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Thursday, June 04, 2009

G1 on the Televid

Back in April, I wrote about a new camera I'm using for digiscoping, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 (hereafter the G1 for short...)

I've had the chance to test it out more on my Leica APO-Televid Scopes (angled 62 & 77mm), and I'm liking it a lot. While I can hand-hold the camera to my 32X WW eyepiece and get good results, I'm back to mainly using the threaded Swarovski DCA adapter. I find this to be super quick, secure, and it automatically centers the camera. The diameters of the adapter and eyepiece don't quite match, but since the adapter is a wee bit bigger I can use a shim to make up the difference for a secure fit. Ben Lizdas of Eagle Optics figured out how to do this- see this post on Mike McDowell's digiscoping blog to see how it works.
While the kit lens (14-45mm) works pretty well for digiscoping there are still vignetting issues. To minimize vignetting, I set the camera to the medium-sized files, which only uses the middle 6 MP of the 12 MP array. Yeah, I could also just crop out the dark when shooting full-sized files, but I like limiting the vignetting to better see what I'm getting in the viewfinder. In conjunction with the EZ zoom setting (not "easy", but Extended optical Zoom), using medium file size fills the viewfinder with the image and minimal vignetting at around 18 or 20 mm zoom on the kit lens. Here you'll see how the viewfinder position is adjustable to either fill the back of the camera, or come out to the side and pivot to whatever angle you need. It also reverses on the back of the camera so it is facing inward and protected when you don't need it. Using the electronic viewfinder emulates looking through the scope, something I like to do in bright conditions or when tracking moving birds.
The small, distant yellow highlighted area in this photo is the part of the tray feeder the rig is photographing- there's nothing like digiscoping to pull in birds!

Here are some sample pics I took at the Colorado Field Ornithologists annual convention in Alamosa, Colorado over the Memorial Day weekend. The White-rumped Sandpiper and Snowy Plover were at Blanca Wetlands, a wildlife area managed by the BLM. It hosts the state's largest concentration of breeding Snowy Plovers (a species of special concern in Colorado), and gets goodies like the White-rumped Sandpiper, rare in the San Luis Valley (it doesn't yet appear on the official Alamosa County bird list but we'll see about updating that.) The Sandhill Crane was one of a pair just south of Poncha Pass in the far northern end of the San Luis Valley. They aren't known to breed in the SLV but having a pair in habitat like this at such a late date is very suspicious. A forest service biologist is following up to see if breeding can be confirmed.
These three images illustrate the power of digiscoping, with its ability to nicely document birds without approaching closely enough to disturb them.

There is a lens promised for release later this year in the new Micro Four Thirds format (introduced in this camera) that might be ideal for digiscoping- a 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens. If and when I can test it out the I'll let you know how it works. Several folks have been experimenting with other pankake lenses using adapters with good results, but if I understand correctly they also lose autofocus when they move out of the dedicated Micro Four Thirds format. As news on what works well is rapidly changing, I suggest following the digiscoping birds list to keep abreast of developments regarding the G1 and its digiscoping applications.


Christine said...

I love your pictures! That last one is beautiful.

Since you're interested in Micro Four Thirds like I am, I thought you might be interested in seeing this "Will It Blend?" video where they throw an Olympus E-620 DSLR and a Stylus point-and-shoot into a blender. It seems like they're trying to get DSLR image quality into a point-and-shoot body. That's what Olympus is promising with their Micro Four Thirds camera.

James said...

your photos are really great. I think you are a great photographer.

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