Digiscoping advice needed

Hi all,

I'm trying to get pictures of some nesting birds but even with my 100-400mm lens they are still too far away for any detail.

I'm using a Canon EOS 7D and had thought about using a 1.4 extender - my other option is to try and connect the camera to my Opticron ES80 GA ED field scope (currently with Opticron's HDF zoom 20-60 eyepiece).

Anyone had any experience with connecting a DSLR to an Opticron fieldscope?

Any tips for the right adaptors?



  • Hi Pippa
    Just having a google it is possible to connect a DSLR to a spotting scope but I've no tried it, so don't know how successful it is. www.srb-photographic.co.uk/canon-eos-srb-digiscoping-kit-9543-p.asp
    Depending if you have a budget available for more gear you could try a 150-600mm lens, you can pick them up second hand from around £550 upwards www.mpb.com/.../
    If you have a camera shop in your area it may be worthwhile popping in and seeing someone.

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  • Hi Alan - yes, Opticron even helpfully have a page on it: www.opticron.co.uk/.../digiscoping-guide but as there are several options of eyepiece and adapter I'm hoping someone has some experience so I can learn from them!

    (Saw both birds again today, the female on the nest at first then the male turned up and they both did a lot of swooping and calling - it was marvellous!)
  • They are stunning birds, they should have eggs in the next few days.

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  • Try searching for digiscoping on here Pippa Seymour has done a few posts on the subject community.rspb.org.uk/.../377728

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  • I have a digiscoping DSLR adapter for my Kowa scope, but it's not always as useful as you might think. In my (admittedly fairly limited) digiscoping experience, I've had more success using something with a smaller sensor than a DSLR (ie a point & shoot or a phone). The DSLR is a bit heavy hanging on the back of the scope, unless you have a really strong tripod & focussing is a bit of a faff. You don't get massive amounts of light through the scope either - from memory, f/11 or worse equivalent is not unusual (so high ISO and/or slow shutter speeds). Using a simple adapter for a phone & a little Bluetooth trigger (to avoid vibration), both available from your favourite online store, is often the best answer. This can give you good results, especially if you're using the images on the phone (blown up on a PC screen, you will show up the deficiencies). Try your phone on the back of the scope before doing anything else, even just holding it without an adapter will give you a feel for how good it will be (tip - phones with central cameras are better than those with a camera in the corner).
    The alternative is an extender on the 100-400. With a 7D, you'd lose autofocus, though it will still AF on Liveview should you not get on with manual focus through the viewfinder (best on a tripod). Otherwise, as Alan suggests, try the second hand market for a 600mm zoom, that may be your answer. However, if the results are unusable on the 100-400, you may find little improvement with the longer lens. At longer distances, atmospherics become a problem (ie heat haze and the like), so you may simply be too far away for a nice pic.
    Do you have an example of the sort of shot you're getting currently?


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  • I last tried digiscoping about 7/8 years ago when I had a Sony DSLR and a Hawke Scope. The scope wasn't the best quality but it wasn't the worst - it cost me about £500 back then. I must be honest and say I was never happy with any of the results. I always found the manual focus a drag especially with a moving subject and I really disliked using an angled scope - maybe I would have been happier with a straight scope. This was especially frustrating when trying to find something in the narrow field of view - that certainly would have been easier with a straight scope. The other issue was always the aperture - it was always around f10 or more which was very limiting for shutter speeds.
    That said, it was 7/8 years ago and things have moved on significantly. I see a lot of excellent digiscoped images but to be honest they are mostly of static birds. A lot of people doing that are using very expensive scopes though they are still much cheaper than something like an f4 500mm Canon lens. I gather also a lot of people are using phones or compact cameras on apparatus that can swing over the scope when you want to take a picture but leave the scope free for general viewing, which of course isn't possible with the DSLR mounts. Is your 7D a mark 1 or 2 as that would make a difference in using the 1.4 TC.




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  • Hi

    as Bob says the current MO is to put your phone up to the scope using an ( expensive) adaptor :
    However they do work well :)

    I'm still slamming a Leica fun size D-Lux 3 onto my scope with the B&Q adaptor:
    Will be taking it to Lesbos again this Spring along with the Lumix.


    For advice about Birding, Identification,field guides,  binoculars, scopes, tripods,  etc - put 'Birding Tips'   into the search box

  • In reply to Bobs_Still_Retired:

    Hi folks, thanks for all the replies!

    I now have a bunch of different options for trying to get pictures of the peregrines - I forgot to take the simple smartphone one with me today so will try that out another time.

    I've got my EOS 7D (mark1) with a 1.4x to get this shot - there's obviously a dirt issue on one of the lenses (probably the extender) as there's some fuzzing in the image.

    This shot is with my other EOS7D (M1), with a photoadapter and connected to my Opticron ES80 field scope. 

    I was having trouble seating the push fit adapter on the eyepiece of the field scope, hence the weird image!

    This next one is with the eyepiece zoomed in, and a better seat on the adapter..

    These are just early test shots and hopefully with more practice I'll get better at this!

    Any tips and tricks welcomed!


  • Hi Pippa good to see you are making progress, I think one thing you are going to have to contend with in a quarry is atmospherics/heat haze at a distance you would have to be not to disturb them.

    I took these a few days ago of one in a quarry near me, these were taken at probably 100 metres away.

    the original of the first one just resized for upload

    taken with a 7D mk2 and 100-400mm MK2

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  • Nice Alan! Atmospherics definitely an issue - the quarry is quite close to the coast so we get a bit of sea mist... Not so much heat haze yet this year!

    Big thumbs up to Matt at Sherwoods Photo Ltd - I emailed him asking about the poor seating of the photoadapter and he called me right back to help fix it! All sorted now and I may try some tests in the garden across the field after dinner to get some practice in.

    I'll have to put a rangefinder on the distance to the peregrine nest - it's pretty far, you can't see the bird at all with the naked eye...