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Someone please wager on whether this will work! (Sony RX0) (2 Viewers)

Ballo

New member
Hello! I'm an unusual case in that I go hiking and climbing in remote areas. I often carry an ancient Sony TX5 rugged camera and crummy no-name spotting scope which can be used together in a rather lame fashion, but I want to upgrade to something much better so I'm considering a used Sony RX0 and a Kowa TS-502.

The Sony RX0, however, has no zoom (it's fixed 24mm mirrorless) and I've noticed with the TX5 I have to zoom in to work with the crummy view angle of my current bottom-of-the-barrel scope. I was wondering if you could wager if you think the 24mm lens could work with a better scope. The Kowa TS-502 has an eye relief of 14.0mm to 12.5mm and a field of view of 131' to 92':
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1349417-REG/kowa_tsn_502_20_40x50_compact_spotting.html/specs

I'm open to suggestions, also. I was going to buy a Nikon AW1 but this combo would be a lot lighter.
 

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Hello! I'm an unusual case in that I go hiking and climbing in remote areas. I often carry an ancient Sony TX5 rugged camera and crummy no-name spotting scope which can be used together in a rather lame fashion, but I want to upgrade to something much better so I'm considering a used Sony RX0 and a Kowa TS-502.

The Sony RX0, however, has no zoom (it's fixed 24mm mirrorless) and I've noticed with the TX5 I have to zoom in to work with the crummy view angle of my current bottom-of-the-barrel scope. I was wondering if you could wager if you think the 24mm lens could work with a better scope. The Kowa TS-502 has an eye relief of 14.0mm to 12.5mm and a field of view of 131' to 92':
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1349417-REG/kowa_tsn_502_20_40x50_compact_spotting.html/specs

I'm open to suggestions, also. I was going to buy a Nikon AW1 but this combo
would be a lot lighter.

Why don't you use your smartphone (on a PhoneSkope carrier), which will push over your Kowa eyepiece really quickly and with the zoom and automatic focusing on the phone, you'll get some really decent shots. You don't have to bother with a camera or digiscoping kit then - much lighter much faster

Have a look at phonescoping forums and also see some of the photos on the Gallery using smartphones. Make certain your scope has a decent zoom lense though.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
A 24mm will work.... but like any camera on a spotting scope, the vignetting will be there unless you have some sort of optical zoom attached to your camera to accommodate. If you use a designated adapter, that might also work. I am not familiar with your camera so cannot be for sure, sure...

Really...you can easily pick up a small point and shoot with a 5x optical zoom (used) on eBay...lots of different cameras will work and will most likely give you a much better shot. You can hand hold it if you want to your eyepiece on the scope although that is difficult to do. If you read some of my digiscoping blogs, (See link), you will find some suggestions for cameras I have, and some techniques.

Sometimes it isn't about the lightness of the camera, it is about how well it might fit to your scope and the vignetting issue with that optical zoom. A bottom of the barrel scope can be tough to pull out images since so much depends on the glass and also the light coming into the scope. You want a scope that is more along 80mm scope size. There are several cheaper scope options out there or you can purchase a used scope. Also, angled or straight makes a difference depending on your personal preference but I have always had an angled scope.

But ...see my link below to my blog and you might pick up information you were not aware of. I have been digiscoping since the mid 90's and believe I have one of my earlier blogs talking about that experience! ....

Oh....I spent most of my life/time in Washington State too and only moved to Jersey a few years back and Arizona. I still am in Wa a few times a year for family.... ...but in SE WA area...... Not sure where you are. jim
 

Ballo

New member
Why don't you use your smartphone

1) They break 2) They don't work in low light 3) they aren't water/shock proof 4) I looked up the Pixel 3a, which is one of their lighter phones, and it's heavier than my TX5.

I'm not impressed with 'smart' phones.
 

Ballo

New member
A 24mm will work.... but like any camera on a spotting scope, the vignetting will be there unless you have some sort of optical zoom attached to your camera to accommodate. If you use a designated adapter, that might also work. I am not familiar with your camera so cannot be for sure, sure...

Really...you can easily pick up a small point and shoot with a 5x optical zoom (used) on eBay...lots of different cameras will work and will most likely give you a much better shot. You can hand hold it if you want to your eyepiece on the scope although that is difficult to do. If you read some of my digiscoping blogs, (See link), you will find some suggestions for cameras I have, and some techniques.

Sometimes it isn't about the lightness of the camera, it is about how well it might fit to your scope and the vignetting issue with that optical zoom. A bottom of the barrel scope can be tough to pull out images since so much depends on the glass and also the light coming into the scope. You want a scope that is more along 80mm scope size. There are several cheaper scope options out there or you can purchase a used scope. Also, angled or straight makes a difference depending on your personal preference but I have always had an angled scope.

