Thursday, May 03, 2012

New Gear!

I've been using the Swarovski AT80 HD spotting scope ever since I started digiscoping in 2001. The last digital camera I bought was the Nikon Coolpix 8400 back in 2006. It's been a wonderful combination that has given me years of fantastic results. Well, I have finally upgraded my gear! I got a brand new Swarovski ATM80 HD, Nikon 1 V1 camera & 10-30mm kit lens, and UCA adapter. Sadly, I haven't had much time to do any serious digiscoping in the field, but I tested my new setup on White-crowned Sparrows coming to our feeders at Eagle Optics yesterday.

I'm pleased with my initial results. The V1's features and specifications are excellent for digiscoping. I especially like the large LCD screen and the Electronic Viewfinder that has a sensor to detect when you're looking through it and automatically turns it on. Best of all? Super fast auto-focus and electronic shutter (10 fps). I thought there might be an adjustment period getting used to the new equipment, but it's easy to use. Although the Nikon 1 V1 is somewhat expensive at $799.95, many digiscoping gurus are singing its praises, including Kevin Bolton, Jerry Jourdan, and Neil Fifer.

On the birding front, the Madison Audubon field trip I led today at Pheasant Branch Conservancy produced 75 bird species, 21 of which were warblers. The dense foliage has made observing them rather challenging at times, but I identify most birds by ear before even trying to look at them. Today I saw my first-of-spring Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bay-breasted Warbler, Mourning Warbler, and Philadelphia Vireo. It's only the third day of May and I already have 101 bird species at Pheasant Branch Conservancy for the month. My record of 131 species was set last year.

White-crowned Sparrow © 2012 Mike McDowell


  1. What a beautiful, sharp shot! I've only photographed through a tele lens, I've never digiscoped and don't even own a scope. But, someday, I'd love to have a combination like the one you describe. This photograph certainly inspires. I have an OM-D on pre-order (one of the Olympus mirrorless, similar in concept to the 1 V1) and I guess that camera will just beg for a scope. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Mike- after looking at your photos with the Nikon V1 I just purchased one. I have the same setup except I am using the Vortex PS-100 and the Swarovski DCA adapter. I changed the standard 37mm plate to their 52mm plate. The V1 just fits. I upgraded from a Cannon PowerShop 590 IS. Glad I did. The Nikon V1 with the latest ATM scope is the cat's meow. My backyard trials is resulting in major improvements in photos. Still need to master the V1 but getting there. So far it's exceeding my expectations. Nice Blog site you got here. Sets a standard for me to strive to.