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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Digiscoping Beginner Tips

For digiscoping, take your spotting scope, here it's our
Stokes 15-45 x 65 mm Sandpiper Scope,

focus the scope on a still bird, hold your digital camera up to the eyepiece of the scope,

look through the view-finder on the back of the camera (you can crop out the black circle in Photoshop, or zoom out the camera a little to make the circle disappear), hold the lens of the camera and the eyepiece of the scope together to steady the camera, then take several photos in a row.

The image, such as this Double-crested Cormorant, can be cropped in Photoshop or another digital editing program,

and sharpened and made ready for your blog.

We were asked about how to get sharp photos by hand-holding the camera to the scope for digiscoping, see our tips below. Digiscoping means taking a photo with a digital camera through a scope.

Some people use adaptors to hold the camera to the scope. These hold the camera more steady, often making a sharper image, but if the bird moves, you may need to take the adaptor off, refind the bird, refocus on the bird, then attach the adaptor and camera again. (Some adaptors and techniques can get around this, but here we're keeping it simple.) There are all kind of adaptors and they make for more reliably sharp photos because the camera is held steady by the adaptor. For an adaptor which goes with the Stokes Sandpiper Scope click here.

For easy digiscoping-on-the-go you can hand-hold the camera, as I was saying in yesterday's blog entry on the digiscoped Cardinal photos. Here are some tips:

1. Find a bird that is sitting still and focus the scope so the bird is sharp and clear through the scope. Do not zoom out the scope.

2. Keep the tripod fairly low so it is more steady. Digiscoping works well with a scope with an angled eyepiece.

3. Place the digital point and shoot camera (without the camera lens zoomed out) against the scope eyepiece and look through the camera viewfinder screen on the back of the camera. Try and slightly manuever the lens so the bird looks centered and decently lit. If there is a black ring around the bird, you can leave it as is and crop out the ring in Photoshop, or you can zoom out the camera lens a little until the ring disappears. Sometimes my best photos are with the camera not zoomed. I just crop the circle out.
Big hint: It helps to steady the camera lens by holding the barrel of the camera lens joined together against the eyepiece of the scope with one hand, while you take the photo with the other hand.

4. Click several photos in a row, sometimes only one will be sharp.

5. If the bird moves, you will need to lift off the camera, an easier task if it is not clamped on the eyepiece with an adaptor, look through the scope to find and refocus on the bird, then put the camera back on the eyepiece.

This is digiscoping kindergarten level, but it's easy and you may come up with some fun images.


lydia said...

I had a friend just get this scope for Christmas. She is enjoying hers. A little early in the year I had one at Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop which I used with my digital camera. I got some great images.
Hope you are enjoying Jekyll Island. It is a great place to bird.

Mary C said...

Thanks so much for the pointers. You make it look so easy. I've been toying with the idea of getting a scope so I can get better views of birds in a distance. Now all I need to do is get myself a scope and tripod. Ah yes, another "toy" to consider for my hobby. ;o)

J. Karl Clampit said...

Excellent post, very informative. I've been really thinking about getting a scope w/ an adaptor to 'upgrade' my birding photography. You really provided helpful advice, thanks for sharing!