P&S + spotting scope?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by AmbitiousLemon, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. AmbitiousLemon Moderator emeritus

    AmbitiousLemon

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2001
    Location:
    down in Fraggle Rock
    #1
    For a few years now I've wanted to buy my grandmother binoculars with a digital camera in them so she can take pictures of the birds in the bird feeder in her backyard. I've waited year after year for the prices and MPs to get reasonable and they have yet to do so. Prices are still high and megapixels still very low. So I started looking into alternatives.

    One thought I had was perhaps I could get a point and shoot camera with a lens that could accommodate a spotting scope. I don't know much about digital cameras so I thought I'd see what people here thought about this idea.

    Some things to consider:
    1) She will only be taking pictures of birds in her own small (CA sized) backyard and front yard. And only while the birds are sitting (usually at feeders).
    2) Her hands are very shaky and weak so even normal binoculars are hard for her to use, due to shake. So anti-shake/tripod/light weight are all options.
    3) She has a PPC Mac mini with an old CRT, and she can do simple things on the computer but finds it frustrating/confusing. She has and uses photoshop and iphoto from time to time.
    4) She will want to print the images she takes in sizes between 5x7 and 8x10 (big enough so she can see them easily without glasses).
     
  2. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #2
    It is possible to mount a camera onto a spotting scope, although the normal "camera" that I've seen this done with has typically been of the SLR type.

    But I don't know if there's suitable (T-Mount style?) adaptors for the generic P&S.


    Typical North American birds that come into feeders are pretty small, so it takes a surprising amount of magnification to fill the frame with them - - hence your interest in using a spotting scope. You might want to consider dropping the scope and simply finding a P&S with a good optical & digital zoom. Sure, you'll lose resolution, but if you start with a 5-7MP sensor, you'll probably get something good enough for digital applications (email, webpage etc).

    Probably a good quality tripod with a head that's set up to easily pan/tilt.

    Most post-processing should be limited to cropping and maybe some relatively minor color/contrast correction from shooting through the window's glass. BTW, do consider removing the window's screen for the winter and using some windex cleaner inside & out.


    IMO, this is trouble, because an 8x10 more or less suggests that you effectively are going to want to have at least 4MP remaining "on subject" after whatever cropping takes place due to tiny birds and/or short optics.

    I've been playing around with the same idea for a couple of winters now and my general strategy has been to move the feeders closer and closer to the window...I'm now at around 8ft standoff distance and I'm shooting with a Canon 20D dSLR with a 70-200 f/2.8 IS with a 1.4x telextender, which means that I'm building to a 35mm equivalent of up to 450mm telephoto ... to shoot only 8 feet away.


    Overall, my recommendation would be to first see how close you can get the wildlife (aka the bird feeder) to the photographer's blind (window).


    -hh
     
  3. Grey Beard macrumors 65816

    Grey Beard

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2005
    Location:
    The Antipodes.
    #3
    Digiscoping

    www.leica-camera.us/nature_observation/digiscoping/

    Basically either a Leica C-Lux or D-Lux3 fitted with a digital adapter2 and use with a Televid Spotting Scope. Not a cheap solution, but an effective top quality one.

    KGB
     
  4. AmbitiousLemon thread starter Moderator emeritus

    AmbitiousLemon

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2001
    Location:
    down in Fraggle Rock
    #4
    A $1500 spotting scope certainly isn't an option. I do wonder though if the digital adapter fits onto other scopes.

    We looked into P&S cameras with good zoom and found them all too expensive. Also she will want to print these. The main reason is she wants to sit with the picture and look through her books to identify it. So she needs a nice print she can use for identification.


    She's moved the feeders as close as possible to the windows already. And this is a small CA sized yard so even if it was on the other end of the yard it would still be pretty close.
     
  5. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #5

    I might have stumbled across a solution that might work for you.

    Have you thought about using a "hunter's game scouting camera"? Its basically a green waterproof box with a camera inside and an IR sensor. Break the beam and it takes a photo.

    Here's some fancy & expensive examples, but a basic one can be found for as little as $100 now.

    What might be appealing about this too is that since it is automatic, it would capture birdfriends while she's not watching. The downside is that it will probably take lots of photos of stuff she's already seen, plus don't know if the sensor will trip on something as small as a bird.


    -hh
     

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