• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Convert with questions on set up (1 Viewer)

thornlv

Well-known member
Hi all

I have been reading this forum with special interest and have come to the conclusion that this is possibly the way to go. I have seen some fantastic photos from the likes of Paul Corfield and DiegoBe which made me conclude I should try this. Paul’s depth of knowledge, ingenuity and willingness to impart (impartial) advice is exemplorary (as is everyone elses). I currently use a Nikon D90,Sigma 150-500mm APO and also an Opticron ES 80 ED with either a Ricoh GX100 or Nikon P6000. I have had some really great shoots with both setups but sometimes I need more ‘reach’ than the D90/Sigma and better quality than the digiscope setup (plus it can be a bit ‘fiddly’ and has other ‘niggles’). I also have 2 Kenko TCs (1.5 and 2x) but as you know, IQ is degraded using these (I have heard and assume IQ is not so compromised on primes, which is essentiaally what refractor scopes are). I also can not (yet) justify the amounts of money for a big prime lens when thay are the same price as a small car !!.

So here are my questions:

1/ What ‘basic’ equipment would I need to start with my D90 (I am also cosidering a 2nd body, maybe a Canon). I have read of people using Skywatchers, Astro Techs and Celestrons – which one to go for.

2/ as I already have 2 TCs (Nikon fit), what else could I use for increasing focal length (I have read of ‘barlows’ and other TCs but not fully understanding the advantages/disadvantages etc)

3/ In connection with above, what equivalent focal lengths could I achieve.

4/ How would I meter available light, My Nikon does not seem to offer this when using my Opticron and a T2 slip on adapter, its purely guesswork (but following the Sunny F16 rule)

5/ Focusing, is focusing achieved on the scope or is there some other way(s) to achieve this.

6/ What should I look for on (possibly) a 2nd body to dedicate to this.

7/ Eyepieces – are there eyepieces available to use as say a normal spotting scope, ie to give me a dual/triple purpose for a setup – astronomy, birdwatching and photography.

8/ What’s ‘collimating’ – should I worry aboout it, do I need to know ?

9/ Any supliers recommended, also after doing some basic searches it seems that most come as ‘kits’ with bits I would not need such as tripods ( I would use a sturdy Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod I have along with a Manfrotto 393 gimbal head ), they also have ‘red dot sights’ which I already have and 45 deg eyepieces – can you get just the basic assemblies (where from)

My budget would be £5/600 to start with (scope setup, 2nd camera body will be setup later but have seen quite a few Canon 450Ds under £300 on oboy)

Hope my post is not too long, there will probably be other questions later as well.

Many thanks.

Vic
 

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
So here are my questions:

1/ What ‘basic’ equipment would I need to start with my D90 (I am also cosidering a 2nd body, maybe a Canon). I have read of people using Skywatchers, Astro Techs and Celestrons – which one to go for.

Besides the scope, you'll need a Tmount (Tadapter+Tring) for Nikon, and a spacer, to take the most out of the focuser travel.
I’d go for the skywatcher, as it will give the best price to quality ratio, specially with your budget.
But why would you buy another brand body? If you have Nikon and need another body but another Nikon, so you can use the acessories you already have.

2/ as I already have 2 TCs (Nikon fit), what else could I use for increasing focal length (I have read of ‘barlows’ and other TCs but not fully understanding the advantages/disadvantages etc)

I’ll leave for Paul to answer on the advantages/disadvantages of barlows. But for me I’d use my TCs (1.4 and 2x), simply for the easiness of use.

3/ In connection with above, what equivalent focal lengths could I achieve.

With the ED80 and 1.4 and 2x TCs you'll get 600, 840 and 1200mm. That will give you an equivalent FOV of 900, 1260 and 1800 in APS-C.

4/ How would I meter available light, My Nikon does not seem to offer this when using my Opticron and a T2 slip on adapter, its purely guesswork (but following the Sunny F16 rule)

I used guesswork and sunny 16 for a long time, until I decided to build my own adapter based on an old lens. Now all my Nikons meters on my scope, and more importantly it allows me to use flash in Auto FP.

EDIT: I forgot to add that there's the dandelion chips, I never used them yet, but apparently they can be put on nearly every lens (or a Tring), and then they'll allow you camera to meter just like with any other lens.

5/ Focusing, is focusing achieved on the scope or is there some other way(s) to achieve this.

Focusing is done at the focuser. No other way.

6/ What should I look for on (possibly) a 2nd body to dedicate to this.

A good viewfinder, the best you can get, and a good high ISO. Some people also gets good results with live view, if you’re going that way, a good rear display. But you’re not gonna get much better than what your D90 can give you in any of these departments.

