The Canon Powershot A95 is the latest incarnation of the long running Powershot series, and a series that has proved to be capable of good digiscoping results. As can be seen from the forums at www.Birdforum.net a number of digiscopers are already having some success from this camera.
First off, some basic details of the camera that are relevant to the digiscoper.
Width 10.1 cm
Depth 3.5 cm
Height 6.5 cm
Weight 235 g
Resolution 5.0 Megapixel
Light Sensitivity ISO 50 ,ISO 100, ISO 400, ISO 800,
Exposure Compensation ±2 EV range, in 1/3 EV steps
AE/AF Control FlexiZone
White Balance Custom, automatic, presets
Continuous Shooting Speed Maximum 2 frames per second,
These features are all rather promising but don't get too carried away with the pixel count, this is never quite as important in reality as manufacturers (or some pundits) make out.
Although my illustrative shots of the camera show it supported upon a Zeiss 'Quick Camera Adapter', traditional adapters with a 37mm threas will present no problem as the Powershot series has the ability to have an adapter fitted to give a filter thread just in front of the lens at it's maximum reach. Canon produce the LA-D52D adapter that gives a 52mm thread but I would suggest purchasing an almost identical that gives a 37mm thread from LensMateOnline Therefore allowing most popular digiscoping adapters to be used to connect camera to scope eyepiece.
Start-up from off did seem a little sluggish compared to what I am used to with previous cameras but there is quite a bit of mechanical operation with external lens designs.
Vignetting is no problem, very minor at full wide angle on a 20-60x zoom eyepiece @20x. In essence, no real difference between this and previous digiscoping cameras.
The monitor section needs to be lifted out and adjusted to suit the angle to your eyes, but it's very flexible and a neat design (seem on many camcorders).
My own preferrence for shooting mode was 'AV', which is Canon's abbreviation for Aperture Priority. Aperture value is adjusted by the 4-way rocker switch on the back of the camera, horizontal switches change f#. As always with digiscoping, maximum shutter-speed is vital, so keep the f# at the lowest value for the given zoom position of the lens. I found the flash control annoyingly positioned on the upper switch of this 4-way control, therefore rather easy to take it out of 'flash off' and give a flash when you're not expecting it... which doesn't make you popular with other birders.
The bottom switch of the 4-way control takes you into 'macro', then a further press takes you into manual focus. Manual focus is particularly interesting as in this mode an enlarged section from the centre of the view can shown on the monitor, this allows precise focusing... the idea is to manually focus with the camera controls but in our case we can use the scope. The latter practise in not unlike zooming in with digital zoom to focus, then backing off to take the shot (a ploy used with other cameras for digiscoping)... fortunately it's automatic on the A95. This manual focus mode provided images as well focused as the standard AF (macro or normal), just that with the enlarged portion, critical focusing was easier.
The camera can fire away at 2fps in it's hi-speed shooting mode (for about 12-15 shots)... which isn't lightning fast after using the Contax-Kyocera cameras but o.k. for most. Shutter-lag is reported to be very good from pre-focus to taking the shot, and in my initial tests, it seemed o.k. The camera's AF system was reliable and there wasn't much that it wouldn't lock onto within a second.
By pressing the 'function' button, you can change various shooting options such as EV+/-, White balance, ISO and a few others. The last altered shooting option will appear next time you press the 'function' button, which is handy for Exposure compensation (which also has an easy to read horizontal bar to show you where it's set). The majority of the lesser used camera controls are located in the 'menu' section.
In general the results were fine, the camera producing colourful renditions of the scene. There was a fair amount of detail present but don't go expecting a massive improvement on what you may have used before (coolpix 4500 owners in particular). One aspect that was a concern is the noise present in the images, even ISO50 showed some noise... If you shoot at ISO100 for goodness sake don't under-expose it, otherwise there will be luma/croma noise galore as well as a serious degradation of detail. In-computer tweaking will help some of the noise artifacts but the damage to detail is final.
.Here are some ISO100 shots
Pennine Photographic's Cable Release Bracket for the Canon Powershot A95 Now Discontinued.
Those clever guys at Pennine Photographic have produced another simple design for using a cable release with the Canon A95. Simple to attach via the camera's tripod socket, it provides a thread for your cable release in just the right place (be pretty useless if it didn't!). The good news is the price... just £19.99. The worth of this device is massive for the digiscoper and it is the one optional extra that I can guarantee to improve your results.