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
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:
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.
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.
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.