Thursday, 2 May 2013


A quick post to say a few words about digiscoping with my iphone 4s.

Suffice to say I've been rather pleased with some of the results from my iphone.  The leap from my old iphone 3G to a 4s is huge with regards the camera.  I've been very pleased with the quality of the camera, and I have to keep reminding myself that it's just a telephone!


The big bonus of using an iphone is the huge array of downloadable photographic apps you can get.  There are many which range from things like Instagram which can change the look of your images at the click of a button, to apps that can automatically take pictures as you spin around to make a fantastic panoramic image.

There is one app which is a must for any budding iphonescoper: Camera+

This is the best camera app currently out there, in my opinion.  You can spot meter, have a separate focus point, and can lock both of these and the white balance if desired.  It also seems to be the fastest at actually taking shots - very important if the bird is performing!  There seems to be a slight delay after around four shots as it buffers, but it's still very quick.

Other apps available:

The Kowa app 'TeleCamera' - almost there, but seems to have been taken over by Camera+.  The only thing this does which Camera+ doesn't is have the ability to zoom in to a spot to check focus by double-tapping the screen.  Unfortunately shot-to-shot time seems to be rather slow, but otherwise this would be another fantastic app to use.

Use with a Swarovski ATS 80 HD:

I can get unvignetted images (without any digital zoom on my iphone) with the fixed 20x and 30x eyepieces, and from around 30x on my 20-60x zoom.  That said, you have to be very close to a bird to use the 20x so I only use this eyepiece in exceptional circumstances.  The 30x is better, but there seems to be a very shallow 'sweet-spot' which the iphone works well in.  Luckily its around the height of the raised eyecup, so I can just about rest my iphone on the lip of the eyecup to get stability.  If you want more magnification then you can use the high end of the 20-60x zoom eyepiece but the quality drops off the higher up the zoom range you go.

Mounting to a scope:

There are currently two bespoke mounts available.  One by Kowa and another by SRB-Gritumn.  Both are machined to a high standard and have mounts for your iphone to slip in to neatly.  The Kowa uses a push-on method to attach to the eyepiece, and you can use the same mount to attach to the Swarovski eyepieces as they appear to be the same width.  The SRB adapter comes with a full 'bucket' style adapter which you can select to suit your own eyepiece when ordering.

Unfortunately I don't have either adapter yet, although have tried the excellent Kowa one and really liked it.  Instead I'm currently hand-holding the iphone at the appropriate distance and taking lots of shots!


*  Pre-open your desired app when you go birding.  That way is much quicker for you to grab a shot when a bird appears.

*  Use the headphones supplied with the iphone as a cable release.  The volume switch activates the shutter!

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