Some of you faithful readers may have noticed a new icon on the top of the left banner- the vaunted yellow Nikon logo. I'm very pleased to announce that I've joined the Nikon Birding ProStaff.
I would like to thank Leica and especially their birding market specialist, Jeff Bouton, for years of a rewarding affiliation. I deeply appreciate the connections and friendships that Jeff & Leica helped me forge, and for the great times and great birds we had at events (both officially and unofficially.) I will always be proud of the time I spent using the awesome gear with the red dot!
As you may also know, I've been a Nikon DSLR guy since the very first rig I got for digital bird photography (a D100 with 80-400mm f/5.6 VR.) I'm now shooting mainly a D300 with a 200-400mm f/4 VR lens, a rig that feels like a natural extension of my eye (both in physical and creative aspects.) The same legendary extra-low dispersion (ED) glass found in Nikon lenses is now at the center of their EDG line of sport optics. I've been using the EDG 8x42 binocular and the 65mm EDG Fieldscope for a few weeks now, and I'm blown away by the vivid, crisp images these optics produce. I've got to say it is exciting to be birding at a time when glass this sharp, bright, and comfortable is available!
I've also been playing around with some digiscoping using my new EDG Fieldscope. I'm still using my Panasaonic DMC-G1 (a mirror-less DSLR that I've discussed before.) I await testing the EDG 20/25 X Long Eye Relief eyepiece (LERs are well-known for vignette-free digiscoping) along with a more formal adapter, but for now I'm slamming stuff by hand-holding the G1 to the Fieldscope's zoom, using an improvised but effective centering guide made from a surplus adapter ring that I scavenged from an another digiscoping adapter. I back the scope zoom off to pretty wide and zoom in to approx. 30mm on the G1 kit lens, at the camera's medium-sized file setting (6 megapixels.) I use aperture priority, wide open (typically f/5 or so depending on the zoom setting), commonly at ISO 200 or 400 to maintain good shutter speed. At these settings I get vignette-free images that are sharp edge-to-edge (or should I say EDG to EDG??) The combo is amazingly fast, acquiring and shooting about as fast as my DSLR once scope focus is reasonably close (the camera can then make up the difference even if a bird moves in and out a bit.) All of the shots in this post were digiscoped using the new rig.
Anyway, I want to thank Nikon Sport Optics for the opportunity to promote their optics as a member of their Birding ProStaff. I'm humbled by the quality and reputations of birders I've joined there and am thrilled to have Nikon ED glass in front of me whether I'm photographing, using bins, scoping, or digiscoping.