The photographs here are my own work unless otherwise stated.
I started out using a compact Fujifilm FinePix F100fd purchased prior to any hint of an interest in birds. As I got out and about birding I improved my optics first of all for seeing the birds with a pair of Zeiss 8 x 42 T*FL binoculars. Using these are liking having your sight restored after blindness. Prior to this I was using a pair of Bresser 8 x 32 bins (broken!) bought at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire,England…… ah,my misspent youth!! I need to say I love the quality of the optical glass in these bins but the housing leaves a lot to be desired
I then added a Kowa 883 telescope with a 20-60x eyepiece. Wow! This did the trick. It really is a beast! These are expensive optics but worth every penny. As I said to a friend I want to see the birds!
A number of the shots from March 2009 were taken holding the compact against the scope eyepiece. I then bought a Canon EOS 500D with kit lenses in December 2009 and that has produced many fine shots allowing for its obvious limitations.
Then I came across digiscoping. WHen I bought my scope I did not know that it would be possible to to connect a camera to it and use it for photography. In July 2010, I bought a Nikon Coolpix P5100 and Kowa parts to attach it to my telescope. Mmmmmmmm! I have been catapulted into a whole new dimension and now I am low down on a major learning curve!
August 2010 I decided to splurge out on the Canon EF-S 60 mm lens as I take a lot of pics of kids, people and I would like to take better pics of insects, plants and flowers.
As I have progressed with digiscoping, I realised I needed to get a small repair to my Kowa scope. The tripod barrel was loose which meant I was unable to lock the scope and thus completetly eliminate movement. I suspect this flaw may be a factor in explaining why some of the shots taken between August 2010 and February 2011 are “soft”, as in lacking sharp focus. So after a round of international negotiations with Kowa’s people in Europe and Japan my scope went to Tokyo for repair in February 2011. I collected the repaired scope at the beginning of March 2011 and added a Kowa 25x LER eyepiece to my kit bag.
Around this time my friend Tara Tanaka ( 2011 Digiscoper of Year winner) put up for sale a Nikon P6000 camera which I snapped up. The repair and the new camera have resulted since March 2011 in a huge leap forward and increasingly I am more and more pleased with my results. I used the 20-60x and 25x LER lenses interchangeably I have to say the Kowa 25x LER is a great lens for digiscoping and I use it much more than the 20-60x.
At the end of September 2011 I had a disaster. My rig fell over in a saltpan at Pak Thale and my P6000 died on me. The scope got wet but fortunately was none the worse for the experience. For a few weeks I reverted back to the P5100 but I never really felt comfortable with it. I finally managed to source and secure a Nikon P6000 in November.
I have learned a lot about digiscoping from subscribing to Digiscoping Birds. This is where the experts hang out. Recently there has been a lot of hype for the new Nikon V1 camera and for using 4/3 cameras in general with electronic view finders. In March 2012 I took the leap into the world of 4/3 mirrorless cameras with the purchase of an attractive second-hand Panasonic GF2. The package came with everything I could possibly want: two lenses, two batteries, cables, release cable, electronic view finder (EVF) and was attractively priced. It came up here in Thailand so an additional attraction was no customs duty. So I snapped it up and my initial reaction is: wow! I think the electronic viewfinder is going to make a huge difference. It allows focus to be magnified and this means sharper focus; for digiscopers, with poor eyesight like me, this is critical. I am really excited by initial results.
In any event photographing birds is difficult in any conditions using any equipment. I am on the learning curve!
Unless stated otherwise assume all pictures from August 2010 are digiscoped and that from April 2012. I am using the Kowa scope, Kowa DA-10 adaptor, either a Kowa 25 x LER or the 20-60x zoom and the Panasonic GF1 with a 14-45 mm lens. I also use a cable release and everything is perched on a Manfrotto head and tripod and the shot is triggered with a cable release.