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Digiscoping with the Nikon D90 DSLR

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Old Friday 14th November 2008, 14:30   #51
Neil
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I was out digiscoping today in bright sunlight all day with the D90 and the P6000. As there was no shade it was difficult to use the P6000 and most of the time I was shooting blind. I had to focus the scope first and then trust the AF of the P6000 as I had trouble seeing the result. And this is one of the best screens around. So I mostly used the D90 as it's screen was easier to see in the bright conditions and I mostly used the optical viewfinder. As I was mostly shooting white birds finding focus manually was tough for me and my success rate was low, except for the Little Egret images where he was coming back to perch on the same post so I just pre-focused using Liveview and fired off the shutter as he approached with the fish. I was shooting at 1/2000th second at iso 640 at f2.8 ( Nikon 20/2.8 D lens ). This was what made these moving shots possible. Neil

Nikon D90 plus Nikon 20/2.8 lens and Swarovski STS80HD scope and Sw 30x eyepiece and DCA adapter and balance bar

Hong Kong,
China.
November 2008
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Old Thursday 20th November 2008, 19:01   #52
wings
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
I can attach it two ways -
1. with stepdown rings on the 20/2.8 D from 62/58/52 and then on to the Swarovski DCA. I turn the scope on it's side to match up with the height of the camera lens and angle it (see photo in previous thread. I switch off the AF with this method. There is a bit of vignetting with this approach due to all the step rings.
2. I just slide the camera lens as close to the scope eyepiece as necessary to minimise vignetting (on the Manfrotto balance plate mounted onto the balance bar ).

The iso 800 noise is similar to the iso 400 on the Olympus E420 and iso 1600 on the D3, but I haven't done a definitive test yet.
Neil.
___________

Neil, first, excellent photos with the new D90. I'll bet you're having a lot of fun with your new toy. I finally got myself a 50mm lens for my 20D, and with a universal bracket attempted my first DSLR digiscoped shot using your method #2, by sliding the camera as close as possible to the scope eyepiece. I use a black felt cloth to drape over the setup so as to keep out extraneous light (I have a Kowa DCA-1 adapter, similar to the Swaro one but did not use it). Sure beats the A590IS I've used in the past.

Here are two shots. The close-up was from approx 50ft distance with no sharpening. The other shot was taken at a distance of about 100 ft.
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Old Friday 21st November 2008, 08:56   #53
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Originally Posted by wings View Post
___________

Neil, first, excellent photos with the new D90. I'll bet you're having a lot of fun with your new toy. I finally got myself a 50mm lens for my 20D, and with a universal bracket attempted my first DSLR digiscoped shot using your method #2, by sliding the camera as close as possible to the scope eyepiece. I use a black felt cloth to drape over the setup so as to keep out extraneous light (I have a Kowa DCA-1 adapter, similar to the Swaro one but did not use it). Sure beats the A590IS I've used in the past.

Here are two shots. The close-up was from approx 50ft distance with no sharpening. The other shot was taken at a distance of about 100 ft.
Nice work from that distance. I'm glad your having fun. I'm still having focusing problems with the DSLR so I take a lot of shots and make small adjustments to the focus as I go . I heard that Canon had a focus bracketting function in one of their cameras. I wish I had it in the D90.
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Old Friday 21st November 2008, 11:06   #54
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Here are a few I've taken with the Nikon D90 + FSA-L1 adapter and ED82. The Little Egret was fairly close, ~21m. The Grey Heron and Kingfisher were further, ~56m.

cheers,
Rick
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Old Friday 21st November 2008, 11:30   #55
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Wow Neil ! Great shots of that Egret. Truly amazing - congradulations !
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Old Tuesday 25th November 2008, 16:54   #56
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Here are some more of a Kingfisher I got today from ~60m distance with the D90 + Nikon FSA-L1 dslr adapter and ED82. I waited in a hide ~20m from where I saw it last week but it refused to come closer during the 3hrs I was there. Took some video too hoping to catch one in flight but the bird continued to foil me. I think the flight stills I managed are still a little blurry even though shutter speed was 1/1000sec. I thought the shadow cast on the rock is kinda cool though.

cheers,
Rick
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Old Wednesday 26th November 2008, 00:36   #57
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That's a great shot RJM !
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Old Wednesday 26th November 2008, 01:24   #58
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Neil, how would you compare the Nikon D90 digiscoped images with (a) your Coolpix 5100 images and (b) your Canon A590IS images? Do you find that the D90's 920,000 pixel LCD screen helps, assuming you are using the Live View feature of the DSLR?
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Old Saturday 29th November 2008, 18:46   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJM View Post
Here are some more of a Kingfisher I got today from ~60m distance with the D90 + Nikon FSA-L1 dslr adapter and ED82. I waited in a hide ~20m from where I saw it last week but it refused to come closer during the 3hrs I was there. Took some video too hoping to catch one in flight but the bird continued to foil me. I think the flight stills I managed are still a little blurry even though shutter speed was 1/1000sec. I thought the shadow cast on the rock is kinda cool though.

cheers,
Rick
Hi Rick,

I've just got a FSA-L1 and D90 to use with my ED82 and would be really appreciate some details/tips about the camera setup you're using.

