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Digiscoping with Paul Hackett




Puffins!

I'm besotted with them, every year for the last 25 years I’ve Digiscoped these amazing wee birds, pictures and videos just don’t do them justice only real life can do that.

My go-to place was always the Farne Islands for a long time but over the last few years, it has been the Isle of May, where my very good friend and Head Warden, Davey Steele resides, he used to be on the Farnes too, an amazing bloke, so suited to his job.



Steeley as he’s known to his friends has always had a knack for welcoming people to the island.



You don’t get too long on the island so time is against you, in all my visits over the years, it’s never rained once, a record I'm sure will be broken sooner or later.


Last year I found a place close to where I live, there are not so many puffins but it’s close to home. With my hobby, I’ve never made it easy for myself and always wanted to push the boundaries of Digiscoping, the most difficult and sometimes frustrating part of this hobby is trying to capture birds in flight!




My current “armoury” consists of a Kowa 88s straight scope, 25-60 wide-angle zoom eyepiece, Benro tripod and video head, Kowa DA10 adapter, Panasonic G9 mk I camera body, Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens, combined they give an amazing magnification, due to the 2x crop of the micro four-thirds camera from around 1000mm to 3000mm.


When I first started, I was using compact cameras and the below picture was taken with a Sony RX100 mk 2 compact a good few years ago, and is in my top ten fav pics of all time.



The skill in this endeavour is to choose your subject and stay with it, my technique is to refocus continuously, as the bird flies left to right, or straight at you as was the case in the picture above.


The settings I have on my current camera are manual focus, centre metering, plus exposure dependent on light, multi burst and ISO 1600 to gain a really fast shutter speed to capture the movement.







Also in my “armoury,” I use my iPhone, I’ve had the following models 4s, 6plus, 7plus, 11 pro max, and my current phone is the 15 pro max.




I have the universal vario adapter connected to a Kowa DA10 adapter to fit my Kowa scope, but Kowa now produce the whole adapter kit without the DA10 adapter for other popular scope manufacturers' eyepieces, check the Kowa link for details.




https://www.kowaoptic.com/Digiscoping-adapters-for-Smartphones with mobile phones now, both Android and Apple, each model can produce pictures, video, and slo-mo video, some phones require a third-party app to choose one of the multiple lenses you may have on your mobile, some you can just use the native camera app. If you use Facebook, look up Digiscopers, or Phonescoping to ask specific questions about your mobile model, they are a friendly bunch and you will hopefully get the answers you're looking for, so the technique for the static puffins is, to set your height on the tripod and get level with the bird, focus on the bird and put the subject in the middle.



Lock down the pan and tilt on your video head so it doesn’t move, put the adapter and phone onto the eyepiece, and decide whether you want to shoot in portrait or landscape mode for your images/video.




Place your finger on the screen until you see the lock symbol or similar, chances are you can lighten/darken the image, check your camera/app settings, then refocus the scope, checking the sharpness of your image on the screen, once it’s done take the picture or video.

Hope this is of use and you like the pictures/videos


Paul Hackett

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Great Images 👍

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