For the past several years now I’ve been using a combination of a spotting scope, a digiscoping adapter from Vortex, and my Canon Powershot ELPH 100 HS to reach out and capture those distant bird photographs. And as I’ve taken this rig into the field on countless occasions to work on my skills, I’ve developed a love- hate relationship with it.
I’ve captured some really great photos digiscoping, and I’ve had for the most part shot some real lousy pictures. At the end of a typical field trip where I shoot lots of pictures, I would load my pictures into my computer to start the photo editing process. This is where the picture you thought was really pretty good, turns into an out of focus mess not worth saving, let alone sharing it on my blog. And this is where the “hate” relationship comes into play. The pictures that you see are just a fraction of what I’ve deleted as I’d scroll through a day in the field.
On a whole I’m not a bad photographer. I’ve been a photographer since my first Canon SLR was purchased back in the mid-1970’s. So I do consider myself an experienced amateur. However this digiscoping style of photography has really perplexed me when the bottom line is always an out of focus subject. And I think I know where the problem lies.
The camera is relying on the spotting scope to be in focus to capture the quality photo that the camera can produce. The camera by itself has the capability to taking some awesome pictures, but when it relies on another whole set of lens in front of it, now that becomes a whole other problem we have to deal with. For myself I have difficulty in telling if the image is in focus while viewing it through an LCD screen on the back of the camera. The process for me to take a digiscoped pictures has several steps and by the time you complete them either the bird has flown away, or it’s moved and out of focus. Also when I’m just looking through my bin’s or spotting scope I don’t wear my reading glasses. However when I digiscope a picture I have to put them on to see the image on the LCD screen. The whole process is maddening.
But when you come up with an image like this…
it makes the 40 other crappy pictures seem less important. So you continue to put up with getting that 1 in 40 shot that comes out really sharp and in focus.
Well, not anymore. “Say hello to my little friend”
Canon Powershot SX50 HS
The first time I saw this camera was back in January while out on a wintery field trip with my friend Brain. He was home from college and we were both adding birds to our January 100 species list. We were down along the Little Miami River in Newtown when we spot a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Brain pulls out this exact camera and takes a photo of the Sapsucker that blew my mind away. We weren’t exactly close, but the close-up shot of that bird instantly sold me.
Now it looks almost like my Canon Powershot S3 IS if you compare these 2 images.
Sharing the same body shape, that’s the only similarity these 2 cameras have. Where my older canon has only a 12X zoom, the new one has a 50X zoom. It goes from 34mm to a whopping 1,200mm. That’s a crazy zoom on what is considered just a point-n-shoot camera. And that’s optical zoom, not digital. My spotting scope only zooms from 20X to 60X, and this camera does 50X, WOW!
So to show just how much this beauty will zoom onto a subject I went out today to try an experimental photo shoot. The first image is shooting away from the house towards my backyard towards the fence line. It’s the fence we want to focus our attention on.
Now I’m going to start zooming in to an object that’s sitting on top of one of the fence posts. The item I’m zooming in on is 100 feet from the camera which is mounted on a tripod. The object is 4.5″ x 3.5″.
Now considering that I was just started fooling around with it and haven’t yet explored the full capabilities of this camera, and it’s a cloudy day, the zoom on this camera is just outstanding.
So what’s going to happen to my digiscoping rig? Well for the time being it will be semi-retired and be remembered as a worthy companion that took some great photos…every now and then.