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Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-Mount Mirrorless for Kowa Digiscoping

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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 17:42   #1
ljclark
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Fujifilm X100F and Fujifilm X-Mount Mirrorless for Kowa Digiscoping

I’ve been running through a lot searches on these pages, but there seem to be few contemporary posts that address some specific questions I have.

Cameras: The cameras that I have available for digiscoping are the Fuji X100F and X-Pro2. I am not interested “full frame”, Four Thirds, or DSLRs. I’ve been shooting with Fuji X cameras since April, 2011. I’m interested in still photography only.

Scope(s): I have a Kowa TSN-601 (which I do not consider suitable for digiscoping primarily due to CA). The only eyepiece I have available right now is the TE-14WD, which I like very much. I also have a TE-9Z that is packed away with household goods and I don’t know when I’ll see it next.

Work so far: While TSN-601 is not suitable for digiscoping, it has been useful for testing the mechanics of camera mounting, coverage, etc. I have the TSN-DA20 and adapter rings to mount up Fuji lenses and to a T-mount Fuji adapter. The Kowa adapters are very solid.

-- Using the X100F: Mounts to the 14WD/DA20 like a dream and no vignetting (23mm fixed lens, f/2 to f/16). Focus peaking is brilliant. Fuji sensor and internal processing gives 24MP with roughly 2 stops over m43.

-- Using the X-Pro2: The most "suitable" lens I have now is the 35mm f/1.4. It picks up a narrower field than the X100’s 23mm lens and vignetting starts wide open, increasing significantly (a circle roughly ½ the height of the frame at f/16) as you stop down. Using the T-mount adapter instead of the 35mm lens, there is no vignetting, but there may be other issues.

The Challenge: I want to get a scope more suitable for digiscoping and I’m looking at the Kowa 770/880s. I like the reports I’ve seen for the TE-11WZ eyepiece, and that it has two ED elements (though that may have been a necessity with 11 elements in 6 groups).

Questions:

1. I understand that setups using only the scope’s eyepiece (no camera lens) do not project a flat field onto the camera sensor. Is that correct in the case of the TE-11WZ?

2. For anyone who has mounted an X100 camera (original, X100S, X100T, or X100F) to the TE-11WZ (using an adapter such as the TSM-DA10); is there vignetting? If so, is it across the entire zoom range or does it start at a certain “X”?

3. Regarding interchangeable X-Mount lenses mounted to the TE-11WZ (again, using a Kowa adapter); which have been successful? Across the eyepiece's full zoom range? I am especially interested in the Fuji 27mm f/2.8 and the 18mm f/2.

4. Has anyone had experience with a 600/660 series TE-14WD mounted on a 770/880 scope? Kowa offers the TSN-EC3 adapter, but warns of “…reduced performance compared to the TE series eyepieces designed for the TSN-880 and -770 series scopes.” True?

Thank you for your indulgence.

Larry

Last edited by ljclark : Friday 20th April 2018 at 23:42. Reason: Clarify types of camera mounting
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2018, 06:46   #2
pavan_n
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Digiscoping with Kowa and Fuji

Hi Larry,
I've used the Kowa-Fuji combination and can share some of my experience with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljclark View Post
1. I understand that setups using only the scope’s eyepiece (no camera lens) do not project a flat field onto the camera sensor. Is that correct in the case of the TE-11WZ?
I've used the TSN-PA7, which allows you to connect your Fuji camera directly to the TE-11WZ eyepiece. Its a fairly solid connection. However, the image quality (in my inexperienced hands) is nothing like the wonderful images we see posted online. I suspect it is because the eyepiece doesn't project a flat field, but may also be something I am not doing right. I'd try the camera with an X-mount lens (TSN-DA10) before going this route.
Here's a straight-out-of-camera pic I made this evening. (I used a solid tripod and cable release). This is the first time I've taken the scope out in months. But the visual observation was awesome and very bright and satisfying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljclark View Post
2. For anyone who has mounted an X100 camera (original, X100S, X100T, or X100F) to the TE-11WZ (using an adapter such as the TSM-DA10); is there vignetting? If so, is it across the entire zoom range or does it start at a certain “X”?
No experience with X100.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljclark View Post
3. Regarding interchangeable X-Mount lenses mounted to the TE-11WZ (again, using a Kowa adapter); which have been successful? Across the eyepiece's full zoom range? I am especially interested in the Fuji 27mm f/2.8 and the 18mm f/2.
Using TSN-DA10 and X-E2/X-T2 I've tried the 35mm f2 and 27mm f2.8. The 35mm vignettes rather badly. The 27mm works great. I'd have used that today but the spouse is travelling with it. Plan to go back to this nest over the weekend and try out that option. Will update you with the results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ljclark View Post
4. Has anyone had experience with a 600/660 series TE-14WD mounted on a 770/880 scope? Kowa offers the TSN-EC3 adapter, but warns of “…reduced performance compared to the TE series eyepieces designed for the TSN-880 and -770 series scopes.” True?
Thank you for your indulgence.

Larry
No experience with the TSN-EC3, I didn't know about the adapter. Honestly I am glad I didn't or I'd probably own one now :)

I have my Kowa Spotting scope for sale in the classifieds, but was hoping to get a few more outings with it before I move.
The only thing that bothers me about the 27mm lens is that it is not internally focusing. The weight of the whole camera will be moving back and forth every time it auto-focuses. You may have better luck with the X100 here. I thought about the 23mm f2, but I've read that its not great at close focusing. So, may simply end up using manual focus and the 27mm f2.8
Hope this helps. I will update you once I've tried the 27mm f2.8.

Pavan
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Last edited by pavan_n : Tuesday 24th April 2018 at 06:53. Reason: changed repeating word
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Old Tuesday 24th April 2018, 16:05   #3
ljclark
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Pavan,

You managed to check a lot of my boxes there – thanks for the detailed response.

