About my cameras and lenses

By Michael Myers

In the beginning...



My interest in telephoto photography began in the early 1980's. I was using a Pentax K-1000 on a Swift Telemaster Spotting Scope. The spotting scope effectively became a 1000 to 4000mm camera lens. And for about $250.00, I was having a good time. Used as a telescope, I was able to see Saturn's rings and Jupiter's moons.

The camera only had a needle light meter; very simple. It is connected to the Telemaster with an adapter and a T-mount. All exposures were made by adjusting the shutter speed since the f/stop was essentially the exit pupil of the lens and was fixed by the magnification.

Enter the Digital Age


In 2001, I went digital using the same Swift Telemaster fitted with a Nikon Coolpix 990. I had to do some sawing of the adapter but it worked well. This setup is one of the first examples of what is now called "digiscoping."

I also used Nikon's fine 3x tele-converter giving me an effective focal length over 300mm.
Note the homemade "periscope" attachment to allow the use of the optical viewfinder.


Moving Up- The Nikon Fieldscope

In 2007 I went to a 10 Megapixel Nikon D80 DSLR and a Nikon Fieldscope ED82. This wonderful lens is worlds apart from the Telemaster. The view is crisper and brighter. There is no distortion of the image at all. And the SLR camera is faster and easier than the Coolpix.

Here is a gallery of photos taken with this Fieldscope/D80 setup.

Although the zoom eyepiece is removed for this camera mount and aperture is fixed at f/13, auto exposure will work very well by varying the shutter (auto-ISO also works):

For Astronomy: For Birding:
Fieldscope-D80 Fieldscope-D80

The only problem was the focal length was fixed at 1500mm or 25x magnification with the D80 and I was not able to use the 25-75x zoom eyepiece. So I made an attachment to connect my Coolpix to the zoom eyepiece and suddenly I was shooting 9000mm focal length or 150x magnification and getting crisp images!

Here is an example of what the Moon and Saturn look like at 9000mm through this Fieldscope/Coolpix setup.


Connecting a Digital SLR to the eyepiece of the Spotting Scope

I then made an adapter to attach the DSLR to the zoom eyepiece giving me 75X magnification and 10 megapixel images:

Here is the assembly made from a Nikon "T" mount, a "T" adapter glued into the cap from a small can of spray paint and a hose clamp.

The zoom ring is fully accessible and free to rotate:

D80 T adapter D80 T adapter

Here it is with camera attached. The camera must be operated in M mode with exposure determined by manually changing the shutter speed and ISO only:

D80 on eyepiece

And some example photos- A bluejay at 25X and a grackle at 75X (full-frame images but scaled way down):

Bluejay @ 25X Grackle @ 75X


Connecting a GoPro Hero to a Spotting Scope

I used that same home-made adapter to connect my GoPro camera to this spotting scope.
I used the setting of 1080/30 with MED field of view to fill the frame best and reduce the circular vignette.

gopro mount

gopro mount

gopro mount

gopro mount

gopro mount

Here is a video taken with this setup:


I also very much like the 70-300mm VR (Vibration Reduction) lens which gives a 35mm equivalent focal length of 105-450mm. It focuses fast and compensates for movement which can cause image blur. Technology has definitely come a long way since 1980.

D80 70-300VR


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