Kowa Sporting Optics

Author Archives: Blogadmin

Attention all Micro Four Third Digiscopers!

The Kowa DA10 rises again…

The Kowa TSN-DA10 digiscoping adapter  is no newbie in the digiscoping world – Kowa has always been at the forefront of digiscoping and the DA10  was a popular choice for digiscopers using compact cameras with fixed internal lenses when digiscoping was still in its infancy. We all remember the popular models? Nikon Coolpix 4500 and the classic Contax U4R. Whilst these camera models may have faded away as camera technology moves forward at a rapid rate, digiscoping has gained ever more popularity  with results often super-seeding high end DSLR and lens combination performance. No other system offers telephoto focal lengths as great as digiscoping.

With the latest Micro Four Thirds camera technology and an ever increasing demand for a lighter more compact digiscoping system – it’s time for the Kowa TSN-DA10 to shine again.




The Kowa TSN-DA10 Micro Four Thirds Digiscoping System

The Kowa TSN-DA10 is perfectly suited to the compact and lightweight Micro Four Thirds camera system bodies and Micro Four Third compact lenses up to 25mm focal length (full size) (50mm MFT equivalent). Use with our flagship 880/770 series spotting scopes combined with a Kowa TE-11WZ or TE-10Z eyepiece.

Kowa believe digiscoping should be easy and affordable – The TSN-DA10 ticks both boxes. Set-up takes less than a minute. Simply unscrew the eyepiece eye-relief cap and screw on the DA10 collar in its place. Screw the DA10 adapter to your MFT lens filter thread. The DA10 fits lenses with a 43mm filter thread. If your lens has a different size filter – simply add one of our adapter rings  - AR28/30/30.5/37/43/46/52/55/58/62/72mm between your lens and the DA10. Finally push the connected DA10 and camera body combination over the collar and secure.


You can easily switch from landscape to portrait position and quickly slide off for normal observation. All camera functions remain including camera lens auto-focus and focus peaking. The full zoom range of the eyepiece is available creating incredible telephoto possibilities for such a compact system.


 Watch the Kowa TSN-DA10 combined with a Kowa TSN-884 scope, Kowa TE-11WZ 25-60x eyepiece and a Panasonic GH4 and 20mm pancake lens in action

Performance and ease of use of this system is exceptional. Using a wide aperture fast MFT lens delivers blisteringly fast shutter speeds with low ISO settings, combined with a Kowa fluorite crystal spotting scope – image quality is breath-taking with virtually no chromatic aberration (colour blur) and delivering stunning levels of detail.


Subject distance 38m.
Eyepiece optical zoom 25x

Kowa TSN-884 scope, Kowa TE-11WZ eyepiece, Kowa TSN-DA10, Kowa AR46 filter ring, Panasonic GH4 and Panasonic 20mm pancake lens
Image: Paul Hackett


Subject distance 38m.
Eyepiece optical zoom 60x

Kowa TSN-884 scope, Kowa TE-11WZ eyepiece, Kowa TSN-DA10, Kowa AR46 filter ring, Panasonic GH4 and Panasonic 20mm pancake lens
Image: Paul Hackett


Subject distance 7m.
Eyepiece optical zoom 25x

Kowa TSN-884 scope, Kowa TE-11WZ eyepiece, Kowa TSN-DA10, Kowa AR46 filter ring, Olympus OMD-EM5 MKII and Olympus 25mm lens
Image: Rob Wilton


Subject distance 7m.
Eyepiece optical zoom 60x

Kowa TSN-884 scope, Kowa TE-11WZ eyepiece, Kowa TSN-DA10, Kowa AR46 filter ring, Olympus OMD-EM5 MKII and Olympus 25mm lens
Image: Rob Wilton

To keep up to date on all the latest Kowa product developments – sign up at www.kowasnextbigthing.com


CAUTION: The Kowa TSN-DA10 System works with all camera sensor body sizes but larger systems may exert too much stress on your lens filter thread.
Kowa accepts no responsibility or liability for any damage you may cause to your equipment when using our adapters.

