Optical Hardware | FAQ's -

Freqently asked questions about DIGISCOPING

This page is for frequently asked questions about digiscoping. If your question is not about digiscoping, click here

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1/ What is Digiscoping ?


Digiscoping is the art of attching a camera to a telescope so that the telescope acts as a very long focal length telephoto lens allowing you to take close up shots from a distance. Digiscoping is very popular with birdwatchers.


For background information and guidance on digiscoping, visit www.digiscopediary.co.uk

this is one of the best sites on the net.



2/ Does the camera have to be digital ?


No it doesn't have to be digital, but digital can be more convenient. You have to be able to see the image through the camera. A 35mm SLR camera can be used through a telescope but 35mm compacts cannot as there is no way to view  the image.

Digital SLR's can be used, and most digital compacts have an image screen on the back, so these are usable too.

If you are using a 35mm film SLR camera, click here for for our guidance notes



3/ I have an Olivon T80 scope, which digiscope adaptor should I use ?


There are TWO olivon camera adaptors - the standard adaptar ( Standard DCA ) and the Universal adaptor ( U-DCA ) Which one you need depends on your camera.

SLR Cameras ( digital and film ) require a STANDARD DCA

Digital compact cameras with afilter thread also Require a STANDARD DCA

Digiital compact cameras without a filter thread require the U-DCA


For full information about these adaptors, click here



4/ Which cameras will fit your Illusion range of telescopes ?


The current  range Camera adaptors for our Illusion scopes are designed for SLR cameras. However using a T/52 convertor and an appropriate stepping ring you can attch any camera with a lens filter thread. You can also use Visionary bracket L on all illusion scopes and Visionary bracket  S on some illusion scopes

Check out the illusion range here

Check out visionary digiscope adaptors here

For details about the T/52 converor click here



5/ My camera is autofocus, how do I focus the camera with the scope attached ?


Focus the scope as normal, viewing the image through the camera viewfinder ( on a SLR ) or on the screen ( diital compact ) make sure the image appears sharp and in focus before you shoot the picture. have a look at www.digiscopediary.co.uk for more information



6/ How do I get correct exposure ?


The camera's built in auto exposure system should take care of this for you, make sure you are set to automatic. On the more sophisticated cameras ( usually SLR's )  with several exposure modes, we suggest you set to aperture priority auto mode.



7/ I have a Nikon SLR and the light meter doesn't work when I attach the scope ?

We undersatnd that some Nikon SLR models will not allow there metering systems to be used when anything other than their own make lenses are fitted to the front.
For such models, you will still be able to attach a scope but getting the correct exposure is very difficult. As far as we know this only applies to a small number of Nikon SLR's, and all Nikon compact digitals should be OK. Refer to your camera's user manual if in doubt.


An alternative strategy is to connect via the filter thread on the camera lens and leave the lens in place on the camera ( ie - use the SLR like a compact camera ) but if you do this BE VERY CAREFUL, the filter thread is not designed to hold the full weight of an SLR camera, you could damage the thread, or worse, the camera itself. You have been warned. 
We sauggest using something to support the camera for example the Visionary Bracket L.

For more information on the Visionary bracket L click here


To use an Olivon DCA to connect via filter thread. - Remove the small ring supplied with the DCA and the adaptor will now connect directly to 52mm filter thread. If your lens is other than 52mm filter thread simply use a stepping ring. Click here for info on stepping rings.  
information on OLIVON adaptors and convertors click here


To use a Visionary adaptor-A or illusion-CAM adaptor to connect via filter thread. You'll need to fit a T/52 convertor, this will now connect directly to 52mm filter thread. If your lens is other than 52mm filter thread use a stepping ring. Click here for info ion the T/52 and stepping rings.


Whichever way you do this, please be very careful and do not overload the filter thread


       Keep us informed - if you have metering problems with other cameras, please let us know



8/ I'm using an SLR but the image is very dark through the viewfinder and difficult to focus, is this normal ?


