Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Digiscoping with the Leica D-Lux 5 Review.

I thought id try to describe the type of Digiscoping set up I'm Currently using  which is the Leica D-Lux 5 with Leica Adapter Connected to my Leica Apo 82 Scope.
Now Digiscoping is the art of Photography by attaching a held hand Camera to a Spotting scope. This can produce very good results and means not having to spend a fortune on fancy Len's for fancy and expensive DSLRs, it also means not having to get so close to birds to photograph them. Oh yes and less to carry around, I'm a birder first photographer second.

Now if I'm honest the art of digiscoping still means the better photos are coming from a distance of between 10-30m but decent record shots can be obtained from birds 100m away and in poor light as in the Picture below. Click the picture for full view.
I'm Still on a massive learning curve but feel I'm getting some very good results with this setup both at close range and longer distant range. The pic below taken at below 25m
I've been using this camera and Scope setup since September and I'm changing settings continually but I find at present the best settings are as follows:
I'm using the camera on Aperture Priority. Ive worked out how to brighten my image by upping the f stop to 4.0 so now Aperture prority seems better than Programme as i was using before. On really nice days Programme may be worth a play.
The other settings are:
>Spot metering.
>Standard color mode.
>AF macro mode which is on the side of the camera and all shots are taken at the full 10mb.
>Aspect picture ratio is 4:3.
>The White Balance I've left on auto as the UK weather changes continually and changing settings every time the sun appears just means faffing around too much. Although recently ive been using the cloud balance for when its cloudy and this seems to bring out the colours much more. Its worth having a play with this as the weather is always changing and i dont think there is a perfect solution.
>Auto focus mode is on spot too.
>I Exposure i leave on as increases the exposure in under-exposed areas by detecting the brightness level part-by-part in the picture.
>I Resolution i leave on Standard it should add contrast to the pics but its very minimal but i leave them on anyway for now...
>Image stabilizer I've left off because some cameras cant deal with the image digiscoped, seems to give the image a less than sharp image although again more practice with this setting needed as I've not used Image stabilizer on this camera at present..
>Everything else on this camera is turned off.
Once the Camera is set up Exposure rates vary depending on light and Distance of bird.
I will say in my limited experience ease of use of this camera is superb the adapter slides straight onto my 25-50x Zoom eyepiece on my scope so it takes just seconds to attach the camera.
Sharpness is excellent with no internal Sharpening from the camera (this is turned off) sometimes adding a sharpen in Photoshop is too much and no sharpening is needed.
The only trouble I'm having at present is the image  at 0 Stop seems very dark, my old camera the excellent Coolpix 4500 meant I always under exposed by -0.7 of a stop, with the leica I'm having to over expose by +0.7 making the bird lighter but that means bringing some of the colors back in Photoshop. I'm sure with a few more tweaking to the settings I may find out what I'm doing wrong.
So Far I'm finding results very good especially as I'm cropping my images to 200-300kb and 800x550px in Photoshop, wheres with my Coolpix smaller cropping had top be done otherwise id loose quality. The quality is definitely there with the Leica D-Lux 5. Most pictures will still need some sharpening in Photoshop.
Another very Important piece of kit on this superb camera is the Video mode Hd video digiscoped is superb and I do try to video any birds as well as photograph them. 
Video Below better viewed in HD mode in Youtube.

All in all this is probably one of the best Digiscoping cameras around for the Leica Scope at present. Im just still in early Stages of learning the potential for this camera.
A small portion of the results Ive managed from this camera are as below.

Ive tried Digiscoping flying birds, the hardest part of Digiscoping with some fairly good results i hope.

Many more pics can be viewed here on my Blog ... and here on my main website


  1. Great explanation as to your personal preferences. I am as well still getting used to my camera. I will definitely use some of your suggestions.

    Jim Eager

  2. Is it worth hiring someone with experience to carry out the SEO, or would you do it personally?

    I have added you in my reading list, keep up the good posts!

  3. Digiscoping with the Leica D-Lux 5 Review. I thought id ...

  4. great pictures Craig
    I use the dlux with Swarowski telescope
    how do you avoid vibrations ?i sometimes use the 2 seconds mode
    do you work on a tripod ? even the flying birds
    Ruud de haan maastricht
    btw : we have been in Minsmere last year ,great place
    we live in Maastricht

    1. Thankyou so much, yes you really need that tripod and the 2 sec mode comes in handy wwith those birds that luckily stay still. for moving objects I just up the iso a tad and press the shutter button keeping everything as still as possible whilst on the tripod. I only 3 days ago upgraded to the Panasonic GX8 and as much as I like the leica the new GX8 out masters the leica due to the 20 mpx instead of the 10mpx of the leica. if you have a website of your pics please add it on here, I love to see peoples shots with the dlux 5

  5. very nice camera Craig( GX8 )
    I have just started making pictures with the telescope,so I started in the garden taking flowers ,following your workflow and than I see how it works with the swarowski and universal adaptor,from there I will look what way is the best for me
    I am a birdwatcher and count birds alongside the river for statics ,with several other people
    The moment I do have succes with birds I will let you know
    I have no website now


  6. Hello Craig
    I ame using the better Manfrotto head model MVH500A,which gives far less vibrations ,stable in 2 sec
    my workflow now ,what seems the best for me at the moment is as follow

    Aperture priority
    autocolor mode
    manual focus ( focus on the scope while using the magnifier on the camera )
    asp,ratio 4:3
    exposure minus one stop
    It prefents me of losing details in the highlights
    image stab on

    later in lightroom I increase brightness to lighten the image and sharpening plus 25

    This gives me up till now the best results.

    I succeeded to make a picture of a juvinel Dunlin ( bird is rare in the south of holland )

    I have no weblog ,so I can not show you the picture taken
    hope to make more pictures from now



    1. sounds excellent Rudd. I never can work out of Stabiliser works when digiscoping or not. I get mixed messages and cant see any difference when its off or on?

  7. I could send you the picture direct to you if you like

    you could forward your adres to


  8. Hello Craig
    You had a fantastic day on Sunday ,I love the pictures you have posted

    greatings from Maastricht


  9. Hello Craig
    Re trip to Majorca
    you had a fantastic vacation overthere
    It is great to see all the pictures of the birds you have taken
    thank you for showing them

    greatings from Maastricht


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