Birder's Guide

DEC 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/216642

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camera, however; without a snug and secure ft on the ocular, digiscoping becomes unnecessarily challenging. For many years, digiscoping was my method of choice. Because I often carry a spotting scope anyway, having a small point-and-shoot in a back pocket is hardly an inconvenience. Some adapters, especially more universal ones, look like and weigh almost as much as Medieval torture devices, but the best ones don't weigh much and greatly enhance results. It's best to purchase the adapter made specifcally for a particular scope, or, better yet, made specifcally for a particular scope and a specifc camera. Leica and Nikon make adapters that ft their own cameras and their own scopes, for example, but most other companies produce a digiscoping adapter that works well with a variety of cameras. Manufacturers that do not make their own cameras strive to have a secure ft on their scopes, while accepting a broader range of camera options. Swarokski, for example, has some fne offerings to couple their scopes with a variety of cameras. camera itself. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Size and weight: the point-andshoot plus the adapter usually involves more bulk than most pockets offer. your eyepiece, and how well they function when digiscoping. When shopping for a point-andshoot, ignore the "digital zoom" pronouncement and focus on the stated "optical zoom". –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Setting up: the setup works best if you match up the adapter and scope (and, in some cases, the camera) from the same company, which limits your options. Universal adapters are often poor performers. i recommend taking your scope, with or without an adapter, into your favorite camera store (i have been seen walking my spotting scope and tripod down the halls of the Maine Mall) and trying out a variety of cameras to see just how well they couple with • Speed: since getting a scope on a bird and then setting up your digiscoping rig takes some time, this method doesn't work so well for birds in fight or birds that appear and disappear rapidly, or are otherwise moving quickly. Whether it's a Bell's Vireo briefy popping in and out of the scrub or a long-sought Gyrfalcon whizzing by your local hawkwatch, rapid motion is the downfall of digiscoping. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Focus: shake (and therefore Benefits –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Money: Minimal cost to get started. Good point-and-shoots can be found for less than $200, and do-it-yourself adapters can be made for pennies. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Size: A lot smaller and cheaper than an sLR. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Distance: Performs better at a distance than super-zooms and, under good conditions, can outperform the sLRs most birders carry, at least for documentation-quality photographs. Costs –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Money: the best adapters are often as expensive as the While this photo of a wayward Connecticut Warbler in Maine this fall would not normally see the light of print—except in this demonstration—it did provide adequate documentation of a state rarity. With steady rain, i left the "real" camera behind, and faced with such an unusually cooperative individual, i simply snapped a photo by handholding my iPhone 4s up to my binoculars. Photo © Derek Lovitch. December 2013 | Birder's Guide to Gear 21

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