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Best phone cam for digiscoping? (1 Viewer)

dalat

...
Hi,

mobile phones seem to have a short life :C

But my old phone dying also means I can get a better camera for digiscoping. So I wonder what current mobilephones have good cameras for digiscoping. What I need is good image quality and autofocus working well through the scope, and i want android again.

Starting looking around, I'm actually quite confused. Many new phones now have two lenses, and I don't know what that means for their usuability for digiscoping. I guess better get one with a single lens???.

Also, most phones now seem to have a laser sensor for autofocus next to the lens. That laser AF won't work through so scope I assume, so does that mean the AF of such phones does not work through scopes at all, or do the phone cams have other means to AF without the laser sensor?

Thanks for some help,
Florian
 

Albert P

Beginner Birder
Hello Florian,

When considering phonescoping probably the worst aspect of it, is vignetting, which cannot be gotten rid of because of lack of optical zoom in smartphones. Therefore phones with longest focal lengths will rule here. However lately manufacturers tend to produce wider lenses (shorter focal length). This allows them to produce brither but still compact lenses.

On paper Sony Xperia top phones are disqualified because of widest lenses (24mm). On paper also Galaxy S6 is better than Galaxy S7 (28mm vs 26mm). BUT S7 will have better image processing and brither lens.

LG G4 has 29mm (gsmarena sometimes lies, anandtech seems to make calculations itself) and by many was considered the best smartphone cam about a year ago. If you don't want top of the line it is probably the best option. Also there is S5 with 31mm but old image processing (however still very capable according to this article in german http://www.photoinfos.com/Spektiv/Digiscoping-smartphone.htm )

Although if you want top of the line, then the best you can get is Google Pixel or Galaxy S7. All phones mentioned above have Phase Detection AF, so Autofocus should be OK.

Unfortunately I have no experience in the matter, because I am buying my first scope this spring. But I was researching this topic quite a lot.

Please let us here know what was your choice and how do you like it.

Albert
 

dalat

...
Hi Albert,
thanks a lot, that is very useful info! I was also looking at the LG G4 already, as indeed I rather look at a (cheaper) last gen phone.
Anyone here used the G4 already for digiscoping?
Florian
 

Albert P

Beginner Birder
Hello again,

I actually double checked and have to apologize for the inaccurate information I provided. LG G4 has only laser autofocus indeed, no phase detection. The Galaxies
S5 and S6 do have the PDAF. This might be a major drawback for LG G4, however I would also gladly hear if it really is.

Cheers,
Albert
 

dalat

...
Hi,
I read a bit more about auto focus on phones and as far as I understand, all phones generally use contrast detection auto focus as base technology, which should work also through the scope (albeit slow). Laser focus or phase detection are additional technolgies used by some phones (the newer igh end poneS) which increase speed. As laser focus is usually separate from the camera itself, it won't work through the scope. Phase detection also uses the image sensor, so it should work through the scope. But any smartphone should always be able to autofocus through scopes with contrast detection.
Please correct, if anything in my summary here is wrong...
Florian
 

Albert P

Beginner Birder
Hello,

That must be true for the main camera. Laser autofocus has also limited range, so there must be a backup. I write 'must' because I lately read that still many front cameras do not utilise AF, and was very surprised with this statement. I suspect author meant 'proper AF', i.e. laser or PDAF. However I had lately no time/will to check this so I'm not sure.

Anyways back to the main topic. I read some opinions in this forum ( http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=323063 ) that author would like to turn the AF off, and he has Xperia Z5. In theory it should have state of the art AF. But apparently it is not quick enough for birds in flight. This makes me curious. I guess I will have to check by myself this spring with my S6 when I get my first scope. Until then I can only post theories.

There is also always the article, which I posted earlier, that reads that Galaxy S5 AF is working great. It doesn't mention birds in flight however.

One thing I can say for sure - AF performance is highly dependant on the amount of light entering the sensor. So it is probable that S5+Kowa 88X will work way better than Xperia Z5+something with smaller objective (not sure what was the scope, the author of the other topic was using).

My theories probably don't help much, so... I just wish you good luck in getting something proper.

Cheers,
Albert
 

dalat

...
But apparently it is not quick enough for birds in flight. This makes me curious. I guess I will have to check by myself this spring with my S6 when I get my first scope. Until then I can only post theories.