One of my difficulties has been the rather shambolic state of Kowa on the web. Apparently I am expected to jump around between the U.S., Europe, and Japan sites to collect information. This is complicated by the fact that Kowa scope and digiscoping web pages and PDF downloads range across a span of years, Kowa not being overly concerned for the currency of the information posted.

I’m going to hold back on getting one of the TSN-770/880 series scopes for a while. I think it will be best to collect a little more empirical information with equipment that I have on hand. To wit:

• Do a moderate upgrade from the TSN-601 to the TSN-663 so I can try camera/lens combinations with a scope that is optically more suitable (it arrives tomorrow). At some point I’ll be able to make the next upgrade decision.
• Work on technique and workflow. (That probably means buying an annual pass to the zoo.)
• Dig a little deeper into suitable X-mount bodies and lenses: I can rent a Fuji 18mm f/2, the most likely candidate, though it does not have internal focus despite what several online reviews claim.

Regarding Fuji cameras; the current generation of X-mount cameras holds technical promise. I’ve been using Fuji X literally since the first day the original X100 hit the store shelves. With one of the lighter bodies, attaching the camera to the scope via the lens filter ring is of less concern. Weights of current Fujis with the 18mm f/2 (all accept the X100F) are: X100F – 469g; X-E3 – 453g; X-T20 – 499g; X-T2 – 623g; and X-H1 – 789g. The X100F may be a natural, though the X-E3 is the lightest setup and uses the whole range of X-mount lenses. BTW, I tried my X-Pro2 with the 35mm f/1.4 on the TE-14WD eyepiece and it was a total flop. Unfortunately, it may be months before I see my TE-9Z eyepiece.

Larry
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Old Wednesday 25th April 2018, 07:13   #4
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Just thought I'd add that if you have not bought any adapters yet, you may want to look at the Digidapter (http://www.digiscopeadapter.com).
Based on the videos I've watched, it should allow you to add spacing to account for external focusing lenses. Also, many top digiscopers use this adapter so its pretty well regarded. I also got a lot of great info from Jerry Jourdan's blog - http://jerryjourdan2.blogspot.com/
There is a section on the right hand side which goes through each element of the digiscoping setup. Very helpful info.
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Old Thursday 26th April 2018, 03:16   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pavan_n View Post
Just thought I'd add that if you have not bought any adapters yet, you may want to look at the Digidapter (http://www.digiscopeadapter.com).
Based on the videos I've watched, it should allow you to add spacing to account for external focusing lenses. Also, many top digiscopers use this adapter so its pretty well regarded. I also got a lot of great info from Jerry Jourdan's blog - http://jerryjourdan2.blogspot.com/
There is a section on the right hand side which goes through each element of the digiscoping setup. Very helpful info.
Thanks for the additional information. I have the DA20 adapter and it works well with the X100F's permanent IF lens. But I can see the the Digidapter would be a better choice for all those cameras whose lenses move when focusing or zooming (unavoidable sometimes when the camera times out). A Fuji X-E1/2/3 with the 27mm lens is under 15 ounces and would work very well with the Digidapter.

The 663 showed up today and is significantly better than the 601. I can still induce a little CA in some challenging situations, but the 663 doesn't do anything nasty like coloring all the bars in a resolution chart.

The next improvement that needs to take place is ME!
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Old Sunday 29th April 2018, 04:45   #6
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Fuji 27mm f2.8 with DA-10 is a no-go!!

Wanted to circle back with results of the test with the XF 27mm f2.8..... its a total no-go. The extending lens causes a "Turn camera off and back on" message every few seconds. The filter mounted DA-10 does not work with this lens and will not work with any lens that extends when it focuses. (I tried it on Manual focus as well, but the lens extends a little when it turns on even when set to manual focus. This promptly places enough of an external load on the focusing motor that the camera pops up the message and stops functioning). I stopped after a minute or two for fear of damaging the lens. However the few shots I managed to get were quite decent. One was even really sharp.

I'll provide full details on a separate post.
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Old Tuesday 1st May 2018, 01:09   #7
ljclark
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pavan_n View Post
Wanted to circle back with results of the test with the XF 27mm f2.8..... its a total no-go. The extending lens causes a "Turn camera off and back on" message every few seconds. The filter mounted DA-10 does not work with this lens and will not work with any lens that extends when it focuses. (I tried it on Manual focus as well, but the lens extends a little when it turns on even when set to manual focus. This promptly places enough of an external load on the focusing motor that the camera pops up the message and stops functioning). I stopped after a minute or two for fear of damaging the lens. However the few shots I managed to get were quite decent. One was even really sharp.

I'll provide full details on a separate post.
Yikes! I guess it is comforting to find out there is a warning if camera doesn't think the lens is working properly.

My Digidapter showed up today and I'm setting it up for the X100F. It does take some patience, but that kinda confirms that digiscoping is not as "plug and play" as some folks would have you believe. The Kowa adapters may do a good job of axial alignment, but don't offer sufficient adjustment between the camera and eyepiece. And, as you confirmed, they may only work on lenses with no external movement.

In the case of my X100F, I'm not getting focus across my target (a Zeiss star test chart) which may be a camera shift problem. I'm hampered by the close distance between target and scope (25 feet) which is the most I can get indoors at my house. However, I'm getting better results than anything I tried using the Kowa TSN-DA20.

I have a 27mm Fuji lens coming from LensRentals later this week and I'll do a setup with X-Pro2.

I helps to have a dial caliper when setting the Digidapter -- I'm tapping in adjustments at less than 1mm.

Last edited by ljclark : Tuesday 1st May 2018 at 01:12. Reason: Add
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