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Long (slow?) glass for birds
Posted By: hinckc, 01-20-2008, 12:41 PM

Hi all,

I recently purchased a used Televue TV-76 telescope for astronomy and for birding. I've been using the setup for about 3 weeks and thought I'd post up some of my shots to see if I could get a discussion going about tips and tricks for using telescopes as lenses for my Pentax K10D and K100D... I got this setup after researching digiscoping setups, and deciding that "afocal" or eyepiece projection telescope photography was not really what I wanted. This scope is big enough to give me the reach I want, but small enough so that it's feasible to hike a short distance while carrying it. Definately not a "hand held" setup, but good for tripod and sitting stationary waiting for birds to visit.

Here's the scope itself, with K10D attached. It's got a 76mm/3inch front objective, and provides a 480mm @ f/6.3 lens for my camera. I typically use it with a Televue 2x Powermate which is a barlow/teleconverter that I attach between the scope and the camera. This combo gives me a 960mm f/12.7. It's a little dark in the viewfinder, but still enough light to find focus, at least for me, for now...



So far, I've mostly been practicing with "backyard" birds, but visited the Great Swamp National Wildlife Reserve in Basking Ridge, NJ 2 weekends ago and got some raptors, too.

Here's some birds I've shot with this setup:

Some House Sparrows:


A female Cardinal:


A black-capped chickadee:


A tufted titmouse:


my poor "one-eye'd" House finch:


and a Bluejay:


Finally, this guy dropped in one afternoon and scared everyone away from the feeder. Any opinions on if this is Coopers Hawk, or a Broadwinged Hawk?: I got a "non-keeper" shot of his tail, if it helps the ID.


All the shots in these galleries have been shot with this rig:
hinckc's Photographs- powered by SmugMug

While I wish it were faster, aperture-wise, I'm very happy with the setup now. I finally have the reach I've been wanting! I'd love to hear if anyone else is using a telescope (refractor or reflector) with their camera, and any tips/tricks to using a setup like this.
I've been using 2sec timer and MLU, plus my cable release to trigger the camera. This keeps my vibrations down to a minimum. Any other ideas to get the most out of this setup would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks for looking!

-Chris
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01-23-2008, 09:36 AM   #16
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whoops! I should have mentioned I had the window wide open! I was shooting through an open window!

01-23-2008, 10:02 AM   #17
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LOL!!!! I should probably go back and delete my post then... what do you think?
01-23-2008, 10:04 AM   #18
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nah don't delete it. It's still valuable info. It just didn't apply to my current situation. But I definitely learned something, and would leave it there.

-Chris
01-23-2008, 01:14 PM   #19
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I am not trying to hijack this thread. But I was wondering if anyone knew where I could get a adapter to where I could attach my 400mm lense to my tripod like Chris is doing? My lense is about 10-11 inches long and it is hard to hand hold it to shoot.

Thanks
Jim Browning

01-24-2008, 08:07 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbrowning Quote
I am not trying to hijack this thread. But I was wondering if anyone knew where I could get a adapter to where I could attach my 400mm lense to my tripod like Chris is doing? My lense is about 10-11 inches long and it is hard to hand hold it to shoot.
Options:

$$$ - Custom by Kirk: Kirk Exclusive Camera Supports

$$ - Figure out where you can put a collar on your lens. I was looking at my A* 300mm f4 and I don't see a good spot for one so this might not work for all lens. Measure the spot with a caliper and spend some time researching on line which popular lens have similar specs or go to eBay and check the listings for tripod collars.

$ - Buy a Bogen/Manfrotto 3420 or 3421 (slightly heavier duty model). Downside is slow going from portrait to landscape. The upside is it is inexpensive and can work on multiple lenses without too much hassle (by appearance, I don't own one yet).

