• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Need advice on a new scope, tripod & camera setup (1 Viewer)


Jon Hicks
United Kingdom
Apologies in advance for the long post, but I’m researching ideas to improve my scope/photography setup and looking for ideas. As well as my bins, I normally take out:
  • Leica Televid 62 APO - 30x wide and 20-60x eyepieces
  • Velbon Delta V Tripod (InFocus edition) + hide clamp for the central column
  • Nikon Coolpix P900 bridge camera
  • Scopac backpack
If find it all a bit heavy and cumbersome, and while the Coolpix is very convenient, the quality is just ‘sort of OK’, and the viewfinder is hard to see through. I'm looking to improve on the quality (as well as carry less, and weigh less if I can), but not expecting SLR + dedicated long lens type resolution. My use case is mainly sketching, observing and taking good reference shots in the field.

My previous experience with digiscoping was a Phoneskope adaptor and an iPhone X. I found it too fiddly and wobbly, and setting up a shot took longer than I wanted. I haven’t got on with the Scopac pack either, even though it does spread the weight well. I prefer a sling approach to carrying my scope.

For once, budget is no issue. This is going to be a once in a lifetime purchase, and I want to get it right, but my research seems to show me that modern scopes aren’t going to be any lighter than my Leica. I’ve been looking at a Swarovski ATX setup with their SLR digiscoping adaptor. I like how I can have an SLR body ready to just ‘pop on’, although it probably doesn’t save any weight. If there’s a more robust adaptor for phones, that might be better. At the other end of the spectrum are the light and compact Kowa’s, but I assume that digiscoping with these would be more limited?

I’m guessing i’m not going save any weight with the scope, but maybe by changing other elements? Would a lightweight carbon tripod be foolish if I have a heavy scope?

Obviously I’ll need to try a few out, but there are no good optics shops near me, so I’m doing as much research as I can before I drive out to one. Recommendations/ideas for Scopes, Tripods, Digiscoping adaptors, SLRs, anything, gratefully received!
Last edited:


Jon Hicks
United Kingdom
Sorry, I've probably made this far too long-winded!

I've decided to go for a Sony A6500 (or similar) for the camera part, and I'm trying to decide between a lightweight Opticron MM4 60 GA ED or Swarovski ATX 85 for the scope part. The former so much lighter and cheaper, but I'm assuming I'd need the light gathering and quality of the Swaro to get decent photos.


Here I Come !
I'm using Swarovski STX95 with the TLS APO 30 adapter on the Sony A6600, A7R4, A74 and also Nikon V1 plus occasionally with the heavy D3s. My tripod are made from carbon by Fotopro and using th Swarovski PTH Gimbal head with long plate to support the camera etc. For smartphone, I have the VPA made by Swarovski too. So far the combos above, I am totally happy and pleased with the results especially with the 4k video modes.

Bigger objective lens gathered more lights which is really important for digiscoping. I have shots around 1/15s shutter speed in the rainforest with timer on the camera or cable release to prevent shakes. I have the ATX60 which I do digiscoping sometimes, but it is mostly used on longer walk with my smartphone.

Check this e-book made by Jerry https://alphadigiscoping.com/


Jon Hicks
United Kingdom
Thanks horukuru, that's really helpful. I hadn't come across the e-book before, but that's really thorough. I'm realising I need to decide between either a lightweight setup, or a good digiscoping one - I'm not going to get both.


Jon Hicks
United Kingdom
After much deliberation I've gone for an Opticron MM4 GA ED 60 + SDL 3 eyepiece with a Manfrotto Befree tripod. Super light and easy to carry setup, and really happy with the quality of the Opticron for the size/price. I really wanted to keep the Swarovski ATX 85, but the weight was just too much.

I've also decided against a posh SLR digiscoping setup - I bought the latest Phoneskope for the Opticron, and they've improved the design since the last time I tried it - the adapter ring is more secure. There's quite a bit of vignetting, but its fine for reference purposes. Will look into a separate camera setup instead…

Users who are viewing this thread