Yes, this can be a problem with SLR's. By using a telescope as a lens it acts like a very long focal length telephoto, and so the image as viuewed through the viewfinder can be dark. Focussing takes practice. This isn't so much of a problem with digital compacts because the electronic system can increase the brightness on the screen so the image apperas reasonably bright.



9/ I'm having problems connecting  to the Olivon DCA


There Olivon DCA will accept SLR cameras ( via a T2 mount )

and compact cameras with a filter thread ( via a stepping ring )

In the box with the DCA is a small ring - sometimes this is already screwed onto the DCA when it is supplied, sometimes it is sepearte inside the box.


SLR's - If you are using the DCA with an SLR camera. ATTACH THIS RING then add the T2 mount to match your camera


Compact cameras ( with filter thread ) REMOVE THE RING, the the hread on the DCA is 52mm filter thread. This fits quite a number of cameras. If yours is not 52mm, you need to add a stepping ring xx-52mm.


If your compact camera does not have a filter thread, use the UDCA instead of the DCA


For full information about Olivon adaptors, click here

Click here for info about stepping rings.


10/ Is it true that if I buy an eyepiece with a larger exit pupil this will make digiscoping easier ?


YES - BUT that's only part of the story !

The exit pupil is the area of brightness seen on the eyepiece, the bigger it is, the brighter the image will be. But the size of the exit pupil is directly related to the size of the telescope (or binocular) objective lens and the magnification, not the price or make or model of the instrument. The exit pupil size is approximately the sixe of the objective divided by the magnification, so an 80mm scope with 20x magnification gives an exit pupil of about 4mm (80/20=4 ) At 40x magnification the exit pupil is 2mm ( 80/40 = 2 ) so the only way to increase exit pupil is either to accept lower magnification, or have a scope with a bigger objective lens, and it isn't practial to carry a scope or binocular with objectives any bigger than around 80mm to 100mm.

For normal viewing with the eye, 7mm is as big as a binocular or telescope exit pupil ever needs to be because a human eye can only open up to around 7mm even in the lowest light. For some cameras you could have a bigger exit pupil but as we've seen above this would probably reduce the magnification too much, or make the telescope too big to be carry.  

more info about this on our regular FAQ page, click here

 .... and you'll find a more detailed explanation of many matters optical by clicking here


11/ The Image appears cut off at the corners, what can I do ?


This is because camera is not quite aligned with the lens, it needs to get a little closer to the telescope. If this isn't possible because of the shape and design of the camera body, just tweek the camera zoom lens to slightly more telephoto and this should correct the problem.



12/ My images appear dark and lack contrast, what can I do ?


This can often be the case when taking digital images through a telescope, especially in low light conditions. Photo image software is the answer, we use 'Photoshop' but there are many other good packages available, all of which allow you to quickly and easily touch up images and bring them to life. www.digiscopediary.co.uk has some good advice.

.... and you'll find a more detailed explanation of many matters optical by clicking here



13/ Will Visionary scopes take camera adaptors ?


YES. We have a range of camera adaptors for our Visionary scopes click here for full details



14/ Will the Olivon U-DCA fit any other make of scope ?


The Olivon U-DCA is designed to work with the Olivon T80 / T80ED / T90 / T90ED series of scopes. In it's standard form it is not designed to fit other makes and types of scopes. It's title "universal" is to indicate that it is compatible with just about all cameras. Some customers have told us that they have been able to use it on other types of scope but this is more by luck than design.


As it happens though, the U-DCA connects to the Olivon scopes by means of a tube around the eyepiece, and we are looking at designing different fittings of tubes for some other makes of scope.



15/ Will the U-DCA fit an Olivon T55 ?


Not yet, sorry ! The Visionary Bracket S and Visionary Universal bracket L will fit the Olivon T55  click here for full details


16/ Will the Visionary camera adaptors fit any other make of scope ?


Yes, the Visionary Bracket S and Visionary Universal bracket L will fit many other types of scope  click here for full details.

