Archive for December 16th, 2007

Digiscoping for Dummies

Sometime in November I mentioned that I had purchased a spotting scope for Mary’s birthday. I have also mentioned digiscoping before, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about digiscoping and what I’m doing.

Pentax PF-80ED-AThere are two primary components needed for digiscoping, a digital camera (digi) and a spotting scope (scoping). After a lot of research, I ended up buying the Pentax PF-80ED-A with a 20-60x zoom eyepiece from Eagle Optics. You can read a bit about it on Eagle Optics’ blog entry: Spotting Scopes for Birding. For the digital camera, I have been using Mary’s Casio Exilim EX-S500. It’s not the best combination, but I’ve managed to get some decent results.

VignettingSome things to consider are the camera’s zoom (4x is supposed to be about the best) and the scopes eye relief (distance your eye or the camera lens can be from the scope eyepiece and still see the image). These factors combine to determine the amount of vignetting you will have in the picture (black ring around your image). You can see an extreme example of vignetting in the picture to the right, which was my first attempt at digiscoping with the Pentax and Casio setup. Zooming the camera to 4x and zooming the scope eyepiece to 40x pretty much eliminates the vignetting for me.

Digiscoped peregrineOne of the main difficulties with digiscoping is getting the camera lens lined up with the scope eyepiece. So far I’ve been doing this mostly by hand, and occasionally set up a second tripod with the Casio, but lining up the two instruments on two separate scopes is not so easy, and it is definitely not very adjustable. I did manage to get a decent picture of a peregrine falcon atop a power line tower (picture on left). There are many mounts and adapters available to connect the camera to the scope, but none that I have found work with the huge eyepiece on the Pentax scope. I’ll have to figure something out to solve this problem.

It’s pretty fun stuff. Once I find a good adapter solution, it should be much easier to set up and track birds. So far I’ve captured a white-tailed kite, red-tailed hawk and a peregrine falcon.

Posted on 16th December 2007
Under: Wildlife, Geek Stuff | No Comments »