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Update Dec 2016

EF 400/4 DO II IS USM is in the bag, seems lightweight enough for handheld shots and soon will test video making shorts with it.

Nikon P900 : still looking at output that others have made. Looks likely that it'll get into the bag. "When?" ... that's the big question still.

Or maybe just one of the 4K capable compacts ... not cheap!

Update May 2015

I took the scope get up for some digi-scoping and video-ing to Lauwersmeer and Duthch Waddensea area and was unpleasantly reminded of how troublesome it is to travel with so many bits and pieces of gear in tow, be it in checked luggage or hand carry.

Two camera bodies are minimum, 7Dmk2 for use with the 600 and 100D for the scope. Then there is the scope itself. Then you have the assorted lenses, brackets and heads (a Wembley for the 600, BH-1 for the smaller lenses and HDV-1 for the scope) ... the weight just slowly adds up. Then you have the tripod, the 320 Studex aluminium Goitzo, the most stable to support the heaviest set up. These are then mixed and matched for the different situations: Wembley or BH-1 for photos and HDV-1 for videos.

In controlled situations, 100D+scope+bracket+HDV-1 peformed well enough for a decent video. Controlled = good light, no wind/breeze inducing shakes, ample space. In less tha ideal situations = lousy lighting (ie. Dutch summer weather), shake inducing coastal winds especially at the far end of the magnification range and cramped space such as the bird hides especially those with floorboards and people coming and going like tidewater on the coast.

Now looking for replacement to potentially negates the use of 100D+scope entirely. Nikon P900 comes up on top recently. A lightweight medium range long lens ie. 500/4.5 or 400/4 probably. The digiscope days are numbered to perhaps only as a viewing tool rather than a recording must have. 


Sigma 300/2.8 for Canon : one sharp lens on the short end of telephotos. Glad I bought it used in EXC+ condition. Some very nice footage could be made with the 2.8 aperture.

MN, May 2015.

Digiscope Rig Update October 2013



Canon came out with a very light EOS100D ... similar spec as the latest big brother EOS700D, light as feather and with a touch screen. It also has all the other digi SLR capabilities ... chief amongst which for digiscoping would be HD video, 4fps rate.

My first digiscope get-up was a touch screen Sony PnS which was discontinued. The EOS100D is slighty fatter but as light. The EF40/2.8 should come in handy ... it fits perfectly with the Leica 20-60 52mm diameter eyepiece!

Target this winter season would be those pesky ducks around ThreeSwords and Sommevagen!

My Main Rig March 2013

The images on these blog are made possible with:
Canon 7D, 400/5.6, 600/4.0,1.4x
Sony SLT-33, 18-50mm, 50mm coupled to Leica APO 70 Telescope.

The heavy rigs : Canon7D+600mm+Gitzo carbon tripod+Wimberley gimball head and Sony SLT-33+18-50mm+Leica APO70+Manfrotto video head+Gitzo aluminium tripod. Both are unwieldy in the field unless you are set up to be stationary. On windy days on the coast or on fairly open grounds, I normally leave both rigs at home. Making videos with extreme magnification is impossible in these conditions, stills almost impossible.

The flexible rig: Canon7D+400/5.6 is the most flexible by far and great for walk around see what you see kind of birdwatching and imaging. This lighter set-up is perfect for record shots or/and encounters with less skittish subjects. It's also the only suitable rig for long hikes and flight shots.

Sony SLT-33+18-55mm+Leica APO 70, attached to Kirkphoto macro rail sitting on a Kowa L-plate, with a Kirkphoto handgrip. All then sits on top of a Manfotto video head. It's a very stable rig for fair weather video recording and stills. All the top gear fits into a Hagloff medium backpack, with the Gitzo carried with one hand. Properly rigged up, it has a manageable footprint for travel ... pray that it's calm where you're going.

The Canon 7D+600/4.0+1.4X setup on a Wimberley gimball head attached to the Gitzo carbonfibre 320. The heaviest is the 600mm, it's transported in it's own case or backpack for mobility which limit ability to lug other items ie. extra body or lens. Problems are solved however if you are able to travel to site by car or have a willing assistant. I couldn't imagine going around with an 800mm!

Until today, I'm still searching for an in between rig, presently considering the EF300/2.8 which could be manageable with a 2.0x or 1.4x teleconverters. However, with the recent release of the Mark II version of this lens, the price range has become quite unreachable. A non-marquee option could be the solution, built quality issue is the only blocker at the moment. Another option that has long been on my radar is the EF400/4.0 DO lens ... it's just that everytime I found one for sale, the timing is always inappropriate.

Gear aside, I try to make images as often as I go birdwatching. It's always great fun and almost always satisfying poring over the details of the subjects on the computer screens; the flexibily of going back to the images and relive the joy of the moment over and over again is simply irreplaceable. And of course to share them with folks of similar leanings.

May the Good Light follow your birds!

March 2013

Bins Over the Years

My first pair of binoculars was a Nikon 12x50 which I took birding with me whenever I'm out of the house on trips, be it for birdwatching or trekking. It gave clear views of my feathered quarries but also frequent headaches when trying to track flying birds. It was a porro prism bino if I'm not mistaken.

Many years later I bought a Nikon 10x40, much slimmer and lighter but 3x the price of my first but slightly aged first bins. The 10x40 saw a lot of birding action while I was working in Sarawak, Borneo and later in Assen, Netherlands.

Upon returning to Sarawak and bigger involvement with birdwatching and birdwatching outreach activities in the community while hanging out with the folks from the Malaysian Nature Society, I bought a Williams Optics bins that was on sale at the MNS shop in KL. It was a good pair slightly pricier than the second Nikon but it was on sale. I thought I had it cheap at 30 % off.

Having several bins was useful in a way especially when you are birding with children, trying to show folks that birding is fun and when we were out doing surveys for Asian Waterbirds Census. Most folks are reluctant to spend their well earned money on a pair of binoculars they hardly use for a hobby they were not sure of being long lasting.

In 2010, we ordered about 20 well made binos made in China which saw several of our wannabe birdwatchers into a full fledged Miri, Sarawak birdwatching community. These were 20% the price of my Nikon 20x40 but took on the knocks and gave clear views of the birds.

Most would probably wonder why not spend NOK54,000 on the best, latest, lightest, brightest Swarovski can offer instead on a succession of "third rate" bins. Some birders I know would not mind spending their pension money on the best Leica line-up but not me. I'd hate to misplace a NOK54,000 bins or drop it or drench it or  have it stolen. In the long run I may spend the same amount for a great view of birds, I would rather do it with as many bins.

Bought another one a few days ago (it was on sale!) while in Lista, Norway and nope, it's not a Swarovski nor a Leica. But it's German in any case ... close enough for my birds.

March 2013.


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