific eyepieces are usually the best at this.
In most cases the old-style rubber eyecups need to be removed from the eyepiece for the adapter to be attached, modern retractable eyecups can be lowered.

Another style of digiscoping adapter involves supporting the camera up against the eyepiece via brackets/arms from the tripod. These look rather clumsy and awkward to me, but do have the benefit of allowing you to just swing the camera away from the eyepiece when you want to view the subject with the naked-eye, These adapters are handy if you have a camera without a filter thread, they usually support the camera via the camera’s tripod socket.

There are numerous adapters available throughout the world that can be found on the Internet. A number of digiscopers are also shed-based engineers and have come up with their own designs, not restricted by commercial pressures they cater for more specific needs such as zoom operation of the eyepiece with an adapter attached. Zoom eyepieces can be used with most adapters but you need to loosen the securing screw of the adapter before rotating the eyepiece to the desired magnification. Sometimes the weight of the camera will pull the zoom down, this can be rectified by the addition of a rubber band around the rotating section of the eyepiece where it joins a fixed part of the eyepiece barrel

Nikon, Leica and Kowa are now selling their own adapters for digiscoping with their own eyepieces with Swarovski and Zeiss planning to release adapters in the near future.

For those on a tight budget and with no d.i.y skills, you can get reasonable results by purchasing a 28-37mm step-up ring… the 28mm thread fits to your camera lens and the 37mm side will often fit snugly over the folded back rubber eye-cup of the eyepiece. The camera still needs to be held but it does give quick alignment between camera lens and eyepiece as well as some stability to counteract camera shake.

The majority of adapters are screwed onto the lens of your digital camera, some care should be exercised when doing this as there is always the possibility of cross-threading and damaging the thread of the camera, a damaged filter thread is sometimes impossible to repair. In my own use, I leave the adapter attached to the camera and it is carried around in a coat pocket until a photographic opportunity arises.
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