7/ Eyepieces – are there eyepieces available to use as say a normal spotting scope, ie to give me a dual/triple purpose for a setup – astronomy, birdwatching and photography.

No idea :) I really don’t use my scope that way. I'm sure others can help you there.

8/ What’s ‘collimating’ – should I worry aboout it, do I need to know ?

Here’s some info about it, they’re talking about SCTs, but it’s the same thing for refractors.
http://legault.perso.sfr.fr/collim.html
It’s important if you want to squeeze the maximum detail out of your scope. That said I never collimated mine and it still blows any lens I ever used away.

9/ Any supliers recommended, also after doing some basic searches it seems that most come as ‘kits’ with bits I would not need such as tripods ( I would use a sturdy Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod I have along with a Manfrotto 393 gimbal head ), they also have ‘red dot sights’ which I already have and 45 deg eyepieces – can you get just the basic assemblies (where from)

Telescopeservice.de used to have good prices on the ED80 OTA, but I’m not up to date on the prices no more so maybe there are others now.

About your Manfrotto setup, I don’t know what model you have, but being CF probably is a 055 no? If so, I’m sorry to disappoint you but you’ll eventually want to go sturdier ;) I had one of those. The same for the head, I have one too and don’t like it at all. But it will do for starting your system. But no doubt your results will improve if you get something more stable, specially with TCs.
 
Last edited:

Paul Corfield

Well-known member
Well done Fernando, I wasn't looking forward to typing all that lol :t:

The German website that has the Skywatcher Pro 80ED at the best price is here. £325 as opposed to around £435 and upwards in the UK. Not sure how it all balances out with shipping etc.

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p1060.html

You will be fine with the teleconverters. It's not often that conditions are perfect enough to spend out on an expensive barlow where you will notice any difference in IQ. The 1.5X TC will likely be your main work horse anyway.

For metering you get to know roughly what speeds work in what conditions. I just dial in the speed based on the light meter in the viewfinder and that's usually spot on. As Fernando said, you could try gluing in one of the chips that are readily available on ebay. That would give you focus confirm at 600mm too and maybe with the 1.5X C on a bright day.

In refractors, collimation is more critical for triplet lens designs. An achromat like the 80ED doesn't need further collimation after assembly, it's done at the factory and shouldn't change after that.

The eyepieces that come with the scope should be good enough. Astro eyepieces are generally very good, even really cheap ones. The simple 4 element plossl design of the glass is a proven one. Main thing you would need is an erecting prism to turn the image the right way up and also to correct the image left to right. Most scopes come with an erecting mirror but the image isn't corrected left to right so it's better to upgrade to a prism design. Prices are around £30 upwards depending on quality. You can get them in 45° and 90° varieties and straight porro prism types.

Paul.
 

thornlv

Well-known member
Many thanks both of you, some really usefull info there. Judging by the requirement list I would require:
1/ scope OTA
2/ Spacer for focuser travel

I already have a Nikon T ring, so what spacer would I require (or is there a better solution)

The TCs I have are both Kenko’s, N-AF 2X teleplus MC7 DGX and N-AF 1.5 (not 1.4) teleplus MC DG. I hardly ever use the 2x but have used the 1.5 with some good results on my Sigma 150-500, So on the SW ED80 this would give me:

600mm @ F7.5, 900mm @ F10 and 1200 @ F14

Fernando has made me rethink the 2nd body idea so my budget may be higher, I had a look at the ‘dandelion’ chips but don’t fully uderstand how I could utilise one yet. Like your idea of a modified old lens for metering (and enabling flash), could you be so kind as to explain further

Looking at some of my photos my D90 has a usable ISO to noise ratio of upto 1600, I normally use 400 with no noise issues, 800 – 1600 is usable with noticeable noise as you go higher but as long as the exposure is slightly over, the noise is minimal and workable with either Camera raw, photoshop or better still Neat image. I took some readings today, albeit overcast and at F7.5 to F14 still got some useable shutter speeds with ISOs upto 1600 (mostly upto 800), so on a good sunny day should’nt present a problem.

Fernando, My CF legs are model 190MFV and I find them quite stable (with my scope and Sigma combis), My style of photography is mostly scout an area, select a position and sit and wait, so I mostly have the legs spread for more stability. I love my 393 head (but will probably review with a astro scope), I find it gives me precise positioning and movement. I also have a Giottos VH6011 head, which is lighter and a video head style, nice movement but needs locking in positions.