Visionary adaptor "A "can also be used to couple directly to lens filter threads using the T/52 convertor. For details about the T/52 converor click here


17/  I have recently purchased a camera adapter L to use with my Carl Zeiss 65 straight scope and my Nikon coolpix 8800 camera. I have not found it possible to adjust the adaptor to get the camera low enough to line up with the eyepiece of the telescope.

If the scope is a straight one and with a very low eyepiece, you can remove the angle adaptor section from the camera holder part of the bracket, this will allow the camera to sit lower down.

If this still does not allow the camera to sit low enough, then you can use the angle adaptor section on the scope holder part of the bracket to raise the height of the scope. click here to see diagram

I think the above should solve the problem, I don't know the CZ65 scope but we've not come across any camera/scope combinations (yet) which the L bracket can't cope with, but If that still doesn't work, you can raise the scope even higher using a ball head adaptor. The Olivon TRB22 ball head is ideal.


18/ The picures I take are blurred or shakey, what can I do ?


There are 3 causes for this :-

(1) The scope isn't focussed correctly, see answers above


(2) The subject moved during the exposure. The powerful magnification produced by the scope means that any movement of the subject will cause a blurring. It's not easy to ask a feeding bird to sit still while you take his photo, you have to be patient, shoot ots of photo's


(3) The camera moved during the exposure. This is the most common cause, the powerful telephoto makes each shake and movement of the camera appear as a blurred and shakey picture. You need a good solid tripod ( click here for details of our Olivon range ) and try to avoid jabbing at the shutter release, a cable release can be useful.

.... and you'll find a more detailed explanation of many matters optical by clicking here


19/ I'd like to fit a SLR camera to an astronomical telescope, do you make an adaptor ?


Yes, Optical Hardware makes lots of adaptors and convertors for astronomical instruments. Our specialist instrument side of our business builds one-off's scopes and we have a range of eyepieces and adaptors available from stock. check our list or visit a stockist

( This is something we don't make a big shout about, although our business was originally set up to manufacture specialist instruments, and we are still involved in it, over the last couple of years we have become so involved in making consumer optics that our build to order side has not been able to grow. Sorry, if you were thinking of asking us to make you a new 10" reflector, at the moment our waiting lists are too long for us to take on any more jobs. However eyepieces, adaptors and convertors for astro scopes are standard fitting, and we have many available from stock. Click here for more information


20/ my main interest is taking pictures of the moon know the obvious advice is buy a telescope but I'm really attracted to a spotting scope like Olivon T90 for ease of carriage as well as
the fact that it is digiscope friendly
 Can you advise

The moon is actually a very bright object in the night sky so is relatively easy to photograph.  For the moon and close/bright objects a spotting scope is generally a better choice than an astronomical telescope because spotters are so much more versatile. 80mm, 90mm or 100mm spotters offer good night sky viewing and of course can be used for normal day viewing to. For digiscoping, an Olivon T90 will give you quite high magnification and you should be able to push this further with the zoom on the camera. The T90 isn't the smallest and lightest of spotting scopes, but is still very portable.

As for photographing details, the main problem you will encounter is vibration. Because the moon is so bright, shutter speeds will be fairly fast so movement of earth/moon isn't really an issue ( it is when you photograph dimmer objects in the sky ) but movement of the scope/camera on the tripod is a big problem. The higher the magnification the bigger the "shake" and you will need to have a very stable tripod or support on a solid base.

Another issue is air pollution, you are photographing through several miles of atmosphere which reduces resolution of your image, and there's nothing you can do about this ( until Richard Branson starts his space tourist trips ) You'll need to photograph on really clear nights and as far away from ambient lighting as you can.

Click here for more information

.... and you'll find a more detailed explanation of many matters optical by clicking here

21/ I work in education and would dearly like to find a way of connecting a scope or binocular  / camera set-up to a tv screen  to allow kids to see what we see through binoculars. (As you may know, most kids are incapable of using optical equipment, as they are garden spades!)

