[mou] Fw: help with scopes?????

jeff fischer tiercel63 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 18 17:05:24 CST 2008

I also have the Ziess 85t with 20x60 eyepiece; it is a good scope and works just fine with my glasses. I have also heard that Leica and Swarovski also make good scopes. I guess that the question is what is the main purpose that you are looking for a scope? If your main purpose is bird watching any of the above will probably work fine. If your main purpose were digiscoping I would recommend not spending money on a scope.

If you already own a scope, digiscoping can give you some good pictures with out costing you much more money then you have already invested. However if you do not currently own either and your main interest is to take photos then you would be better off purchasing a descent camera then you would a digiscoping set up.
As a person who likes to take bird photos I took an interest in digiscoping when I first began seeing photos people had taken. So even though I already had a good camera system I went and purchased the Zeiss scope and adapter and a point and shoot digital camera so that I could begin digiscoping. Unfortunately no one really told me the pros and cons of digiscoping before I spent my money so even though I have a good digiscoping set up I hardly ever use it. Here is what I found to be the pros and cons of digiscoping compared to photographing with a digital SLR.
Digiscoping is a little bit less expensive. My digiscoping setup cost me around $2000 my Canon 40D with 100-400mm lens, 2x teleconverter and tripod was about $3500.
I can also get shots from a bit further away with the digiscope. This is not a significant distance as I can with the 2x converter on but it does let me get a picture that I cannot always get with my digital SLR.
The main con that I have found with digiscoping is the lack of flexibility. With the digital SLR I can almost point and shoot. It takes a bit longer to add in the teleconverter but it is still much quicker then digiscoping. Most digiscoping that you see on the Internet is people shooting at a fixed or slow moving target. I have noticed that a lot of digiscoping takes place at or around feeders, where the digiscoper can focus on a point and hope that the bird comes into the focus. It is very difficult to get digiscoped pictures of birds in flight or birds that move around rapidly. It is possible to get both with a digital SLR. It is also difficult to take pictures of a bird that might get close or take pictures of butterflies and dragonflies with your scope. You can try and take of the camera and take a shot but it takes time that you often do not have and the pictures usually do not turn out well.
Another con is picture quality. It is not that big of a deal if you are posting 72dpi pictures on the web but I like to print out calendars for family and friends each year and digiscoped pictures do not have the quality that you get from a good DSLR at higher resolution and larger size.
The third con is the reliability of the digital camera that you use for digiscoping. Most of these cameras are not built to last for a long time. If something happens and you need to replace the camera it is most likely that you will need to get a different model since the technology on these small cameras changes rapidly. New models may not work with the adapter that you have. Even if you can still use the same adapter there will be a learning curve with any new model. Also as the technology on the point and shoots advances many of the features that people look for in a camera to digiscope with are going away. For example it is getting harder each year to find a camera with a 3x zoom, which is what is preferred to help prevent vignetting. 
If the camera does hold up the batteries probably wont, at least in the cold Minnesota winters. When digiscoping you do your camera focusing through the camera LCD that uses up batteries fairly quickly and this is very evident when the temps get low. Many times during the winter you may only get to digiscope a few pics before your battery will go dead and will need to be recharged. On my digital SLR I used only 1 battery though out the whole Sax Zim Birding Fest. I did charge it each night, even though it still registered on the camera as being nearly fully charged. Even so I was able to shoot about 500 or more pictures each day while spending 8 hours or more outside or in the bus with temp on Friday and Saturday morning dipping well below zero.
Please do not get the wrong idea digiscoping does have it's place. It is great for people who mostly want to bird and still be able to get some pics. It is also good for people who already own a scope. Digiscoping may be right for you. I just wanted to give you some insights that I found when I began digiscoping, so that you will have the information that I did not so that you can make a more informed decision.

Jeff Fischer


----- Original Message ----
From: Gerald Brimacombe <gbrim at integra.net>
To: MN Ornithologists Un <mou-net at moumn.org>
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 11:54:48 AM
Subject: [mou] Fw: help with scopes?????

To all interested:
----- Original Message ----- 
From: premierpets at aol.com 
To: gbrim at integra.net 
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 10:54 AM
Subject: Re: [mou] help with scopes?????

Thank you I think what you said here may help me convince my wife.

Chris Brown

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerald Brimacombe <gbrim at integra.net>
To: premierpets at aol.com
Sent: Sun, 17 Feb 2008 3:54 pm
Subject: Re: [mou] help with scopes?????

    Fortunately or unfortunately, you pretty much get what you pay for in fieldscopes or binoculars.  As a well-established professional photographer, I can talk about optics with considerable credibility.  The scope I use and highly recommend is the Carl Zeiss 85 T, which is waterproof and fogproof, and fitted with the 20-60x Vario Eyepiece and angled viewfinder.  The eyepiece is eyeglass-wearer friendly. The brilliance and sharpness of Zeiss optics are unequaled, and the precision double focusing system works very efficiently. The angled viewfinder, incidentally, is simply much more convenient to use, especially when sharing with viewers of different heights.  It also works perfectly well for photography.  Zeiss also makes a precision optical camera adapter, which is what I use.  Camera mount couplings for various SLRs, including Nikon, Canon,etc. are available.  Zeiss also makes the 65T, and while lighter and less expensive, it will not provide the
 magnification or light gathering power of the 85T.  When you purchase the Zeiss scope through B&H Photo in New York, it comes with an excellent Bogen tripod; although I replaced the tripod head with a fluid head, designed for motion picture or video work.  It operates much smoother than a conventional head.  The fieldscope also comes with a specially fitted field case.  I doubt, by the way, that you will find a source for this high end scope here in the Twin Cities.
    I did a considerable amount of research before I purchased the Zeiss scope, and found recommendations to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Zeiss unit.  I did not regret my decision.
    And now for the invigorating news.  The 85T, complete with Zeiss SLR camera adapter will separate you from close to $2,500.  You're probably only going to purchase one of these scopes in your lifetime, so why not buy the best?  There are those out there who will argue with me, but I know my optics, and you will not beat Zeiss.
Good luck,
Gerald Brimacombe
Photographer for LIFE Magazine for over forty years
----- Original Message ----- 
From: premierpets at aol.com 
To: mou-net at moumn.org 
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 8:28 AM
Subject: [mou] help with scopes?????

Hello all I'm ready to move from binoculars to a scope so I would love any input as to what some of you birders have used.  Let me know the scopes (brands) you like the best, what to look for in a scope, angled or straight, I have been birding 20 years( I'm 27) and all I have ever used are binoculars, last fall I was able to look through a scope out at Sherburn Wildlife Refuge and relized I've been missing out. So any help would be awsome. I also should say I have a 10 month old little girl so I'm sure my wife will budget me, as I have seen scopes going $2000-$3000.  Try to shy away from those.  Also If anyone has a used one and they have upgraded let me know I would not be opposed to buying a used one.  Thank you all so much.

Bird on!
Chris Brown 

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