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Spotting scope

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by M00baz00, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. M00baz00

    M00baz00 New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 4, 2014
    Greetings,

    I have a Panasonic Lumix G 3 and would like to purchase a spotting scope and attachment to fit this camera. I have absolutely no knowledge as to how to do this and/ or what to buy. I am a pensioner hence my budget is not substantial. I have been looking at Praktica scopes as their optics appear to have a good reputation.

    I would be very grateful for any advice / tips etc.

    Many thanks

    Paul
     
  2. MikeB

    MikeB Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jun 10, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    As an amateur astronomer, let me give you the basic setup you need. Btw, you should tell us what your goal is: are you looking at wildlife during the day? Birds? Astronomy?

    First, you need a scope. There's a big selection out there, at all price ranges, so I can't give a specific recommendation here. But here's some general ones:

    Think carefully about the tripod. Vibrations are going to kill image quality unless you have a stable mount. A standard camera tripod probably isn't up to the job of supporting a 5lbs scope, plus a camera, and holding it still enough for a sharp photo at 1000mm focal length.

    When used with a standard eyepiece, a simple refracting telescope will produce an inverted image. So spotting scopes generally come with a prism to invert the image. Sometimes these are built into the scope, sometimes they are inserted into the eyepiece tube at the back of the scope. For photography, the inverted image is what the camera expects, so you really want a scope where the prism (and eyepiece) are removable, not built in.

    To attach the camera to the scope, most people get an adapter to convert the camera mount to a 'T' thread, and then a second adapter to convert the 'T' thread to the eyepiece size needed. Most eyepieces for astronomy are either 2" diameter or 1 1/4" diameter, but some spotting scopes use a smaller size. You can find a nice T adapter for the m4/3 mount at http://www.telescopeadapters.com/. This is called the 'prime focus' method.

    One additional complication is that the distance to sensor may be too short or long to get focus. Sometimes you need an extension tube to move the camera further away from the scope, other times you need a shorter T adapter to bring the camera closer. The telescopeadapters.com site has a nice T-minus adapter for getting closer in, as well as extension tubes. Experimentation is likely here.

    If you get a scope that doesn't have a removable eyepiece, you can still use it for photography, but it's not quite as simple. Instead of using the camera to replace the eyepiece, you hold the camera above the eyepiece where your eye would go. This is called the 'eyepiece projection' method. There are adapters similar to the ones above to handle this job, but it's a bit more complicated. Since you don't have a scope yet, go the first route.

    Btw, the technical term for this is 'digiscoping', and there's lots of discussions on wildlife sites as well as astronomy ones.
     
  3. M00baz00

    M00baz00 New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 4, 2014
    HI mikeB

    This is very useful and gives me food for research, many thanks indeed for your detailed reply.

    I will only be using the scope for nature photography - primarily birds. I live near Knross in Scotland in a rural location and am fortunate to be only 1 mile away from a nature reserve at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) at Loch Leven)

    This is a link to the scope I was looking at and I would welcome any opinions

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/130694783717?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    As stated in my original post I have heard good feedback regarding Praktica. They were original East German and I understand that much of the tooling for their optics is Zeiss technology.

    Many thanks again

    Regards

    Paul
     
  4. MikeB

    MikeB Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jun 10, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    On the scope you link to: The optics may be great for visual use, but it's got the built-in prism and non-removable eyepiece that I warned about. Probably not the best choice for m4/3 photography, at least it's not usable for the prime focus method.

    The same ebay seller has this Celestron scope:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Celestron...UK_Photography_Telescopes&hash=item20c7fd8210
    It's going to be much easier to use, and has a very long 1250mm focal length. Actually, 1250mm may be too long, my small scope is 480mm and seems to be right in the sweet spot.

    Here's another one that might be more likely:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Celestron...UK_Photography_Telescopes&hash=item4acdb9a08a
    The 400mm focal length is about right, and it should have a standard 1 1/4" eyepiece tube when you remove the prism.
     