But ...see my link below to my blog and you might pick up information you were not aware of. I have been digiscoping since the mid 90's and believe I have one of my earlier blogs talking about that experience! ....

Oh....I spent most of my life/time in Washington State too and only moved to Jersey a few years back and Arizona. I still am in Wa a few times a year for family.... ...but in SE WA area...... Not sure where you are. jim

1) I have never seen a lightweight 80mm scope.
2) I'm only considering used scopes.

Is there perhaps an eyepiece-scope combo that would work better with the 24mm lens? Unfortunately, the market for rugged cameras is absolutely dismal. Most are designed for scuba which I have zero interest in, and if I did I'd just buy a housing. There are only two somewhat lightweight rugged cameras that I know of: the TX5 (which I own) and the RX0.

PS: I appreciate the replies. I bounce between Tucson and Oregon rock climbing and such.
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
My suggestion if you want light weight and portable etc...is to get a superzoom. The images you are looking for in the combinations of digiscoping equipment you are looking into are not going to be stellar? Why not try a solid super zoom such as the Canon SX730. It would be used, a generation or two ago in SX series designs and yet would give nice shots. A lot easier backpacking with a small camera of high quality (and fairly good video) than hauling around any old scope plus that camera. My thoughts.

I used to hike all the time in Oregon.....love it. The Wallowa region, Blues etc.... Spent many times backpacking and enjoying that beautiful country. Used to work for the National Parks as a ranger and loved the Olympics and the entire pen, plus a bit in Montana area. One of those jobs where it wasn't a job! jim
 

Ballo

New member
I'd break or douse a Canon SX730 (or an RX100 or any other fragile non-water retardant point and shoot) in no time flat. You should see the dings in my TX5. There's a reason I don't own a smart phone.

The nice things about spotting scopes is they tend to be water and shock resistant.

Yeah, a friend builds trails in Olympic NP. He's killed more cameras than I've owned. It doesn't take much moisture to do so. Wallowas is one of the only parts of Oregon I haven't yet scoured, but mainly because I'll have to bring a climbing partner or I'll go crazy.
 

mbb

Well-known member
Actually, I don’t think it is such a bad idea giving a shot at coupling an RX0 to a spotting scope. That is exactly what I was considering for some time, wanting a sturdy, rainproof but very light and very compact camera (kind of an action cam, but with good image quality and not for real action ;) ), which would also be OK for digiscoping (or vice-versa). But I was being held back by the price of those RX0: I think it is overpriced, especially as for most use cases an RX100 (also some other versions you can find discounted) or many other cheaper cameras would be better allround. Even a good, waterproof smartphone with a good camera (e.g.GooglePixel 2-3-4, Samsung S10(e)...) would be better for most use cases and possible to find for a similar or cheaper price.
Still, if you already own an RX0 or need one for some other reason, why not try it out for digiscoping too? I was lucky enough to find a second hand RX0 (first version) at a fraction of its original price, and it just arrived exactly today. ;)

I only checked it very(!) briefly late after work and indoors, being tired and with the camera battery barely charged. Of course it vignettes tremendously when put against the scope (24mm equiv.), but very similarly to my smartphone (26mm equiv.). It is also lighter than my smartphone. The big disadvantage is of course the very small screen, which will probably make it hard to focus well on birds. That is all as I had expected.

I hope to find some time this weekend to pull together a first version of the adapter I am planning to make and will post back about it. But it might not be this weekend yet and don’t expect many bird pics: the lockdown also applies to spotting scopes...

In the end, I’m not sure if it will be better for digiscoping than my smartphone regarding image quality or ease of focussing. I am mainly worried about the f4 max.aperture and the tiny screen. But I like the idea and hope it will be fun trying. :bounce: It’s just going to postpone me making my DIY digiscoping adapter for my smartphone |8(|

BTW: Another similar option I considered was to try out a DXO One camera, because of the combination of a 1inch sensor and 32mm f1.8 equivalent lens (instead of 24mm f4 for the RX0). Optically, it should be better suited for digiscoping I think. However, it has a screen that shouldn’t be called one, thus in reality relying fully on the smartphone control. That could maybe be OK, but the camera is discontinued (but possible to find second hand,especially for iPhones) and thus without any further app development/maintenance for already some years now. The risk of suddenly not being usable anymore made it a no-go. And I don’t own an iPhone |;|
If Sony would make a 32mm f1.8 version of their RX0, it might be a really interesting option for lightweight digiscoping if the focussing is adequate.
 
