Digiscoping Cameras: What to look for when buying

The market for digital cameras is large and ever-increasing. There are almost 300 different brands and models of digital cameras available and though many of them will work for digiscoping, some work far better than others. There is an easy way to check and see whether your digital camera works well for digiscoping:

Set up a telescope with your preferred adapter for digital cameras (if you do not own one yet use a friend’s or ask your friendly dealer), turn the camera on, centre the camera lens behind the eyepiece of the scope, look at the scope’s image on your digital camera’s LCD screen viewer, press the shutter button half way down to focus the image and then take the picture.

Choosing a camera for Digiscoping

Does the camera fit on adapters which are optimized for your spotting scope?

A threaded connector on the objective lens is required for using the Swarovski Optik DCA adapter, a threaded connector on the tripod is required for using the Swarovski Optik DCB adapter.

Is the camera’s optical zoom able to get rid of vignetting?

(From experience it is advisable to use compact cameras with a 3x zoom.)

Cameras which meet these criteria are generally fine for digiscoping.

Other important criteria to be considered:

  • Does the camera have a remote control for the shutter release?
  • Does the camera have a short self-timer (2 or 3 seconds)?
  • Does the camera have a large LCD screen (at least 50 mm or 2 inches)?
  • Is the LCD screen pivotable (to prevent frontal sun-light on the screen)?
  • Does the camera have a good power supply for long use?
  • Is the camera programmable or are all features automatic?

Digiscoping with a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras)

Some of the large digital reflex cameras can be used with a 50 mm standard objective lens, the heavy weight does, however, cause additional problems in terms of stable attachment. It is also impossible to guarantee that the filter thread of the camera’s objective lens will take a system that is as sturdy as one for a smaller compact digital camera.

The main difference between a digital SLR camera and a compact digital camera is that the SLR camera has interchangeable lenses like a traditional film camera, is larger and a bit heavier but – depending on the model – offers more professional features like higher ISO, a wider range of different shutter speeds, the ability to shoot in RAW and also the ability to shoot a larger number of frames before the image buffer becomes full, etc.

Related reading: Digiscoping 101 | Tips and Tricks | Digiscoping Equipment

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