Digiscoping with Kowa TSN-884 Prominar Spotting Scope

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Digiscoping and DSLR-Scoping with Kowa TSN-884
As you might know I'm living in Northern Germany. In Germany most birders and digiscopersMore Info use Zeiss, SwarovskiMore Info or Leica Spotting Scopes. KowaPicture Gallery scopes are only used by a minority. Some people here in Germany don't even know KowaPicture Gallery.
I have seen so many great pictures in english birding- communities made through KowaPicture Gallery Spottin Scopes, that I really wanted to use a KowaPicture Gallery Scope in practical experience.
Now I've just had the possibilty to try out a KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 Spotting Scope in terms of digiscopingMore Info and DSLR-Scoping. And what shall I say. It's just outstanding in contrast and sharpness, and I've never photographed through a scope, that is so well corrected in terms of chromatic aberrations and colour.
It is indeed an absolutely High End optic.
I've had the possibilty to test the Kowa Prominar TSN-884 Spotting ScopePicture Gallery with the KowaPicture Gallery TE-10Z zoom eyepiece (20x-60x), the KowaPicture Gallery TE-17W eyepiece (30x) and the Kowa TSN-PZMore Info photo attachment adapter for DSLRMore Info with a focal length of 680mm-1000mm. For me it was the first time to use a spotting scope in combination with a digital SLR.
The first impression : The whole KowaPicture Gallery System is well thought-out. For almost every digital still camera you get a compatible digiscopingMore Info adapter. The DSLR-System is also very easy to use.
At first I tested the KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 with some DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. All cameras worked great with the scope, and the results are just fantastic in terms of sharpness, colour and contrast. I could't believe, that I've made them through a scope and not through a high end telelens.
The scope were even able to deliver the 12MP (!!) D2Xs with enough details. Lots of telelenses aren't even able to deliver enough details for this camera.

Photo : Canon EOS 400D + Kowa TSN-PZ + Kowa Prominar TSN-884ChaffinchPicture Gallery, photographed witht
Canon EOS 400D and
Kowa TSN-PZMore Info DSLR photo attachment and Kowa Prominar TSN-884 Spotting ScopePicture Gallery.

I addition to the Nikon D2Xs I've tested the KowaPicture Gallery Prominar TSN-884 with DSLRs from Canon, like the Canon EOS 400D, Canon EOS 10DMore Info and Canon EOS 40DMore Info. With every camera the scope deliverd outstanding results. I use with DSLRs the scope is like a manually operated telezoom with a fixed aperture (at 680mm f7.7, at 1000mm f 11.4). Some may think the fixed aperture is a big disadvantage, but in the code of practise this disadvantage isn't worth talking baout in most situations. Let me ask, which aperture would you choose in birdPicture Gallery photography. In mist cases it would be f6.0 to f9.0. So the aperture of the Scope combined to DSLR is about in the mid range of the aperture you would use anyway. Only in very bad light conditions you would think of the advantage of a variable aperture.
So coming to the cameras again. Manually focusing was easiest with the D2Xs - as I expected - caused by the wonderful viewfinder. But also with the Canon EOS 40DMore Info it was quite easy. To focus through the small viewfinder of the Canon 400D was a little bit harder, but also possible (have a look at the photo of the chaffinchPicture Gallery). And of course, after some practice you get better and better in manually focusing after some practice.

Photo : Nikon D2Xs + Kowa TSN-PZ + Kowa Prominar TSN-884GreenfinchPicture Gallery, photo taken with Nikon D2Xs + Kowa TSN-PZMore Info DSLR-Photo-Attachment-Adapter through a Kowa Prominar TSN-884 Spotting ScopePicture Gallery. With this combination focusing was easiest, cause of the huge viewfinder of the D2Xs.

Compared to many other pictures that I've photograhed through all kind of scopes so far, the pictures of the KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 seems to have the most authentic colours. With many other scopes, colours came out to warm, or in some cases they had a green colour cast .
The contrast of the KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 was stellar, too. I've never used a scope, which delivered such contrasty pictures. It's a great adavantage compared to many other scopes. It makes focusing much easier when used with DSLR, compared to scopes with less contrast. It's also a big adavantages if you use the KowaPicture Gallery for birdwtching. The contrastlevel seems to stay at the same level when zooming in or out with the 20-60x eyepiece. With all my other scopes it's much harder to identify birdsPicture Gallery when viewing through the eyepiece at 60x Zoom.

Photo : Nikon D2Xs + Kowa TSN-PZ + Kowa Prominar TSN-884100% Crop of a photo of a great titPicture Gallery taken with Nikon D2Xs and KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 using the Kowa TSN-PZMore Info DSLR-photo-attachment-adapter. This photo would normally show all mistakes of an optic in terms of chromatic aberration. But have a look here, do you see any chromatic aberrations between the black/white ? I think it isn't possible to find a better corrected lens than this.

