Thursday, June 07, 2007

On Cameras for Digiscoping...



There it is. Purchased early 2002, the very Nikon Coopix 995 I used to take 99% of the images on this website and prefer for digiscoping to this day. Its shutter has been melted by the sun, its been dropped, cracked, rained on, lost, found, sent in for repair, returned, dropped again, screws have fallen out, data port died, plates have come unglued, developed a power malfunctioned and more. Curiously, a few problems mysteriously vanished over time, like the poltergeistian power malfunction and gritty swiveling. Most recently dropped on pavement a few weeks ago in Door County, the thing certainly seems to have more than nine lives.

I recently read a post by a frequent contributor to the Yahoo digiscopingbirds forum referring to using the Nikon Coolpix 4500 as "retro digiscoping." I wonder what he would call using a 995? While my 995 lives and breathes, I doubt I will ever switch over to any contemporary digital camera model despite its 3.3 megapixel limitation. Oh, I do have a Nikon Coolix 8400, but only tested it for a few weeks before relegating it for lighter duty as a dedicated point-and-shoot camera.

This brings me to one point of this post. It’s virtually impossible for me to make point-and-shoot digital camera recommendations for digiscoping based on experience because the 995 is pretty much the only camera I have used. Of course, I appreciate all the questions sent to me via email and try to answer them as timely and thoroughly as I can, but sometimes I really don’t have an answer. I can, however, tell you what theoretical features to look for that make a digiscoping “friendly” camera.

Presently, there isn’t a single point-and-shoot digital camera on the market today that I think is a worthy successor to the Nikon Coolpix 990 and 995. If there was, I would have it. Should my 995 drop dead tomorrow, I would probably put the 8400 into digiscoping service. If I had to buy a camera today for digiscoping, I would look seriously at the D-SLR option, specifically the Pentax K100D. My co-worker Ben Lizdas has been managing to capture pretty nice images through his Leica Televid spotting scope and the Pentax. Still, I would prefer a point-and-shoot over a D-SLR for digiscoping.

Jeff Bouton of Leica Sport Optics is one of the great digiscopers (and digiscoping educator) out there on the cutting edge. He has just published a comprehensive and well written article on his blog comparing D-SLR and Point-and-shoot digiscoping. Regardless of your digiscoping experience, if the technique interests you, I think you’ll find Jeff’s article a worthwhile read. I'll be adding it to my blog's side bar as a featured article soon.

Nikon Coolpix 995 image © 2007 Mike McDowell

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