There is also always the article, which I posted earlier, that reads that Galaxy S5 AF is working great. It doesn't mention birds in flight however.

Well, birds in flight with digiscoping is a bit unrealistic, regardless of type of AF, I would say.

My broken phone is a Samung S5 mini, and the AF worked well, albeit slowly. It took around a second or so to snap.
 

dalat

...
Got a Samsung S6 now. Very nice cam and works well through the scope. A little more vignetting than the S5 mini, but with the much better resolution not a big problem.
 

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Albert P

Beginner Birder
That's great to hear. Thanks for your feedback and the photos! What scope and adapter are you using? Also is the AF faster than your S5 mini?
 

dalat

...
Swaro ATM HD 80 mm Scope with Kowa adapter.

Autofocus is good, I think much faster than with S5 mini. It still takes a little time, perhaps 0.5 to 1 s to focus. I now focus first by setting the point by tipping on the screen, and then relase with the headphone cable. Works very well. The Samsung app even let's me take serial pics.

I went for the Samsung and not for the LG, because its little smaller, I don't like these huge phones.
 

Bwana1

Well-known member
I'm running a Galaxy S7 with a Swaro ATM80HD and the 30sw EP, and very happy with the pictures...but even happier with the battery life.
 
The new Huawei p10 has a very good camera. But sony have lenses which are thought to be better, i've read a lot about them. I am an iPhone SE user and it also has a good camera but you should edit some its settings. Standard camera app doesnt give you an opportunity to change much but you can buy good camera app in appstore (like procam4) there you can find lots of options which may help you. or check some tips here http://weedit.photos/2017/iphone-photography-tips-and-tricks/ i hope it will help you (or someone else) :)
 

Vollmeise

Well-known member
Hi there,

I'm also interested in opinions and experiences about which phone camera suits best for phone scoping. My setup is a Kowa 883 using an iPhone SE, mounted with Kowa's original adapter.

First results met my needs for documentation issues, but in most cases they looked somewhat blurry and didn't show the stunning details when using the scope with the naked eye.

Long story short: I could dramatically improve my results by:

- better camera app. I'm sure there are lots of apps meeting digiscoper's needs, my choice was the App "ProCamera". You can save in RAW format, there are manual control possibilities (white balance, exposure, ISO, focus) both in still and 4k video mode.
- wireless remote release. A simple and small via Bluetooth connected one for about five European bucks.

Anyone out there using the iPhone 7 Plus with its longer focal length?

Cheers,

Vollmeise
 

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annewarren

New member
I'm using iPhone 6S. My all captured picture is too good and super! I think iPhone is the best phone cam for digiscoping.
 

KlaasTexel

New member
Until now, I am using a Samsung Galaxy S7 on my Zeiss Harpia 90 and with great results, but for lack of space and some other reasons I need a new telephone and wonder if anyone can recommend a specific telephone that has a bigger memory and an equally good or better camera?
In my experience, the iPhones (without a digiscoping-adapter) are not covering the entire lens of my telescope. This is a problem when taking pictures in full sunlight, because a lot of 'false light' is entering the camera. That, and whole bunch of other downsides to this brand of telephone, keep me from shifting to iPhone, but I am wondering what are the best possibilities for digiscoping in the market now, October '20. Any suggestions?
The older posts in this thread are at least 3 years old and in terms of telephones nowadays, that's ancient history. Isn't it?
 
If you're phonescoping without an adapter, I'd recommending buying an adapter rather than a new phone. It will improve the quality of your phonescoping by a huge amount. If you still want to buy a new phone, I'd recommend getting one with a x2 telephoto lens. This improves the quality of phonescoping significantly as it removes the need to use digital zoom to remove the vignetting or black circle you see on the screen.

I've seen many people recommending Samsung phones over iPhone and vice versa, but none of these people seem to have done a side by side comparison. Check out the spec of a phone you're looking at using the detail on wikipedia. The size of the sensor (in MP or megapixels - the bigger the better) is one factor. The quality of the lens and focal length (eg. f1.4 - the smaller the better) is another. Raw starts alone don't tell the whole story however - the quality of the glass, and many other hardware and software details (that aren't shared by the manufacturers) will have an impact. If you like Android phones, stick with Android. If you like iPhones, stick with them *:)

There's loads more info about phonescoping in my free guide here:
https://www.phonescoping.org/
 

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