Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clay Taylor on digital cameras for digiscoping

Nikon Coolpix 8400

From Clay Taylor of Swarovski:

When the show (PMA) opens on Thursday, I'll be at our Swarovski booth, but I will make time during the event to see the newest cameras and hopefully test them behind the Swarovski 20-60xS eyepiece. If I have a chance to make the tour with a 20xSW or 30xSW eyepiece, I will, but you all have to realize that we sell VERY FEW fixed-power, wide-angle eyepieces in the course of a year. The average customer will buy a spotting scope (all brands, not just Swarovski) with a zoom eyepiece because the optics generally don't suck and the practical advantages of a zoom eyepiece in the field are undeniable. That's market reality, and I have to view all the new cameras from that angle.

That said, I hope you all realize that we will NEVER see another camera like the CoolPix 8400 again. The Photo Industry is definitely moving all the newest high-tech camera features into the D-SLRs and partly into the ultra-zoom P&S cameras (for now, interesting lenses but crappy sensors). The compact, short-zoom P&S cameras are the ones that work best behind a spotting scope zoom eyepiece, and are what we need to know about. They have all lost many of the features that we desire for digiscoping - accessory adapters, remote releases, articulated screens, manual controls, RAW files, Electronic Viewfinders (although the Nikon P60 is an exception - could there be hope?). The only good trend is that those cameras seem to be getting better at the wide-angle settings, which could help eliminate eyepiece vignetting more quickly.

Clay Taylor
Moodus, CT

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