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First Try with STS-80 and CP 4500 - Soft Focus

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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 01:17   #1
Mac
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First Try with STS-80 and CP 4500 - Soft Focus

Well, I had my first digiscoping try today. I bought the Swarovski STS-80 with the 25-60 zoom eyepiece and the Nikon CP 4500. I'm an experienced photographer, both with birds and some limited astrophotography.

None of my pics were focused well. My technique was as follows:

1. Frame the shot
2. Focus using the scope's focusing ring until the bird looks sharp in the viewfinder.
3. Set the camera for Aperature and use f/4.0.
4. Set the timer to "on" by pressing the button 3 times (there has to be a better way)
5. Take the shot allowing the camera to do the focusing.

The shots looked ok on the camera, but were very soft on my monitor.

I did try 1-2 using manual focus, but found it awkward to hold down the MF button while turning the dial.

Any thoughts? All help would be greatly appreciated.

And yes, I did read the other focus messages here and downloaded two sets of instructions on how to set up the camera - also appreciated.

Thanks :)

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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 01:40   #2
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Hi Mac. I haven't welcomed you to BF yet so welcome :)

I agree with you regarding the timer shots. It really does seem to waste a lot of time.

How much zoom were you using on your shots? Higher zooms can cause that softness. What zoom were you using on the scope? I tend to keep my zoom at half way or less and shoot most of my shots at 20x on my swaro. It's a neat scope huh?
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 01:49   #3
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Thanks for the welcome :)

I was using the scope at various zoom powers from 20 to 60, based on how the shot needed to be framed.

I had the camera on maximum optical zoom most of the time (4x).

I noticed that if I zoomed out very much on the camera, I got a lot of vignetting. Do you just ignore the vignetting and crop the shot?

And the scope is a marvel :)

We really are spoiled as we also bought the 8X42 EL bins for me and my wife.

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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 02:40   #4
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Well with the adapter I am now using, I can go to midway in the zoom, (into yellow macro zone) w/o hardly any vignetting. But normally, yes, I will just crop out the vignetting. Try it, I am sure you will see a difference. Keep persevering though Mac. It took me a lot of practice to get somewhat proficient at digiscoping.
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 06:27   #5
Jay Turberville
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Try to keep the camera in the middle zoom ranges. Looking for the yellow macro flower is usually a good indication though not strictly necessary.

Try not to go out to 60X zoom. I consider 40X to be my upper limit, but it really depends on the camera zoom as well. A good rule of thumb is not to push too far past a 3000mm equivalent. So if 3X on the camera is around 115mm, then you don't wan't to use that setting and go much past 30x on the scope.

In good light, consider stopping down to around f8, but not much more. If the light is poor and your shutter speeds drop significantly, then don't bother.

Get a cable release of some kind. :)

You should be able to zoom out to around 12mm on the camera with little or no vignetting. What kind of adapter are you using? Did you remove the eyecup from the eyepiece so the camera can be mounted closer?
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 08:43   #6
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Hi Mac and welcome from another digiscoping newbie.

I too found the self timer on the 4500 to be a pain. I expected to find a menu that just allowed you to alter the time delay. The 3 push method is a pain. I changed my camera from a coolpix 5700 to the 4500. Luckily the remote works on both. It's expensive but does allow you to zoom in and out as well.

I've only been out twice so far. With the remote, I've been half depressing the shutter release so that the camera focuses, then fine tuning the scope focusing. Then simply press the shutter all the way down when I think things look good. I still find it difficult to tell if the shot was well focused using the LCD.

I haven't used the manual focusing. It's a pain as you said. I did set the camera to the manually adjustable 'AF Area' setting though. So if the subject isn't perfectly centered i can just switch zones.

The very first change to the camera settings i made was to change the auto off time. By the time I'd fiddled with everything and got everything lined up for my first great shot, the camera had already gone to sleep. Obvious really but for a split second i thought something was wrong with the camera.
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 14:43   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Turberville

You should be able to zoom out to around 12mm on the camera with little or no vignetting. What kind of adapter are you using? Did you remove the eyecup from the eyepiece so the camera can be mounted closer?
Thanks for the ideas, Jay. I want to get a cable release but need to find a vendor for the bracket.

