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Best digiscoping camera? (1 Viewer)

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Hello Steve

I looked way back and read most of your threads and must say since you first posted and used an IPhone you no doubt know that phones have moved on tremendously. I tried originally to digiscope with a Fuji Coolpix S5000 on an Opticron 65 but found it hard, cumbersome with poor results. Then like you I used an IPhone 5S which was quite good at 8MP but the screen was too small to see whether the image was sharp or not, so the MP's didnt really help. I now have a Samsung S9 Plus (12MP) on a Zeiss Victory 85T*FL (20x75 zoom) attached with a PhoneSkope, dedicated case and collar. The PhoneSkope is a good tight fit with no light interference so you get little vignetting and the 6.2 inch screen enables you to get a good sharp clear image of what you are photographing. The quality of your scope adds to the overall quality of the image...the better the lenses and coatings the better the result. Using a Bluetooth shutter control is also a must to stop shaky images.

I am no camera expert but some of the results with the Samsung and Zeiss are excellent. Although MP's matter it is the technology & quality of the current Android / IPhone cameras along with their processing tech and current apps that make all of the difference but will say that other than cropping, I don't have to adjust the image much at all. Phonescoping will never be as instant as cameras and lenses but it can be pretty quick as long as you have the right tripod, head, smartphone and scope. The finished result is not that far away from pro camera images as long as you're shooting static subjects.

Regards
 

Sandpiper

Mike Powell
Those shots look good, Steve.

It is a pity that the GX80 will not accept a remote release as it would help reduce camera shake. There is a way around it by using the camera's self-timer set to two seconds delay. That will allow just enough time for the camera to "settle" after you depress the shutter button. Another option, with a stationary subject, is to use the ten second delay option which then takes three images.

Regarding videograbs, I have had some success by extracting the sharpest frame(s) and editing them with Photoshop Elements. From version 14 onwards there is a very useful Auto Shake Reduction tool under the Enhance tab. Unless you can obtain a high shutter speed whilst shooting video most individual frames will show some subject blur.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I have tried phones coping but still not a fan of it. I use a Nikon P310. Came out with them in 2012 and I have been using them as my main digiscoping camera for years now with my DCB Adapter for my Swaro. I like the camera over the phone for it allows me easy access to controls. Perhaps just me.
 

SteveClifton

Well-known member
Hello Steve

I looked way back and read most of your threads and must say since you first posted and used an IPhone you no doubt know that phones have moved on tremendously. I tried originally to digiscope with a Fuji Coolpix S5000 on an Opticron 65 but found it hard, cumbersome with poor results. Then like you I used an IPhone 5S which was quite good at 8MP but the screen was too small to see whether the image was sharp or not, so the MP's didnt really help. I now have a Samsung S9 Plus (12MP) on a Zeiss Victory 85T*FL (20x75 zoom) attached with a PhoneSkope, dedicated case and collar. The PhoneSkope is a good tight fit with no light interference so you get little vignetting and the 6.2 inch screen enables you to get a good sharp clear image of what you are photographing. The quality of your scope adds to the overall quality of the image...the better the lenses and coatings the better the result. Using a Bluetooth shutter control is also a must to stop shaky images.

I am no camera expert but some of the results with the Samsung and Zeiss are excellent. Although MP's matter it is the technology & quality of the current Android / IPhone cameras along with their processing tech and current apps that make all of the difference but will say that other than cropping, I don't have to adjust the image much at all. Phonescoping will never be as instant as cameras and lenses but it can be pretty quick as long as you have the right tripod, head, smartphone and scope. The finished result is not that far away from pro camera images as long as you're shooting static subjects.

Regards

Thanks for your reply Ian, and great to hear you're having lots of success with your smart phone. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to restart this thread, to find out what gear people are having success with 2 or 3 years on. Only this week Olympus have announced that they are pulling out of the camera business-due largely to competition from smart phones, and they admit that they can no longer compete in the current market.

My own phone is due an upgrade, so I'll bear this in mind.

My photos above lack resolution in my opinion. This is partly due to resizing for posting here (they looked better on my computer screen) and also perhaps poor technique (shutter shock from the Canon DSLR/no way of releasing the GX80 shutter without touching the scope) they needed a bit of work to make them look acceptable.

Obviously cameras have moved on too, and Canon, for example, now have mirrorless cameras like the M6 ii, which appear to have a range of pro-digiscoping features: 32mp sensor, electronic shutter, 4K video etc, plus they are small, light and could be used with the 40mm via an adapter. I wonder if anyone has tried it as a digiscoping camera...?
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Obviously cameras have moved on too, and Canon, for example, now have mirrorless cameras like the M6 ii, which appear to have a range of pro-digiscoping features: 32mp sensor, electronic shutter, 4K video etc, plus they are small. light and could be used with the 40mm via an adapter. I wonder if anyone has tried it as a digiscoping camera...?