Thanks,
RM
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Old Sunday 30th November 2008, 00:43   #60
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Well, first let me say I like the camera to do as much of the work as possible, both shooting and post-processing. Getting good focus manually with the ED82 is hard enough and pixel peeping pics on a PC is not my idea of a fun night! So my style and methods may be "heresy" to those who prefer maximum control and like playing in Photoshop.

My end game is to have an image good enough to print directly from the camera/memory card, bypassing the need for a PC. If I can get a high "keeper ratio" I can quickly pick and choose my shots on the train ride home from my outing. Then I just pop into the local print kiosk to get my prints done while I have a few beers at the pub. I prefer prints as no monitor I have can really do the image justice.

That said, I have only had the D90 for a few weeks with only about 800 shots so far. My "keeper ratio" is only about 1:10 now, so I am having to take about 200 shots per outing to get anything worth printing. Way too many pics to easily sort through in camera! I am still tweaking the settings, particularly the Picture Controls and I only have the Nikon View NX and Capture NX2 demo to post process with. The D90 has much more dynamic range the my D40 and I am having to adjust my methods to compensate. I am thinking I may need several Custom Picture Controls to get more keepers.

Of course, with the FSA-L1 the camera Mode Dial is set to Aperture Priority. Metering is set to MATRIX (somtimes Center Weighted if I can get close enough for the bird to fill the view, HA!) Exposure Compensation and sometimes Active D-Lighting are adjusted depending on the Playback Histogram. I shoot Continuous H4.5fps and sometime Remote shutter release modes.

So here are my current D90 Menu settings:

Shooting Menu
Picture Control "BIRDS" - modified VIVID with Sharpening 7, Saturation -1, Hue 0 (Active D-Lighting is ON -Auto so Contrast and Brightness are not unavailable)
Image Quality - RAW (eventually Normal JPEG once I get the Pic Control tweeked)
White Balance -Auto
ISO Sensitivity settings - Auto ISO ON, Range 200-3200, Min shutter speed 1/250 (I raise/lower min shutter depending on light conditions and the movement of the bird. Ideally, I want to keep ISO ≤800 with a shutter of 1/500 for still birds, and 1/1600 for birds in flight)
Active D-Lighting -Auto (may change this if I can't get Contrast toned down in Picture Control)
Color Space - Adobe RGB (eventually sRGB to save having to convert later for prints)
Long exp NR - OFF
High ISO NR- High (only kicks in above ISO800)

The rest of the Shooting Menu is not important.

Custom Settings Menu (*changed from default)
a2-WIDE
a3-OFF
a5-ON
a7-NORM
c5-15m
d1-OFF
d2-ON
d3-ISO
d7-ON
d10- Usually OFF but depends on shutter speed
f3-ACCESS TOP ITEM MY MENU

My Menu
Set Picture Control
ISO Sensitivity Settings
ISO Sensitivity auto control
d10 Exposure delay mode
e4 Auto Bracketing set

That's it. Hope it helps!
Rick

Last edited by RJM : Sunday 30th November 2008 at 08:52.
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Old Sunday 30th November 2008, 01:05   #61
Neil
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Neil, how would you compare the Nikon D90 digiscoped images with (a) your Coolpix 5100 images and (b) your Canon A590IS images? Do you find that the D90's 920,000 pixel LCD screen helps, assuming you are using the Live View feature of the DSLR?
Sorry I've been a bit tardy with this thread over the last week. We've had a fantastic week for light here and low humidity at last so I've been out every day taking over 20 gigs/day. I'm still catching up.
Some nice images being posted which shows what can be done with the D90.
I'm getting to know the Nikon P6000 which I'm more and more impressed with.
Lot's of megs to play with and the RAW is very nice to have, although slow.
It's better than the P5100 but more difficult to fit to eyepieces . I usually use it off the adapter on my special balance bar. The Canon A590IS will work with any eyepiece (fixed or zoom ) and has lot's of nice features but it's poor screen let's it down for outside work.
Where you want AF and quiet operation ( there are places I photograph where any noise at all spooks the birds ) I'll use the P6000. Where I have time to focus ( I'm a bit slow in the manual focus area ) and the birds are in the range 20 - 50 metres I'll use the D90 ( I'm using the 20/2.8 lens so range is a bit limited ).
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Old Friday 5th December 2008, 20:11   #62
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Originally Posted by RJM View Post
Well, first let me say I like the camera to do as much of the work as possible, both shooting and post-processing. Getting good focus manually with the ED82 is hard enough and pixel peeping pics on a PC is not my idea of a fun night! So my style and methods may be "heresy" to those who prefer maximum control and like playing in Photoshop.

