Digiscoping with superzoom or DSLR? (with spotting scope)

mipanoxcube

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Hello,

I'm new to here. So I'm not sure if asking this here is appropriate. If not, I would appreciate it if somebody is willing to give a link to the proper place(s)!
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Thanks for help in advance!

I'd like to ask for advice for choosing my gear. My main purpose is birdwatching and am considering buying a spotting scope + camera for digiscoping. The budget is around $3000, so I'm not considering expensive telephoto lenses. The scope will be used directly too -- i.e. viewed by human eye. So I'm also not considering "cheaper" lenses like 500mm or below. I want the magnification and actually photography is second.

I already possess a Panasonic lumix FZ80 superzoom camera, but I would like to extend both the magnification and image quality.

So a possible choice would be: - Kowa TSN-773 + eyepiece (TE-11WZ) + adapters + tripod = $2700+

(Swarovski's scopes seem unaffordable to me...)

Because I have no experience in digiscoping with "good" equipments, I'm not sure if the scope I'm choosing and the camera I already have match each other in terms of the product image quality and so on.

In other words, the questions are

(1) I'm not sure if I need to buy a DSLR to replace my FZ80. Or does FZ80 suffice to serve as the photographic device for the extra zoom from the scope? Perhaps digiscoping with TSN-773 simply wouldn't require another better camera?

(2) If the camera is too crappy for the scope, what would you recommend to buy for a DSLR? I think a pair of camera + lens summing up to ~$800 is still okay for the budget. In this case, would replacing the scope with a smaller-aperture one, say TSN-664 be worth it? Basically I'm trading off scope's aperture size and the quality of camera here. For direct observation purposes, a 6x mm scope is probably still good enough

(3) I also need help on choosing tripod. The range of cost out there is too confusing for me. First, I believe I can use one for both my camera and scope, when using them separately. But I think I can't afford a carbor-fiber one which can be almost as expensive as a scope. So I'm looking for aluminium ones. For the heads, would you recommend a 2-way head or ball head. I guess 2-way head could ensure better stability?

Thanks a lot!! Any advice would be much appreciated!
 

john.margetts

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This is a photography forum. We like big cameras with big lenses. You would be much better off asking on a birding forum, where there will be a lot of people doing digiscoping.

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petrochemist

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Over the years I've experimented with digiscoping using a number of budget scopes (all under £200 used)

Prime focus results (with those I could remove the eyepiece from) where acceptable but not any better than a modern telephoto lens. With some of the scopes my DSLR could not get close enough to focus beyond ~50m, This was not a problem for my mirrorless camera.
One of the scopes has an attached zoom eyepiece & came with a T2 adapter for Afocal digiscoping. The full zoom range was usable for direct observing, but with a camera mounted the zoom was effectively useless - no increase in detail even on a 6MP DSLR. (The system apparently equates to a 1000mm f/16 to a 4000mm f/64, It's highly likely that diffraction was responsible for the lack of any detail improvement - F/16 is about the diffraction limit for APSC).

There's no control of aperture when digiscoping so as a photographer I've not found it worth the hassle. Better detail being available (& easier) with a telephoto lens. FWIW fitting a molocular converter makes the telephoto lenses quite reasonable as telescopes :)

Online images suggest the quality of the scope may make a HUGE difference, with loads of quality shots managed using a phone & a good scope. I doubt the camera itself will make much difference.
 

Overread

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I won't say that no one here knows about digiscoping, but like John's point I agree that you might find we don't have as many users with experience of it. If you want you could stop by at BirdForum - The Net's Largest Birding Community, Dedicated To Wild Birds where (if you scroll down a fair way) there's a good section on digiscoping that might have the answer and users who might be more experienced in the matter
 
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mipanoxcube

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Thank you all for the suggestions! petrochemist's post has been useful, but I'll ask birders too.
 

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