FZ30 digiscoping test/review(pics)

Started Oct 23, 2005 | Discussions
ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
FZ30 digiscoping test/review(pics)

Finally I got to finish my test of FZ30 for digiscoping. I took a lot of my time so I apologize if I wasn’t around much to see all of your great posts.

The question I wanted to answer to myself was, Is FZ30 good for digiscoping? Following will show.

First I should mention my equipment for testing.

All test where done with William Optics Megrez 80 Fluorite APO telescope(480mm FL, f/6), which is very high quality scope, very sharp and fantastic color fringing correction. So any fringing or optical imperfections are mostly introduced by the eyepieces tested or by the combination of the eyepiece and camera.

I have tested two eyepieces made for digiscoping. They are both 2” eyepieces(so you need a scope with 2” focuser) with large glass designed for large lenses cameras. The main reasons for vignetting in digiscoping is the eyepiece eye relief and exit pupil of the setup.

First eyepiece is Scopetronix Maxview II which is 40mm eyepiece with 36mm max eye relief and 58mm thread, so you need 55-58mm ring to attach it to FZ30. Exit pupil diameter with my particular setup is 6.67mm.

Second is William Optics DCL-52 which is 75mm eyepiece with unknown eye relief(but it is much longer then Maxview II, my estimate is from 60-70mm which plays major role as you will see later) and 52mm thread, so you need 55-52mm ring to attach it to FZ30. Exit pupil diameter with my setup is 12.50mm (The larger the better for digiscoping) I should also mention, that you need and extension tube with most telescopes or scopes since it is 75mm eyepiece. To achieve focus I suggest 2” or 3” extension tube. If you want to take scope macros you need at least two of these to achieve focus from close distance.

Here is a picture so you can see the size differences. The third eyepiece on the right is just for comparison, it is 1.25" 25mm Ploss

Just a side note, for increasing magnification of scopes, people use Barlow lenses, which I didn’t test here at this time. But Barlow lenses have one characteristic, they sometimes make the eye relief of the eyepiece used, longer, and that is better for digiscoping, but of course they also increase the magnification a lot, probably beyond resolution limits, so I will test this later after some research.

The built of both eyepieces is excellent, Maxview seem to be excellently coated and it has longer barrel and a sleeve which moves and is excellent if you want to use it also as an eyepiece for visual observing. DCL-52 is much shorter and is not convenient for visual observing. It is also coated, but from my observations the coating is not as extensive as the coating on the Maxview. From visual observing they are both excellent optically and provide very wide views thru the telescope. For visual observing the winner is definitely the Maxview and I would keep it, even if only for that reason.

One good side of digiscoping is that digital small sensors cameras act as a reducer/flattener when coupled with a scope so you can achieve longer tele with large aperture, larger then the scope itself.

For example with the DCL-52 and FZ30 and my scope, you will achieve f/3.6 up to 1400mm, even thou the scope is f/6, and up to 2000mm the combination will be under f/5
In the highest magnification at FL 2750mm it is still very good f/7.

With the Maxview it is the same up to 1400mm it is f/3.6, up to 2000 mm it is under f/5, up to 2750mm it is under f/7, up to 3500mm it is under f/9 and at the maximum magnification at 5150mm it is f/13. The reason why Maxview goes to longer focal length is because it is a 40mm eyepiece so the resulting magnification of the scope+eyepiece is bigger from the start.

That is enough of introduction and now to the test: (Continues on next page!!!!!)

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Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Continuation of the TEST 2

First to test vignetting in both of these eyepieces(and also for you to picture how much magnification can be achieved):

This first shot is to show how far the object of this test is, taken at 35mm equivalent with camera only( the small little balloon inside the red rectangle, estimated distance 0.75 to 1 mile or 1.2 to 1.6 kilometers away):

This shot is taken at full tele camera only:

And this one full tele camera only 3MB EZ to show how close you can get with the camera by itself:

Here is reduced version of previous shot for comparison with following test:

What follows are sets of test shot with both eyepieces from full wide(35mm) to full tele(420mm) settings on camera with the scope.

The first row is in 8mpx, the second is in 3MB EZ mode to show increased magnification and if vignetting is less.

I have used the settings on manual zoom on FZ30: at 35mm, at 50mm, at 70mm, at 90mm, at 135mm, at 200mm, at 300mm and finally at 420mm. I also state in descriptions on the test shots what the equivalent focal length of the digiscoping combination is. For 3EZ mode I just state it for full wide and full tele.

