I teach quite a few workshops on digiscoping throughout the year. My preferred method is using a smartphone with a spotting scope, but I'll also use an SLR and spotting scope too. My friend Renner Anderson has heralded his love of "digibinning" which is using binoculars and his iPhone to take pictures.
I've always been been dubious of the digibinning technique and advise against it in my workshops. I think there is no easy way to hold the binoculars steady and get a good shot. Renner feels differently. "I always have my iPhone in the field anyway because I am already using it for eBird Mobile, field guides, Merlin and BirdsEye," Renner said. "I like to hike for adventure and exercise and usually don't bring my telescope so it's nice to be able to use my binoculars for getting documentary photos."
At my last digiscoping workshop that I hosted, Renner arrived and was ready to show off his digibinning techinique using his Swarovski ELs, iPhone and PhoneSkope iPhone case and bluetooth shutter release. I grabbed a quick video so you could see the Renner Technique in action and some of the photos he's gotten of birds in the last year.
Renner also add, "Because I attach the PhoneSkope case to just one eyepiece (the right eyepiece) I can use the other eyepiece to look through with my right eye and this puts me on the bird immediately and very easily, even birds in flight. I focus on the bird using the focus adjustment knob of the binoculars with my right index finger and center the bird in the visual field so I don't have to be looking through the iPhone viewing screen.
"Because both of my hands are holding the binoculars and I'm looking through the other eyepiece of the binoculars I don't have any way to trigger the shutter with my hands. For that reason I have developed the idea of holding the PhoneSkope remote shutter between my lips and activating the shutter by squeezing down on the PhoneSkope remote shutter by tightening my jaw. Not a pretty site but it works really well.
"Only problem here is that if the bird is close I have to adjust for the fact that although the bird may be centered in the field of view of the barrel I am looking through it will be off center for the barrel that the iPhone is looking through. This doesn't matter for birds at distance such as birds in flight.
"With my current technique with the PhoneSkope case attached to a single eyepiece I haven't figured out a way to secure the iPhone to the binoculars with a rubber band so I am always nervous that the iPhone might fall. Currently I just hold the round piece of the PhoneSkope adapter firmly against the binocular eyepiece with my right thumb
"Of course the Blue Tooth can drain the iPhone battery (not to mention the Gaia tracking app that I am using to document my hiking adventure and BirdsEye and eBird Mobile and Merlin and the field guide apps) so I do bring an extra battery along with me in the field."
Remember, you get a discount when you purchase a PhoneSkope product and use the code Birdchick13 when you check out.