Digiscoping is an ever-growing popular hobby with photo enthusiasts always thrilled to get that million dollar shot. Whether it's a bird, deer, elephant or other exotic animal, you'll need some tips before you can start digiscoping.

What is Digiscoping?

Digiscoping is using a spotting scope, fieldscope or telescope in combination with a camera to take photos at extreme distances. Using a digiscope adapter to connect your camera, you are able to shoot the image that you would see through the eyepiece of a spotting scope.

Now you might say, "why go digiscoping when I could just use a good SLR with a telephoto lens?" Good question! First of all, digiscoping allows you to shoot at far greater distances and you don't necessarily need an expensive SLR. I've seen fabulous shots using your everyday Nikon coolpix point and shoot.

Second, the weight of an slr and telephoto lens is often more than that of a spotting scope and point and shoot.

How does the quality compare between a SLR/Telephoto setup versus a Spotting Scope/Point and Shoot?
Dare I say that National Geographic won't be racing to your door, but you will still be more than thrilled with what a spotting scope / fieldscope and digital camera can do!

What You Need To Get Started Digiscoping

1. A Spotting Scope or Telescope. There are many to choose from but I would personally choose a spotting scope that has a large lens - preferably 60mm - 90mm. Going higher may increase the chance of shake and vibration and that can be a distracting as well as frustrating experience.

2. A Good Digital Camera. SLR or Point and Shoot...either one will work well. Good can be very subjective, but you want to consider the following: Go for a camera that has at least 3x to 4x OPTICAL power. You may be impressed with 20x digital zoom, but you really don't need it. Digital zoom only magnifies the base number of pixels and inevitably creates a grainy image, whereas optical zoom is the true magnification strength with little or no image degeneration. In other words, let the spotting scope do the heavy lifting in the magnification area. You really want the lower camera magnification to get past any vignetting that might take place. (Vignetting, which is normal and very common, is when the image you see has a dark area around it because the camera has not magnified deep enough and away from the opening of the eyepiece).

2B. High Shutter Speed. I would recommend a minimum shutter speed of 250 and higher when shooting far away objects. This shutter speed will counter any shake. wind or ground vibration that is possible. You can also increase the ISO on your camera which will increase the speed of the shutter, but beware that the higher ISO you use, the more grain you create in the photo.

2C. Spot Focusing. It is best to use the Spot AF focusing that many digital cameras offer because it allows you to center the AF on the subject and get a perfectly focused image. Remember that you will be using the LCD as your viewing area, so you should clearly see when you are in focus.

3. A Sturdy Tripod. You want something lightweight like a carbon fibre tripod. I would choose a dark camouflage pattern or black tripod simply because a shiny aluminum one may create glare and scare off any birds or other animals you intend to photograph.

4. A Digiscope Adapter. You'll need this to connect your camera to the spotting scope or telescope. Check out the listing below for some excellent choices.

5. A shutter Release Cable. To minimize any shake, it is much better to use a shutter release to grab your shot. You could also use the self-timer of the camera to automatically shoot, but with this method, you don't get a choice as to which shot your camera will capture.

6. Plenty of Light. You will want to do your digiscoping on a day that has lots of light. Preferably a dry temperature as well because excessive humidity can create some visual distortion in what you will see. When looking at objects that are extremely far, wind, dust, humidity, and heat all contribute to image distortion. If it's in your back yard, I wouldn't be concerned...

I've placed a video at the side to give you some more valuable information on digiscoping and digiscope adapters.


The Difference Between A Fieldscope & Spotting Scope

There seems to be some confusion between the terms "Fieldscope" and "Spotting Scope". To clarify, both should be considered as telescopes used primarily for terrestrial viewing rather than stargazing. (That doesn't mean you can't enjoy a moon crater or two...but these would be more enjoyable with a top of the line scope.)

Fieldscope is the term that Nikon uses for their high end scopes whereas Spotting Scopes seem to refer to their "lower end". Now that may be particular to Nikon only because there are many high-end Spotting Scopes made by other manufacturers.

As I've said before, when it comes to optics, you really get what you pay for. The work that goes into making these lenses is awesome. The process is time intensive, the materials can be expensive, the type of coatings used, the filters and sealing all determine the final cost. Choose the best quality you can afford and you will enjoy digiscoping for a long time to come!
 
