My digital cameras
Digital camera technology is improving all the time and sometimes it feels like it's hard to keep up, my feeling is - if your camera does the job that you want it to do - then be happy with it.

I have found over the last few years that a good digiscoping camera, in my opinion needs to have the following features;

  • The ability to have some manual control to access specific features that suit the digiscoping method.
  • An optical zoom lens of approx 3x that can zoom past any vignetting in order to fill the frame with the image.
  • Tripod mountable (in order to fit digiscoping brackets and compatiable with either an electronic or manual shutter release cable to minimise camera shake.

Below is a brief introduction to the digital cameras that I currently use for digiscoping.


Praktica Luxmedia 12-HD

praktica-luxmedia-12-hd

I chose the Luxmedia 12-HD from Praktica - it's a cracking little camera not just for digital stills but also shooting video - very easy to use and sits well on the Olivon digiscoping adapter.

What drew me to this camera was the fact that it records HD quality video (1280x720) at 30 frames per second with sound. It has a large, clear 3" TFT screen on the back which is great for composing your movie and focusing your spotting scope through. the 3x optical zoom lens also means you can zoom past any vignetting so that the image fills the frame.

Within just a couple of clicks you can be recording video, which is very important when digiscoping, you can also choose between HD widescreen, TV or Web video resolutions as well as multi or spot metering.

For more information on the full range of Praktica cameras please visit www.praktica-uk.com

Read about video digiscoping here.

Praktica Luxmedia 12-HD spec:

  • 12 megapixel
  • 3.0" TFT screen
  • 3x optical zoom
  • HD quality video
  • Digital anitshake
  • Video antishake
  • Face tracking

Cameras that I have used over the past 4 years to digiscope:

Ricoh Caplio GX100

The Ricoh GX100 has been greatly received by the photo press industry, winning several awards and regarded as one of the best advanced compact cameras on the market. Not only is the GX100 a fantastic all round high end compact, it is also generating a lot of interest in the digiscoping world.

The GX100 has a lot of features packed into it's compact body that are perfectly suited to the digiscoper. It's small and lightweight, 10 megapixels makes cropping far easier, it also offers the user full control over all it's settings. A large crystal clear 2.5" LCD screen helps with scope focussing and if the sun is too bright, then a plug-in electronic viewfinder can take over. Battery life is also superb, even with extensive use of the large LCD screen.

Ricoh have developed a number of accessories for the GX100 which can be utilised by the digiscoper including a clip on lens adapter that can accept 43mm stepping rings allowing easy connection to your spotting scope, plus an electronic shutter release cable for hands free operation.

The Ricoh GX100 specs

  • 24-72mm optical zoom lens
  • 10 megapixel CCD
  • 2.5" LCD screen
  • Removable electronic viewfinder.
  • 7 blade iris aperture.
  • Vibration correction and high sensitivity
  • 1cm macro.
  • Versatile exposure modes
  • Flexible shooting functions
  • Wide range of accessories available
  • RAW file format

For more information and digiscoping camera settings for the Ricoh GX100 please follow this link.


Contax SL300T*

The tiny 3.34 megapixel Contax SL300T* is very easy to set up, with a small, lightweight swivel design body plus a tiny Carl Zeiss 3x zoom lens housed within the body of the camera. With approx 1.5x optical zoom applied there is no vignetting. Connection to my scope comes via a plastic clip on 28mm threaded adapter, which in turn screws on to a 28mm stepping ring attached to the digital camera adapter on the scope. See below.

Manual settings are minimal, but the settings that are changeable, for example ISO, metering, AF mode and aperture control all lend themselves particularly well to the digiscoping method.

The Contax SL300T* specs

  • 3x Optical zoom lens, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 5.8-17.4mm F2.8-4.7
  • 3.34mp CCD
  • 3.5 frames per second capture rate until memory card is full
  • 0.07 second shutter-lag
  • Less than 1 second start-up time
  • Swivel design
  • 1.5 inch Monitor
  • Aperture Priority (f2.8 or f7.5)
  • 1/2000 sec top shutter-speed
  • Micro-sized and weight of 125g
  • Die-cast magnessium body

For more information and digiscoping camera settings for the Contax SL300T* please follow this link.


