How can I use my point & shoot camera on a telescope or microscope?
Point and shoot cameras can be employed for more exotic applications beyond their original purposes. Users may want to work at greater telephoto magnifications for wildlife or for extreme macro photography.
Because point & shoot cameras have recessed lenses or retractable lenses, digital cameras cannot be directly mounted on the eyepiece of an optical device. Thanks to the popularity of digiscoping there are many digiscoping adapters available that can be used as universal camera adapters for mounting compact cameras on telescopes and microscopes. Digiscoping is a popular technique used mainly by bird watchers in which a camera is mounted on a spotting telescope to obtain greater magnification for their photography.
A digiscoping adapter has a clamp to secure itself to the eyepiece of a telescope or microscope. Then there is a platform or a set of rods with a screw that secures the camera to the adapter using the tripod socket in the bottom of the camera. The adapter has positioning rods or screws to align the lens to the eyepiece of the telescope or microscope that go forward and back, left and right, and up and down so that camera’s lens can be centered on the eyepiece of the telescope or microscope.
The camera may record a circular image because of the relative sizes of the camera’s front lens element and the exit pupil of the scopes eyepiece. For example, ultra-zoom cameras will not lend themselves to this technique because of the large size of the camera’s front lens element. The camera can be zoomed in to fill more of the image area. This is especially effective with lower quality microscope eyepieces that may not be sharp at the edges. Zooming in uses more of the “sweet spot” of the lens.
Because of the high magnification of spotting telescopes, a tripod is mandatory when digiscoping to minimize camera shake. Using a higher ISO will result in higher shutter speeds which will further minimize the effects of vibration when using a telescope.
If you are shooting through a microscope, it is better to use a preset white balance in the camera that agrees with the light source for the microscope. Using the AUTO white balance may cause the camera to perform color corrections which may not accurately represent the colors of the specimen.
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