The Eagle-Eye Optic Zooms 'Digimount' adapter has been around for some time, but has now been revised with a direct 28mm thread instead of a 37mm thread that required a step-down ring to fit Nikon filter threads. This direct 28mm thread allows the camera lens to get to within 2mm of my Swarovski eyepiece's lens, reducing vignetting at lower camera zoom settings and when. This adapter is well made, incorporating four screws that lock onto the eyepiece. Separate insert collars are available to allow fitting to eyepieces of varying diameter. Care must be taken when using direct thread attachments. If you damage the thread of the Nikon, it is almost impossible to repair. A step-down ring ( left attached to the camera ) acts as protection for the camera's thread, but takes the camera lens further away from the eyepiece. LE2 PLUS This new and improved version of the old LE adapter is another very well made device with an ingenious springy metal band that clamps to the eyepiece body. The latest version will fit any eyepieces up to a diameter of 2 inches, and will be very handy for those who have more than one eyepiece for their scope. This adapter has three sturdy screws to secure the camera to the eyepiece (pushing the springy metal band onto the eyepiece), and can be attached to the eyepiece in seconds. The large central aperture may allow non-Nikon cameras with larger diameter lenses to be used without significant vignetting....though a low magnification wide-angle eyepiece would need to be used on the scope. Maybe better for N. Americans who would rather purchase from a domestic source. Finnish made Spidertech adapter, this is a two part device with zoom cut-out. It consists of two main parts, one of which is a collar that is left attached around the base of the eyepiece, the other section is attached to your camera. Basically a push-fit to attach digital camera to spotting scope, a small pin on the collar (actually a Allen bolt head) mates with a cut-out on the camera to prevent camera rotation. The example that I tested had a poor (very tight) fit between securing pin and cut-out, though a file could be used to remedy the situation, though as it's an expensive design, you'd expect better,,maybe just a few rogue examples? Many like this adapter so that may be the case. Available at a few outlets in the U.K. Notably London Camera Exchange
Mr Cheang's adapter. This was the first adapter to incorporate a cut-out for zoom operation. Originally built by Mr Cheang for his friends in Malaysia but now available worldwide. Possibly the very best adapter available. The fact that, the now sadly departed, Laurence Poh used it should be enough to persuade you to contact Mr Cheang. Other digiscoping items are also produced by the same man, including shutter-release bracket, balance bar and sighting device
Swarovski DCA. Only fits the latest eyepiece for the ATS/STS range of scopes, though these new eyepieces do fit on the older scopes and therefore allow use of this adapter. A zoom version has a cut-out to allow zoom control with camera attached. A logical choice for the Swarovski user.
Nikon Adapters. These are dedicated pieces made for specific Nikon cameras to be used on Nikon spotting scopes. If you have a modern Nikon camera and a Nikon scope, these are a logical choice.
Support Bracket Adapters
The Zeiss Quick Camera Adapter;
This is a really heavy beast, built to last and very well engineered. The cost is over £200 in the U.K. but is in line with similar offering from Swarovski and Nikon. I have had this adapter for nearly two years now, so apologies for not getting a review of it up sooner. Considering it's cost, it is surprising how many are being used around the world.
Basically, the Zeiss QCA fits onto your tripod head (hopefully a quick release plate) the scope is then fixed onto the massive base of the QCA. The arm section that supports the camera can be positioned and locked horizontally for straight spotting scopes, or at 45 degrees for angled scopes.
What's 'quick' about it? Well, the fact that the arm can swing away to either side of the eyepiece, to allow conventional viewing through the scope. When you have spotted a subject to photograph, you just swing the arm (with camera on top) back to take the shot... that's the really 'quick' part
The business end where you attach your camera is very flexible, enabling a huge number of cameras to be compatible. All you need is a tripod socket on the underside of your camera, and you should be fine. It does take a bit of knob twiddling to get perfect alignment of camera lens and eyepiece but one done, you really shouldn't need to mess with it again for the entire session. In fact, many of the positional setting won't need to be adjusted again, fullstop!!
