Kowa Sporting Optics

DSLR Digiscoping

Facing the challenges and reaping the rewards

 

What is DSLR Digiscoping?

Kowa TSN-883 spotting scope, Photo Adapter, DSLR

Kowa TSN-883 spotting scope, Photo Adapter, DSLR

  • a method of extreme telephoto photography
  • combining a spotting scope and a DSLR camera body
  • uses the optics of the scope and eyepiece/adapter
  • achieving focal lengths of 3,000 mm+

Get Connected

exploded-PA7-red

In contrast to conventional digiscoping, where the image produced by the spotting scope eyepiece is photographed. The TSN-PA7 connects your D-SLR directly to the body of the scope via a T2 mount. Creating a high powered, yet lightweight and compact telephoto lens, when compared to traditional telephoto lenses.
Designed to be used with the Kowa TE-11WZTE-10Z zoom eyepieces and Kowa TSN-880/770 series spotting scopes. The design allows for the full use of the zoom eyepiece range giving an amazing focal length reach of up to 2570mm when using the TE-11WZ eyepiece or 2750mm with the TE-10Z.
exploded-PZ-red

The TSN PZ connects your D-SLR directly to the body of the scope via a T2 mount. This makes for a high powered, yet lightweight and compact telephoto lens, when compared to traditional telephoto lenses.

The TSN PZ has a variable focal length range of 680mm – 1000mm (based on 35mm), which gives you the added flexibility when composing your image. It also makes finding your subject matter easier – by zooming out to the wider angle of 680mm to locate the subject and then zooming into 1000mm for maximum telephoto power.

The pros

  • huge telephoto power
  • can keep a respectful distance from the subject
  • compact and lightweight
  • no need to carry additional gear
  • requires skill therefore more rewarding and sense of ownership

The cons

  • locating subject matter
  • missed opportunities
  • risk of motion blur
  • moving subject matter
  • small apertures

Is DSLR Digiscoping for you?
What kind of photography do you want to do?
What are your expectations?
Before you start…

  • Get to know your apertures from your f stops…
  • Do your research.
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Start big and slow.
  • Learn to love your photo editing software.

DEMO

Click on image to ZOOM

Click on image to ZOOM

 

The challenges: 

  • Bright cliff face with a black coloured bird.

Set the camera to AE mode and under expose so to avoid highlights blowing. Lighten the subject in post processing as required.

  • Windy conditions

Set the tripod low to the ground and set a higher iso on the camera to achieve faster shutter speeds to minimise motion blur.

  • Fluctuating lighting conditions

Continuously monitor shutter speeds and adjust settings to suit.
Check image playback to monitor sharpness of image and histogram.
Check focus and fine tune if required.

Eyepiece: 25x optical zoom Focal length: 1000mm Effective aperture: F 12.4 ISO: 800 Shutter speed 1/1300 sec

Eyepiece: 25x optical zoom
Focal length: 1000mm
Effective aperture: F 12.4
ISO: 800
Shutter speed 1/1300 sec

Eyepiece: 60x optical zoom Focal length: 2450mm Effective aperture: F 31 ISO: 1600 Shutter speed 1/640 sec

Eyepiece: 60x optical zoom
Focal length: 2450mm
Effective aperture: F 31
ISO: 1600
Shutter speed 1/640 sec

Hints and tips

  • Learn to use both your camera and scope before starting.
  • Use a good sturdy tripod and fluid video or gimbal head.
  • Adapt to the conditions and react accordingly.
  • Light is everything.
  • Limit motion blur with fast shutter speeds.
  • Practice in your garden on static subjects.
  • Grasp a basic knowledge of your imaging software.
  • Enjoy it. It takes time to develop your skills.
Click on image to ZOOM

Click on image to ZOOM

 

 

An Easter Excursion

Just me, South Stack Lighthouse and the Kowa telephoto lens…

05.00: I’d set my alarm for 6.00 but I was awake at 5.00, I’d got that excited feeling in my stomach, just like I used to get at Christmas 30 years ago. I’d visited the RSPB  reserve at South Stack Lighthouse on the North West tip of Anglesey at least half a dozen times this year already – but this time I was taking my kit. The early start was for two reasons – South Stack has become more and more popular in recent years which is great and the result of lots of hard work by the RSPB, but the problem is –  Easter weekend, glorious weather predicted, if I had left it until mid morning I would be lucky to get a parking space. Reason two, and the main reason for me is that there is just something special about having South Stack all to yourself! South stack for me is either sunrise or sunset.