  5. M00baz00

    M00baz00 New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 4, 2014
    Hi MikeB - I am learning quickly. Celestron appears to have a good reputation also. I take the point about the eyepiece on the praktika.

    With the Celestron can I just get a mount that makes use of the camera's zoom lens or would I need to use my fixed focal length lens.

    Thanks again for the advice

    Cheers

    Paul
     
  6. MikeB

    MikeB Mu-43 Regular

    125
    Jun 10, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    Sorry Paul, lost track of this thread.

    With the prime focus method, the spotting scope IS the camera lens. You remove any other lenses, and attach the scope directly to the bayonet mount. That's what those Celestron scopes will allow you to do. The focal length of the system is simply the focal length of the scope.

    If you do the eyepiece projection method, then you keep a lens on your camera, and point the lens into the eyepiece of the scope. There's much more glass in the optical path, and it's much harder to get a clear image. But it is possible with the right adapters. You can change the magnification by altering either your camera lens or the eyepiece (or the scope's zoom function, if it has one).
     
  7. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    651
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    I've had a few goes at teresteral digiscoping, so can add a little personal experience.
    My spotting scope (a Tasco World class) has a fixed eyepiece, and came with T2 connectors for a camera. It actually has a table on it showing the focal length/ aperture at different zoom settings (1000mm f/16 to 4000mm f/64).
    Used as a telescope all of this range is quite usable, producing clear images. But with a camera mounted the optical quality is noticably poorer, and there's absolutely no point trying to use it at 4000mm.
    My feeling is that to get reasonable results you need a very high quality telescope, whilst I went for the budget end of the range with this one. :frown:

    The short registration of µ4/3 does help significantly with digiscoping. Most Newtonian reflectors have too little back focus to mount a DSLR for prime focus, whilst a c mount adapter allows µ4/3 to achieve it easily. My experience with a Newtonian is rather limited partly for this reason (Its bulk is the other reason) I've only very recently dragged the scope out to try with MFT having pretty much given it up in my DSLR only days.

    In addition to the two methods ('Prime Focus' & 'Afocal') MikeB has mentioned, there is also 'positive projection' where the camera eyepiece is used without a lens on the camera, and 'negative projection' where a barlow is used in what is otherwise a prime focus set-up. Negative projection does allow the DSLR to work with my Newtonian but the image quality prime focus is noticeably better (even looking through a window at the trees at the bottom of the garden).
     
  8. M00baz00

    M00baz00 New to Mu-43

    4
    Jan 4, 2014
    Hi Guys, Thanks for ll your help with this. I have decided on balance to go with the prime focus methos and have ordered a Praktica 20 - 60 x 77 together with the Pakitica camera adapter. Got absolutely no help at all from dealers in the UK but Andreas at the factory in Dresden was more than helpful - how did the germans only get the silver medal in WW2 !! very helpful and very efficient.

    I will try to post some photos if I can work out how to do it once I have taken delivery of all my 'stuff'

    Thanks again for all your input

    Paul
     
  9. Petrochemist

    Petrochemist Mu-43 Top Veteran

    651
    Mar 21, 2013
    N Essex, UK
    Mike
    Digiscoping examples

    I had my scope out recently to take some demo shots for a presentation I was doing at the local photo workshop. They're not brilliant but will give some idea of achievable results.
    All where the first shot taken with that set-up, and the lifeboat was moving rather significantly which can add to the motion blur. No post processing done other than resize & rotate (except for the crop shot).

    In order these were:
    1. Negative projection (with x2 barlow)
    2. Prime focus. (no lens or eyepiece)
    3. Eyepiece projection - high magnification (8mm eyepeice & 184mm lens)
    4. Eyepiece projection - lower magnifcation (24mm eyepiece & 45mm lens)
    5. Comparative shot with 200mm native lens
    6. 100% crop of 200mm native lens.
     

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