Telephotography & Digi-scoping

Telephotography or digi-scoping is easier than ever to enjoy using Opticron telescopes in conjunction with either SLR cameras (digital or film), or digital compact cameras and camcorders.

Digiscoping with a DSLR

In this system the camera lens is substituted for the telescope and coupled directly to the SLR camera body using either a telephotoadapter or an eyepiece+photoadapter combination. T-mounts, available for nearly all makes of SLR cameras, are also needed to connect the assembly to the camera body.

It should be noted that while it is Fallow Deer picspossible to take perfectly acceptable high magnification photographs of wildlife in a wide range of environments using a telescope as a telephoto lens, the relatively small apertures, fields of view and depth of focus put an upper limit on the quality of the final image and one’s ability to successfully frame shots at close range.

The chart below shows the current range of telephotoadapters and photoadapters available to enable you to convert your Opticron telescope into a long focal length telephoto lens.

Notes. Focusing is facilitated on the telescope. Camera may need to be operated in manual mode with shutter locks disengaged where necessary. The high magnification to aperture ratios result in slower shutter speeds compared with conventional telephoto lenses so choose an ISO setting of 400. For 35mm SLRs 400 ASA film is recommended. If possible use a cable release or remote control to reduce camera shake when operating the shutter.  

Telephotography Chart

Digi-scoping with Compact Digital Cameras and Camcorders

The nature of image capture with digital compact cameras and camcorders means Opticron telescopes can be used as high magnification telephoto lenses for wildlife photography and filming. There are some limitations to these applications mainly due to the high magnifications involved and the fact that telescope eyepieces are not designed (mechanically or optically) to transmit light into the camera/camcorder lenses.

The vast majority of compact prismatic telescopes are designed for use with viewing eyepieces ranging in magnification from 20x to 60x. Using a telescope fitted with a 20x eyepiece in combination with a camera/camcorder with an optical zoom of between 0.6x and 20x, it is possible to take some very high magnification images of wildlife, but the small effective apertures, fields of view and depth of focus put a limit on the quality of the final image and one’s ability to successfully frame a shot.

In addition it is often difficult for the viewing eyepiece to project a large enough diameter path of light into the camera lens and onto the sensor inside. This condition, a circular image within the available rectangular image frame, is known as vignetting. Vignetting can be reduced by increasing the zoom setting on the camera or by cropping out using photo editing software.

To get the best results;
Choose a low magnification wide angle eyepiece for your telescope when using it for digiscoping. As a general rule, the following eyepieces provide the best overall images with a wide range of different compact digital cameras. To help they have been graded according to particular requirement.

Overall image quality: 40810 HDF T
Flexibility across the widest range of different magnifications: 40936 SDLv2 or 40862 HDF T zoom

Choose a camera/camcorder with a zoom of 5x or less and a small lens diameter. The smaller the lens diameter the more of its surface area will be covered by light exiting from the telescope eyepiece. Commonly camera lenses of diameter less than 20mm give best results and camera lenses over 30mm in diameter will require at least 3x optical zoom to attain a 'full frame' image.

Use the optical zoom on the camera/camcorder to reduce the aperture of the lens to 'match up' with light exiting from the eyepiece. Remember that the higher the optical zoom setting, the higher the magnification of the final image e.g. 20x eyepiece plus 3x optical zoom = 60x (assuming the default magnification on the camera = 1x.)

Important note. In addition to eyepiece magnification and camera lens diameter, variables such as eyepiece eyerelief and field of view plus individual camera zoom-lens mechanisms all play an important role in achieving the best overall 'set-up' for this type of telephotography. There is therefore no substitute for individual testing.

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