Join an SLR to a Birding Scope for under £20

YOU CAN SEE THE RESULTS BY ACCESSING MY PEREGRINE FALCON PHOTOS POSTED TODAY 14th JUNE 2012

For several years I have been interested in Digiscoping as a way of being able to produce close-up photos of birds from a distance up to 100m or more. Being retired and on a fixed income I was unable to afford a high quality 500mm lens and 2.0 multiplier. I do however own an inexpensive Nikon birding scope and a Canon 50D.
From Ebay several years I had purchased a Macro Tube with a Canon fit which cost me under £10 and I had experimented with removing my camera lens, fitting the tube and pushing this over the zoom eyepiece of my scope. I discovered that this would enable me to take quite good photos but with disadvantages that it was difficult to get the camera to be square and also that it placed strain on the zoom eyepiece. I tried to make the rig firm by using small bungy fastenings but gave up to prevent damage to the scope.

THE DESCRIPTION BELOW MAY APPEAR TO BE COMPLICATED BUT BY LOOKING AT THE PHOTOS AT THE END IT SHOULD BECOME CLEAR

The other day I decided to try again and I laid the scope and camera with the macro tube in position on a table and supported the assembly so the camera was exactly square to the scope. Using a rule with a protractor I measured the angle between the bottom of my camera and the angular zoom eye-piece and determined that it was 45 degrees. This was confirmed by reading the Nikon scope handbook.
From my garage I found a strip of steel which I cut from the end of a ruler. I had extimated by measuring the joined scope and camera that I would need 45cm. However any rigid metal strip would suffice as long as it was at least 40mm wide.
I bent the strip in my vice to exactly 45 degrees and then offered that up to the assembly which was still lying on the table. With a marking Pen I marked the position of the 1/4" UNC tapped holes in the bottom of the camera and scope and drilled them in garage. I made the holes slightly larger (5/16") as I did not trust my accuracy too much and then checked the strip to make sure that it lined up.

A visit to a specialist nut and bolt supplier was necessary to purchase a few 1/4" UNC fully threaded bolts. The ones I bought were too long and I had to cut them down to 1/2" of thread length. I did up the bolts and was very satisfied that the whole assembly was rigid.

By good fortune the macro tube was a good fit over the zoom eye-piece but I should imagine that by winding insulating tape around the eye-piece one of smaller diameter could be packed out to be a good fit.

By determining its centre of gravity by placing the whole assembly upright on the edge of a table and finding the point where it just began to tip I found the point where I should drill another 1/4 clearance hole in the chassis and bolted the plate from my Tripod in place. The assembly was now beautifully ballanced when fitted to the tripod.

The total cost was under £20

Comments

14 Jun, 2011
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saucy said:

What a brilliant idea. Where there`s a will there`s a way.

14 Jun, 2011
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johnponting said:

Very interesting blog John, thanks.

SWMBO talked me out (said NO!) of buying a scope shortly after I bought a 500mm Sigma lens otherwise I might give it a go.

Actually, memory is letting me down - I did buy the rather cheap scope from ALDI a couple of months ago. Must check it out to see how it's focal length and magnification compare to the Nikon/Sigma combo.

14 Jun, 2011
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johnhwright said:

I have the same sigma lens and you can see the difference by accessing the Peregrine Photos taken last Thursday with the Sigma and those taken this morning with the new combo

14 Jun, 2011
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eje said:

"Neccesity is the mother of invention", a man after my own heart,great bit of engineering.Eric

14 Jun, 2011
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mike said:

John - may you get many years of enjoyment from this

14 Jun, 2011
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bonkersbon said:

Not sure I ll ever advance to this level of photography or engineering JW but can certainly admire your ingenuity and many in Yorkshire would applaud the pennies you must have saved .

14 Jun, 2011
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robashfield said:

Nice idea john..might give it some thought!

14 Jun, 2011
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muddywalters said:

You've buggered that ruler mate!
Seriously JW, I'm well impressed - well done. :-))

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