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Thursday, 16 October 2008


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Now I've seen everything. Or have I? :-)

That is like so totally James Bond.

Intriguing. 3 inch OLED screen? Wonder how that compares to LCD. 7mp sensor? Very cameraphone-ish in this day and age.

Is it possible that this has an EVF?

It looks surprisingly like a video camera with a big Zeiss lens stuck in front.

For some reason this thing makes me think of the scene from Mad Max, when Max pulls out his puny little telescope and the goofy helicopter guy flips out a 3 foot retractable mega scope. I'd like to have it just for the moment when a buddy says "whats that over there" and be able to slide that out and say I don't know, "lets have a look." ch

I don't know anything about spotting scopes, but it strikes me that they'd probably be much more useful with some sort of IS. (My first encounter with IS was in a pair of binoculars my late uncle had. Revelatory, in that application.) Or is there a technical limitation for really long focal lengths? The Wikipedia article about them mentions that spotting scopes seldom go as high as 60X because vibration is a problem even on a tripod.

Personally I never used a 35mm lens as long as 180mm (!), so this is a highly theoretical discussion for me.

Mike J.

Funky, eh? It just LOOK like something that could be handy.

But I recall reading an early review of this camera/scope that basically concluded that (a) the optics are excellent, as you'd expect from Zeiss, but (b) the imaging is quite poor. I thought I read this in the BJP, but perhaps it was in PDN.

That is possibly the ugliest piece of design I've seen this year. What a hideous thing. It's clearly a descendant of those Russian Zenit photo-sniper rigs.

That said, there is a whole bird-related hobby out there called "digiscoping" (sticking a digicam onto a bird-spotting scope, basically), and for its proponents -- who are presumably the target market -- this will probably be very exciting news.

The Zeiss Diascope FL series are awesome... the normal Diascope's have a removeable eyepiece, so you can fit a fixed 20x a fixed 15x or a zoom eyepiece that on the 85 T* FL equates to 20-60x. A couple of years ago here in southern NZ we had icebergs float past us about 15-20mi off the coast, we were using the 85 FL with the zoom eyepiece and we could make out the iceberg with major detail visible, including the helicopters that were LANDING on the bergs

Finally a vendor moving photography in the right direction. That Zeiss scope is going to give me a great view as well as a place to park my nose instead of mashing it against the back of the camera.

We have lots of optical viewing devices optimized for seeing the world. Some are almost ergonomic. Binoculars leap to mind.

Just drop a proper camera into that viewing device and we will be all set rather than trying to tack a viewing device onto a camera.

Most keen photographers really want a great viewfinder. Never has a camera come close to offering a viewfinder that comes close to that provided by a set of binoculars.

For those that can stomach more of this lament see http://rvewong.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/viewfinders/

Some more details on this device have been provided on digiscoping forums. It's not an EVF - it's designed to be a proper scope with a camera, not a digital camera that can be used as a bad telescope. The results some people get from digiscoping really are quite remarkable, given the huge magnification achieved.

As to the comment about image stabilising, if you've got the telescope on a big solid tripod, is the advantage really significant? The Zeiss will come with a remote control so you can take a photo without causing any vibration.

Just to reinforce some of the comments above, this is very much aimed at birders who have been into digiscoping for years now. Many birders have a spotting scope and some sort of digital camera, and there are companies like EagleEye Optics in the UK that make all sorts of adapters to put them together, and the results can be surprisingly good--


It's evidently quite a substantial market as well. When B&H remodeled their New York store most recently, the small section where they used to sell binoculars and telescopes switched places with the the large area out front with windows facing the street where the film counter used to be. While birding fundamentally doesn't require much more than your eyes, ears, and a guidebook, affluent birders can afford to travel extensively to see birds in the wild, and can spend thousands on high-end Leitz, Zeiss, Nikon, and Svarovski glass.

Dear Mike C.,

That's funny. My first reaction on seeing the photo was, "That looks COOL." Really.*

Which only demonstrates that any product designer who thinks they've got a design that everyone will adore is doomed to madness.

Probably also suggests that those of us inclined to praise or pan a particular design on anything other than functional/ergonomic grounds should probably keep our collective mouths shut. I have small hands, and so I like small cameras with controls near each other, when it's possible. But I have strong hands, and a Pentax 67 with a 300mm lens feels entirely OK to me. And I read many comments here from readers who have large hands and get driven nuts by small controls. Or complain about the weight of their 1 kg cameras.**

One size will not fit all. Nor will one look.

pax / Ctein

* I liked the look of the new big Leica, too. WhaddaIknow??

**(Of course, they're all wrong and I'm infallibly right-- comes with being a 'designated guru.' I'm still trying to figure out if that's got job responsibilities like being a designated driver. "OK, that's enough philosophy for YOU; give me the keys to your enlightenment.")

Birding organizations have more or less stopped accepting sightings of rarities without a photo. (A total of one got through the committee this year in Ontario on grounds of "excellent field notes" (multiple sketches) but it's hard.)

This thing won't be fast enough for warblers -- think, small bird, high in a tree, in a dim forest, that doesn't sit still -- but it ought, given any respectable photographic quality, to be just the thing for shorebirds or waterfowl. It is much faster than the typical digiscoping rig, which can end up at f11 somewhere pretty easily.

Which is going to get lots of birders to buy it.

It's a pity it's a zoom eyepiece, though. Those generally lose way too much exit pupil at the long end.

I e-mailed Franziska Geithe, the contact in the press release, about this spotting scope.

I got an e-mail reply from Stephan Albrecht at Zeiss that answered my questions. The text of the reply is below:


Dear Mr. Clegg,
Thank you very much for your email regarding our new PhotoScope which will be launched in spring/summer next year.

The PhotoScope will be able to store next to JPG also the raw format DNG.

We have no price information on the PhotoScope at this time. If you are interested to receive additional information on the PhotoScope as soon as they are available you can sign under the following Email adress:


Mit freundlichen Grüßen / Best regards

Stephan Albrecht

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