05.45: Coffee consumed, car loaded with kit and dog taken for a 10 minute walk much to his disappointment, I set off on the 10 minute car  journey from Trearddur Bay to the cliffs of South Stack.

06.00: Backpack on my shoulders and Kowa telephoto lens in hand I was ready. I walked along the track from the car park to the cliffs. The sun was still rising and there was not a breath of wind – pure silence apart from the dozens of Wrens  singing from the Gorse that lines the track.

Ready for action at South Stack

Ready for action at South Stack

06.15: I made my way down just some of the 400 steps to the light house to a good observation point to look over towards the cliffs. It is still early days yet in terms of sea bird activity, but give it a few weeks and these silent cliffs will be drowned by the noise of thousands of nesting Guillemot and Razorbill. A Peregrine Falcon cruised over my head and I enjoyed watching Fulmar and other gulls dart about the cliff face.

Early morning light catches the tip of South Stack Lighthouse.

Early morning light catches the tip of South Stack Lighthouse.

06.30: The early start rewarded me with fine, close up views of a family of Chough, a shy member of the Crow family which does particularly well in this part of the world. An hour flew by as I took image after image of these amazing birds with the Kowa telephoto lens using the 500mm f5.6 adapter and my Canon EOS 5D. It was a real treat, the birds came within twenty feet of me and I could capture in fine detail, their bright orange beaks and glossy blue/black plumage. The compact size and lightweight body of the Kowa telephoto lens meant I was able to hand hold it allowing me to react quickly and position myself where I did not disturb the birds.

The Kowa 500mm 5.6 telephoto lens captures fine detail

The Kowa 500mm 5.6 telephoto lens captures fine detail

 

chough-telephoto-lens2-2

Capturing interesting Chough behaviour on the cliffs of South Stack

 07.30: After an hour had passed by photographing the beautiful Chough, I wanted to do some general bird watching, so I quickly swopped the 500mm photo adapter for the Kowa prism unit and 25-60x wide eyepiece and my telephoto lens was transformed in to a spotting scope. After scanning the cliffs, I observed a number of Guillemot and Razorbill. I also turned the scope out to sea and pushing the eyepiece up to 60x zoom I spotted my first Puffin of the year!

Spot the Puffin - digiscoped with iPhone way out to sea.

Spot the Puffin – digiscoped with iPhone way out to sea.

08.30: At this point, I thought I’d have some fun digiscoping with my iPhone – That’s the beauty of the Kowa telephoto lens, one minute it is a 500m f5.6 lens on my DSLR, then I’m using it as a super high quality spotting scope, then in just a few moments – I’m digiscoping with my iPhone – it’s that versatile.

The birds were a long way off and I needed the extra telephoto power that digiscoping provides – a telephoto lens would not give me enough reach. Now with my iPhone connected and my Kowa 25-60x eyepiece cranked up to 60x optical zoom – I was achieving focal lengths of up to 2100mm.

Kowa iPhone adapter connects my iPhone to the telephoto lens

Kowa iPhone adapter connects my iPhone to the telephoto lens

razor-bill

Razorbill digiscoped on a distant cliff face.

10.45: As the morning went on and the car park started to fill, I packed up and headed back to the car – a full English breakfast beckoned.

 

Copy written and pictures taken by Rob Wilton

Sand Martins are here!

Yesterday we went out to the beautiful RSPB Minsmere reserve for a digiscoping session and to meet the wonderful staff there.

It was a lovely day, with great weather. As we stepped outside, we saw the Sand Martins trying to nest. It was an amazing view, several Sand Martins flying around the sand wall, stuggling to nest as other people gathered to watch them. You could see they were distressed, as other birds were flying over them as well.

