The Digiscoping Equipment Spotting Scope and Eyepiece
Quick Camera Adapter
The Cameras Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera
Digiscoping with a Digital or Analogue SLR Camera
Digiscoping with the Victory PhotoScope
Accessories Tripod and Tripod Head
Tips Photographing Technique and Image Design
Photo Management and Image Processing
Examples of Images
Interesting Internet Pages
What is Digiscoping?
How often have you looked through your spotting scope at a bird in the far distance and thought: “I wish I had a photo of this!”? How often have you observed a falcon or maybe a butterfly which was so far away that if you had taken a photo with the small digital camera in your pocket it would have been no more than a small dot? How often have you looked at a photo in a birding or nature magazine and thought: “I wish I had taken that”? Now, because of the magic of digiscoping you can bring home beautiful, frame-filling nature photos, taken from a relatively long distance and without disturbing nature. Digiscoping uses the high magnification of a spotting scope while photographing with a digital camera. Digiscoping opens up completeley new possibilites of photography even beyond the reach of large, expensive tele lenses – at a fraction of the costs that would be necessary for a complete DSLR/long lens outfit.
Digiscoping – the Pleasure of Observing
heavy, and too expensive for most nature observers â€“ and often they are not powerful enough to capture frame filling pictures of distant birds. When photographers started placing a compact digital camera behind the eyepiece of a spotting scope focused on a bird they were amazed by the quality of the results. When they then published their photos on the internet, other birders could share their enthusiasm. Digiscoping spread rapidly. By now digiscoping is no longer limited to birding circles but has found friends in all areas of photography. This brochure will provide enough information to get you started in the world of digiscoping, so you can concentrate on what really matters: the pleasure of observing and of beautiful images.
Digital reflex cameras with long tele objectives are too large, too
Subject with 15 power magnification
30 power magnification
40 power magnification Photographs taken with a compact digital camera and a 30 to 40 power spotting scope. 8
times magnification you are right in the middle of the action without disturbing nature. A bird, observed at 30 power, will appear 30 times closer to the naturalist. If instead of the observer a camera is located behind the 30 power eyepiece, the focal length of the camera lens is also increased by a factor of 30. A digital camera with its zoom objective set to a medium focal length becomes, behind the eyepiece, a super-tele objective with a focal length of approx. 1000 mm. Due to the adjustable zoom, you can easily generate focal lengths and picture details which correspond to a 4000 mm 35 mm format lens.
A spotting scope takes you a lot closer to nature. With its 15 to 75
The wide range of spotting scopes available may be confusing at first sight. Whether you choose a model with angled or straight viewing is mainly up to your own taste or depends on special situations when observing. However, models with angled viewing are usually preferred for extensive use as the body posture is more relaxed. Several people can use the spotting scope without having to adjust the height. In addition, the tripod does not need to be extended as far as with a straight view, which means that the tripod is more stable for both observing and digiscoping.
Straight or Angled Viewing
Spotting Scope and Eyepiece
Objective Lens Diameter For digiscoping, large lens diameters are to be preferred to smaller models because they collect considerably more light and therefore offer shorter exposure times and allow taking photographs under difficult lighting conditions. A lens diameter of at least 80 mm is ideal.
Optical Properties The optical quality of the spotting scope is very important. For digiscoping the Victory DiaScope 85 T* FL by Carl Zeiss is very suitable. The fluoride-containing lens allows photographs to be taken which are rich in contrast with vivid colours and without irritating chromatic aberration. The unique Dual Speed Focus allows very precise and quick focusing. With the 85 mm objective lens diameter this spotting scope is among the best of its class.
For the spotting scope, eyepieces are available with various magnifications. Basically, both zoom eyepieces and fixed eyepieces are suitable for digiscoping. Ideal is 20 to 45 power. Of all ZEISS eyepieces, the Vario eyepieces are particularly suitable for digiscoping thanks to their continuously variable magnification.
