Digiscoping
Help,
Advice & Lessons for All!

No doubt most of you will be reading this fully aware of the new range of spotting scopes and digiscoping adapters that Swarovski have recently released. The new ATX range has raised the bar in terms of excellence and the new digiscoping adapters are even better than the older ones, giving us even more opportunity to take amazing pictures with our optical equipment.
 
When I first heard of these new innovations I thought that I was going to need to upgrade all my equipment to be able to use the new digiscoping adapters, but, to my absolute joy I learned that Swarovski were making the new adapters compatible with the older ATS/STS spotting scopes, brilliant!
 
Now not only was I lucky enough to get my hands on the ATX (see my ATX review) I was also in a position to use the new TLS APO (DSLR adapter) on my ATS 80HD.
 
My ultimate goal here was to see if I could get good results using the new adapter on my ATS scope.
 
This isn't a full review, but more of a collection of information and a few pictures that I have taken with this set up so that any owners of ATS/STS scopes can use it to decide if this is a viable option for them!

The Equipment

 

 

In the picture above we can see the main components of the ATS 80HD & TLS APO set up.

The main part of the scope body is visible to the left (stay on case optional)

Looking at (1.) we can see the 3 parts of the TLS APO adapter sleeve. The 3 parts fit over the zoom eyepiece, 25-50xW or 20-60x. They have been made to fit perfectly into place so there is no chance of the adapter sleeve slipping off. Also, its ingenious design means that the eyepiece can be zoomed! The older TLS 800 replaced the eyepiece, but now we can take full advantage of the scope & eyepieces full zoom capacity!!

Then, looking at (2.) we can see the body of the TLS APO attached to my DSLR via a T2 mount. This is exactly the same set up as the ATX set up.

The TLS APO costs the same (362) for either the ATX or ATS scopes.

The whole set up feels great & looks great. As always the precision of the Swarovski engineering is secong to none, and everything feels really well made. Good feeling equipment is great for confidence, and I knew this was going to be so much fun to use before I'd even taken it into the field!!

Below is a short video presentation to show you how it all goes together!

How to fit it together

Using the equipment

 

In many ways this set up felt very similar to the ATX set up that I had trialed earlier in the year.

The only real differences between the two set ups were the larger 95mm objective on the ATX, and the ocular module on the ATX. I would imagine that the optics are very similar and that the quality of view would be fairly equal.

The main difference in using the two set ups would be that the ATX can be zoomed without the need to remove the camera, as the zoom is on the ocular module next to the focus wheel. with the ATS it is easier to zoom the eyepiece with the camera & TLS APO body removed. Then, the eyepiece is zoomed by releasing a small locking mechanism and twisting the eyepiece as you normally would.

The view onto the cameras LCD screen was basically the same on both set ups, as were the setting needed for the camera. They compared fairly across a range of conditions, and there was a need to keep the ISO up a little to help with shutter speeds. This is because of the extra pancake lens in the TLS APO making the aperture of the set up a little less, but this does help give the final images a much nicer depth and a real feel of clarity.

I found it easier to keep the eyepiece on 25x. I think this is about as much zoom as is needed, but working at around 30x is now not an issue should you want to.

The whole ATS/TLS APO set up didn't feel any heavier than my older TLS 800 set up.

Overall I found the ATS set up to be very well put together, with a great build feel. I was very impressed and it felt just like digiscoping with my ATS always has, only better!!

Final Thoughts! 

 

As I would've no doubt said in my ATX review the TLS APO is a pretty serious digiscoping adapter.

Cheaper than its predecessor the TLS 800 but a much better adapter by far.

I love that it fits over the eyepiece of the scope and therefore embraces the basic principles of digiscoping which is the art of taking a picture through a spotting scope & eyepiece.

 

 

The clarity and sharpness of images has increased without a doubt for me. As you wouldf expect the better the conditons, the better the end results. The Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll above was a national rarity, and when a bird like this comes along its nice to have the equipment to take some really nice pictures.


Looking at the Purple Sandpiper to the right we can see how the colours are so pure and vivid in the winter sunlight.

 

The TLS APO & ATS combination really does work well and delivers the goods to an experienced digiscoper.

Shutter speeds were good and with the sunlight I was able to keep the ISO much lower (around 400) 

To any photographer capturing the images that you really want, of the things that you love is so important. Thats why having the equipment to back up the ambition is key. Swarovski have delivered!

 

Even in low light the TLS APO & ATS combination is a force to be reckoned with.

It seems that the dull, disappointing days of no digiscoping are over.

I was really pleased, and it strengthened my desire to want to use this set up all the time.In all honesty it was blowing at around 35mph and the bird was being thrown around on the waves. But even in these dull conditions I was able to take pictures of this normally hard to see Diver.The picture left shows a Great Northern Diver looking to fish for crab lunch!

 


One last example of excellence here with this Mediterranean Gull.


As the bird was still I was able to take this on 1/160th sec in low light and still get some nice feather detail.I used the zoom on the eyepiece a little here at approx 30x

If I zoom in on the full size image I can even read the leg ring!!


Conclusion

 

There isn't much more that I can say that I haven't already said about the TLS APO. I love it, and I love it even more because I can use it on my ATS!

This combination of new & old really works well.

The pictures speak for themselves too. If you own a ATS/STS you could learn how to do this for yourself!

I have no hesitation in recomending this adapter/scope combination to any Swarovski owners!

Thanks for reading, and please check out my other reviews.

Regards,

Danny.