Another pint that I should remark here, are the very good corrected lenses in terms of chromatic abberations. I've used the Scope in almost all light situations you can imagin, the KowaPicture Gallery almost never produced some of these chromatic abberations. It's better corrected than most of the expensive lenses for digital SLR and it is better corrected than all of the scopes I worked with !
Please have a closer look at the contrast of the blue titPicture Gallery picture. For most scopes this would be a situation when chromatic abberations surely would appear. But as you can see there's no chromatic abberation in the picture at all. It's absolutely fascinating, how good the correction of the lens is.
And this isn't only a clear advantage for digiscopingMore Info or DSLR-Scoping, it's almost even greater, when observing birdsPicture Gallery through the scope via your eye. Situations where you have to look against the great sky often made it hard to identify birdsPicture Gallery, course of heavy abberations. With the 884 it isn't a problem anymore.

Photo : Coolpix 5000 + Kowa TE-10Z (20-60x Zoom Okular) + Kowa Prominar TSN-884DigiscopedMore Info with KowaPicture Gallery TSN-884 scope. Even in terms of digiscopingMore Info the TSN-884 is just great. The 20-60x zoom has been used here.

So I was very satisfied photographing with the Kowa TSN-PZMore Info DSLR attachment adapter and scope. I was surprised by the perfect quality of the resulting photos and I never expected such quality pics from DSLR-Scoping. It's almost the same quality as when you photograph with DSLR and manual High End telelens, the only difference is the fixed aperture of the scope of 7.7 at the wide end of the zoom and 11.4 at the tele end of the zoom. And that's exact the aperture I would use with an telelens in most cases, too.
But even in terms of digiscopingMore Info (digiscopingMore Info mean to photograph with a digital still camera through the eyepiece of an telescope / spotting scope) the results were very good. The pics are very contrasty, in some cases e.g. when photographing the kingfisherPicture Gallery just a little bit too contrasty. The KowaPicture Gallery Scope delivers a huge amount of details, I've never seen that with any scope before. Every little feather-detail is shown in the pics.

Foto : Coolpix 5000 + Kowa TE-17W (30xWW Okular) + Kowa Prominar TSN-884European RobinPicture Gallery, photographed with the digiscopingMore Info technique. In the original picture (as you can see in the crop) every little feather can be seen clearly

The sharpness of the KowaPicture Gallery is very good, too and as good as other top-of-the-line scopes. In DigiscopingMore Info and as well in DSLR-Scoping I have nothing to complain about sharpness.
Next to the optical performance the handling is great, too. The focus-wheel is very easy to use and the fine-focus-wheel gives you possibility to focus exact within millimeters. So it's no problem to get exactly the yey of your model into focus.
The weight is ok for a scope with 88mm lens diameter, so you can use it even at longer birding-tours.
So what I'm missing ? I miss a little target, to get the birdsPicture Gallery into my view, especially when digiscopingMore Info it's a little bit hard to find the birdPicture Gallery in the screen of the camera. But most other scopes don't have a better system either.

Conclusion : If you have a look at the pictures, a conclusion is unneccessary. The pictures speak for itself I hope. But ok, here a summary :
  • A very perfected digiscopingMore Info system in terms of digiscopingMore Info and DSLR-Scoping. With the available Kowa-Adapters ans special eyepieces you can combine most of the digital kompact cameras to the scope
  • Very perfected sytem in terms of DSLR-Scoping. Use the TSN-PZMore Info (680-1000mm) for APS-C format dslrs and the fixed dslr-adaptersMore Info for full frame dslrs.
  • chromatic aberrations a perfectly corrected. It's hard to provoke some
  • Very good contrast, seems to be the scope with the best contrast at the market - even at higher magnifications the contrast is great
  • Very detailed pics, high resolution
  • Good sharpness, almost or even as sharp as my old Swarovski ST80HDMore Info
  • Very good handling, I loved the fine-focus wheel
  • for an 88mm diameter scope - good weight and well balanced
  • very lightintensitiv
  • is able to deliver a 12MP sensor of a d2xs with enough details. Even some expensive telelenses can't deliver as many details

All things considered I never was so enthusiastic about a scope. In my opinion absolutely recommendable, in the photography and as well as during birdwatching tours.

For picture taken with the scope, click here : KowaPicture Gallery

For more infos about the Kowa-System click here : Acctiver OptikMore Info - Seeing without compromises (german language)

Gerd Rossen

Article from 2009-08-08


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For the German Version please click here : Canon versus Nikon - DSLR in der Praxis