Digiscoping is a new word credited to French birdwatcher, Alain Fosse, in 1999. It refers to the technique of attaching a spotting scope to a digital camera for the purpose of taking close-up photos of birds and other wildlife from a distance. Two other pieces of essential equipment are: an adapter to attach the camera to the scope, and a tripod to hold the combined camera/scope.
There have been subsequent technological improvements in cameras and lenses, giving the amateur wildlife photographer the ability to capture stunning close-up images with light weight, hand-held cameras. However, for the past few months I have been experimenting with digiscoping with mixed results. Early results were disappointing: poor focussing, lack of sharpness, and dull images.
I reached a turning point in January during a morning visit to Stanpit Marsh, on the eastern shores of Christchurch Harbour. There was bright sunshine, low in the sky. I set the magnification of the scope at a mid-point. On maximum magnification not enough light is let into the camera, and on the minimum setting the image is distorted around the edges. My subject was a Little Egret, a large white bird, which stood out very clearly from its background. It wasn’t troubled by my presence and in any case, I didn’t need to get too close.