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.

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Page 23 of 51

Birding Photography focus) is challenging at high magnifcations. Less often employed is the digiscoping technique of pairing a DSLR camera body with a spotting scope. The beneft is that, instead of carrying an additional telephoto lens, you carry the camera body, a special adapter (a must for this kind of digiscoping; no hand-holding here!), and the scope you are already birding with anyway. It's a tradeoff with overall quality, as usual. Phone-scoping A few years from now, a rewrite of this article would likely not even include digiscoping, as I believe the wave of the future is the ultra-lightweight and portable "phone-scoping" technique. Whether because of family, business, keeping an eye on the weather, listservs, or entering your sightings into eBird, your phone is probably already in your pocket, so why even bother with a small point-and-shoot, especially considering the quality of the cameras in today's best smartphones? Once again, hand-holding is an option, especially in an emergency, but the adapters are relatively inexpensive, exceptionally lightweight, and easy to use. Homemade options include a cheap phone case and a lens cap (various techniques can be found online), but I prefer the adapters by either Meopta ("Meopix") or Phone Skope . Both Meopta and Phone Skope make adapters that ft snugly over specifc eyepieces, with Phone Skope having options for almost every scope on the market. Phone Skope also has a ratcheting adapter that they call their "C-4 Optic Universal Kit" that can be used with a range of scopes (that is, any of the scopes of your fellow travelers on a birding tour, or your regular scope and your compact travel scope, etc.) as well as with your binoculars (see blue box below). It's a bit clunky to use and defnitely takes some practice to be able to align quickly (when you learn the required eyecup setting on your optics, it gets easier). I am told that a new, improved adapter is right around the corner. often better than point-and-shoots of an equivalent price range. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Sharable: With a decent data plan, photos can be instantly emailed, shared on facebook, posted to websites and listservs, etc. Why wait until you get home to get the word out? –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Control: Photo apps for your phone can let you control focus and exposure with only a little practice. Costs –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Phone case: Most adapters cannot be used with protective cases for the phone. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Available phone: You're probably already carrying your phone, for better or worse. • Zoom: Phone cameras usually max out at about 5x optical zoom (see blue box on p. 20 for a defnition), and cropping beyond that will rapidly reduce resolution. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Adapters: Adapters are lightweight and relatively inexpensive. Do-it-yourself adapters are even cheaper but are much less secure. • Quality: the image quality is only as good as a photo with a phone can be. the resolution is fxed; there is no "raw" setting. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– • Quality: new phone cameras are hand and some practice (especially with lining up the camera to the bin- • Distractions: Because your phone is at the ready even more often, you probably can't ignore that phone call, and you'll probably check your work email. staring at birds is more rewarding than staring at your phone, after all. ocular)—apply either of these techniques to your binoculars. swarovski –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Benefits –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Digi-binning and Digi-phoning in addition to coupling either your point-and-shoot digital camera or your smartphone with your spotting scope, you can also—with a steady makes a spiffy little "snap shot Adapter", which comes standard with their binoculars, that works well with a point-and-shoot. You can also use a phone-scoping adapter, although, for most binoculars, you'll need a smaller size. therefore, if you are thinking of going the route of both phone-binning and phone-scoping, you'll probably want the Phone skope C-4 Universal (see above) so that you don't have to switch back and forth between different adapters. 22 Birder's Guide to Gear | December 2013 • Adapter: finding the best-ft adapter for your scope can be diffcult, especially with older models. You can fnd custom-cut o-rings to use the 55mm and 55.3mm MeoPix with nikon's small-diameter fieldscope eyepieces. (Contact me for more information.)

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