Quick Camera Adapter For successful digiscoping with a digital compact camera, the camera has to be fixed securely and be positioned exactly behind the eyepiece. There are numerous different adapter variants available. The adapter should allow adjustment of the camera in all directions in order to be used with as many cameras as possible. The most secure and sturdy camera attachment is made by means The camera can swing in
of the tripod thread.
and out laterally. A latching ensures an exact and safe
The Quick Camera Adapter by Carl Zeiss specially developed for
the ZEISS DiaScope spotting scopes allows a wide variety of digital cameras to be mounted behind the eyepiece of a ZEISS spotting scope. In addition, it allows the camera to swing out from behind the eyepiece so you can rapidly swap between observing and photographing. Its strong aluminium construction ensures a particularly stable connection between camera and tripod. This is important to avoid camera and scope motion which would otherwise degrade images.
While the Quick Camera Adapter is mainly used with compact digital cameras, the Camera Adapter allows the use of DSLR and SLR cameras. The Camera Adapter replaces the eyepiece of the DiaScope so that the scope becomes a long-focal length lens attached directly to your DSLR. In order to adapt the Camera Adapter to the different camera bayonets an additional â€œT2 adapterâ€œ is necessary. It is screwed onto the camera side of the Camera Adapter and is the connection to the DSLR or SLR camera. The ZEISS Camera Adapter converts the Victory DiaScope 65 T* FL to a 770 mm objective and the Victory DiaScope 85 T* FL into a 1000 mm objective, both with a f-number of 12. You can use it with DSLR cameras (including full-frame DSLRs) as well as film SLR cameras. A locking screw allows both landscape and portrait format.
Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera Whether or not a particular model of digital camera is suitable for digiscoping mainly depends on the construction of the cameraâ€™s zoom lens. Most compact digital cameras with a maximum optical zoom of 3 x to 4 x are suitable for digiscoping. If the camera has a larger zoom range usually irritating vignetting occurs (a visible circular shadowing that cuts off the corners of the image). Often the vignetting can not be eliminated at any setting of the zoom. Even with many 3 x and 4 x zoom cameras vignetting can occur at the wide end of the camera zoom, especially at the wide end of the scope zoom. Zooming either the camera or the scope up to medium power often fills the frame.
Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera
It is very important that the camera is equipped with a Âź inch tripod thread so that it can be mounted on the adapter. The camera should be equipped with a remote release, cable release or rapid self-timer (e.g. two seconds) so that the photograph is not shaken when the release is pressed. (Third party cable release brackets that take a standard 35 mm cable release are available and are easily adapted to the Quick Camera Adapter.) The camera should provide the user with a good range of program settings. The integrated flash of the camera must, for example, always be switched off. A large display will facilitate image framing and focusing. You want a camera that is easily operated. If the bird you have been waiting for is finally sitting in front of the lens, the camera needs to be operated quickly and easily. It especially needs to turn on and be ready for image capture as rapidly as possible. Integrated image stabilization is useful for minimizing blurring on account of shaking. If you have the option, before buying the camera you should test it in combination with a spotting scope and eyepiece.
Digiscoping with a compact digital camera • Spotting scope, eyepiece and tripod • Digital camera with spare rechargeable batteries • Quick Camera Adapter • Remote or cable elease
When this photo was taken the camera vignetted strongly. The blurred edge indicates that the camera is not positioned optimally behind the spotting scope or that the camera‘s focal length was set too short.
Although it is possible to remove the vignetted area by trimming the image edges on the computer this would affect the image resolution. In this case, we recommend to zoom further into the tele range.
Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera The number of suitable cameras is very large and quickly changes! As mentioned before, the rather “simple“ models with 3 x or 4 x optical zoom are often the better choice for satisfying photographs.
Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera • 3 or 4 x optical zoom • Tripod thread • Self timer or cable release • Large display • Automatic functions and flash can be switched off Recommended: • Integrated image stabilization • Easy operation • Quick start-up time
Digiscoping with a Compact Digital Camera
Adjustment First of all you have to adjust your camera behind the spotting scope. It is best to set the camera lens to maximum wide angle setting and the zoom eyepiece of the spotting scope to minimum magnification. Start with the camera well back from the eyepiece. Move the camera behind the eyepiece, side to side and up and down, until the circle of the scope image is centered in the camera display. Then move the camera in toward the eyepiece until the image shows minimum vignetting while still appearing at the centre of the camera display. Now zoom to the telescopic range until The camera is well aligned. On the
the vignetting disappears fully (or at least nearly). Ensure that the
monitor a bright image appears
camera lens does not touch the eyepiece during zooming and that
it is square with the eyepiece.
Camera Adjustment For your first photographs you should leave all camera settings in the automatic mode. Only the flash has to be switched off. If you now find out during your test photographs that the camera consistently overexposes or underexposes you can counteract this via the exposure compensation. Focus using the spotting scope. If you are using the Quick Camera Adapter, swing the camera to the side and focus directly using the eyepiece. The auto-focus remains switched on, so that you can leave the fine adjustment to it. Only if your important subject is When aligning the camera make sure that the objective lens does not knock against the eyepiece lenses.
partially covered by grass or twigs will you have to switch off the auto-focus and focus manually.
Camera Adjustment In order to take photographs without image noise (an unattractive mottling of colour), ISO (sensor sensitivity) should be set as low as possible (e.g. 100). In most cases, the white balance can be adjusted to daylight. Alternatively: both values are left on automatic.
Adjustment of the Eyepiece If you use a Vario eyepiece, initially set the eyepiece to a low ma-
The eye cup can then be pushed
gnification â€“ even with 20 or 30 power your digiscoping system
over the camera lens in order to
will turn into a supertele-lens!
protect it from stray light. However, before the camera is folded away it must be pushed back again!
Digiscoping with a Reflex Camera Film and digital reflex cameras can be used for digiscoping by mounting a very compact 50 mm fixed lens. The Quick Camera Adapater is mainly suitable for smaller compact DSLR cameras. The resulting images are comparable to those achieved with the best compact digital cameras. However, objective lenses with long focal lengths and most zoom lenses cannot be used. The vignetting can not be eliminated and due to their size, sometimes the cameras can not be fixed behind the eyepiece. For reflex cameras ZEISS offers the camera adapter described on page 15 which turns the spotting scope into a super-telescopic lens with a focal length between 770 mm and 1000 mm.
Digiscoping with a Reflex Camera
Once the Camera Adapter is screwed on, the spotting scope becomes a super-tele lens, which is attached to the camera and used like a normal camera lens. The T2 adapter ring is only used to adapt to the different camera bayonets. The images are focused manually via the spotting scope (no auto focus) when you look through the viewfinder. If the automatic exposure of the camera no longer works in conjunction with the T2 adapter ring, select the manual mode on the camera. Set the exposure time in the manual mode to 1/125 for a first test and then correct if necessary. The flash must be switched off and the ISO setting should be set for your first trials to ISO 100.
Using the Camera Adapter turns your spotting scope into a long range telephoto lens.
Digiscoping with a Reflex Camera • Spotting scope, eyepiece and tripod • Reflex camera with 50 mm lens and spare rechargeable batteries • Quick Camera Adapter Or the Camera Adapter: • Spotting scope and tripod (the eyepiece is not required for taking photographs) • Reflex camera and spare rechargeable batteries • Camera Adapter • T2 adapter ring
Photographing with the Victory PhotoScope The Victory PhotoScope 85 T* FL is the worldâ€˜s first spotting scope with a zoom lens and a fully integrated digital camera. It offers nature observers and birdwatchers the opportunity to observe and photograph at the same time without cumbersome adapters etc. Images that are visible in the razor-sharp eyepiece, are captured digitally in a split second by the mere push of a button and can immediately be seen on the large, pivotable display. In order to take shake-free photographs, the handy wireless remote control is used.