Most modern digital cameras have an output port which allows the stored images to be viewed on a tv screen via an AV cable. If the lead is plugged in to the TV while the camera is used in the normal viewing mode, the image (which is normally displayed on the screen on the back of the camera) is actually displayed on the TV - just what your man needs to do.

So all you need is a digital camera suitable for digiscoping, put it onto a telescope (just like normal digiscoping using the appropriate adaptor or bracket) then plug into a TV and the jobs done. Use a good compact digital with on an Olivon T80 or T90 and a UDCA ( or on a Visionary V60, V70 or V80 with the S bracket ) should do the trick quickly easily and at minimal cost. As always, the zoom will need tweeking to stop the cut off at the edges. Once it's set up, it can be left and just switched on when needed.

You can also couple to binoculars. I'd suggest use a good 10x50 or 12x60 ( that's enough magnification and quite bright ) and one with long eye relief usually makes digiscoping easier - our Visionary HD 10x50 or Visionary HD 12x60 would be a good choice. Couple these to an L-bracket via a normal tripod adaptor and then put the camera up to one of the eyepieces. Quick and easy, and the youngsters will see the image through the TV screen.

22/ I'd like an adaptor to fit a nikon scope to a samsung digital slr can you help please

Our digiscope adaptors and brackets are made for our own scopes, though the Visionary camera bracket-L will fit many other makes of scopes too. Full details are on our webiste.However I would strongly suggest using a camera adaptor specifically made for the Nikon, you should contact Nikon for more information.

23. Can the Olivon DCA and U-DCA be used on the T84EDo

The DCA and U-DCA are designed to work with the Olivon T64/T80/T90 series of telescopes. The T84EDo has a wider eyepiece lens diameter and therefore the original DCA and UDCA will not fit directly.
The U-DCA ( for compact cameras ) WILL fit onto the zoom eyepice of the T84EDo via the adaptor ring available as an accessory
A wider version of the DCA ( for SLR cameras ) is available - the DCA84>
Note that Olivon have found that there is some image drop off in certain circumstances and while this is correctable by photo software they are working on a more advanced adaptor with built in corrective optics which should be available in 2011

24. How can I digiscope with superzoom " bridge " camera

A number of manufacturers are now  making all-in one superzoom cameras, they look very much like SLR's but the lens does not detach - however It is often still possible to digiscope with this  type of camera.

Check if the camera has a filter thread, if so you can attach the camera to any of our scopes  using the appropriate adaptor, however please be careful, some of these cameras are quite heavy and you would be holding the whole weight of the camera on the filter thread. The thread is designed to hold accessories such as filters, not the camera and it is advisable to support the camera in some way. This  is  similar to connecting an SLR by its lens filter thread, see question 7 above for morel details

If the camera does  not have a filter thread, then you can hold the camera in position using a bracket such as  the Visionary Bracket-L

There is a potential problem to be aware of when digiscoping with this  type of camera - in order to achieve very high zoom ratios  in a small lens, manufacturers  of  this  type of camera sometimes  use a complex lens design. In some cases  the image position of a telescope cannot integrate with these complex lenses. It can sometimes  be resolved by trying the zoom lens  at different positions and sometimes a setting can be found which works - we have however found some cameras which simply cannot be used in conjuntion with any type of telescope. If you have this type of camera we suggest that you take your camera along to your dealer and try before you buy.

If your camera cannot be used, please don't give up on digiscoping. Modern bridge cameras  are highly sophisticated equipment for producing high quality photographs in normal shooting situations. When digiscoping, other factors  are more important than the quality of the camera in achievcing a good image - camera shake and air quality over long distances  being very important - Often a low  priced digital compact can achieve just as good an image because these other factors outweigh the lens quality of the expensive bridge types.

For general Questionas, not specifically about digiscoping, click here

For a technical guide, click here guide

or our more detailed technical guide, click here


For more information about the night sky, astronomy and digiscoping Click here


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