Digiscoping is a neologism for the activity of using a digital camera to record distant images by coupling it with an optical telescope. The term usually refers to using either a digital single-lens reflex camera with lens attached or, more often, a fixed lens point and shoot digital camera to obtain photos through the eyepiece of a birdwatcher's spotting scope using a technique called afocal photography. It has also been associated with using a digital camera and spotting scope equipped for prime focus photography. The word "digiscoping" was coined in 1999 by French birdwatcher Alain Fossé. Less notable neologisms for this activity are digiscope birding, digiscopy birding, digi-birding, digibinning (using digital camera with binoculars), and phonescoping (using a digital camera phone with a spotting scope or binoculars).
The origins of the activity called Digiscoping has been attributed to the photographic methods of Laurence Poh, a birdwatcher from the Malaysian Nature Society, who discovered in 1999 almost by accident that the new generation of point and shoot digital cameras could be held up to the eyepiece of a standard spotting scope and achieve surprisingly good results. He spread his findings through birding internet discussion forums and one member, French birdwatcher Alain Fossé, coined the name “digiscoping” to describe the technique. Laurence Poh is sometimes credited with "inventing" the technique although his contribution may be more along the lines of popularizing the idea and refining the technology. Using a camera with its lens attached at the eyepiece of optical devices such as microscopes or telescopes, creating an afocal system (technically called afocal photography or afocal projection) has been used for nearly 100 years and digital camera afocal photography was already being employed in the amateur astronomical community. This form of afocal photography is now becoming more common in general photography with the spread of point and shoot digital cameras because of the ease of use of this type of setup. A whole new industry has sprung up selling couplers and other devices for mounting digital cameras afocally.
- Adrian Davies, The Focal digital imaging A-Z, page 41
- DphotoNews's blog - Nikon introduces the Digiscoping System - Fieldscope Digital SLR Camera Attachment FSA-L1
- Ornithomedia - Pratique - Equipement, A new step in ornithology Digital
- Digiscoping: What is it?
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Birding Basics, Digiscoping
- NVMUG eNews 4/21/2001 Bill Amos’ Digital Photography Presentation and Warren Walker’s Photo Editing - "in the 1930s Bill used afocal photography when taking pictures through a microscope"
- Michael A. Covington, Astrophotography for the amateur, page 243, afocally video imaging from 1997
- Michael W. Swanson, The NexStar user's guide, page 198
- Dennis di Cicco, Afocal What?, SkyandTelescope.com
- laurencepoh.com, website of the man attributed as the developer of “Digiscoping”
- Website of Alain Fosse who coined the word “digiscoping”
- German website about digiscoping with very inspiring images
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