Steve Blain reviews the Kowa TSN-EX16 1.6x extender

Steve has been digiscoping for around twenty years, when he first started trying video cameras up against his scope to capture what he was seeing. His digiscoping evolved from video tape, to the first Nikon Coolpix’s, then through a succession of advancing cameras up to his present day setup which includes a Panasonic GX7, 20mm f1.7 lens, and a Kowa 883 ‘scope. He also dabbles digiscoping with his mobile phone and currently uses an iPhone 6. He has digiscoped over 1000 species of birds on five continents including 600 species alone from two years spent in Ecuador.


Kowa 1.6 extender review | Steve Blain
June 2016

I originally purchased my Kowa scope in August 2015 after comparing all the top scores at the BirdFair. It was clear to me that the Kowa 883 was an awesome scope – bright, very sharp, and almost no chromatic aberrations that I could discern. However what really swung it for me was the new 1.6 extender they were debuting. This pumped their top of the range scope and 25-60x wide angle eyepiece up to an astonishing 96x. The view through it was simply stunning, especially compared to other high-powered rivals. It was very sharp, bright and contrast was good too. I was itching to get one.

It wasn’t until early in 2016 that I managed to get myself a 1.6 extender to use for an extended period of time. I have managed to use it in a variety of situations, from watching thousands of gulls on my local rubbish tip, to blistering views of Northern Parula in the pine woods of Florida. Below are my findings, split in to two areas, birding and digiscoping.

The extender is around an inch long, very lightweight at just 105 grams, and blends seamlessly on to the body of the scope. Eyepieces attach using a standard bayonet mount and the extender attaches to the body of the scope securely via a threaded mount. This is really good news because you can do something astonishing with them because of it – stack them. Yes, that’s right, you can use multiple extenders to double your magnification. That means if you attach two extenders to their 25-60x eyepiece it has a top magnification of around 156x! No other birding scope can even come close to matching that.


After just a couple of trips out leaving the extender on the scope I’d almost forgotten that it was there. The view, although starting at around 40x instead of 25x, was still easy to use and find birds with. The view is still bright, and the field of view is large enough to make you forget it is there. As you zoom up through the magnification brightness only really drops away around 50x (that’s around 80x), but the sharpness is still excellent. One thing I did notice was a slight drop-off in contrast, and some chromatic aberrations in high contrast situations – but you have to look for it. This is perhaps not too surprising as almost all photographic extenders suffer similar traits, and Kowa would have to pull off a miracle for this extender not to show any flaws at this price point.

The detail you could achieve using the extender was exceptional. I could see superb detail of a Yellow-legged Gulls eye ring on my local rubbish tip at around 100 meters, and reading colour rings all of a sudden became a lot easier too with the extra boost in magnification, coupled with the clarity of the Kowa 883 and the magic 25-60x zoom eyepiece.

Adding a second extender was also something of an eye opener. The base magnification (around 64x) I found a bit too much for scanning through gulls at around 100 meters, however for more distant birds it was truly impressive. I could easily pick out a hybrid drake Pochard x Tufted Duck amongst a flock of Tufties at around one kilometre! I found adding the second extender obviously made the resulting image duller, and at the maximum zoom (approx a staggering 153x) it was very dull indeed, especially on a dreary UK winters day. However, the image was still very sharp, something that surprised me considering how much glass you have now added to your original scope. Contrast also drops again adding a second extender, and a little more chromatic aberration creeps in too, but nothing that detracts from its overall usability and still super impressive. Set at around 50x on the zoom (roughly 128x with both extenders) the view was comfortable and I thought offered an excellent compromise on brightness and magnification. The only thing you have to watch are vibrations – you are going to need a solid tripod to use two extenders, especially at magnifications over 100x.

As I also have the 30x eyepiece I was pleased to see the extender worked with this too. The view again is excellent, and makes your 30x in to a 48x eyepiece instead. If you only have the 30x and cannot justify upgrading to the zoom for your scope, the 1.6 extender maybe what you’re looking for. Again, very sharp and bright, with minimal CA, the view through this setup was very nice indeed, and personally I preferred it to using it with the zoom. I could imagine this being a favourite with seawatchers very quickly – the exceptional field of view for the magnification makes it a joy to look through.

