In a "world's-first-and-only," Carl Zeiss has announced the PhotoScope 85 T* FL, a spotting scope with a fully integrated digital camera. The 15–45X magnification lens includes calcium fluoride elements for complete elimination of chromatic aberrations. (15X is wide on a spotting scope—into the range usually provided by binoculars—making for easier location of the object you might want magnified.) The imager is 7MP and recording is enabled with standard SD cards. No word on exactly how it works, although Zeiss says image capture is simultaneous with viewing and creates no vibration (a beam splitter?). It'll be ready for release in Spring/Summer 2009.
Mike (Thanks to Onno Nugteren)
Featured Comment by Tim: "This is a very smart move by Zeiss. Sport optics are a growth area and digiscoping is very popular with bird watchers. There is a whole industry making adapters to fit cameras to spotting scopes."
Featured Comment by Dave Polaschek: "Mike, 15–45x is a standard range for low-end spotting scopes. That's the most popular scope magnification range, and a usable scope can be had for a few hundred dollars. Go high end, and you might see 60x, but then you're talking a Swarovski that'll set you back $2k before you get the tripod to set it on, and you'll want a rock-solid tripod to boot.
"FYI, they're also used by competitive shooters, since it's hard to see .30 inch holes out at 200–1000 yards without some big glass. Gotta see where you're shooting in order to correct, unless you want to spend a lot of time walking down-range to peep at the target up close. Also FYI, the rifle-scope used for the actual shooting at 600 yards and beyond is generally over 10x, but seldom over 20x. The bullseye at that distance is 3 or 4 feet in diameter (on a 6-foot paper square), but the 10-ring is only 10 inches, and the X ring is five inches."
Featured Comment by David Bennett: "There's a YouTube video, with a Zeiss representative showing the outfit. And it is 600–1800mm in 35mm equivalent and ƒ/4–5.6 and takes SD cards, and it's waterproof. Yummy."
Mike adds: You're not supposed to speak the unspoken, but can I assume that people are not missing the fact that this is likely going to be used for peeping and spying and other kinds of, um, people watching...spotting scopes being not just for the feathered kind of "birds"...?