One aspect that I did notice, was that perfect lateral alignment between scope eyepiece glass and camera lens was difficult to achieve without slightly twisting the scope on the QCA mount or twisting camera slightly on it's mount.
In use, the QCA really does work and is genuinely quick to operate. The ability to be free to use the zoom on a variable eyepiece is a great plus. The downside is clearly the price, followed closely by it's weight and cumbersome nature. I believe it can be used with scopes other than the Zeiss Diascope but definitely not the Swarovski range.
The Baader Microstage 6030 Digital Camera Adapter
Now this has become a very popular adapter to get a camera up to a spotting scope, and it's not difficult to understand why... it cost practically nothing in the world of digiscoping and photography, just £29 in the U.K. from David Hinds Ltd It can be purchased in many countries from those who sell astronomy products, typically €39,00 in Europe or $49 in the U.S. The David Hinds link seems to have died and I can't find the product on their site, all I'm positive that they sell it. Here another link for U.K. purchase of the Baader Microstage adapter
Yes, there's quite a lot of plastic involved but it can do the job of putting most cameras up to most eyepieces. It did fall a few mm short of being able to get my Canon A95 up to my Zeiss 20-60x eyepiece but the design of the tripod screw and it's locking nut enables some packing to be placed under the camera to raise it enough. With smaller eyepieces (the Zeiss 20-60x is big), there should be no problems.
Because the bracket clamps to the eyepiece, you will have to forget about operating the zoom control if a variable eyepiece is used. At first glance you may think this is hopeless for the birder, as the whole device and camera need to be removed for conventional viewing... but it really doesn't take much to keep the camera attached to the device and quickly get it from your bag and to be taking shots in no time. Once you have got the positioning set-up on the bracket for your camera, it need not be touched again, you simply screw and unscrew the main clamp that grips to the eyepiece.
Given the price of this device (almost a 1/10th of what the big brackets cost), it's hard to be too critical. The Baader Microstage does what it is designed to, but I would still say it suits the dedicated digiscoping photographer better than the digiscoping birder.
There are a number of devices available that will attach a digital camera to the eyepiece of the spotting scope. Most are tube type designs that slip over the eyepiece, a newer trend is towards a two piece adapter where a fixing collar is permanently attached to the base of the eyepiece, this mates with the second part of the adapter that is left on the camera.
Support type brackets are also available, where the digital camera is held up to the eyepiece (Zeiss, Nikon, Swarovski manufacture these). With these devices the camera can be swung to and away from the eyepiece to allow conventional viewing with the naked eye in a matter of seconds. The downside is that they are bulky and cumbersome to carry around in as state ready to take images..... they can also be very expensive. They may be more suitable for video camera use on a scope.
London Camera Exchange Trevor Codlin at the Winchester branch of this large chain of camera shops produces adapters to suit most eyepieces. Very simple and neat design, basically an alloy tube with a thread at one end and made for the specific eyepiece that you use. Trevor has now improved the design of this adapter by making the tube walls thicker, giving a deeper screw thread and allowing far stronger screws to be used ( with nice big heads for an easy grip.) Another major improvement is the option to have a direct 28mm thread to connect to the Nikon lenses without the need for any step-up ring and reducing vignetting to a minimum. The compactness of the adapter ( size varies depending upon your e.p.) allows it to be left attached to the camera and the whole ensemble carried in a coat pocket, to be attached to the scope's eyepiece when the need arises. The beauty of these custom sized adapters, with a snug fit over the eyepiece, is that the camera lens is perfectly aligned with the eyepiece glass as soon as it slips over the eyepiece.....wobble or misalignment isn't a concern and you're ready to start taking photographs far quicker than with any other adapter. Only one securing screw needs to be used in my experience, this can be quickly loosened to allow a zoom e.p. to be rotated to a different magnification....without removing the camera/adapter.