All Items Displayed Below Have Excellent Discounts!
swarovski-STM80HD-spotting-scope
Swarovski's STM 80 HD Spotting Scope

Because of the ample sized lens, this scope is quite exceptiional in gathering light and crystallizing your images from extreme distances.

With it's large 80mm objective lens you'll be able to view your subjects even with minimal outdoor light.
Because of the HD lenses contain fluoride, there is the hardly any color aberration making this scope ideal for digiscoping photo enthusiats who are looking for the best possible images. This scope is quite lightweight at only 45.2 oz. for easy transport and the housing which is made from magnesium, makes it an extremely rugged product.

Swarovski's optics are securely sealed with O-rings to keep moisture and dust from getting inside. >The Swarovski STM 80HD spotting scope also has an interesting non-stick coating (Swaroclean) which aids in removing any dried-on residue from insect repellents, water marks or tree sap that has fallen on it.

STM 80HD Primary Specifications:
Objective lens size: 80mm
Dioptric correction: > 5
Shortest focusing distance: 16.4 ft.
Objective lens filter thread: M82x0.75
Length: 13.19"
Weight: 45.2 oz.
Warranty: Limited lifetime


 

Nikon Fieldscope ED82 Spotting Scope
Nikon Fieldscope ED82 Angled - Spotting scope 82

Nikon's Fieldscope 82mm ED is one solid spotting scope. With a sealed, rubber coated body that is waterproof, fogproof and shock resistant, this fieldscope delivers excellent image clarity. This is partly due to the ED (Extra Low Dispersion) Glass that has been expertly polished. Nikon's BaK4 prisms are also multi-coated with anti-reflective substances to make sure you get the least amount of flare and glare.

Whether you're spotting miniscule mice in the field, checking the eye color of a hummingbird or checking your target bullet holes, the Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED will satisfy your digiscoping needs.

Nikon Fieldscope ED82 Angled - Spotting Scope

Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 7.6 x 6.4 in.
Weight: 56.4 oz.

Full Five Piece Outfit
Sliding sunshade
Super high-resolution
Extra-low disperion glass for the ultimate in resolution
High grade optics and multicoating technology


 

Vortex Razor HD 20 spotting scope
Vortex Razor HD 20 Spotting Scope - 60 x 85 Angled
When you're thinking of a great deal, then this spotting scope offers up tremendous value in the 80mm+ class of spotting scopes. Firstly, it definitely lives up to its name. The image is Razor sharp right up the the very edge and with very little color aberration to speak of.

You will need an adapter as do all digiscope setups, to connect your camera and Vortex has the Vortex Optics RZR-DA Digiscoping Adapter for only $169.99

FEATURES:
-Triple apochromatic lens system with two elements
-
Precision-ground high-definition (HD) optical glass
- Multi Layered, Fully Coated Lenses
- Argon Purged Protection
- Waterproof

Vortex Razer HD 20 - Spotting Scope
Objective Lens Diameter: 85 mm
Length 15.3 in.
Close Focus 16.4 ft.
Weight 65.7 oz.
Waterproofing Waterproof/Argon Purged



Vortex Razor HD 20 spotting scope
Celestron Regal Refractor 80mm F-ED

Celestron has a trusted reputation with telescopes and so it comes as no surprise that their Spotting Scopes have received excellent reviews from many satisfied customers.

For Digiscoping, you'll really enjoy the remarkable images of the Regal 80 F-ED Spotting Scope - not just because they look great, but because you'll have paid far less than what other spotting scopes cost.

With years of evolution in product development, you'll find that Celestron has taken a page or two from their previous product successes and incorporated some excellent features into the Regal 80F-ED. For example:
-Telescoping sunshade hood to reduce glare and protect lens
- Rotating Tripod Collar for better positioning
- Interchangeable eyepieces
- T-Threading under the eyeguard
- Porro Prism for maximum image quality
- Fluorite Glass for better color, resolution and contrast.
- Fully Multi-coated Lenses with anti-reflective coatings to increase the transmission of light
- Angled Body Design
- Dual Focus for more precise adjustments
- Rubberized Armor gives this scope a great grip
- Adjustable Eyecup for better viewing

CELESTRON REGAL 80MM F-ED SPECIFICATIONS
Objective Lens Diameter: 80 mm
Magnification: 20-60x
Eye Relief: 20 mm
Field of View: 112-56 fT./1000 yards
Weight 72.0 ounces
Length 17.0 inches