I used Swarovski's adaptor. I did remove the eyecup (many times) to connect the camera.

I'm going to try again today using some of the ideas I've been offered here and on web sites. Thansk again :)
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 14:44   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martinrobinson
Hi Mac and welcome from another digiscoping newbie.
Thanks, Martin. We'll get this sorted out :)
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 16:58   #9
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Martin's suggestions are the way I do things. I never like to rely on the self-timer, much prefering the cable release and using the adjustable AF zones as Martin describes.

Camera zoom seems to give sharpest results when set 2x-3x which with the LCE adapter gives no vigntetting at all. Scope zoom with the Kowa I found 20-30x worked best. I'm still experimenting with the Swarovski and managed one decent shot at 60x, but 25-40x seems to give useable results. I haven't used it enough yet to say for sure.

I should say that I find that all images straight out the camera I tend to crop, resize and then sharpen to lesser or greater extent.

Last edited by IanF : Sunday 8th February 2004 at 17:00.
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 22:25   #10
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I seem to be in a minority when digiscoping and use the manual focus setting.Turn it up to infinity ,you never need to adjust this again.With the macro setting if the yellow flower is not alight then the focus sometimes hunts taking up time.If the Nikon4500 is at 4x zoom i've found the images to be a little soft.Try using an extenda view 2x magnifier if having trouble seeing if the image is sharp on the screen,got so use to mine cant take a shot with out one.
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 23:27   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragna
I seem to be in a minority when digiscoping and use the manual focus setting.Turn it up to infinity ,you never need to adjust this again.With the macro setting if the yellow flower is not alight then the focus sometimes hunts taking up time.If the Nikon4500 is at 4x zoom i've found the images to be a little soft.Try using an extenda view 2x magnifier if having trouble seeing if the image is sharp on the screen,got so use to mine cant take a shot with out one.
Thanks. I think I may have gotten it better - the "yellow flower" hint helped a lot. I'll also try the manual focus rather than auto.

If I get anything worthwhile, I'll post a link to the shots :)
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 23:40   #12
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Originally Posted by Mac
Thanks. I think I may have gotten it better - the "yellow flower" hint helped a lot. I'll also try the manual focus rather than auto.

If I get anything worthwhile, I'll post a link to the shots :)
First try on a house finch - still a bit soft, but a lot better. See it at:

www.pbase.com/macknight/inbox

Thanks for all the help.
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Old Sunday 8th February 2004, 23:52   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragna
I seem to be in a minority when digiscoping and use the manual focus setting.Turn it up to infinity ,you never need to adjust this again.With the macro setting if the yellow flower is not alight then the focus sometimes hunts taking up time.If the Nikon4500 is at 4x zoom i've found the images to be a little soft.Try using an extenda view 2x magnifier if having trouble seeing if the image is sharp on the screen,got so use to mine cant take a shot with out one.
I shoot only in Manual as well but I have not tried using the Infinity setting at all. May have to play around with that next weekend. You're right about the Extend-a-vue. I am lost w/o it.
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Old Monday 9th February 2004, 14:18   #14
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The other essential is stability. Are you using apprpriate tripod and head?
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Old Tuesday 10th February 2004, 01:48   #15
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The other essential is stability. Are you using apprpriate tripod and head?
Yes, thanks. The tripod and head are sufficiently sturdy. The scope is not moving at all when the pictures are taken.

I believe folks helped me figure this out by telling me to not zoom out too far (keep the macro flower yellow) and to use the scope to finalize the focus. Also, to limit the scope to 30X.

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Old Tuesday 10th February 2004, 01:51   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac
First try on a house finch - still a bit soft, but a lot better. See it at:

www.pbase.com/macknight/inbox

Thanks for all the help.
I missed this yesterday Mac. Yes, that is much better. The variant finch is a beauty too.
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