Digiscoping with the Victory PhotoScope
Photos are taken with a high resolution of 7 Mpx, an additional video mode allows to capture motion sequences. The unique objective zoom provides the equivalent of a 35 mm super tele zoom lens with a focal length of 600 mm to 1800 mm. Besides comfortable automatic settings for beginners, the PhotoScope offers more experienced photographers a sophisticated program and numerous manual settings to individualize images. Observation takes place with 15 â€“ 45 x magnification. The fantastically large field of view (69Â° apparent field of view with all magnification settings) is particularly outstanding. Because of the objective zoom, the field is wide, open and easy at any power.
The bright FL zoom lens provides fascinating super tele photographs with a focal length of 600 mm
to 1.800 mm (35 mm equivalent).
The PhotoScopeâ€˜s easy and intuitive operation through its handy remote control allows for shake-free photographs with the mere push of a button.
The innovative optical concept of the PhotoScope contains fluoride elements to provide high-contrast, vividly coloured and razor-sharp images up to the edges. The rubber-armoured magnesium body is developed for hard outdoor use and reliably protects optics and electronics against adverse weather conditions. Even pouring rain will not keep you from going on tour with your equipment any more. The LotuTecÂŽ coating of the outer lenses ensures a clear view at all times.
The large fold-out and pivotable OLED monitor shows all camera functions and displays the photograph before and after it is taken.
Tripod and Tripod Head
A sturdy tripod and a good tripod head are absolutely necessary for shake-free photographs. Tripods which reach to at least 170Â cm without having to extend the centre tube are highly suitable since center tube extension is always associated with a serious loss in stability. Usually aluminium tripods are used because they offer good stability at acceptable weight and affordable price. Wooden tripods are particularly low in vibration providing all requirements for observation, but they are also quite heavy. Anybody wanting to carry as little as possible will choose the more expensive carbon fiber tripods. They offer the best in low weight and high stability. For digiscoping, a high-quality tripod head is at least as important as the tripod itself. Ideally suited are so-called video heads which can be moved smoothly in two independent directions. High-quality video heads allow, by means of a long control arm, smooth panning and are therefore highly suitable for tracking flying birds. Video heads are to be preferred to ball heads which are more difficult to handle.
Camera accessories • Spare rechargeable batteries • Charger • Additional memory card • Electrical connection for the car • Image player
A digital camera with the LCD monitor switched on has a relatively high power consumption. The battery can be exhausted in as little as 2 hours. For this reason always carry spare rechargeable batteries with you. When you are travelling you should always carry your charger. Chargers which can be connected to a car electricity circuit are recommended. A second memory card is also recommended. A digital photo album combining an image viewer with plenty of memory space, or a laptop computer, makes digital photography more enjoyable.
Photo Techniques and Image Design
Tips on Photo Techniques and Image Design Beginners should start with large wading birds, herons and egrets, or flowers and other subjects which move only a little. To take a photograph of an agile bird is always a challenge even for an experienced digiscoper. On the following pages you will find a few tips on image design which will help you to take some simply outstanding photos.
A waterfowl swimming from right to left should be aligned to the right rather than the left edge of the image,...
...so that the bird swims into the image.
Rule of Thirds The golden section may originate from the ancient teaching on harmony but it also applies to digiscoping. These days it is often presented as the rule of thirds. If you subdivide an image into nine equal rectangles, the points where the lines intersect are the ideal points to locate the centre of interest. If at all possible your main subject, specifically the eye of your subject, should be located at one of these intersections.
Photo Techniques and Image Design
Also pay Attention to the Background: Often you only have to walk a few steps to the side and your subject is no longer in front of a disrupting background. As a rule all artificial environments such as electric cables, houses, roads or signs are to be avoided in the image.
The many branches in the background are irritating.
More distance between the bird and the background makes the branches simply blur on account of the low depth of field.