Nikon Coolpix 4500

When I took up digiscoping, the Nikon Coolpix 4500 was my first camera. Although this model is now discontinued, it still seems to be a popular choice for digiscopers. The Coolpix 4500 lends itself particularly well to digiscoping because it has a very small lens which minimizes vignetting.

The Coolpix's 4x optical zoom is housed inside the body of the camera, allowing you to place the lens very close to the eyepiece of your scope whilst using the optical zoom facility. This is critical as you need to be able to apply a small amount of optical zoom to eliminate severe vignetting.

The coolpix 4500 has a 28mm thread built in to the lens allowing you to attach adapters and stepping rings very easily. It also has a macro function down to 2cm which seems to produce the sharpest images. The coolpix 4500 also has full and semi manual modes, enabling you complete freedom to alter the camera settings.

The Nikon Coolpix 4500 specs

  • 4.0 effective megapixel
  • 4x zoom lens
  • 5-Area Multi Autofocus
  • 16 Scene Modes
  • Diopter Adjustment
  • Best Shot Selector (BSS)
  • White Balance Bracketing
  • Saturation control
  • Noise Reduction mode
  • Movies with audio
  • Voice Memo

For more information and digiscoping camera settings for the Nikon Coolpix 4500 please follow this link.


Canon EOS 400D

The Canon EOS 400D is an entry level DSLR, packed with features and full manual operation.

Due to the different technology of an SLR camera compared to that of a digital compact camera, a different approach is required when digiscoping.

There are two different digiscoping options available using a DSLR. Firstly you can attach the SLR body direct to your spotting scope using a T2 mount and digital camera adapter so the scope then effectively becomes a telephoto lens. Or you can attach the SLR complete with a lens to the scope via a stepping ring and digital camera adapter as you would if connecting a digital compact.

The Canon EOS 400D specs

  • 10.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • 2.5" LCD
  • 9-point wide-area AF
  • Picture Styles
  • DIGIC II
  • 3fps with up to 27 frame burst

For more information and digiscoping camera settings for the Canon EOS 400D please follow this link.

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The Ricoh GXR - my latest
digiscoping camera

 

 

 


Ricoh GX100 Summary

Advantages:

  • 10 megapixel CCD.
  • Large bright 2.5" LCD.
  • Quick start up time and virtually no shutter lag.
  • Extensive range of shooting modes and exposure settings.
  • Excellent battery life
  • Useful accessories.

Disadvantages:

  • non swivel design body, so can be awkward to view LCD screen on an angled scope.
  • High ISO images produce noise



Contax SL300T* Summary

Advantages:

  • Tiny, swivel body design makes for easy LCD viewing when camera is attached to scope.
  • Small internal lens keeps vignetting to a minimum.
  • Zoom lens is housed internally, allowing you to use the optical zoom without having to alter the position of the camera.
  • Quick start up time and virtually no shutter lag

Disadvantages:

  • Short battery life.
  • Small LCD screen
  • Minimal manual settings.




Nikon Coolpix 4500 Summary

Advantages:

  • Swivel body design for easy viewing of LCD screen.
  • 28mm threaded lens for easy connection to scope.
  • Zoom lens is housed internally as above.
  • Lots of manual settings

Disadvantages:

  • Small LCD screen, difficult to use in bright conditions.
  • Slow image transfer buffer means longer waiting times between shots than later camera models.
  • Out dated technology.




Canon EOS 400D

Advantages:

  • Full manual control allows for optimum settings.
  • High ISO with minimal noise.
  • Body can be attached direct to spotting scope eliminating the need for a lens (therefore less glass between you and the subject).
  • No vignetting.
  • 3 frames per second continuous shooting at 10 megapixel

Disadvantages:

  • The aperture is in effect around the F14 mark, meaning that good light conditions are required to achieve high shutter speeds.
  • Minimum focus distance becomes greater between yourself and the subject.
  • The outer edges of the image seem to blur.
  • No live preview.