Ultrazooms and digiscoping

2021, Goatlandia: I’m no expert on long-range photography, (or any other kind for that matter) but it seems as though this should be given equal weight in JuneauNature > Tools > Photography to drone-, stereo-, repeat- and motioncam categories. As I improve my stills and video of mountain goats, this seems like a good place to describe new tricks and toys.

Above: Phone attached to Kowa spotscope with a two-piece Phone Skope adapter. For still photography, you can learn to hold your phone up to a tripod-mounted scope or even to one eyepiece of your binoculars. But this attachment helps a lot for stabilized, 4K video. If you already own a good scope, this may be a better solution than investing in a dedicated ultrazoom camera. On the phoneskope builder page you order your adapter in 2 pieces; one to fit your phone, and another to fit the objective lens of your scope.  ●  Below: Nikon P1000, my latest (July 2021) answer to ‘interplanetary zoom.’

As for high zoom-range cameras, this technology is evolving so fast that serious photographers tend to upgrade every few years. It’s rare to stick with a particular model and not feel the need for something better.

Lumix zs40 has a zoom range of 30x. Size of a deck of cards.

For me, one exception may be the little Lumix zs40, (30x) which I’ve owned for 6 years. Certainly there are more powerful zooms, with larger sensors and richer video. But they’re bulkier, and I tend not to have them along on casual bushwacks, which of course is when the deer steps out of the woods, or a warbler teases you, 15 feet away. This one fits in my smallest belt pouch, and offers more control over settings than other point&shoots.

August 2021:  For over a year, I’ve been eyeing what reviewers generally concede to be the most powerful zoom available in a ‘point-&-shoot’ camera (ie, short of multi-thousand-dollar DSLRs with gigantic lenses). It finally arrived in midsummer, and my first few weeks of testing have been really fun. First post with ‘tele-samples’ was from a climb of Shaa Tlaax, moldy top (Mt J-word). Second included some handheld movies, of a grouse family on Granite Basin trail.

I’ll sweep through existing posts with good examples of telephotography and connect em to the Telephotography category so that they appear as links below In this section. As noted in the ‘parent’ Photography section, Bob Armstrong (thumbnail with his Lumix, upper right) has a wonderful guide to photography called Enjoying nature in Alaska through video, written with his friend Doug Jones. Much of that pdf, with web-linked videos, shares tricks of the trade in long (&close!) range telephotography.

In this section

Windy moonrise

Experiments filming moonrise on a cold, windy February day in Juneau, Alaska. Includes segment with great blue heron, trying to…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 2 minutes

White-fronted geese

Coming home from Hoonah in late April, 2015, Cathy and I swung out to the Industrial Boulevard wetland access to…

2015 | Richard Carstensen & Catherine Pohl | 10 seconds

Steep Creek Critters

Filmed all these clips in less than 2 hours at Mendenhall Visitor Center today. Never would have guessed what a…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 3 minutes

Wild food

Wildlife photography on northern Tàan, sea lion (Prince of Wales Island). I was hosted by Don and Andrea Hernandez at …

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 2 minutes

Evening grosbeaks

Bob Armstrong’s Guide to the birds of Alaska, 6th edition, lists evening grosbeak as ‘casual’ in SE, SC and Central…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 1 page