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etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Actually, I don’t think it is such a bad idea giving a shot at coupling an RX0 to a spotting scope. That is exactly what I was considering for some time, wanting a sturdy, rainproof but very light and very compact camera (kind of an action cam, but with good image quality and not for real action ;) ), which would also be OK for digiscoping (or vice-versa). But I was being held back by the price of those RX0: I think it is overpriced, especially as for most use cases an RX100 (also some other versions you can find discounted) or many other cheaper cameras would be better allround. Even a good, waterproof smartphone with a good camera (e.g.GooglePixel 2-3-4, Samsung S10(e)...) would be better for most use cases and possible to find for a similar or cheaper price.
Still, if you already own an RX0 or need one for some other reason, why not try it out for digiscoping too? I was lucky enough to find a second hand RX0 (first version) at a fraction of its original price, and it just arrived exactly today. ;)

I only checked it very(!) briefly late after work and indoors, being tired and with the camera battery barely charged. Of course it vignettes tremendously when put against the scope (24mm equiv.), but very similarly to my smartphone (26mm equiv.). It is also lighter than my smartphone. The big disadvantage is of course the very small screen, which will probably make it hard to focus well on birds. That is all as I had expected.

I hope to find some time this weekend to pull together a first version of the adapter I am planning to make and will post back about it. But it might not be this weekend yet and don’t expect many bird pics: the lockdown also applies to spotting scopes...

In the end, I’m not sure if it will be better for digiscoping than my smartphone regarding image quality or ease of focussing. I am mainly worried about the f4 max.aperture and the tiny screen. But I like the idea and hope it will be fun trying. :bounce: It’s just going to postpone me making my DIY digiscoping adapter for my smartphone |8(|

BTW: Another similar option I considered was to try out a DXO One camera, because of the combination of a 1inch sensor and 32mm f1.8 equivalent lens (instead of 24mm f4 for the RX0). Optically, it should be better suited for digiscoping I think. However, it has a screen that shouldn’t be called one, thus in reality relying fully on the smartphone control. That could maybe be OK, but the camera is discontinued (but possible to find second hand,especially for iPhones) and thus without any further app development/maintenance for already some years now. The risk of suddenly not being usable anymore made it a no-go. And I don’t own an iPhone |;|
If Sony would make a 32mm f1.8 version of their RX0, it might be a really interesting option for lightweight digiscoping if the focussing is adequate.

Perhaps technology has gotten cheap enough to allow the Zeiss Fotoscope idea to be revived.
A built in high grade sensor with a Bluetooth connection and an on/off button is really what we need. The idea of hanging the phone on the eyepiece is just not very satisfactory.
 

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Perhaps technology has gotten cheap enough to allow the Zeiss Fotoscope idea to be revived.
A built in high grade sensor with a Bluetooth connection and an on/off button is really what we need. The idea of hanging the phone on the eyepiece is just not very satisfactory.

Why do you think it's not satisfactory?
The PhoneSkope works a treat. I've got an old IPhone 5 (+ PhoneSkope) on to my Zeiss Diascope 85 (second hand). All you need to do is to twist your phone (+ cover) off, leave the eyepiece ring on and you can still see perfectly through the scope. Touching the screen of the phone to sharpen the image & focus when photographing is so easy and I use a Bluetooth shutter control to blast off as many images without shake as you like. This was captured a couple of days ago, at a distance of about 30 metres at about 40 mag and image expanded then on iPhone to enlargen slightly. Although not Tamron/Cannon quality....I still felt it was pretty good considering I'm a rank amateur and I've haven't even enhanced the image other than 'magic wand' it. The IPhone & scope are both waterproof....the only disadvantage is carrying the gear on your back but my scope with a 20-75 mag. & 85mm objective is ( I think...don't quote me) equivalent to a 1000 mm camera lens !?!?

image.jpg
 
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etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Why do you think it's not satisfactory?
The PhoneSkope works a treat. I've got an old IPhone 5 (+ PhoneSkope) on to my Zeiss Diascope 85 (second hand). All you need to do is to twist your phone (+ cover) off, leave the eyepiece ring on and you can still see perfectly through the scope. Touching the screen of the phone to sharpen the image & focus when photographing is so easy and I use a Bluetooth shutter control to blast off as many images without shake as you like. This was captured a couple of days ago, at a distance of about 30 metres at about 40 mag and image expanded then on iPhone to enlargen slightly. Although not Tamron/Cannon quality....I still felt it was pretty good considering I'm a rank amateur and I've haven't even enhanced the image other than 'magic wand' it. The IPhone & scope are both waterproof....the only disadvantage is carrying the gear on your back but my scope with a 20-75 mag. & 85mm objective is ( I think...don't quote me) equivalent to a 1000 mm camera lens !?!?

