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Digiscoping With An iPhone Tutorial

By popular request I created a video of how I take photos using my iPhone and my Swarovski spotting scope (I use the ATM 80mm with 2- – 60 zoom eyepiece)–also known as iPhonescoping. A couple of things to keep in mind:

I’m currently hand holding the phone, there is no adapter for this yet like their are for digital cameras. Meopta is supposed to have their adapter out for iPhones soon but I haven’t seen it yet (they told me they would send me one early this year).  But you can still get some pretty good photos hand holding your phone.  Video is going to be a little shaky but without an adapter to hold the camera still–what can you do.

Photo by Amy Hooper

Note that I’m using a Mophie Case with my phone which gives a little “eye relief” to it. FYI Mophie cases are AWESOME!  It’s a heavy duty case that will charge your iPhone’s battery.  It has tripled the life of my crappy iPhone 4s battery.  I’m a little bitter that I had to pay about $70 to correct an Apple issue, but I’m so happy to use my phone all day in the field that I’ve soon gotten over that expense.  I can actually use my phone all day long without plugging it in. This includes taking photos, texting, sending photos to Twitter, surfing the net, Words with Friends (Scramble with Friends), Fruit Ninja–the works!

Also, note in the above photo that I have the eye cup twisted out halfway.  I find this reduces the vignette (the black circle around your photos).  Also, it prevents you from scratching your scope’s lens with your iPhone or case–which is a heartbreaking thing to have happen and one of the reasons I hover like crazy when someone puts their digital camera up to my lens without an adapter.  This also gives you a way to reduce some of the hand shake that comes with holding the iPhone rather than attaching it with an adapter.

Here’s the video:

11 comments to Digiscoping With An iPhone Tutorial

  • Excellent video tutorial. Now I have to wonder why my attempts are so lame.

  • Any hints on avoiding blowing out the exposure? Been having a brutal time with that, although the solution may be to find better subjects than gulls on bright water.

  • @Bosque Bill–thanks!

    @Jason–that’s hard. The shots of the whistling ducks aren’t the best because it was cloudy when I shot that. One thing that I’ve played with on the iPhone with mixed results is the HDR feature where it takes three shots to make it into one shot (taking the best from all all three). All three photos are saved to the “Cloud.”

    Also, I’ve had some luck using the Camera+ app. It allows you to play with exposure a little it.

  • Debbie Barnes

    Thanks so much. I have been looking for this as I just bought an iPhone. Do you keep the zoom on the scope eyepiece to the lowest setting?
    Debbie

  • I keep it at the lowest setting (20). I do have a 30 fixed. I might give that a try this week.

  • anonymous

    Birdchick,

    For people who use a third-party adaptor, such as the one made by SRB-Griturn, it should be easy to attach the I-Phone. One other item that would be needed would be a tri-pod adaptor for the I-Phone. Those are inexpensive and easy to find on-line. I haven’t used this set-up (haven’t digiscoped in a while, prefer my DSLR results – I’m no Mike McDowell), and don’t have an I-Phone. But, it should work easy enough.

    Cheers,

    Anonymous

  • Anonymous–I have no idea what iphone adapter you are talking about from SRB-Griturn. You would need to provide a link because googling it reveals nothing.

  • anonymous

    The i-phone adaptor would not be from SRB-Griturn. That would just be the digiscoping adaptor. Several tripod adaptors exist for the i-phone (try Gary Fong Tripod Adaptor in your search, there are other similar pieces of plastic out there – photo jojo has one called the Glif). These will give you a tri-pod mount for your i-phone, allowing you to then mount your camera on the SRB-Griturn’s swing-out bracket.

    Going this route would require two different purchases. The tripod mount for the i-phone, and SRB-Griturn’s swing-out bracket – or something similar. I’ve used (use, when I still bring out the scope) the bracket. It’s not a bad device. Especially since I can’t get a half-way decent picture just handholding the camera to the scope.

    Hope this clears up any confusion I may have caused.

  • Bill

    I just returned from 3 weeks in Yellowstone ‘phonescoping’ with my iPhone 4S. I had to cobble together 3 different systems since the ‘Swingout’ bracket would not position the iPhone correctly. I expect my Joby ‘gorillamobile’ ordered & due any day now will allow correct positioning on the ‘Swingout’ without the 3rd bracket.

    The SRB-Griturn bracket allows one to pan with the action – which I couldn’t do while handholding the iPhone to the scope.

    One advantage of the iPhone 4S over my compact cameras is its ability to refocus as the subject moves. I don’t have a panned clip ready, but this clip, which needs audio editing, has entertained friends:

    http://vimeo.com/album/1849205

    equipment:
    http://joby.com/gorillamobile/iphone4
    http://www.srb-griturn.com/digiscoping-swing-out-brackets-8-c.asp

    Note: My ‘Swingout’ is an older model requiring frequent realignments. I am considering the newer model which looks like a good fix. These devices do add considerable cost, complexity & bulk over the simpler pleasures of just viewing & handholding for still shots.

    I suspect it won’t be long before a streamlined iPhone-specific adaptor appears.

    Bill
    Portland, OR

  • Bill

    Joby’s gorillamobile arrived but only works on their mini tripod. I’ve ordered the Gary Fong iPhone tripod adaptor from B & H Photo and will file a report here after testing on SRB-Griturn’s new Swing-out adaptor.

    Bill
    Portland

  • Bill

    The Gary Fong adaptor finally arrived. I needed to relieve ~1mm of material to form a shallow depression to accept the 4S volume lowering button. This is easy to do with a power drill, Dremel or other rotary tool, without altering the adaptor’s very snug fit.

    When the new improved Swingout Bracket arrives from SRG-Griturn, I will post an update.