GREAT OUTDOORS: Digiscoping – Digi What?

Special to the Parade

Great Outdoors pic2-3-28-13Let’s begin by telling everyone what the word “digiscoping” means; it is defined as “the activity of using a digital camera to record distant images by coupling it with an optical spotting scope.”

In short, if you have or are going to purchase a spotting scope you may now take the equivalent of telephoto photos with your scope.

It has also been associated with using a digital camera and spotting scope equipped for prime focus photography. The word “digiscoping” was coined in 1999 by French birdwatcher Alain Fosse. During that same year, Laurence Poh combined a CoolPix 950 camera with his birding spotting scope and took his first “digiscoped” photograph. I am not choosing sides – you decide who was first.

That being said, using a camera with its lens attached at the eyepiece of an optical devices such as microscopes and astronomical telescopes creates an “a focal” system. This system has become more common in general photography with the advent of point-and-shoot digital cameras. The ease of use of this type of setup has added to its popularity.

Why does this generate such great advantage? A good quality spotting scope can produce an excellent image at 30x. Many digital cameras have a 3x or higher optical zoom. Combining a 3x camera with a 30x scope results in 90x magnification. This is the equivalent of a 35mm camera with more than a 4000 mm telephoto lens.

In recent months several companies have produced attachments that allow “Smart Phone or iPhone” users to use their phones for digiscoping.

One of the great things about my job is meeting with and using some of the great products that great minds have made reality. Ross and John Varner and their dad are three such people. Their product is adeptly called SMART OPITX. The product allows birders and wildlife watchers to use their cell phones with a camera to meld their phones with the spotting scopes to take great photos without a camera fitted with a telephoto lens.

As I have mentioned many times in my speaking engagements a photo of that life-list bird is the proof you saw that special species. The product is adjustable to fit all phones including those models not yet put on the market. It will also fit most spotting scopes and binocular eyepieces.

The SMART OPTIX’s web site has several video tutorials that will answer new users’ questions, and help their photos be better and sharper. The nice part about this product is it weighs 12 ounces and the manufactures retail price is less than sixty dollars.

To learn more and check this digiscoping product out go to or watch their tutorials at This will get you started. These guys have a great product and are always ready to help.

The photo of the whistling duck was taken from 75 yards away and 30 feet up in the dead palm tree.

Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography go to: If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at

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