My end game is to have an image good enough to print directly from the camera/memory card, bypassing the need for a PC. If I can get a high "keeper ratio" I can quickly pick and choose my shots on the train ride home from my outing. Then I just pop into the local print kiosk to get my prints done while I have a few beers at the pub. I prefer prints as no monitor I have can really do the image justice.

That said, I have only had the D90 for a few weeks with only about 800 shots so far. My "keeper ratio" is only about 1:10 now, so I am having to take about 200 shots per outing to get anything worth printing. Way too many pics to easily sort through in camera! I am still tweaking the settings, particularly the Picture Controls and I only have the Nikon View NX and Capture NX2 demo to post process with. The D90 has much more dynamic range the my D40 and I am having to adjust my methods to compensate. I am thinking I may need several Custom Picture Controls to get more keepers.

Of course, with the FSA-L1 the camera Mode Dial is set to Aperture Priority. Metering is set to MATRIX (somtimes Center Weighted if I can get close enough for the bird to fill the view, HA!) Exposure Compensation and sometimes Active D-Lighting are adjusted depending on the Playback Histogram. I shoot Continuous H4.5fps and sometime Remote shutter release modes.

So here are my current D90 Menu settings:

Shooting Menu
Picture Control "BIRDS" - modified VIVID with Sharpening 7, Saturation -1, Hue 0 (Active D-Lighting is ON -Auto so Contrast and Brightness are not unavailable)
Image Quality - RAW (eventually Normal JPEG once I get the Pic Control tweeked)
White Balance -Auto
ISO Sensitivity settings - Auto ISO ON, Range 200-3200, Min shutter speed 1/250 (I raise/lower min shutter depending on light conditions and the movement of the bird. Ideally, I want to keep ISO ≤800 with a shutter of 1/500 for still birds, and 1/1600 for birds in flight)
Active D-Lighting -Auto (may change this if I can't get Contrast toned down in Picture Control)
Color Space - Adobe RGB (eventually sRGB to save having to convert later for prints)
Long exp NR - OFF
High ISO NR- High (only kicks in above ISO800)

The rest of the Shooting Menu is not important.

Custom Settings Menu (*changed from default)
a2-WIDE
a3-OFF
a5-ON
a7-NORM
c5-15m
d1-OFF
d2-ON
d3-ISO
d7-ON
d10- Usually OFF but depends on shutter speed
f3-ACCESS TOP ITEM MY MENU

My Menu
Set Picture Control
ISO Sensitivity Settings
ISO Sensitivity auto control
d10 Exposure delay mode
e4 Auto Bracketing set

That's it. Hope it helps!
Rick
Thanks Rick, much appreciated !
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 00:32   #63
RJM
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Picked up the new Nikon AF-S F1.4 50mm last night as I expect to be taking lots of indoor party pics this holiday season. I also have been intrigued with the afocal pics Neil has been getting with his Swaro rig and since I have a full set of the Nikon 30x/50x/75x DS eyepieces I can experiment to see if I prefer this method to the FSA-L1 adapter. I like the idea of getting some auotfocus help and the ability to get more image scale by swapping out eyepieces instead of cropping.

cheers,
Rick
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 08:24   #64
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I will be interested in your results with the D90 and 50mm 1.4 Rick.
I am not happy with my D90 and 35mm 2.0 with the same scope and eyepieces you have.
I don't get reliable metering, ok it's winter here so a lot of time we don't get good light.
I am undecided if I need to go with a 24 or 28mm lens, Neil is using a 20mm.
keep us informed please Rick.

I miss the better ISO, focusing and FPS of the D90, have reverted back to the P5100 for now.

Malcolm
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Old Tuesday 27th January 2009, 09:38   #65
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Out at our local bayside bird park today expecting to get shots of the usual suspects. Walking along I heard a ruckus in the thick sasa next to the path. Figured is was a feral cat since it seemed to follow me. Gave the sasa a whack with my tripod and out flew a flock of these Japanese White Eye. Taken from about 8m through thick trees. Nikon D90 thru ED82 + FSA-L1 adapter. No processing other than resizing. Probably one of my best digiscoping pics to date!
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Old Sunday 31st January 2010, 14:33   #66
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Thanks for this great thread guys, it makes really good reading.

I have the D90 and I mainly use the Sigma 150-500mm for birding. I can understand how the D90 - FSA-L1 and ED82 combination work as there is a good Nikon video on YT. What I'm struggling with is some of you appear to be using your normal Nikon prime lenses with the D90 and the scope but I can't work out how they all go together.

Any help or advice much appreciated.
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