Observe your Subjectâ€˜s Behavior: You not only want to take a crisp, well exposed photograph but you also want to capture the expressions, movements or behaviors which tell the observer something relevant about the subject. Look for the unique or unusual which will make your picture unforgettable. The right moment, a bit of luck and a fast click: this is all you need to capture the perfect picture.
Photo Management and Image Processing
After you have transferred the images from the camera memory to your computer, the next step is viewing and sorting. As a beginner you will initially get more images which are blurred or shaken. For this reason you should always make several photographs of the same subject. The sorting, saving and archiving of images is done best using good photo management software.
Conventional image processing programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements offer almost unlimited options for image processing, but they require profound study and experience to make the best of them. However the basic functions such as cropping and rotating images are available in basic image software which undoubtedly came installed on your Macintosh or Windows PC or via many online image processing sites.
Before image processing: The image is all together too dark and low in contrast.
After image processing: By brightening and increasing the contrast the details in the photograph become much more clear.
Examples of Images
The bird in motion which was photographed with open aperture shows fascinating contrasts and brilliant colours.
The depth of field was so low when this photograph of an African grasshopper was taken that the leg is already burred.
which makes even very fine structural features in the plumage visible.
Nearly more beautiful than the original: a water lily which looks very attractive on the dark water.
Impressive close-up of a chaffinch
Examples of Images
Even pictures of flying birds are possible. They just need some training.
Countless little details make this picture unique.
By focusing manually, even partially obscured objects which would defeat auto focus can be imaged sharply.
fascinating image detail make this picture unique. The blurred background additionally emphasizes this amazing motive.
The razor-sharp feathers and the
Magnification: The magnification indicates how much closer an object appears to be when it is viewed through a telescope. Or more illustrative: The distance to the object decreases by the magnification factor, which means a bird at a 100 m distance appears to be only 5 m away when looking through the spotting scope with a magnification of 20 x . Focal Length: The focal length can be explained as the distance between the objective lens and the generated image. The longer the focal length, the larger all details are displayed. Yet the image detail becomes smaller. As the image detail is also influenced by the size of the sensor, the indication of the focal length of digital cameras refers to the original size of a 35 mm film (35 mm focal length or equivalent focal length). A focal length of 50 mm is called a “common focal length“. Long focal lengths result in high magnifications. A bird photographed with a 500 mm focal length appears to be ten times larger than with a 50 mm magnification. 44
When a digital camera takes a picture with a focal length of 50 mm through a spotting scope with a magnification of 30 x, they add up to a total focal length of 50 mm x 30 = 1500 mm. Exposure Time: The exposure time is the period during which light falls on the sensor. In order to avoid camera shaking and motion blurs, exposure time should be as short as possible. In case of doubt, the higher ISO number and consequently stronger picture noise still is better than a shaken photograph. Aperture: The aperture is the light-admission opening of the objective lens. The larger the aperture is, the more light shines on the sensor at the same time and the shorter exposure time can be kept. The f-number is the ratio of focal length and the diameter of the light-admission opening. A large f-number (i.e. 22) stands for a small opening resp. small “aperture“, a small f-number (i.e. 2.8) stands for a large aperture and thus a bright objective lens. Example: The Victory DiaScope 85 T* FL and the camera
adapter result in a photo lens featuring a focal length of 1000 mm. The light-admission opening is 85 mm (lens diameter). The f-number of this lens results then in 1000 mm / 85 mm = approx. 12. Depth of Field: The depth of field is the distance range in which the objective lens is still able to generate a crisp image. The depth of field depends on the focal length, the distance from the subject and on the lens aperture. Large tele focal lengths often offer a very low depth of field of just a few centimetres, especially at close range. The depth of field can be influenced by adjusting the aperture: Closing the aperture (increasing f-number i.e. from 5.6 to 11), enlarges the depth of field‘s range. Unfortunately, you often cannot adjust the aperture when digiscoping with small compact cameras. Even when digiscoping with a SLR camera and camera adapter the aperture is fixed and cannot be changed. Stray Light: Light which does not contribute to the image is called stray light. It occurs for exam-
ple when light shines into the camera lens past the spotting scope and leads to a reduction of contrast or causes reflexes.