Paul, could you explain Barlows a bit more, you mention conditions and expense, how much are they,what conditions are required. (ps, I like your artwork, very individual style)

Had a look at the SW Ed80 at teleskop-express,very good price, works out at £337 delivered (by DHL) – beats uk prices by about £150 !!, but would I have to pay any import/VAT to bring it in.

Anyway, been looking further at their products and saw this.

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop...or-100-900mm-Pro---optical-tube-assembly.html

What do you think, my reason for thinking of this is this.

My Sigma will work for me upto 600 –675mm, F8 (with my 1.5 TC), so I will takeover at 900mm, F9 (as against the 80ED of 900mm @ F10, gives me 1/5th extra shutter speed), adding probably only the 1.5TC (1350mm @ F13 as opposed to 80ED + 2x TC 1200 @ F14)

What do you think ?

Cheers
Vic
 

Paul Corfield

Well-known member
The chips can be glued into the t-mount and this will give focus confirmation up to a certain f stop and I suppose it gives you some sort of metering though I've never tried one myself.

The longer scope is an option and results are just as good as the shorter 600mm 80ed. As long as you don't mind the decreased portability of the longer scope then it's worth considering. It's not all that heavy compared to the 600mm, just the extra length may hinder. They do a 120mm/900mm version too which is also very good.

Perfect conditions for high power barlows I find are generally in winter where you will get a much higher rate of keepers. This is the same for any high magnification though. Other times of the year the photos generally suffer loss of details due to heat setting up shimmering air currents. More magnification just magnifies the imperfections in the air so you need very still air for best results. Other times of the year you will need to photograph early in the day or late into the evening or photograph on cloudier days for best results. Everyday is different though. You will probably find the teleconverters are good enough and they are much easier to mount than barlows as most of them are 1.25". Barlows tend to be lower in contrast/colour saturation than teleconverters and you need to cover up all the shiny black paint on them before they start to perform to a decent level. Prices for a 2" barlow start at around £50.

Paul.
 

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
I don’t know from my head the exact spacer, but I’ll measure mine when I have the chance and I’ll let you know. But for starters you can count with one 2” spacer. The exact spacer for Nikon bodies is around 7 or 8cm, but I have to check that. The problem is you wont have that exact measure in commercial spacers, so you either compromise or you make your own.
The lens modification doesn’t have a lot to say, basically you just get a lens with a chip, any lens will do as long as it works fine on your body, remove all the glass elements from it, and find a way to insert a 2” tube inside it to couple on the focuser, that’s all.
Or you can make your own adapter and put the lens chip on it, that’s my latest version. I didn’t know about the dandelion chips or I would have used that.

The D90 wont have a problem with this scope even on overcast days, I use mine mostly on overcast days without any issues. Than again, I am in Portugal and we have a lot of light here, even on overcast days. But if you do ok with the 150-500 you’ll do at least as good with the scope, since it’s light transmission is quite good, side by side it wont be much different than the Sigma at 500mm.

The 190+393 are stable with the 150-500, I believe that. It will also work fine with the scope on it’s own, but when you start using TCs on the scope, or shooting in low light you will notice it’s limitations. Of course that also depends on what you’re used too. But I had my manfrotto 055 MF3 and a 488 RC0, and every time I used the 2xTC at longer distances I would have to work really hard to get really sharp photos. Then I replaced the setup with a Berlebach +Benro KB3 head and the difference is night and day, I can use my 2x TC at speeds of 1/60 and get sharp photos with very little problems.
This is not to discourage you, of course you can use the tripod you have now and get good photos, I’ve used a cheaper vanguard for more than year and still got by, just saying that eventually you’ll want something sturdier if you want to get the most out of your scope.
I agree with the 393 movement, is a dream, it’s so easy to move the scope with it and tracking birds in flight. But I think it’s a bit too weak to hold the ED80’s weight, when I put the 2xTC with the 393, I run into the same issues I had with the older manfrotto setup, so I almost never use it.

It’s a personal opinion, but I’d go with a 600mm scope, the ED100 is as good or better than the ED80 but is a monster, it’s almost a meter long, depends a lot on your dedication... I don’t think I’d carry that thing for too long :) . It’s ½ a stop faster than the ED80 at 900mm though.

One thing Paul, the dandelion chips aren't needed for focus confirmation with Nikon bodies, as Nikon will confirm focus even without a chip. What they'll do is allow metering on the cheaper bodies.
It's the opposite of Canon, canon will meter without a CPU but wont confirm focus, Nikon confirms focus without a CPU but wont meter.
 

Musoman

PETE - Nikon Shooter
beats uk prices by about £150 !!, but would I have to pay any import/VAT to bring it in.