View attachment 725625

Very nice shot!
Of course the phone plus adapter plus scope plus competent user ensemble delivers the goods.
My only point is that it is now possible economically to eliminate the adapter and automate the process. The only need is for the scope to have a decent built in sensor and a Bluetooth link. At the top tier, hopefully scope prices offer enough margin to allow such innovation.
 

Ian Byrnes

Well-known member
Totally agree.....I can't remember what they were but I have seen a camera/binocular combination advertised.....may be Cannon?

But yes there's bound to be, if the market demands and if economically viable, a Chinese manufacturer who could put one together at a fraction of the Zeiss cost. Even though the quality of the Diascope I have is top notch, I tried out today for the first time in ages, the first cheapy scope I bought......a Bresser (Chinese made) 15-45 X 60 supposedly ED re-branded as Hilkinson (I paid £50/$65 for it used) ...AND at 15/20 magnification it was pretty good....so YES, I'm sure someone could come up with something. As daft as it is....that new, would have been $150 in comparison to $3250 for a new Diascope......!
 

mbb

Well-known member
first results testing it...

As promised, I'm giving an update on my first attempts at using the Sony RX0 for digiscoping:

First, the setup:
I've used the following items:
  • a filter adapter with 37mm thread. (It comes with cap, rectangular solar shade, 37mm filter, screws, small screwdriver, but you don't need the filter of rectangular solar shade.) I didn't the buy the absurdly expensive Sony adapter, but just some random one online, for €20 or so.
  • a standard 37mm-62mm setup-up ring
  • a standard 62mm round aluminium solar shade (max.2cm large!)
  • some rubber sealing tape for windows I still had lying around

You can see in the pictures how everything fits together.
Using the 37mm filter is not possible as it increases the distance to the eyepiece too much beyond the eye relief. Actually, the solar shade really couldn't have been longer either, as it would have kept the camera too far away from the eyepiece due to the thicker green border of the ATX scope.
It is easy however to clip the 37mm cap inside on the stepup-ring even when the solar shade is on, protecting the RX0's lens when putting away the whole little setup-up in your bag or jacket.
With the rubber sealant the fit with the Swarovski eyepiece is OK. Of course, depending on your telescope, you might need another step-up ring and solar shade (diameter and/or length).
The main thing I still need to do find, is some small lanyard, to attach to the RX0's lanyard whole and being able to tight it around the scope's eyepiece. It would be usefull as a fall-protection or just keeping this lightweight setup attached there, at hand, like the eyepiece cover.
It is actually impressive how light and compact this setup is: the whole thing (incl. camera) weighs only 136g, which is even lighter than my bare smartphone (without its cover).

Now, some first, quick hands-on experience:
This is a bit mixed.
  • I love how compact it is and how simple and solid it feels.
  • Compared to the much larger and heavier combination of a Swarovski DCB-II adapter + a compact camera, it doesn't cause as large of an unbalance and therefore it puts less requirements on the tripod head.
  • It is also fun being able to connect the camera to the smartphone or tablet via WIFI/bluetooth, to transfer the pictures, as a didactic tool (showing to several people together what you see) and to use the smartphone/tablet as a remote. The connection is speedy enough once established, but a little slow to establish with my Android smartphone, though I have the impression it is faster with my iPad (too large to carry on walks however). It might be due to my smartphone, to the Android version of the app or maybe something I should setup differently.
  • As you can see in the pictures, there is some considerable vignetting (this is an understatement), but that was expected: on that level it almost identical to the result when using my smartphone (handheld, because I still have to make an adapter for it).
  • I am impressed by the number of control options there are for such a small 'action' camera. Of course a little unhandy with the small screen and buttons, but you assign some functions as shortcuts to some buttons, like e.g. switching between manual and autofocus.
  • My biggest issue however, is reaching quickly a good focus. I knew the RX0's did have only a small screen without touch control, but
    [*] (1) I thought the control app on the smartphone/tablet had touch-focus, but it doesn't!
    [*] (2) the zebra-stripes/peak-focus function seems to be not precise enough, resulting in wrong estimation of what is in focus.​
I guess I'll have to try it out some more, trying out different approaches and seeing what works best.

This is really only some first impressions. I didn't have much time to try it out yet and it was just in our small city-garden due to the lockdown, with no bird passing by at that time (and the pictured nest is not inhabited) |^|, but it was fun observing and photographing the moon a few hours later at night |=)| and I wanted to already share the first findings, as promised.

As expected, it is not perfect, but if Sony or some competitor would make a 32mm-equivalent (instead of 24mm-equivalent), with easier selection of the focus point, it seems like it would be a tremendous digiscoping solution for who wants a compact, lightweight, rugged and good image-quality solution, an ideal fixed companion for a compact spotting scope. It almost looks like an off-the-shelf solution (except when you see the rubber tape inside ;) )
 

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