Stability of the camera is absolutely vital for high magnification shots. Just pressing the shutter-release button will set off vibrations that will have a serious impact on your shots unless a very fast shutter-speed is available. Use of the self-timer is an option but you are in the lap of the Gods as to whether the bird will still be there when the countdown finishes.
A cheap and reliable alternative is a cable release. This is a cable that has a plunger at one end and a small metal probe at the other. When the plunger is depressed the probe pops out and pushes the shutter-release button in, causing minimal vibration. Lockable cables allow you to choose whether the probe springs back when you take your finger off of the plnger, or locked so that the probe stays in position until the lock is released. This feature is handy if you wish to keep the camera in a focus lock whilst you fine tune the scope's focus or if you want to shoot a continuous burst of shots.
The Jessops Bracket
To hold and position the probe of the cable release above the shutter-release button of the camera, a bracket is needed. This cheap device (£19.00) fixes to the tripod socket of the camera and has plenty of scope for adjustment to the cameras size. I position it so that the main vertical support runs up alongside the side of the camera, the alternative of having it run up the front of the camera will block the external power supply socket and make the rotary on/off mode select switch difficult to access.
I have trimmed the base of my version with a file/hacksaw.
There are alternatives, the Nikon MC-EU1 wired remote and the 'Wing System' cable release bracket from EagleEye OpticZooms.
The Nikon remote has a rather poor reputation amongst digiscopers, especially users of the CP990. Some people have no complaints about the device, others would like to see the Nikon designers serving long prison sentences. Where bird photography is involved.....reliability is paramount. For this reason I use a mechanical device
A major problem that afflicts users of many digital cameras is when bright light reflects off of the cameras lcd monitor, often totally obscuring the image being shown. In conventional use the traditional optical viewfinder can be used. In digiscoping the view from the optical viewfinder will be blocked by the scope or the adapter itself, in any event you will not be able to focus the scope onto the subject nor read any vital exposure detail.
What is it? How Is It Attached?
The Extend-a-View Pro is an alloy device with a 2x eyepiece incorperated into it that fits over your lcd monitor. It's held in place by narrow velcro strips , though only one strip of Velcro need be applied so as to create a hinge effect. This single strip of Velcro holds the Xtend-a-View securely enough, never having fallen off, even whilst the set-up is carried around. Obviously a coresponding strip of Velcro needs to be stuck onto your camera (just above the monitor), so it may be difficult to remove the glue in the future.
The Extend-a-View will fit many digital cameras as it's available in three sizes, the 'mini' will fit 1.5 inch monitors like that on the cp4500
The rubber eye-cup provides comfort to your eye and eliminates stray light from entering, not unlike looking through your scope in a conventional manner. The beauty of the glass eyepiece is that you can have your eye close to the monitor, traditional sunshades may cut out the light but your eye is too close to the monitor for you to be able to focus on it.
The view can be a little bit pixellated with the 2x magnification, though I have found the view to be good enough to get a precise focus with. The traditional technique of using the digital zoom of the camera to get a precise focus isn't really needed, this is just as well as the view would be quite poor.
The I.L.S. is a product to help the digiscoper to find the subject, searching around using the camera's monitor can be a frustrating experience. Most scopes come with a sighting post but this can be obscured when a camera is attached, especially true of angled scopes. A dual sighting post system is vital for digiscoping because your head is seldom in a consistent position, as against conventional scope viewing when your head will often be looking up from the eyepiece.
The unit is fixed to the scope via a rubber band near the end (objective end). Alternatively Velcro can be used if you use a scope cover. I rarely bother with a cover as my scope is waterproof and a tool rather than an item to be protected from every little scratch.
The I.L.S. is set up by finding a suitable subject in your eyepice, then adjusting the I.L.S. via the two screws which effect tilt . The task is to perfectly align the two posts so that the subject is just obscured by the tip of the posts.
The original design had two black posts, which didn't make it very easy to ascertain when the posts appeared as one....I quickly painted the back post with white paint. I passed the suggestion onto EagleEye OpticZooms and I presume all new versions have a highly visible back sight post.
Is it worth it?
I'm very fortunate to have very good hand to eye co-ordination, finding a desired subject with my 10x binos almost immediately. The same is true using a scope for conventional viewing..... but finding 4 inches of hyperactive Warbler via your monitor and magnifications of over 80x can be a very slow and painful experience, the subject is unlikely to wait for you.
The I.LS. isn't perfect but allows a far more rapid aquisition of the subject in the camera's monitor. For those who take shots of relatively static birds, this maybe an expensive luxury, for those chasing fast moving song birds it is of far more use.
This very cheap device can be used as a monitor shade/2x loupe on most cameras. With the aid of a craft knife, hacksaw or file it can be cut to allow access to the buttons of the Nikon CP4500. Velcro can be attached to the top edge of the viewer to allow it to be held in place on the camera.
Due to it's very light weight, even a small strip of Velcro will hold it securely.
I have now wrapped black tape around and inside this device, allowing less light to permeate the blue plastic body and removing the slight bluish look to the monitor view.
If you don't live in the U.K. the device can be purchased online....though postage will be more than the device? Similar products will be available in camera stores throughout the World.
This is the new generic cable-release bracket from EagleEye Opticzooms, fitting most digital cameras (and probably plenty of 35mm compacts). In most respects this is identical to the Jessop's version.... there's not much scope for radical design in these things.
The main differences between the two are:
The new EagleEye version is devoid of plastic, the part where your cable-release screws into is metal and it's thread is unlikely to be damaged with regular use.
The section where your cable-release screws into is a far simpler affair than the Jessops model as it cannot rotate.... so the release probe is always vertical. If you knocked the Jessops version you could end up with the probe coming out at a odd angle and not tripping the shutter button. This may not be quite as good for those with slanted shutter release buttons (cp4300 and some others). All of my cable-releases fitted o.k. The main support post doesn't look as if it can turn on the base, which is good, where-as the Jessops can.... but you can tighten with an Allen key.
The EagleEye device has a slimmer build all round, so no need to get the file out to remove excess metal at the base to allow a change of batteries. The base has one long slot for adjusting how far out you want the cable-release to extend from the camera, the bolt that secures the bracket to the camera fits into this slot but is one of those designs that means it can't fall out. This bolt is quite small, has a knurled edge and has a receiving thread to allow the whole set-up to be mounted upon a tripod.
I felt that the EagleEye bracket was more secure/stable in use than the Jessops version and quicker to set-up/align. I wouldn't expect someone using the Jessops to bother purchasing this item... but it's an alternative for newcomers to digiscoping, as well as a bit easier to order for some overseas digiscopers ( I don't think Jessops exports to non EU countries online)
The modern version of the old DualForce rechargeable battery pack. Peter Louden of Zenon (who formerly supplied EagleEyeUK) still manufactures these brilliant devices. These small units will power your Digiscoping camera all day.
Rechargeable up to 1000 times.
Wide range of voltages for a wide range of different cameras including latest Lithium-Ion powered units. Pro45 suitable for 4 to 5.5volt applications. Pro68 suitable for 6 to 8.5 volt applications.
Comprehensive Kits which include connecting leads to fit many digital cameras (within the voltage range of the packs, centre + ve connection).
High quality, reinforced (but flexible) connecting leads with in-line, quick release mechanism.
Kit items, Leads and Accessories available separately.