Friday, November 14, 2008

What camera should I get?

I receive a lot of email from people asking me what digital camera they should use for digiscoping - more than I can respond to in a timely manner. The Nikon Coolpix 995 and Coolpix 8400 (both discontinued) are the only point-and-shoot digital cameras I've used for digiscoping with my Swarovski 80mm HD spotting scope. Yahoo's digiscopingbirds tech group is a useful resource to learn what "in-production" digital cameras are being tested by some of the best digiscopers around. To provide a meaningful recommendation for digiscoping, one needs to have access to a multitude of digital cameras or have hands-on experience with particular models. I'm presently only recommending the Nikon Coolpix P5100 based on results others (not me) have achieved with it. I also know the P5100 can be conveniently connected to Kowa and Swarovski spotting scopes via Nikon's UR-E20 accessory adapter. I do not closely monitor the message threads on digiscopingbirds, so if you're looking for a digital camera for digiscoping, the tech group is a great place to begin your research.

Link: Kevin Bolton's Kowa 883/Coolpix P5100 Digiscoping

© 2008 Mike McDowell


  1. 03/05/2010:

    You might want to take a look at the Canon S90!

    Mike M.

  2. Mike per our discussions today, I own the Cannon S90 IS with CT-101, 80HD ATS, 25-50 zoom UCA, and new balance rail all weighing about 10 pounds-all but camera purchased at EO. It is as if Canon made this camera for my set up. It is 28-105 zoom (3.8X) f2.0-4.9, shoots in raw, 3" 100% high resolution screen, flexibile-program, aperature and shutter priority,-zoom focusing aid, and same high end sensor as many of their DSLRs all in 6 oz metal body-built well. Only limiting factor is 1 FPS continuous mode, and slight need to crop at focal lengths 35mm and 28mm. Ring at lens gives instant focal length selection 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm equivlents if you prefer not to zoom for accuracy when framing-simple twist. Also sets ISO or bracketing if needed for difficult lighting situations. Sharp as pin and able to go to 1/1600 shutter speed and ISO 3200 with noise limiting feature. Resolution is 10meg pixels same as Nikon D200, but quality of sensor is more important than resolution that is marketing gimmick. Flash is pop up with full coverage at 28mm. different flash modes, facial recognition, IS, and lots of goodies for easy or advanced applications. It uses chargable Lithium-ion battery. I bought two extras for the field.

    It is very user friendly with good paper manual (computer screen manuals difficult to use in field!)-I got up first morning (Arizona-after initial charging) at first light and with minimal preparation other than first time sighting in UCA. I shot Hummingbirds in flight (nearly wings stopped) at my feeders at 40' with good depth of field and sharp as a pin-ISO 200, 1/500, f5.6. I have tried many camera combinations, but this is first with professional DSLR capabilites in a pocket camera. Recommend very highly. Bill

  3. Addendum: Noticed bottom of CT-101 has 1/4 20 screw threads for reverse camera placement-as do many other tripods. Went out and purchased a 1/4 20 sleeve-female threads on both ends and a 1/4 20 threaded hook with nut. Had the local "Ace" cut the threads on hook so that it was long enough to screw into sleeve with nut attached without any threads visible, but long enough to have firm secure attachment to sleeve and sleeve to tripod screw. Nut allows tightening of hook to sleeve so when removed it comes off tripod easily as one piece. It also allows some flexibility of positioning hook to close between Carbon legs when collapsing without risk of marring legs. I went out and purchased an inexpensive chrome 2" trailer ball from Walmart and put it into small leather pouch-hanging it to tripod with hook attached allows for steady pictures in windy conditions and higher magnifications. Thus, the portability of carbon fiber with option to make it as sturdy as Steel Swarovski Tripod 1. Use the same set up on Ridgeview Vortex tripod hook when windy with 1 3/4 ball for my 10x50 SLCs-needing less weight. Makes huge difference. With Swarovski astronomy adaptor, I can magnify up to 92x (Nagler type 6 5mm) or 131x (Nagler 3.5mm) with steady viewing despite light weight tripod design. My mentor always told me that ultimately the sharpest camera lens is a good solid tripod!

  4. Hi mike i use the Nikon P6000,with great success.