Cheers
Vic

No you wont pay import and VAT, as Germany are part of the Euro Union. Import and VAT is only applicable if you buy outside of the Union, like the USA, Japan, etc.
 

thornlv

Well-known member
it late at night so short reply.

Would a set of extension tubes do for spacers, I have a bid on ebay for some cheap ones at the mo.

Fernando, dont seem to get focus confirm on my D90 when using the T2/slip on adapter on my digiscope set up, what camera is yours ?
 

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
I have a D90 too, alltough I never checked that on this body as I never use focus confirmation, but I tried on my previous bodies, I'm pretty sure the D90 works the same way. So, that's probably due to the aperture being too low, if you drop bellow F/8 the camera wont be able to confirm focus... maybe F/10.5 (ED80+1.4xTC) in very good light.

BTW, I checked my CAD drawings tonight and the adapter I made has 83mm from the end of the focuser to the mount, that will be more or less what you should aim with the extension tubes. With this measure I can focus from infinity to about 6m.
 

Paul Corfield

Well-known member
it late at night so short reply.

Would a set of extension tubes do for spacers, I have a bid on ebay for some cheap ones at the mo.

Fernando, don't seem to get focus confirm on my D90 when using the T2/slip on adapter on my digiscope set up, what camera is yours ?

The cheap macro extensions tubes on ebay will do the job. If it's the screw together type then it can take longer to change the length but most of the time you should be able to set them at a length to cover most distances. If you get an extra set then you can use them between the 1.5X TC and the camera. This will boost the 1.5X above 2X, maybe to 2.5X depending on how far away from the camera you have it.

As Fernando says, you will get focus confirm only below a certain f stop. On your spotting scope you are probably way beyond the f number that the camera can focus confirm at.

Paul.
 

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
Those tubes are unnecessary for the scope, they are automatic tubes, and you wont need that on the scope, since there is no aperture to change.

You could try these:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/3-Steps-Exten...ns_caps_hoods_adaptors_ET&hash=item56331a349d

These are cheaper and can make for a more solid fit, than those your bidding. These tubes are threaded between each other, and they will have no play at all.
And you can buy too sets and thread them together (30+16+9+16+9) for a 80mm extension (with a spare 30mm).

The others will be a better choice if you plan on using them for macros too.

BTW these were not the type of extension tubes I mentioned in my original response, I was thinking about scope tubes, but these can actually be a better choice as they’ll be easier to get the correct measure.
 

thornlv

Well-known member
Ok, heres what I will go for to start with - in order of connection.

D90 (got) - Extension tubes Fernando suggets (probably 2 sets) - T2 adapter(got) - scope (settling on the ED80) then finally either my 1.5 TC or 2x TC between the camera and ext tubes as needed.

Is this a workable choice - forgot to ask how does the final connection wwork, ie T2 to scope ?

ps will keep the auto ext tubes for my sigma 150-500 or Tamron 70-300mm macro to reduce minimum focus distances.

quick final question for Fernando, those Berlebach tripods look great (wood, so natural), which model do you have - prices from euros looks very good value.

how about these http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Macro-Extensi...ns_caps_hoods_adaptors_ET&hash=item3ef08e76aa
 
Last edited:

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
Those auto tubes won't work with Sigma 150-500 either, they’re automatic in the way of having auto aperture (Ai, AiS) but they don’t have electronic contacts, so the camera won’t communicate with the lens. With lenses with aperture ring it would still work, although without metering you can set the aperture on the lens and shoot normally. But I don’t think the 150-500 have an aperture ring, does it? If it doesn’t have a ring you will be stuck with the lens’ iris at it’s closest position, F/32 I assume.
Those tubes would be nice if you use an older AiS lens and want to get closer.

The Berlebachs are great, I had two already, had a 9003 for sometime but eventually change it for the 2002, the 2002 is small but I never shoot standing so it’s not a problem for me. This tripod is remarkably solid, there were two tripod comparisons on the net with berlebachs, berlebach usually came out ahead for stability. And they look amazing… ok, that’s more a personal thing, I’m a wood guy myself :)

Here's a photo of my scope on the berlebach:
http://fernandobatista.smugmug.com/photos/827388532_DPN4Z-O.jpg

Those tubes in the link are fine, I think they are the same actually.
 

thornlv

Well-known member
Well, finally got around to ordering my gear tonight, starting with the SW scope. went through checkout, confirm purchase and - bang, credit card refused. Well, phoned my CC company (just took out their card because of 0% on purchases till april 2011), they said their system saw it as a possible fraudulent use, as it does not fit in with my usual purchasing habits - WHAT, I said - it was the 1st time I was using it, anyway the block should be off tomorow (I hope)

Fernando, looking at those Berlebach tripods, can't beleive the prices - in pounds it would be £120 for the 2002 and £160 for the 9003. They look really good (available in different wood finishes as well). If you say they would be better than an 055 manfrotto carbon fibre then that is very good value for those prices, was looking at the 055Xpro CF at £269 today and thought that would be better than I have already, thicker legs etc.