SLR-Camera: Single-Lens-Reflex-Camera DSLR = Digital Single-LensReflex-Camera.
Film Sensitivity: The ISO number describes the light sensitivity of a film or sensor. A sensor which is set to ISO 200 has double the light sensitivity than at ISO 100. Thus the necessary exposure time is half as long and shaken photographs or blurring on account of movement can be avoided. Unfortunately, there is a side effect with too high sensitivity: The so-called image noise of the sensor increases. Thus sensitivity i.e. in daylight should be adjusted to ISO 100 and not be increased unnecessarily. White Balance: Different light sources have a different composition of colours. Bulb light for example has a significantly higher amount of red than daylight, in shady areas the amount of blue is higher. The eye quickly adapts to the prevailing light composition and always recognizes a white sheet as “white“. The sensor however does not. This is why you have to “tell“ it via the white balance what kind of light is available.
Interesting Internet Pages
Useful and interesting infor-
A Dutch (and English) web-
mation on digiscoping is also
site with excellent bird photo-
found on the internet. We re-
commend you to visit the sites
listed below: An English website with many The website for digiscopers
tips and photographs:
and bird watchers using ZEISS
products. Comprehensive information about digiscoping
using the QCA, and digiscoping
in general, field experiences,
Rare birds in England:
scopes and digiscoping) Website of the English photoThe German birder platform
grapher Andy Bright with many
with information about bird
example photographs and in-
formation about digiscoping:
A comprehensive site about bird watching with many further links: www.fatbirder.com The Carl Zeiss Sports Optics Website www.zeiss.de/digiscoping
Vario eyepiece D 15 – 56 x / 20 – 75 x
From 20 to 75 x magnification – never before has such a big step in magnification been possible with a spotting scope featuring a zoom of 3,75 x.
The Perfect Zoom in Nature Observation
Zoom in closer to bring nature‘s stunning details to light. In combination with the high magnification Vario eyepiece 15 -56 x / 20 - 70 x, the new Victory DiaScope by Carl Zeiss offers a 25 % larger power range. Thanks to the unique FL concept, they provide observers with intense nature experiences through unparalleled image brightness and brilliance. The innovative Dual Speed Focus (DSF) allows quick and precise rapid and fine focusing in a single control wheel. With the new Victory DiaScope, Carl Zeiss sets standards in digiscoping and opens up unrivalled visual experiences to ambitious nature and wildlife observers.
Photos: Sven Achtermann Stephen Ingraham Andy Bright Jรถrg Kretzschmar Werner Plรถsser Barbara Fraatz Paul Hackett
Victory FL Binoculars
The Victory FL binoculars by Carl Zeiss set standards in terms of image brightness and richness of details: The groundbreaking T* multi-layer coating offers up to 95 % light transmission and the innovative FL concept displays even the finest details rich in contrast and without irritating aberrations. Victory 10 x 32 T* FL
Nature lovers are masters at packing their high-performance equipment into the tightest spaces. This practise gave Carl Zeiss engineers the inspiration to pack the power of the Victory FL into a compact format with a 32 mm lens. Always at the ready, this lightweight binocular is ideal for long excursions.
Victory 8 x 42 T* FL
These handy all-purpose models offer an extremely large field of view. The 42 mm lens makes them particularly light sensitive, even deep into twilight. Magnification options range from 7 x and 8 x for normal observation distances to 10 x for even greater distances. The richness of detail and ability to focus up close within 2 metres offers a fascinating visual experience.
1881-669 Printed in Germany HO-11/2010 Kodiak www.kodiak.de
Carl Zeiss Sports Optics · Gloelstraße 3 – 5 · D-35576 Wetzlar · www.zeiss.de/sportsoptics
ZEISS Fascination Digiscoping (Handbook, EN)