All digiscoping shots were only resized, no other PP:

At 35mm effective aperture of the combination is max f/2.8 both eyepieces

At 50mm effective aperture is max f/3.2 both eyepieces

At 70 mm effective aperture is max f/3.2 both eyepieces

At 90mm effective aperture is max f/3.2 both eyepieces

At 135mm effective aperture is max f/3.6 for DCL52 and f/4.3 for Maxview

At 200mm effective aperture is max f/3.6 for DCL52 and f/6.4 for Maxview

At 300mm effective aperture is max f/5 for DCL52 and f/9.5 for Maxview

At 420mm effective aperture is max f/7 for DCL52 and f/13.3 for Maxview

And lastly for comparison max magnification from camera only at 3EZ mode, DCL52 3EZ mode and Maxview 3EZmode.

BTW if you want to know the magnification aprox. Just simply divide the resulting focal length by 50 and you will get aprox magnification. (For example Maxview #EZ mode at 8200mm is 8200/50 = 164x) Remember atmosphere and optical resolution limits start playing major role in such a high magnifications.

TEST CONTINUES ON NEXT PAGE!!!!
--
Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Continuation of the TEST 3

continues from page 2

As you can see the William Optics DCL-52 is performing much much better then Scopetronix Maxview II. With the DCL52 the vignetting goes away at aprox. 100mm (3x zoom) and with Maxview it never truly disappears. The only place where there is no vignetting with the Maxview is at aprox 50mm(1.5x zoom).

The 3mpx EZ mode improves it for Maxview, but here DCL-52 shines there is virtually no vignetting or loss of light from 70mm(2x zoom) up to full tele.

With the full 8mpx mode the DCL52 has some loss of light, but it is not full blown vignetting so it is easily correctable;

Here is an example of shot in RAW and jpeg with the DCL52. The jpeg shows some lose of light but after doing correction in ACR 3.2 it goes away. I just did very fast correction, you can achieve even better results. But with a lot of real world shots you will not even notice this loss of light, especially if you correctly expose

Also one very important note: I used the 1 area high speed AF and FZ30 was able to focus surprisingly very quickly even up to full zoom with my setup with the DCL52. It didn’t get it 100% right every time, but in very high percentage of shot it worked very well. With the Maxview it also focused very quickly, except at the highest magnifications.

Second important note the Image stabilization Mode 2 helped me to keep sharp images up to full zoom with DCL52 so I could take shots with the scope loosely on tripod and moving it to follow some birds or planes. It is amazingly effective with such huge focal lengths, but yes you can achieve sharp shots with no remote shutter release or some very sturdy tripod. With the shots I am posting at the end of this test I was actually holding the camera introducing camera shake and the scope loosely on tripod, and still got sharp shot at 2750mm !!!!!!!!!

Now test for Chromatic Aberration (CA):

Here is the test shot how your eyes would see it at 50mm camera only:

And crops from FZ30 at 420mm; FZ30+Tcon17 at 420mm; FZ30+ DCL52+scope at 420mm and FZ30+ Maxview +scope.

The crops from camera only and tcon17 where upsampled to get the same size for comparison:

The camera only handles CA quite well with very little fringing mostly purple and green.

The Tcon17 introduces quite a lot of CA mainly green and it is quite wide.

The DCL-52 has an orange-yellow fringing reasonably narrow and in real life shots mostly unnoticeable. It performs much better than tcon 17 from my experience in almost all situations I tried.

Maxview II is the best performer here with very low fringing and in most shots there will be none!!!!

Remember that your experience with these eyepieces and CA may differ, it depends on the scope a lot. If you do not have APO scope the fringing will dramatically increase!!! But with any true triplet APO(ED or fluorite or other) the experience should be similar.

Now the last test is just to show you the sharpness from corner to corner at full tele.

It is not truly best comparison since the magnifications vary and many things play here a role, like camera shake(which I tried to minimize as much as I could with 10 sec self timer release), depth of field which with higher magnification gets truly shallow, limiting optical resolution, atmospheric conditions etc. All these shots were processed with same sharpening workflow and settings and level adjustments. These shots are more for informative purpose than for direct comparison.

All images where taken in RAW and then sharpened with exactelly same settings. Taken on tripod with no image stabilization.

First again the test shot as your eyes would see it at 50mm camera only:

Here is a sample what I did. For each setup I first took picture with the object in the center. The second shot was after focus reframed to move the object to the side.