We found out they came back only last week and they have been trying to nest ever since.

Sand martins are the smallest European hirundines (martins and swallows), with dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with otherwise pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Agile fliers, feeding mainly over water, they will perch on overhead wires or branches. They are gregarious in the breeding season and winter. Over the past 50 years the European population has crashed on two occasions as a result of drought in the birds’ African wintering grounds.

We managed to take a few pictures of them during our optical training with the staff:

phonescoping22

phonescoping

 

This one specifically, shows them hovering around the potential nests.

The image was taken using an iPhone5 and also Kowa gear : TSN-IP5 adapter, Kowa TSN-883 scope and TE-11WZ wide zoom eyepiece.

It proved particularly difficult to get a good image of them, but after almost three hours of waiting, we did it.

The technique used is called phonescoping, the method used to connect your smartphone (in this case, we used the iPhone) to the scope and take high quality pictures.

It couldn’t be simpler to start taking magnified images or HD video with your iPhone and optical equipment via the Kowa digiscoping adapter. Simply slot your iPhone into the holder and screw on the appropriate adapter ring – that’s all there is to it – then push the adapter over the eyepiece of your spotting scope and you’re ready to digiscope – the whole process takes seconds. For those who prefer a more solid and permanent connection between iPhone and spotting scope – the TSN-IP4S/5 is compatible via an adapter ring with our DA10 collar – which can be screwed in to larger eyepieces and locked into place. The iPhone is a great way to digiscope – the large highly detailed screen is perfect for composing your image. You can also use your headphones as a remote shutter release for hands free operation (iOS5 operating system required). Thanks to the connectivity of the iPhone, you can quickly upload and share your unique and high quality images with friends, family and the rest of the world online!

iPhone DIGISCOPING TIPS

Due to the unrivalled high magnifications that can be achieved in digiscoping, it can be a challenging but also very rewarding method of telephoto photography. Try the following useful tips to help you get the best from your iPhone digiscoping experience:

1. We recommend that you attach the supplied neck strap to the iPhone holder and wear it around your neck whilst in use.

2. If possible – use your iPhone headphones as a remote shutter release. The less contact you make with your phone when taking the shot, the less chance of camera shake resulting in a blurred image.

3. A sturdy tripod with a good, smooth video panning head is highly recommended to keep your digiscoping setup stable. Good light is essential in digiscoping resulting in faster shutter speeds to help freeze the motion of your subject and minimise camera shake.

Please Note: Kowa accept no responsibility for any damage which may occur when connecting our product with other manufacturers optical instruments.
Always read the supplied instructions before use.

 

Please watch our video as well on “How to Phonescope” using Kowa products

D-SLR Digiscoping- Get closer to the action with our range of high quality and easy to use Kowa digiscoping adapters

What is digiscoping? 

Digiscoping is the method of attaching a digital compact camera or DSLR, video camcorder or phone to a spotting scope to create very highly magnified images or video. By combining the optics of a spotting scope with the optics of a camera  - the telephoto power of a Kowa digiscoping set-up can far exceed that of traditional telephoto lenses as well as often being far more compact.

Kowa offers a range of digiscoping adapters to suit all applications. When combined with our legendary range of super high quality spotting scopes – with practice, the results can be truly spectacular. Our digiscoping adapters are designed to make digiscoping easy and connect to our spotting scopes quickly and securely.

We currently have two digiscoping adapters for D-SLR digiscoping.

 

1. The Kowa TSN PZ Telephoto adapter transforms your KOWA TSN 880/770 series spotting scope into an extremely high quality telephoto lens for your D-SLR camera. Allowing you to not only experience stunningly sharp views of the world around you, but also take exceptionally detailed and vibrant photographs and videos with your D-SLR camera.

kowa-tsn-pz-dslr-adapter

In contrast to conventional digiscoping, where the image produced by the spotting scope eyepiece is photographed, the TSN PZ connects your D-SLR directly to the body of the scope via a T2 mount. This makes for a high powered, yet lightweight and compact telephoto lens, when compared to traditional telephoto lenses.

