Digiscoping with the ScopeTronix EZ-Pix Digital Camera Holder

Admittedly this is an old adapter; I bought it in 2004. ScopeTronix mentions the EZ-Pix II on their website, but I can't tell what's new about it because the links on the website don't work.

No matter. This is to discuss a different approach to digital camera adapters than the one I mentioned here: Digiscoping Test

The scope setup and camera are the same. The digital camera adapter is a ScopeTronix EZ-Pix.
Rather than using a cylinder that slips over your eyepiece and another cylinder that slips over the first and attaches to your camera via its filter thread, this system uses a padded clamp that attaches to your eyepiece, which is attached to a slotted bar, which in turn is attached to your camera's tripod mounting hole via a screw and optional spacer.
High compatibility are ensured by:

  • 2" and 1.25" clamps included
  • pivot post
  • slotted bar that slides backward and forward and pivots on the pivot post
  • camera attachment knob that slides up and down on the slotted bar
  • optional spacer
  • optional socket head bolt to use for more permanently fixing the adapter with heavier cameras
  • no looking for an adapter with the right size thread for your camera's filter thread or a camera that even has a filter thread (almost all cameras have a tripod mounting hole)
All these variables, however, make it a bit tricky getting the camera aligned to the eyepiece just right. Once it is, however, you "only" need to loosen the clamp, remove the assembly and replace it again when switching from viewing to digiscoping and back.

A further disadvantage if you're using a zoom eyepiece is that the entire adapter-camera assembly turns when you zoom in and out, making zooming impractical. In addition, the clamp covers the magnification markings on the eyepiece ("25x", "60x", etc.).

This adapter originally costed $49.95. I can't tell what the current model costs because, like I said, the links on the website don't work.


Digiscoping Test

After getting my spotting scope repaired, I did a digiscoping test.

Here's my equipment:

  • Swarovski AT 80 spotting scope (13 years old)
  • Swarovski 20-60x eyepiece
  • Swarovski tripod
  • Foto Fennica SWA AT camera adapter with 27 mm adapter ring
  • Nikon CoolPix AW100 compact digital camera

The CoolPix AW100 is one of the only compact digital cameras I know of that has a filter adapter (40.5 mm). At first I tried connecting this to the SWA AT camera adapter with 2 filter adapter rings (that added a mm or 2 to the distance from camera to scope). I couldn't find an individual adapter ring that went from 27 to 40.5 mm. However, the vignetting was too pronounced.
In order to reduce vignetting by getting the camera lens as close as possible to the scope's eyepiece, I got my brother-in-law to screw the plastic AW100 filter adapter directly to the SWA AT camera adapter. This was achieved by boring threading for the screws used directly into the metal camera adapter.
In the photo below the Bullfinch was in the shade at a feeder in my yard. I used the 20x magnification of the zoom eyepiece and the maximum optical zoom of the camera (4x). The photo was not cropped. As one can see there is no vignetting when using the camera's optical zoom.
In the following photo the Bullfinch was at a different feeder in full sunlight. I was closer to the subject and couldn't use the full optical zoom because the bird would fill the frame too much. Notice the vignetting.
The following photo is the same as the one above except that much of the vignetting was cropped out. Here one can see individual feathers of this songbird and the black eye against the black background. Even using my scope I would not have noticed this level of detail. In the wild it is almost impossible to distinguish this bird's eye from its background. Click on the photo for a larger version.
With a little more practice I could probably make fairly good photos with this setup. However, if the bird wasn't relatively stationary at my feeder for several minutes, I'm not sure I could get set up quickly enough before the bird flew away. It takes some time to remove the rubber eye cup and affix the first half of the camera adapter to the scope eyepiece with the set screw. The other half of the camera adapter is clipped on quickly to the camera, but this is also its disadvantage: Due to its material (plastic) it sometimes comes off again too easily and might break easily.

Swarovski makes a similar camera adapter called the DCA that would fit my eyepiece. This may be more stable. However, I plan on trying a different setup altogether for the following reasons:

  • My scope isn't particularly suited to digiscoping since it's not HD.
  • My eyepiece isn't particularly suited to digiscoping since it's not wide-angle.
  • I think the digital camera base (DCB) by Swarovski would be more practical than the type of adapter I'm using, since it swings up and away for viewing and swings back quickly into place for taking photos, but the DCB doesn't fit my older model scope.
  • A different compact digital camera that allows one to do more settings manually might be more suitable.

So, except for the tripod, that means exchanging every part of my equipment. I might as well get a new tripod too, since they're lighter these days.

What are your experiences with digiscoping? Please comment below.

Chronology of a Customer Service Case

I bought my Swarovski spotting scope AT 80 and 20-60x eyepiece in 1999 (13 years ago). When birding in a group, I don't notice anyone any more with this older gray-colored model. Almost everyone has a Swarovski, but it's the newer green-colored, ATM/STM model.

I noticed that my scope had play in the focusing ring, that is, when I switch directions when turning it, there was about 1 or 2 mm play before it started turning in the other direction. In addition it seemed to me I couldn't focus sharply at the highest magnification of 60x.

At the Pannonian Bird Experience, I mentioned this to a Swarovski representative who took a look through my scope and suggested I send it in to be repaired. Since I live in Austria, I visited the Austrian Swarovski website and got the e-mail address of the Head of the Customer Service department.

I still have the guarantee card (with dealer's stamp and purchase date) and noticed that they have a 30-year guarantee (!) but any work done after 5 years is to be paid by the customer. It also says that parts subject to natural wear (eye cups, etc.) are not covered. I couldn't readily locate the original invoice.

I e-mailed them on April 30 attaching a scan of my guarantee card and asked what to do. The next day (May 1) I received an e-mail saying to send it in and they would send me a cost estimate.

A week later (May 8) I mailed the scope and eyepiece to Swarovski in Absam, Tirol, Austria. Two days later (May 10) I received an e-mail saying the repair would be free of charge(!), although the attached estimate showed that the cost would normally be about EUR 200 (US 250), mostly for work but also a few parts.

Not quite 2 weeks later (May 23) I received my repaired scope and eyepiece. There is no longer play in the focus ring, the optics were cleaned, and the rubber parts (e.g. eye cup) were replaced. The light intensity is much higher, and I am now able to focus sharply at 60x magnification.

I am extremely satisfied with the handling of this customer service case and can only recommend it to all other companies, most noticeably consumer electronics companies I have dealt with. Swarovski has gone far beyond their already very generous guarantee. The only costs I incurred were the shipping costs to the company. Sure, they're a little more expensive than other optics companies, but the quality of the products and of the customer service more than make up for the price difference in the long run.

[Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to the Swarovski company (besides being their customer), nor are any relatives or close friends of mine employed by them. Only a few of my social media friends work for them. Nor have I received any payment from Swarovski, either monetarily or in products. Nor did they know beforehand that I would do this blog post.]

Does anyone else have notable customer service experiences they would like to share?

Does anyone else have experience with Swarovski or other birding optics companies they would like to share?

Please comment below.