Here are crops from each setup:

I should also mention one advantage of DCL52 over Maxview. With Maxview you must use fully open aperture settings otherwise it vignettes very badly even at full zoom. Not with DCL52, where you can use range of apertures with no visible change to loss of light.

Here is a sample of both eyepieces at full zoom and at f/11:

continues on page 4
--
Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Re: Continuation of the TEST 4

continues from page 3

So to answer my original question if FZ30 is good for digiscoping.
I would say YES with the right equipment.

The William optics DCL-52 is a clear winner here!!

Maxview II is a great eyepiece but unfortunatelly doesn't work with FZ30 well only at full zoom.(and not great)

If I could suggest William optics could even improve the eyepiece, like building it with longer tube.

To Scoptronics I would suggest to build an eyepiece with even lonegr eye relief and longer focal lenght like 50 or 60mm. The optics in Maxview are excellent already.

Generally if you want a good setup, you want a scope with short local lenght, but excelent optical quality at least 80mm. Now they are selling APO scopes even at $400 range like the Celestron 80mm ED scope with 2" focuser so you can use 2" eyepieces.

If you have a scope with long focal lenght the magnification will be to great and the setup will not work well most likely.

To close my review here are few examples of photos I took with the winning setup:
FZ30 + William Optics DCL-52 + William Optics Megrez 80 Fluorite APO

I am still learning digiscoping so please be kind:
1340mm equivalent:

2750mm equiv.

for comparison this is maximum magnification form the same spot, same bird in the same place with camera only:

940mm equiv.

2750mm equiv.

End of test

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Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

matt9 Forum Member • Posts: 81
Thank you! Wonderful photos and great exposition. (nt)
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Matt9 -Former Oly C2100UZ owner, FZ30, Sunpak 383
Blog: http://blog.penning.us
Photos: http://flickr.com/photos/mattp9/sets/
Having fun exploring light, people, things

genece Forum Pro • Posts: 15,438
Re: Thank you! Wonderful photos and great exposition. (nt)

Very informative and keep us abreast as you proceed.
--
Gene
From Western PA.

Panasonic FZ-10 and FZ 20 and FZ30
B300
T Con 17 --two Tcon 14Bs -- Raynox 2020 pro -- DCR 720
http://imageevent.com/grc6/toshareonnet

Just trying to learn and it's slow going!

 genece's gear list:genece's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 Nikon D7000 Nikon D50 Nikon D7100
genece Forum Pro • Posts: 15,438
Is this the eyepiece?

http://www.buytelescopes.com/product.asp?t=&pid=5169&m=49

if so they are saying its 75mm

-- hide signature --

Gene
From Western PA.

Panasonic FZ-10 and FZ 20 and FZ30
B300
T Con 17 --two Tcon 14Bs -- Raynox 2020 pro -- DCR 720
http://imageevent.com/grc6/toshareonnet

Just trying to learn and it's slow going!

 genece's gear list:genece's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 Nikon D7000 Nikon D50 Nikon D7100
OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Yes that is the one!

Yes, and that is what I stated in my test that it is 75mm eyepiece.
Thank you Gene
--
Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

Unda Covalava Veteran Member • Posts: 7,154
ankh, that's amazing

I can't get over the quality of those big-zoom shots.

That one with the different colored leaves is a keeper, regardless of the mm zoom. Ditto for that moon shot.

Thanks for sharing.

Frinkiac8 Regular Member • Posts: 189
Thank you much

Your test was very well done, and very thorough. Your dove shots are beautiful, and so is the branch/leaves shot.

I also have a humble request.

Since you also own the FZ20, can you do a quick test with both the MaxView II and the Williams Optics eyepieces, just to note the usable zoom range? For instance, the info that the only usable zoom setting for the MaxView II is 1.5x on the FZ30. I don't need test shots or anything fancy (like your well done test with the 30), just a quick note of where the vignetting happens, and I can infer the quality of the optics from your FZ30 test.

Thank you.

twg
twg Veteran Member • Posts: 4,397
FZ30 digiscoping test/review(pics)

Ankh, Oh dear your work is MAGNIFICENT !

You can almost use the equipments to shoot marco
and I like the moon shot very mcuh as well.

Very well done and educative.

I leant a lot.

Look forward to seeing your 'shooting of the Stars'.

Thanks again.

tony

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Forgot to mention!!!

That with the DCL52 you can take videos with no problem, no vigneting from 3x zoom.

With the Maxview vignetting is so bad, so you can not take video in no zoom position.

