New Swarovski Digiscoping Set Up With the ATX

I had such high hopes for the start of 2013.  I am back freelancing, I set some minor digiscoping goals for the blog, I downloaded apps on my iPhone and iPad to synch things and make sharing links via all my social medias and easy cheesy process.  I spent the week between Christmas and New Years getting my collective crap in order. Then, I got a new spotting scope! And the new scope's digiscoping adapter doesn't work with my Nikon D40.  Then my five year old MacBook Pro had some screen issues.  For no apparent reason and with incredibly unpredictable timing, the screen would go black.  I found a temporary fix that worked about one out of twelves times that I tried it, but it was not an ideal situation for answering work email, blogging and in some cases sharing links.

I was irritated and fascinated.  It's amazing to me how much my laptop is like a car and breaks down at the least convenient moment, like when I am in a tiny town in Missouri with no hope of an Apple store within 50 miles. I really hoped I could do some patch fixes until February because I didn't want to deal with a new laptop and new camera at the same time but that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.

So! Here is what my old digiscoping set up involved:

Nikon D40 Swarovski Digiscoping Set up


A Swarovski ATM spotting scope with a 20-60 zoom eyepiece, a DCA digiscoping adapter and a Nikon D40.  A trusty system that has seen me through several states, countries and even survived a broken camera battery door.  I was very pleased with this setup, would have preferred a smaller camera that also did video, but at the end of the day, loved what this system did for me.

iPhone Swarovski ATM digiscoping setup

Over the last year I have also incorporated an iPhone 4s into my digiscoping routine with my Swarovski ATM, DCA adapter and an iTelligent adapter.  I am fairly adept at hand holding my iPhone up to the scope to get decent still images, but at the end of the day, to do video, you really need something to secure it to the scope if you want to take video.

Then Swarovski sent me the new ATX scope with the new TLS APO adapter...and as said earlier, that adapter does not work with the Nikon D40.

lens not attached


The TLS APO adapter is designed to go directly on the camera body, so you take off the camera lens to attach the adapter.  With this particular Nikon, it thinks that you do not have a lens attached and refuses to take any photos.  I had to get a new camera.

I talked to my friends at Swarovski, checked in with digiscoping guru Mike McDowell to see how he was using the new scope and what didn't work and what did work.

How to find a digiscoping camrea


Then I took my scope, my adapter and my budget to National Camera Exchange in Golden Valley, MN (there is a difference in customer service between the various locations and in my experience, that one is the best.  Ask for Curt or Kevin). I cannot stress enough that when you have a new scope and you want to find a camera, take it in with you to find your camera.  Play with them together, get a feel for how they will work together.  My favorite camera was the Nikon V2.  However, after purchasing a fancy new laptop, it was not in my budget.  Since the Nikon V2 had just come out, the Nikon V1 is discontinued and you can get the camera body right now for $350 to $399.  It's a steal.  It's compact, it does video and it works with the new system.

Nikon v1 Swarovski digiscoping set up


Here is my new rig: the Nikon V1, a Nikon T ring, a Nikon FT 1 adapter, (a crazy, somewhat pricy piece of equipment that has electronics in it but tells the camera that there is an actual lens on the camera), the TLS APO adapter and the ATX 85 mm scope.

I'm still learning how to get my digiscoping mojo on.  I took 549 photos with it the other day and none of them are worth posting in the blog because I'm still trying to get my settings figured out.  FYI, you cannot use every mode the V1 offers with the TLS APO.  I cannot use the Smart Photo Selector Mode or the Motion Snap Shot Mode but I can use general camera and movie mode which is what I wanted.

And after the laptop and new camera, I am now setting my check card in some ice to cool off.

Some of you may be wondering what I'm doing with my old spotting scope since I now have a new one...well, folks, I'm going to give it away! That's right, I'm going to have a contest coming up soon and the rules are going to even the playing field.  I'll announce details very soon, but the contest is geared so that anyone could enter, no matter the birding ability.  It has nothing to do with getting the best photo of a bird (if you can do that, you certainly don't need my scope). So keep your eye pealed, you could win my old Swarovski ATM 80mm scope!