Digiscoping
Help,
Advice & Lessons for All!

 
After a while,  anyone who enjoys digiscoping will want to improve their set up and try different combinations of cameras and scopes.
 
Most optic manufacturers now produce varying digiscoping adaptors to go with their brand of scope.
 
Its very easy to choose different combinations, depending on which method of digiscoping you prefer, compact or DSLR.

 Digiscoping with a DSLR style camera for instance is very possible, and in my opinion easier than digiscoping with a compact camera. These style of camera are generally more varied in their set up, making them more suited to digiscoping. This can make digiscoping much better and makes helps produce better images.

I currently use a Swarovski ATS 80HD and TLS APO DSLR digiscoping adaptor. The camera is connected directly to the end of the adaptor.

It is possible to connect DSLR's directly to the eyepiece of the scope in some cases, via the cameras lens filter thread, via a special adapter or digiscoping brackets.

 


Here are some DSLR connection examples.

 

 
DSLR connected to a bespoke digiscoping adapter
 
 
 
 

If you are a Swarovski user
and are in ANY doubt about what adaptor to use then please check this
 
HERE is a download for cameras recommended for digiscoping by Swarovski. It is very helpful!
 
Click HERE for a guide to the new Swarovski TLS APO & DCB II adapters compatibility
 
If you own the Swarovski UCA, fitting instuctions can be found HERE 

 
 
 


The Scope & Adaptor
Before deciding on a scope for digiscoping it is important to check out the options for connection of your camera, depending on which style of camera you are planning to use.
 
As shown above there are different ways to connect your DSLR.  There are 4 main ways of doing this.
  • Direct connection to the scopes eyepiece (eg: a threaded T mount (42mm) on the scopes eyepiece)
  • Connection via a telephoto style adaptor, this takes the place of the scopes eypiece (eg: TLS 800, Opticron 40215)
  • Connection via a "push fit" style adaptor using a fixed lens through the scopes eyepiece (eg: Swarovski DCA, Opticron 41111)
  • Via a digiscoping bracket (eg: Swarovski UCA)
All of these methods of connection work well.
 
Some examples of digiscoping adaptors can be found HERE 
 
 
There are many different scopes on the market, and not all of them have dedicated DSLR adapters.
Click on the logo for many great bespoke digiscoping adapter solutions!
 

 
If you need a Stepping ring or T2 adapter to connect your DSLR to your adapter/scope, then click on the Top Hat for all your photographic accessory needs. If you are unsure of the size of the adapter rings that you need then please ask me first and I'll try to help :)
 

 
When you have decided on your method of connection there are a few other things to consider before making your final choice.
 
 I picked an 80mm objective scope as it would let in more light than a 65mm version. This is always my first priority as a larger lens will capture more light. A good quality scope with ED glass is also a must if you wish to progress as the more expensive glass will help to significantly reduce Chromatic Abberation, AKA "Purple Fringing"
 
Also, some of the better makes of scope have much shorter minimum focussing distances, which can be useful as there isn't as much need to have to adjust your distance to the subject.

 
The Camera
The camera choice is as important as the scope.
 
Digiscoping is often hampered by poor light. Traditionally, digiscopers suffer with poor light as scopes do not have the light gathering capabilites of proffesional camera lenses, hence the massive price differences!
 
Therefore, comprimises must be struck, and, in many cases, the digiscoper has to use his camera settings to help achieve better exposures on less favourable days.
 
Regardless of DSLR or digital comapct camera I would opt for a camera with a good sensor, 12MP+ and a full manual or aperture priority mode. These are normally standard features on more expensive, newer camera models.
 
The reason I opt for a larger sensor is so that I can raise the ISO on the camera on duller days. Raising the ISO adds white to the image, and helps to increase shutter speeds. The drawback here is that raising the ISO can lead to grainy or "noisy" images. Basically, the more megapixels, the more this noise is dispersed across the image so the effects of the noise are reduced, making digiscoping easier.
 
I would also recommend getting a shutter release cable to suit your camera. Reducing camera shake can only help to enhance your final results.
 
These would be my main areas of attention when it comes to camera selection. How the camera performs after that is down to the digiscoper!!

 
The Tripod
As I said on the beginners page, a good tripod with a fluid head is a must. Sometimes finding the subject can be hard enough, so being able to fix easily upon it is much less frustrating!! The tripod I used until recenty was a Velbon PX-581 with a Vel-flo 10 fluid panhead. This tripod is old & heavy.
 
I now use a Carbon Fibre tripod. Not that I dislike my velbon (I still have it) Its just I was looking for something a little lighter! Scoping rigs can be a little heavy, so reducing the weight wherever possible really can make your trips out more enjoyable.
 
 
I opted for a Manfrotto tripod and pan head, but there are plenty of options
 
My current tripod is a Manfotto 190 MFV.
 
My new tripod panhead is a Manfrotto 701HDV
 
Both are pictured below, and are excellent pieces of equipment.
 
If you click on the links, it will take you to the product information page on Manfrotto's website. This will help you choose the equipment for your set up. With carbon fibre tripods its important to consider the weight of your rig, as these tripods and heads have weight limits.
 
 
Manfrotto 701 HDV Fluid Panhead
 
 
 
Manfrotto 190 MFV Carbon Fibre Tripod
 
 

The method of connection and support that you choose is your own.
The main method for digiscoping with a
DSLR isn't to dissimilar than
digiscoping with a compact digital camera, but there are a few differences to look out for. Here are the main differences that I have found.
 
  • A direct connection to the scope is often prefered as it is more stable and the less glass between the  scopes objective lens & the camera the sharper images will be.
  • The rig can be more "back heavy" so a balance rail may be required to even the weight out.
  • A DSLR will have greater capabilities than a digital compact camera.
  • Scope & camera must be focussed when using a compact camera, only the scope needs to be focussed whilst using a DSLR, making the technique easier.
  • Generally the DSLR will need to be in "manual" or "aperture priority" mode
  • The scope acts as the main lens with DSLR digiscoping even if you have connected using a lens on the camera.

Digiscoping with cheaper equipment is where everyone starts as it brings it to the masses. But, if you feel like stepping up then it is possible.
 
The results that are achieved will ultimately come down to experience and not expensive equipment. However the possibilties are out there, it just depends on how far you want to take things!!
 
Good Luck!!