I might pickup the last option but I'm hoping my A* 300mm F4 will be just fine using the body mount. I like the $$ option and it is probably not all that expensive if you ignore the time it takes to figure out the matching components. Perhaps doing some google searching on your lens model will have similar queries by other folks?
01-24-2008, 08:09 PM   #21
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hinckc: Wow! That is impressive. Do you have to do much post processing? The colors look good.
01-24-2008, 08:41 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbrowning Quote
I am not trying to hijack this thread. But I was wondering if anyone knew where I could get a adapter to where I could attach my 400mm lense to my tripod like Chris is doing?
Hi Jim, If your lens doesn't have a place to screw a tripod, you can't do what I'm doing. My telescope came with a "clamshell" ring which has a screwhole to attach my RC4 Manfrotto quick-release plate. I think your best bet is the advice Lowell gave you in your own thread, or what cmv said....

QuoteOriginally posted by cmv Quote
hinckc: Wow! That is impressive. Do you have to do much post processing? The colors look good.
Thanks cmv! I always post process to a certain degree -- I shoot RAW, plus I was a "digital native" even before I learned to develop my own B&W film. But the shots I've posted here haven't been pushed too far. I gave them a bit (+1) of saturation in the RAW->jpeg conversion and a mild unsharp mask after conversion. They've also been re-sized for posting. About 1/2 of them are full vertical crops from horizontal frames (most of the portrait oriented frames), but the others are just resizes of the original "full" captured frame.

-Chris

01-24-2008, 08:44 PM   #23
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That rig does a really nice job If the hawk has a narrow tail when flying it may be a pigeon hawk, I've got a couple in my area that like to snatch the occasional unwitting house sparrow.
01-24-2008, 09:15 PM   #24
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Thanks, borno! I'm pretty convinced he's a broad-winged, based on my research @ WhatBird | identify birds | bird identification guide | north america, plus Tom Lusk's confirmation. Unfortunately, I never really saw him fly. He practically "appeared" in my yard, coinciding with a disappearance of the other birds. I just saw him hopping from branch to branch in my shrubs.

This is a small OOF shot of his tail, which is what made me believe he's a broad-winged:


-Chris
01-24-2008, 09:30 PM   #25
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You are probably right,my bird book isn't really good, this is one of my resident raptors It has a barred tail also but looks a little lighter color in front
01-25-2008, 12:13 PM   #26
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Thanks for the replies. I think I will be ordering the Bogen 3420 and see how that does with this setup of mine.

Thanks
Jim
01-25-2008, 01:40 PM   #27
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Very nice setup and very interesting to see that there is little or no chromatic aberration. Excellent sharpness appears to be possible too it appears.

I would consider the hawk to be a Coopers or Sharp Shinned, though I lean towards a Cooper's Hawk.

The Broad Wing hawks are the first to migrate to South America, leaving the East Coast of the US in massive numbers before September is over. I don't do as much birding as I used to, but I would think that all the Broad Wings are all in South America by now

Stephen
01-26-2008, 02:58 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
Very nice setup and very interesting to see that there is little or no chromatic aberration. Excellent sharpness appears to be possible too it appears.
Thanks! There shouldn't be any CA, though I was skeptical, too. It's supposed to be an APO telescope. With a high powered eyepiece, I have yet to see any color distortion, even when looking at the bright limb of the moon, which is, of course, very high contrast against the dark sky.

QuoteOriginally posted by SCGushue Quote
I would consider the hawk to be a Coopers or Sharp Shinned, though I lean towards a Cooper's Hawk.

The Broad Wing hawks are the first to migrate to South America, leaving the East Coast of the US in massive numbers before September is over. I don't do as much birding as I used to, but I would think that all the Broad Wings are all in South America by now
oh no! it's back to the bird books for me, as that's now 2 people who don't think he's a broad-winged. I shot him on January 1st, so maybe he's not a broad-winged after all, just like borno said. Thanks for the info, and I'll look up the sharp shinned to see what I can learn!

-Chris
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