When you digiscope...you have enough gear to lug around with the scope and try-pod itself. One of the reasons why I have never tried to digiscope with the M6 ii or anything like it, is it just 'adds' to the 'lugging around of equipment. Thus I stuck with the small point and shoot and many others have as well. See image. You can see my set-up is all inclusive. I swing it up and out of the way to view using the scope eye-piece, and when I want to use the camera, I swing it back down and viola, a shot taken. No 'large' camera '......
 

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SteveClifton

Well-known member
When you digiscope...you have enough gear to lug around with the scope and try-pod itself. One of the reasons why I have never tried to digiscope with the M6 ii or anything like it, is it just 'adds' to the 'lugging around of equipment. Thus I stuck with the small point and shoot and many others have as well. See image. You can see my set-up is all inclusive. I swing it up and out of the way to view using the scope eye-piece, and when I want to use the camera, I swing it back down and viola, a shot taken. No 'large' camera '......

I fully agree about carrying too much gear! Having said that, I don't think the Canon M6 ii is much bigger than the camera you have there. Bit heavier maybe. It would also have the advantage of being used with other lenses too if needed, but I appreciate that approach doesn't suit everyone. Keeping things simple is very appealing!
 

SteveClifton

Well-known member
Those shots look good, Steve.

It is a pity that the GX80 will not accept a remote release as it would help reduce camera shake. There is a way around it by using the camera's self-timer set to two seconds delay. That will allow just enough time for the camera to "settle" after you depress the shutter button. Another option, with a stationary subject, is to use the ten second delay option which then takes three images.

Regarding videograbs, I have had some success by extracting the sharpest frame(s) and editing them with Photoshop Elements. From version 14 onwards there is a very useful Auto Shake Reduction tool under the Enhance tab. Unless you can obtain a high shutter speed whilst shooting video most individual frames will show some subject blur.

Yes I've tried using the self-timer, and of course it works, but sometimes 2 seconds is too long to wait! In such cases recording video is perhaps the better option with this camera so far, though I've found the image quality of the grabs I've taken have left me a little underwhelmed.

For closer subjects I would no doubt be happier, but I bird an inland gravel pit patch where most birds are very distant, so I'm constantly pushing the limits of my gear. I've even used the 2x teleconverter (sensor crop) in video for very distant birds, but the quality of grabs is even worse from these clips.

I need to do more testing but I'm yet to be convinced that the GX80 can better the older Canon 600D for extreme crops. That's what makes me wonder about the newer Canon sensors like the 80D, 90D and the M6 ii which shares the same sensor with the 90D.
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I fully agree about carrying too much gear! Having said that, I don't think the Canon M6 ii is much bigger than the camera you have there. Bit heavier maybe. It would also have the advantage of being used with other lenses too if needed, but I appreciate that approach doesn't suit everyone. Keeping things simple is very appealing!

Not that much bigger....perhaps. But it is double the ounces, and about a 6/10 of an inch in length, half an inch in width. And that is not counting the lens so you will need to add that to length and width and weight. Still think the P310 is better.

For the price, the image would not be measurable different.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
I just acquired a Viking phone adapter the other day. I've had a quick go at phone scoping through my ATX 85. My phone is a Xiaomi Mi 9, which has quite a decent camera. I've not done too much with it. This shot of Common Terns is probably the best so far. It's okay, particularly given that they weren't too close. I normally use a DSLR and I don't see phonescoping taking over from it but it's useful to have the adapter handy for distant perched birds and maybe for video.
 

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Richard Scott

Well-known member
I find phonescoping is fine for record shots of fairly static birds only. These were taken with an iPhone SE (mk1) 12MP.
 

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Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
I find phonescoping is fine for record shots of fairly static birds only. These were taken with an iPhone SE (mk1) 12MP.

Hi Richard

Those are really sharp. What scope and adaptor are you using? I agree with you about static birds...wader, ducks, geese etc are easiest but I'm always pleased if I can capture small birds. I'll be glad when the hides open again so that we don't have to compete with the wind and rain.

I try and put my decent shots on the gallery...do you do the same?
 
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Richard Scott

Well-known member
Hi Richard

Those are really sharp. What scope and adaptor are you using? I agree with you about static birds...wader, ducks, geese etc are easiest but I'm always pleased if I can capture small birds. I'll be glad when the hides open again so that we don't have to compete with the wind and rain.

I try and put my decent shots on the gallery...do you do the same?