Once you have attached the extender the eyepiece is, understandably, a little longer, this means the stay-on case only just fits over the eyepiece and attaches via the poppers. No real issue it is just going to be a little tight. When you attach two extenders you can forget about trying the poppers!

So, with the birding views being so good using the extender I wondered what the digiscoping possibilities were using it.

The extra boost in base magnification was obviously the first bonus. The light loss from using it without the extender is minimal and the sharpness, especially at lower zoom ranges is very good. As you move up through the zoom range the sharpness slightly decreases and light loss naturally increases. At the far end of the zoom range conventional digiscoping still images gets difficult, especially birds. However if you are after a record shot of that distant rarity or especially if you are using video, the increase in magnification and extra reach is again superb and very usable. The extender will be a fantastic addition if you are in to phonescoping – the increase in magnification will really benefit you as most mobile phones don’t have an optical zoom lens, so the edge the extender offers you means closer phonecoped shots.

Focal length comparison


There are a couple of characteristics which you will notice when digiscoping with the 1.6 extender attached – the first is the slightly shallower depth of field. This is most noticable at close range. You will see from the images below (See the Greenfinch and Brambling shots) the heads are sharp and the tails are out of focus – slightly more so if you simply used the 25-60x at a similar magnification. This issue gets less noticable as your targets get further away. The second thing you are going to have to contend with is the slight increase in chromatic aberrations – and although the Kowa’s have some of the best glass in optics today, CA still creeps in when you attach the 1.6. However, remember at the price point which this is being pitched at, there will not be any fancy flouride coatings on this optic, so the small amount of CA showing up is still astonishingly low. And besides, with modern day software CA can easily be removed, especially if you shoot RAW images. The third thing you will notice, and which especially affects digiscopers, is the increase in shake because of the higher magnifications used. Perhaps an obvious one, but unless you have a good solid tripod for your ‘scope, vibrations will cause you an issue when digiscoping using the 1.6. When you add a second 1.6 vibrations are very noticeable when viewing and digiscoping becomes much more difficult, but still possible with the right setup (see peregrine shots above).

Images digiscoped by Steve Blain using Kowa TSN-EX16 1.6x extender


Bottom line
Overall I was extremely impressed with the Kowa 1.6 extender. If your birding involves scrutinising birds at distance then it’s a no-brainer – get one. The boost this gives your zoom or 30x eyepiece, especially for the price, is incredible value. If you’re interested in digiscoping then there are certain applications you will find the 1.6 very useful too, especially if you are a phonescoper or in to video. Overall the 1.6 extender is a very impressive addition to the Kowa range and at a bargain price. I won’t be parting with mine for a long while yet!

Kowa’s next big thing


Made with luxury materials and precision craftsmanship.

A product that enters a new phase of Kowa innovation.

A world where optical excellence meets elegant boutique design.

Receive exclusive updates before anyone else about this exciting new product and other Kowa news, simply enter your details at www.kowasnextbigthing.com

The Strange Duck…

A film by Simon Brumby

In the middle of August 2014 a strange “Duck” was reported on the pond by several of the local’s of Bloemendal (NL). One of the local birders got wind of this duck and went to go take a look for himself and low and behold a Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron is what stood before him. Much to the excitement of the birding community the report spread like wild fire and soon the photographers were as this as the weed that floated upon the water surface all cramming to get a “good picture” of this young fellow. Now being a rare breeding bird just about any were north of southern France I also went to go chance a peek, promptly packed my KOWA 883 in its bag and checked the batteries on the GH4 succinctly place it also in its spot in the bag jumped in the car and made the 40 is minuets drive to the location. Sure enough the clamour of clacking DSLRS is what greeted me as i stepped out of the car, I peered over the semi circle of huddled photographers with my bin’s and sure enough their walking along the edge of the pond was the heron AMAZING.