The TSN PZ has a variable focal length range of 680mm – 1000mm (based on 35mm), which gives you the added flexibility when composing your image. It also makes finding your subject matter easier – by zooming out to the wider angle of 680mm to locate the subject and then zooming into 1000mm for maximum telephoto power.

dslr-digiscoping-exploded

Focus is achieved by using the responsive dual manual focus wheels on the scope body. Incorporating quick and ultra fine focus options, you are in full control of focussing.

No more frustrating auto-focus hunting. The decision is yours, quickly and accurately manually focusing on even the most challenging of subjects.

 

Please note: When used with full frame D-SLR cameras, significant vignetting will occur.

Please watch the video below for easier understanding:

 

2. The Kowa TSN-PA7 D-SLR digiscoping adapter transforms your KOWA TSN 880/770 series scope into an extremely high powered telephoto lens for you D-SLR camera. Allowing you to not only experience stunningly sharp views of the world around you, but also take highly magnified, detailed and vibrant photographs and videos with your D-SLR camera.

ZW7B2726
In contrast to conventional digiscoping, where the image produced by the spotting scope eyepiece is photographed. the TSN-PA7 connects your D-SLR directly to the body of the scope via a T2 mount. Creating a high powered, yet lightweight and compact telephoto lens, when compared to traditional telephoto lenses.
Designed to be used with the Kowa TE-11WZTE-10Z zoom eyepieces and Kowa TSN-880/770 series spotting scopes. The design allows for the full use of the zoom eyepiece range giving an amazing focal length reach of up to 2570mm when using the TE-11WZ eyepiece or 2750mm with the TE-10Z.
dslr-exploded-pa7
For an easier understanding watch the below video:

DIGISCOPING ADVICE

Due to the unrivalled high magnifications that can be achieved in digiscoping, it can be a challenging but also very rewarding method of telephoto photography. Try these useful tips to help you get the best from your digiscoping.

Even the slightest movements can cause camera shake resulting in blurred images, try setting your D-SLR to mirror lock-up – this will help reduce vibrations when the shutter is fired.

A sturdy tripod with a good, smooth video panning head is highly recommended to keep your digiscoping setup stable.

Use your cameras self timer or a remote control to fire the shutter of your camera, the less you handle your camera whist taking the shot, the less the risk of camera shake.

Good light is essential in digiscoping resulting in faster shutter speeds to help freeze the motion of your subject and minimise camera shake.

A walk on Anglesey, who knows what you’ll see?

Rob Wilton explain why he never leaves his binoculars at home…

rob-with-binocs

There’s something magical about walking on Anglesey. To me, the light and atmosphere just seems different, with its rugged coastal cliff paths, expansive woodland, salt marshes and unspoilt beaches lines with ancient sand dunes.

Sometimes I can walk for miles and not see another soul- the only reminder of civilisation being an ancient burial chamber or monolith which has stood on the landscape for thousands of years- a landscape that you can imagine as you stand there, hasn’t changed much over the centuries.

These expansive panoramas are usually enhances with the stunning backdrop of the mountains that make up the Snowdonia National Park on the Welsh mainland. Depending on what time of the day you see them, their appearance can look remarkably different, sometimes dark and forboding and at other times, soft hues of pink and purple fading away into the distance.

It’s why I spend most of my free time there, why I’m prepared to leave my snug warm bed at 6.00 a.m and why I’ll walk for miles until my legs ache with Dougal my Springer Spaniel- we just can’t get enough of the place! when you walk through the wide range of natural habitats on the Isle of Anglesey you can’t help but be the surrounded by the diverse range of wildlife that it supports. From vast seabird colonies to the many species of whales and dolphins that populate the coast line. It’s this amazing array of animals that always has me reaching for my binoculars before setting off on a trek. My binoculars are as important to me as my bottle of water, map and compass. They enhance every walk, help me to engage deeper with my surroundings and fill me with lasting memories. Memories which I might have missed without them.