Thanks Ian. I've got a Kowa 883 + 25-60x eyepiece and use the Kowa TSN-IP5 adapter.

I don't put photos on the gallery but I sometimes tweet them, put them on the Phonescoping facebook group or put them on the sightings blog for my local nature reserve. Then I just delete them.
 

karjak

Member
Scoping with SJCAM SJ8+ & Celestron Regal 80 ED Scope

I use an action camera that has a 8X digital zoom with my spotting scope.Shooting in 4K I can capture a frame pic from the Video using VLC player. I never zoom more than 4X. The raw footage video clips will still have vignetting but when you downscale/resize your videos to 1080p you loose that.

If I want to look for a picture to keep you should play and capture a raw footage frame. You then can use that frame to crop vignetting away The camera is so small and light. Iv'e made my own atttachmet which threads to eyepice but ended up going back to those platforms you can adjust and which go over the eyepiece. Some captures:

Ring-Necked Duck.jpg Pintail1.jpg GreenWingTealFlying.jpg Red-Bellied Woodpecker.jpg
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I use an action camera that has a 8X digital zoom with my spotting scope.Shooting in 4K I can capture a frame pic from the Video using VLC player. I never zoom more than 4X. The raw footage video clips will still have vignetting but when you downscale/resize your videos to 1080p you loose that.

If I want to look for a picture to keep you should play and capture a raw footage frame. You then can use that frame to crop vignetting away The camera is so small and light. Iv'e made my own atttachmet which threads to eyepice but ended up going back to those platforms you can adjust and which go over the eyepiece. Some captures:

View attachment 731254 View attachment 731255 View attachment 731256 View attachment 731257

Which camera do you use? And yes, by all means never go above 4-5 digital zoom. That is one thing I find many cameras have is the option of extending out digitally forever and find some digiscopers can't seem to figure out that 4-5 zoom is all you need. So don't pay for a feature on a camera that is not needed.... In your case 8 is not at all overextending in terms of camera though,...I am talking 20+ etc...
 

karjak

Member
Here is a link in describing Camera: https://bestactioncamera.net/sjcam-sj8-plus-review/ It is advertised as having an exceptional Digital Zoom. It can take pictures but best luck I've had is getting screen grabs from my 4K vids.

Because the LCD screen is so small really useless to try and focus through. You must have your scope focused beforehand viewing through eyepiece and than stap on the platform adapter w/camera. Sounds like a hastle but just takes a few seconds to do. One could also hold a magnifying lens on the screen perhaps.

I just bought a Canon EOS 7D thinking could get better pics. Has not worked well. Now have the canon 1.8 50mm lens instead of Tamron 28-80 zoom. Focus is the problem I think? To get an idea of 4K footage a link to Utube. Opening clip and one other is with Canon. Rest are all with SJCAM through Scope. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCPlVc5Jp1Q This video shot in 4K but downsized to HD toget rid of vignetting.
 
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DRodrigues

Well-known member
When you digiscope...you have enough gear to lug around with the scope and try-pod itself. One of the reasons why I have never tried to digiscope with the M6 ii or anything like it, is it just 'adds' to the 'lugging around of equipment. Thus I stuck with the small point and shoot and many others have as well. See image. You can see my set-up is all inclusive. I swing it up and out of the way to view using the scope eye-piece, and when I want to use the camera, I swing it back down and viola, a shot taken. No 'large' camera '......

I do the same with my a6000 and PZ16-50, on my STX95, when just don't do hand-held photos...
 

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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
David the DCB or DCA was a spendy little gadget but it worked! ....Not sure if they still even sell it new anymore, jim
 

SteveClifton

Well-known member
I got hold of an 80D recently, and had a go at digiscoping the Lammergeier that's been in the Peak District for the past few weeks (still there I think?) with it and my favourite digi-scoping lens.

Although it is a little heavier than the 600D (less than 200g more) I found it better to use and image quality is even better (5 years newer sensor). Using live view there is less vibration from mirror slap (in fact hardly any at all) than with the older camera, and even better, my old wired cable release fits in the 80D socket! so no vibration when I release the shutter.

These are a couple of processed jpegs from the 80D/40mm STM and Swaro DCA/20-60 zoom at c55x mag. Distance was between 200-250m, in good light and hardly any wind. Getting sharp focus at this range was absolutely critical, but not too difficult using magnified live view and taking my time.

I really enjoyed using this new combo, and image quality at distance is certainly better than with the GX80, though that camera is nice and compact for when I want to travel light. Early signs are that the video quality from the 80D (1080p) is better than the 4K footage from the GX80, and I can extract better quality grabs from it. Go figure...!
 

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