May well be going for one of those Berlebachs later, after I have read the catalogue I downloaded tonight.

Cheers.
 

FernandoBatista

Well-known member
Yup, the price on these tripods are extremely attractive, they're the best bang for the buck I've ever found in tripods. And they'll probably last a lot more than any CF/aluminum tripod too.

The only downside with wood tripods is their collapsed height, they're a bit long considering how much they'll extend.

Here's a link for a comparison:
http://www.tvwg.nl/testrapporten/statieven/statieven.htm
This review has a 3032, but even this version is a rock comparing to the 055. Only the Gitzo G1327 is better in every regard, but by a very small margin. The Manfrotto 028B is more rigid but takes much longer to absorb vibrations, and the manfrotto is a 4.15Kg beast, also it doesn't allow shooting at ground level witch is a serious downside for our use.

Here's another, this one with the 2022, results are similar:
http://tinyurl.com/36du8vy
 

mooreorless

Well-known member
Vic, I have an Orion 100ED similar to the Skywatcher 100ED and like it a lot. I use it on a Bogen 501 HD head with 475 tripod. I have to balance of course. I do have a Celestron 80ED and it is a lot more portable than the 100ED. I don't have a lot of time with prime focus so far and one reason I like the 100ED is for the extra reach, I don't have any barlows etc.
Regards,Steve

Many thanks both of you, some really usefull info there. Judging by the requirement list I would require:
1/ scope OTA
2/ Spacer for focuser travel

I already have a Nikon T ring, so what spacer would I require (or is there a better solution)

The TCs I have are both Kenko’s, N-AF 2X teleplus MC7 DGX and N-AF 1.5 (not 1.4) teleplus MC DG. I hardly ever use the 2x but have used the 1.5 with some good results on my Sigma 150-500, So on the SW ED80 this would give me:

600mm @ F7.5, 900mm @ F10 and 1200 @ F14

Fernando has made me rethink the 2nd body idea so my budget may be higher, I had a look at the ‘dandelion’ chips but don’t fully uderstand how I could utilise one yet. Like your idea of a modified old lens for metering (and enabling flash), could you be so kind as to explain further

Looking at some of my photos my D90 has a usable ISO to noise ratio of upto 1600, I normally use 400 with no noise issues, 800 – 1600 is usable with noticeable noise as you go higher but as long as the exposure is slightly over, the noise is minimal and workable with either Camera raw, photoshop or better still Neat image. I took some readings today, albeit overcast and at F7.5 to F14 still got some useable shutter speeds with ISOs upto 1600 (mostly upto 800), so on a good sunny day should’nt present a problem.

Fernando, My CF legs are model 190MFV and I find them quite stable (with my scope and Sigma combis), My style of photography is mostly scout an area, select a position and sit and wait, so I mostly have the legs spread for more stability. I love my 393 head (but will probably review with a astro scope), I find it gives me precise positioning and movement. I also have a Giottos VH6011 head, which is lighter and a video head style, nice movement but needs locking in positions.

Paul, could you explain Barlows a bit more, you mention conditions and expense, how much are they,what conditions are required. (ps, I like your artwork, very individual style)

Had a look at the SW Ed80 at teleskop-express,very good price, works out at £337 delivered (by DHL) – beats uk prices by about £150 !!, but would I have to pay any import/VAT to bring it in.

Anyway, been looking further at their products and saw this.

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop...or-100-900mm-Pro---optical-tube-assembly.html

What do you think, my reason for thinking of this is this.

My Sigma will work for me upto 600 –675mm, F8 (with my 1.5 TC), so I will takeover at 900mm, F9 (as against the 80ED of 900mm @ F10, gives me 1/5th extra shutter speed), adding probably only the 1.5TC (1350mm @ F13 as opposed to 80ED + 2x TC 1200 @ F14)

What do you think ?

Cheers
Vic
 

thornlv

Well-known member
Well, finally ordered my gear, ordered the SW80ED, 2 sets of ext tubes and the MaxDSLR. Thanks steve for the further suggestions of tripods to look at, will be making that decision later, possibly after Birdfair UK - may see these tripods there.

Vic
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top