I’ll take you back to a walk I experienced a few weeks ago on one of my favourite stretches of Anglesey coastal path, which I know just wouldn’t have been the same without my binoculars. The amount of wildlife I witnessed was breathtaking. I stopped for a well earned rest and sat on a rock viewing Grey Seals on the bay. Observed a Kestrel feeding her young inside hole in a rock on a distant cliff face and saw a silhouette of a bird of prey perched on a boulder. It was only after sighting it through my binoculars that I realised it was a stunning Peregrine Falcon.

As a walker you don’t want to be burdened with a large binocular weighing you down, use a heavy bulky set and it will probably mean you decide to leave them behind more often than not. That’s why I’m loving my new Kowa BD XD binocular. Kowa have managed to create a really compact model without compromising on optical quality. In Simple terms, it means I’m getting the superior light gathering power and resolution that a much larger binocular would normally offer, but in a far more compact and lightweight body. They sit over my shoulder and I don’t know they are there- perfect for walking.

bdxd-on-wall

They are stunningly sharp which makes viewing wildlife an absolute pleasure.

I love Orchids and Anglesey has lots of species, so I always look for a binocular which close focus capabilities- the new Kowa BD XD model focuses down to 1.5 meters! I can look at every petal in glorious detail just from standing on the path- no need to get into uncomfortable positions to see their beauty, plus I don’t risk trampling in amongst the flowers and treading on them- something I feel strongly about. Train them on a butterfly and you’ll get a detailed glimpse in to mother nature’s world of vibrant colours, patterns and symmetry on a miniature scale.

Over the years, walking in bad weather has never been an issue, and believe me, I’ve experienced my fair share of it on Anglesey. In fact for me walking in blustery wind and rain has a life enhancing effect- it heightens the senses and makes me feel alive- maybe it’s just me? But if you share this way of thinking or simply get caught out by a passing storm, make sure your binoculars are up to the job. my Kowa BD XD are magnesium allow and fully waterproof. I don’t have to worry about how they will perform, even in the most severe weather conditions.

One last thing I think is the icing on the cake. Kowa have developed an adapter for the iPhone and Galaxy4S which simply pushes over one of the eyecaps on the Kowa BD XD binoculars. So now, not only I can get amazing views of the wildlife, I can take a magnified picture of it too! It’s so easy- and the results can be truly amazing. No need to carry an extra camera kit- my phone is always with me, but now it’s a phone that doubles up as a camera with a telephoto lens sitting in my back pocket. What better way to spend an evening down the local pub with a real ale, reflecting on the highlights of the day’s walk and thumbing through the images I captured along the way?

Pictures1

If you love walks amongst our wildlife- you’ll love Anglesey. It has something for everyone, old and young, for the relaxed as well as the more adventurous- just don’t forget your binoculars, you never know what you might see along the way.

Watch Kowa’s video on the new BD XD

A wildlife photographer’s desire to do more

Rob Wilton explains what wildlife photography means to him

Anyone who photographs wildlife knows how challenging it can be, they will also know it’s often worthy of the effort required and that the rewards can be great, for me not material rewards, it’s more about rewards that reach my soul, happy memories and a sense of pride in my work.

It’s mental and often physical challenge- early starts, long waits, blurred images, frustration and missed opportunities. On the Physical side- heavy, bulky equipment, long treks and a painful choice of what gear to take and what to leave home.

It’s a challenge, but one that I relish.

I guess you could say I’m an opportunist, I struggle to sit in a hide for hours waiting for my subject to (hopefully) show up. I much prefer a bracing walk in the country side with my gear on my back and in my hands- if I’m fortunate enough to meet some wildlife on the way then I’ll do my thing. For me it’s more rewarding, I have to act fast, get into position, I need to focus and go for it.

Yes, it can be demanding and I know I may sometimes miss that perfect shot- but when I look back at my images and show them to family and friends, I feel a sense of immense achievement- I did this- this was my challenge, my image and it was worth it!

That’s where the Kowa Telephoto lens plays its part. I’ve used lots of telephoto lenses in the past, but this one is different.