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Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Thank you Frinkiac8

Sorry forgot to update my signature, I already sold my FZ20 so I can't test it. But my educated guess would be that the DCL52 would again perform the best. The FZ20 has different lens construction than FZ30 but in both the zoom glass inside retracts very far inside so you need huge eye relief, which the Maxview doesn't have enough of.

Also the front glass of FZ30 is smaller than FZ20 but it is not as important as the eye relief and exit pupil.
Sorry I can't test it for you, but thank you for your very kind words
--
Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Thank you very much Unda!
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Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
ex FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Thank you Tony

Thank you for your kind words, and yes you can take macro shots with extension tubes. I will post some when I get another extension tube to be able to focus from 3 yards away.
--
Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
ex FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

OP ankh Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Thank you Matt!
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Arthur Ankh
http://ankh.smugmug.com
FZ30
ex FZ20
ex Canon 20D
ex DSCF828

Kurt Horsley Senior Member • Posts: 1,382
Re: Thank you Matt!
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Ankh,

Thanks for all the outstanding work. You do amazing comparisons...much appreciated.

As a side note, I wanted to mention some good eyepieces I've used, both with FZ20 and FZ30. The Celestron 30mm Ultima is really well suited for afocal photography, if you don't have the t-adapter to use with your scope. It's got good eye relief, and a large/flat eye lens so it works well. However, there is still some vignetting.

But...the best I've found is the old Edmund Scientific 28mm RKE. That eyepiece has nearly 1.5 INCHES of eye relief. That's incredible for any eyepiece. I also have the MaxView 40, in 1.25 inch format, and there is some vignetting with that eyepiece although it's still workable.

If anyone is just starting out in afocal photography, the 28mm RKE is a super choice. I've been using it with the Orion 80ED apochromatic refractor, and an afocal adapter I made myself. Results are quite good. If anyone has a scope with only 1.25 inch format, the 28mm RKE is a good choice for you.
-Kurt Horsley
Panasonic FZ30
Olympus C-2100
Transcend digital album

Previously owned:
Olympus E-10
Olympus C2500
Olympus C700
Canon D30
Canon S1-IS
Panasonic DMC-FZ10
Panasonic DMC-FZ20
Fujifilm F401
Fujifilm s602z
Toshiba PDR-M700
Casio QV-2300
Casio QV-R40
Olympus OM-10
Olympus OM-2000
Many, many others...

ejmartin Veteran Member • Posts: 6,274
Re: FZ30 digiscoping test/review(pics)

Thanks for the thorough review, test shots, and wealth of info.
I've been looking into the possibilities for digiscoping with
a Swarovski 65, but it seems that that scope is not a good fit
for the FZ series. Looks like the 2" eyepiece does a good job
on your setup...
--
emil
--

http://theory.uchicago.edu/~ejm/pix/fz20/bird_galleries_2005/
http://theory.uchicago.edu/~ejm/pix/20d/

John_Reed Forum Pro • Posts: 17,140
Very professionally done, Arthur!

Truly impressive, thoroughly documented piece of work. I don't know if I'm about to now embark on the digiscoping bandwagon, but I do know where to go if I have any questions. Thank you for presenting your excellent work.
--
Just let a smile be your umbrella!

John Reed

EffZeeOneVeeTwo, EffZeeThirty

Ching-Kuang Shene
Ching-Kuang Shene Veteran Member • Posts: 5,994
Arthur, may I ask some questions?

I used William Optics DCL-28 on my 950/990/995/4500 for some time. It is very good when the DCL-28 is mounted to a Reflex Nikkor 500mm f/8 with the help of a LE-Adapter. (I am used to up-side-down images.) I am trying to figure out if it is worthwhile to upgrade to the DCL-52 with extension tube and perhaps a new version of LE-Adapter. I mainly use Reflex 500mm and 1000mm camera lens for long distance photography. So, here are my questions:

(1) Is vignetting a problem when you use the DCL-52 on a FZ30 with an extension tube? I suspect the Maxview II could have vignetting problem due to its small exit pupil.

(2) What is the outer diameter of the narrow portion of the DCL-52? This portion will be inserted into the LE-Adapter ring. If it is too wide, I must buy a larger version.

(3) What is the outer diameter of the Williams Optics extension tube?

Thank you in advance for your help.

CK

 Ching-Kuang Shene's gear list:Ching-Kuang Shene's gear list
Olympus D-600L Nikon D7100 Nikon Z7 Nikon AF-P 70-300mm F4.5-6.3G +2 more
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