The little chap-chapess knew exactly how close it wanted to get to people (if only it was so obvious for some of the people) and often made a short flight to the other side of the pool to evade the some times a little over excited people. However the bird came on more than one occasion back to the same spot, a floating island made from a broken branch that had almost completely submerged and gathered pondweed and other flotsam, this was my chance i figured. I waited for the bird to relocate then picking a spot on the other side of the pond some 7-8 meters away from the little island collapsed the tripod as low as it would go to the ground and got comfortable. Sure enough the bird came back to the spot allowing me fantastic views of it feeding, I could readily identify the fish species it was eating with he aid of the scope to boot the bird ignored me and flew to my side and walked to within close focus distance on several occasions.

Then I repeated the trick for some of the other shots, first observing were its feeding and redemptive setting up and letting the bird do its thing, having all the reach (focal length) you can get through digiscoping allows great closeness with out impacting on the subject.


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


Introducing the all new Kowa BD XD

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:

Get closer to the action with our range of high quality and easy to use Kowa digiscoping adapters.

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. Kowa have digiscoping adapters for use with DSLRs, compact cameras, video cameras and now even iPhone 4/4S.

D-SLR digiscoping


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. The TSN PZ has a variable focal length range of 680mm-1000mm, which gives you the added flexibility when composing your image.

Alternatively, you can use the TSN-PA7 adapter. 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.

Compact Camera digiscoping


Unleash the telephoto power of your Kowa spotting scope by adding the TSN-DA4 compact camera digiscoping adapter. The TSN DA4 attaches securely yo your Kowa spotting scope eyepiece by simply unscrewing the eye-relief cap, allowing you to attach either the TSN-DA10 collar (TSN 880/770 series), or the TSN-DA1A collar (TSN 660/600/82SV). The DA4 slides over the collar and is fixed by tightening the screw to lock it in place.



Transform your iPhone 4/4s/5 or Galaxy4S into a super telephoto lens.

It couldn’t be easier to start taking magnified images or HD video with your iPhone/Galaxy4S and Kowa optic, via the TSN-IP4/TSN-IP5/TSN-GA4S digiscoping holder. Simply slot your iPhone/Galaxy4S into the holder and screw in the appropriate adapter ring- then push the adapter over the eyepiece of your spotting scope and you’re ready to digiscope.



See the Kowa Telephoto lens in action

A short video showcasing the Kowa Telephoto Lens:


My first post – about one of our customers…

Having been given this opportunity to blog for Kowa, I thought my first post should be about one of our customers. I was recently contacted by a very nice young woman named Annette, she is a birder who is experienced in digiscoping in addition to her photography. She had spoken to my good friend Kevin Bolton and he suggested Phonescoping.


She contacted me for help and advice, I spent a couple of evening’s on the internet talking her through what to do and tip’s to get the best out of her Kowa iphone Adapter and Kowa Telecamera App, she sent me her first pic’s and I have to say they have come out very well, in her words, she explains her story -

I recently purchased an iPhone 4S and downloaded the Kowa Telecamera iPhone camera app. My good friend Kevin Bolton offered me the Kowa adapter for my scope and Paul Hackett gave me a tutorial using the app along with quality advice. I recently photographed this Chipping Sparrow in my back yard. I found it very helpful and relaxing to practice on this particular bird. It was very patient which allowed me to take my time with the scope and settings on the app.  

At times it has been difficult taking photos of active species – sometimes rushing the shots, causing incorrect exposure settings and blurry images.

Paul and Kevin have been extremely helpful to me during my learning curve with the iPhone digiscoping.

A couple of my favorite features the app provides is the use of the iPhone headphones, the volume control allows you to take pictures by pressing in
between the plus and minus which has proved to be very helpful, no need to touch the screen and no shake, and also the ability to tap the screen twice to magnify the image and tweak the focusing on the scope so it is as sharp as can be.

I emailed my photos to Paul and he was very pleased. I am very impressed with the amazing quality of the Kowa app and the iPhone Adapter combined.”

Annette Cunniffe – Connecticut USA April 2013