Use a spotting scope and a digital camera for wildlife photography
By Ibarionex R. Perello
When photographing wildlife, especially small, elusive animals, one of the biggest challenges is having enough magnification to fill the frame with your subject. Most of us have taken a photograph of a bird or a deer where the animal is so small in the frame that it's difficult to tell what it is. Although a super-telephoto lens of 600mm or longer would help, the price tag for one of these focal lengths can be prohibitive for many.
Recently, however, digital photography has opened up the world of super-focal lengths to virtually anyone with a digital camera and a spotting scope. Called digi-scoping, this unique type of photography involves using a spotting scope as an extension of the compact digital camera's existing optics. A spotting scope is a portable telescope designed for viewing terrestrial subjects. Offering magnifications between 20x and 60x, thesescopes deliver more magnification than would be available to a photographer with an SLR and an 800mm lens. Digiscoping became widely popular among birders and eventually led to the creation of adapters that connect a compact digital camera or SLR to a spotting scope.
How It Works A typical compact camera often includes a 3x zoom, which usually is the 35mm equivalent of a 35-105mm lens, hardly enough for photographing a distant subject. When that same 3x zoom is placed onto the eyepiece of a spotting scope with a 60x zoom, the magnification increases to as much as 90x.
Although spotting scopes weren't designed to be used for photography, they produce excellent image quality. Spotting scopes that include multi-coated optics and low-dispersion glass elements deliver images with high color accuracy and contrast, which translate into enlargements with which many photographers are pleased.