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Our Guide to Digiscoping

This week we’re back and talking about all things digiscoping! It’s likely that some of you won’t know a great deal about digiscoping, so we’ve decided to compile a short guide with everything you need to know about this type of photography. Enjoy!

So, what is it?

Digiscoping, put simply, is when you shoot photos using a spotting scope. It’s a cost-effective way to take photos at a distance without the expense of a telephoto lens and camera body and is a favoured technique amongst avid birdwatchers and amateur photographers alike.

Where did it come from?

Lawrence Poh, a Malaysian birdwatcher, invented digiscoping in 1999, almost by accident - he found that the latest digital cameras could be held to a spotting scope’s eyepiece to take amazing photos from a long distance. He then discussed his findings in internet forums until the practice became coined as “digiscoping”.

How can I do it and what do I need?

First things first, you will need a good, sturdy tripod, - that is, unless your hands are incredibly steady! Though magnification is what’s needed to capture the subject of your photos, it also makes any movement on the camera trigger magnified, too.

There are two primary factors which affect whether your scope or eyepiece will work when it comes to digiscoping - eyepiece eye relief and eyepiece aperture diameter vs camera lens diameter.

The camera’s first true lens element must be positioned within eye relief of the eyepiece. Though this may sound nice and easy, it’s not, as often the first true lens element is embedded quite deep inside the lens.

A quick and easy approach to this is by making sure the camera lens and outer surface of the eyepiece as close as possible - you’ll know if they’re not close enough as when you go to shoot there’ll be a dark circle vignette effect.

Now, onto eyepiece eye relief and eyepiece aperture diameter. Ideally, your camera lens diameter will be will be smaller than your eyelens aperture diameter for digiscoping. This is because a large camera lens will let in extra light, causing light anomalies in the image and also reducing contrast, resulting in an image of overall reduced quality.

Now, start by setting your camera to its maximum possible zoom level. If your eyepiece is adjustable, set this to minimum zoom. You then need to hold the camera lens as close as you can to the eyepiece and see how the preview image looks - if the image you see is bright, your equipment meets the eye relief requirements and you’re good to go. However, if you see a bright area which is surrounded by black in a vignette style, the input aperture isn’t within the eyepiece eye relief then you need to go back and make a few adjustments.

So, there we have a very quick guide to digiscoping! It’s quite a specialist topic to cover in such a short guide, but we sincerely hope we’ve helped you to gain a little knowledge and expertise in this area.

If you have any questions pop them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to get back to you. Similarly, if you try your hand at digiscoping any time soon, be sure to enter our monthly photo competition. Good luck!

by Hannah Frances McCreesh on 06/06/2017

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