Pictures

It’s hard to explain, but it feels like an extension of myself, I control the lens, it doesn’t control me- I create the picture the way I see it in my head before I press the shutter. For me it’s wildlife photography in its simplest and purit form, it’s how it should be- my choice is not removed by the decision of electronic circuits. What I’m trying to say is that I’m no control freak- but I want to control how my image turns out.

So why the Kowa Telephoto lens? For me it matches who I am and the way I photograph wildlife- here’s why:

The Kowa Telephoto lens has no electronics- it’s manual focus only. That may raise an eyebrow of some photographers out there to question Kowa’s decision to do this- but not me, my choice for wildlife is manual focus all the way. I don’t need to worry about autofocus hunting. If you’ve photographed wildlife yourself, I’m sure you’ve been there, you know, the one with the blurred bird, but a lovely sharp branch. But it’s not just the technical issue and restrictions that autofocus can bring, if it’s manual focus, then it’s my achievement- my creativity and that’s what I find really appealing.

It’s sharp- boy it’s sharp. A Fluorite crystal objective lens delivers the goods on image quality with beautiful contrast and detail.

It’s Flexible. I want compact and portable, not heavy and restrictive. I have the choice of three focal lengths, 350mm/500mm/850mm, the uniquie modular design means I can take the master lens and all three adapters in one kit bag, that’s three prime lenses out in the field at the same time! So one minute I’m photographing Terns flying over my head with the 350mm adapter- the next I’m photographing them on a distant nest with the 850mm one.

kit-bag

It’s tough and reliable. It needs to be, I’m always squeezing into tight spaces, knocking myself and my kit on rocky outcrops or crawling about in dark and damp places and I love it!

The Kowa Telephoto lens has my seal of approval- it may not suit everyone but it suits me and my world. It’s helped me get shots I would have missed with conventional kit and when I’m sitting at home on the computer browsing my images- one thing’s for sure, I created them!

 

You can learn more about the Kowa Telephoto lens at:

www.kowaproducts.com

Welcome to the REAL world

Kowa unveils  new micro four thirds lenses at The Photography Show 2014 in Birmingham. 

With over 60 years of technical experience and know-how in optics, Kowa is proud to present the next generation of crystal clear, super wide, fixed focal length lenses.

lens-group

The super wide angle 8.5mm lens offers a wide field of view unmatched amongst other lenses conforming to the micro four thirds

system standard, while minimizing distortion to a value of only 0.12% even though it offers a diagonal angle of view of 106 degrees.

The model with a wide angle view and a 12mm focal length (KOWA PROMINAR 12mm F1.8 MFT) has a bright F1.8 aperture, and its distortion value has also been reduced to 0.59%.

The model with a 25mm standard focal length (KOWA PROMINAR 25mm F1.8 MFT) is suited for use in a variety of shooting environments, it has a bright F1.8 aperture and provides a very sharp image.

 

Please see below the www.photowalkthrough.com interviewing Kowa at The Photography Show regarding these new lenses:

These lenses maintain the optical characteristics adequately, supporting the high resolution 4K and 2K cameras.

Kowa-MFT-lenses-680x363

 

Click on other forums talking about our new lenses: 

ePHOTOzine

Four Thirds Forum

The PhotoBlographer

Imaging Resource

 

Coming soon (Summer of 2014)

Watch the space for more news!

 

Kowa Iphone 5 digiscoping example

An example of iPhone digiscoping using the iPhone 5, Kowa 883 spotting scope and Kowa iPhone 5 digiscope adapter:

Kowa iPhone digiscoping

Follow all the Kowa iPhone digiscoping action at www.facebook.com/phonescoping

phonescoping-screengrab

Introducing the all new Kowa BD XD

kowa-bd-xds
Kowa BD XD binoculars – a new generation is born. The all new Kowa BD – clarity like never before.

Available in an 8x and 10x model. BD42-8 XD Prominar and BD42-10 XD Prominar. 2 XD lenses, Ultra close focus of 1.5m, light weight magnesium alloy body. 42mm object lens performance in a compact body. Stylish and ergonomic design make them a joy to use – see www.kowaproducts.com for more information.

See the BD XD in action: