My Binoculars and Spotting Scopes Supported by Swarovski Optik

12 Days Birding & Bird Photography Tours In Sabah, Borneo

Review of Swarovski Modular Spotting Scopes

94 species of birds in 1 day at Tabin Wildlife Reserve

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dancing In The Air ...

28th February 2012



As I was browsing my collection of pictures to be uploaded into 500px website, I decided to re-edit one of my favorite shot of fighting Intermediate Egret taken with Nikon D300s and 70-200mm 2.8 VR lens at Penampang paddy field few years ago ...

I changed the background colour and put a bit of contrast plus cropped it to 33%. I was thinking of submitting this image to the Handbook Of The World - World Bird Photo Contest together with the other pictures taken with my scope ...


 


Happy birding !

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nikon Prostaff 7 10x42 Binocular Review

20th February 2012



When I first tried this model at Rainforest Discovery Centre last year during the Foresty Open Day, I could not believe my eyes how sharp and it has better contrast and well controlled Chromatic Aberration (CA) than the current Monarch series. Then I went to Fraser's Hill with the gang for the International Bird Race on the same year, tested it against the grey sky with Monarch III. It does confirmed my finding.

I have been using 8x binocular for many years and couldn't get better view with 10x binocular even though I have tried few models and different brands. But with Nikon Prostaff 7 10x42, it was different. There were one time I was at Raganan - Timbuk mudflat with Joe waiting for the White-browed Crake, from the other bank about 80 metres, there were a Sandpiper which looked either Marsh or Common Greenshank. The weather was cloudy that time.

I was thinking of detaching the Nikon FSA-L2 adapter from my Nikon Fieldscope EDG85 and replaced it with my favorite 25LER eyepiece. But the 10x42 I had really helped me in ID'ing the bird (Marsh Sandpiper). I am used with the habit of using my scope after getting the subject on my bino even when the birds was really close.

 


Other feature I like is the weight. Even though both is heavier than Nikon Monarch III for 8x42 and 10x42, from my daily usage, it was not a problem and sometimes I did not realized it was hanging on my neck ! No more shake on my hand too hahaha :)

I hope if Nikon could incorporate fast focus for all models in the Sport Optics lineup like the legendary HG L, that would be the trademark for Nikon compared with other competitiors. It is a bit slow for my taste the Prostaff 7 series because my favorite 8x32 SE a bit faster.

Overall,  I would recommend the Nikon Prostaff 7 10x42 for beginners in birding and for those who do not own a fieldscope because the extra 2x you get from the 10x42 will benefits you in getting those ID right especially for smaller Waders and Raptors. But you will get smaller Field Of View (FOV) than the 8x42. More info about FOV, click this link http://www.nikon.com/products/sportoptics/how_to/guide/binoculars/basic/basic_08.htm

Thanks to Irene Chong from Sandakan Foto for the demo unit. Selling price is around RM 1188 for 8x43 and RM 1288 for 10x42.

Link for Nikon Prostaff 7 at Nikon Vision Japan website.

On going discussion about this binocular at Birdforum :



 
Happy birding !

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nikon Fieldscope EDG85 VR Review

29th January - 11th February 2012



Nikon Vision Japan introduced the world's first Fieldscopes featuring Nikon's lens-shift type VR (Vibration Reduction) system for EDG 85 both angled and straight scope on the 6th October 2011. From my brief test at the previous Borneo Bird Festival in October 2011, the VR works when there were slight shake or vibration caused by wind and non-stable platform such as wooden walkway. Other methods tested by tapping on the tripod that hold the VR scope.



 Nikon Fieldscope EDG85 VR on Jobu BW Pro Gimbal head and Velbon 830 carbon fibre tripod. Estimated weight around 7.75 kg



Battery compartment under the EDG VR wording



Green LED when VR is ON


I did a test within 2 weeks for Nikon Malaysia and I was shooting mainly with my D300s and other D7000 body coupled with FSA-L2 adapter at my favorite mudflat concentrating on Waterbirds and Kingfishers.

With this EDG VR scope, it was possible to get sharp images while shooting around 1/60s at 500mm F/5.9 using Continuous High (CH) and with Timer modes. Out of 18 shots taken in sequence with CH, I got more than 9 sharp images which is almost impossible with my current EDG scope ! More with cable release on Timer mode.



EXIF : ISO 100, Shutter speed 1/60s, 500mm F/5.9 with FSA-L2 on D300s. Images were cropped 50% and resized only. No sharpening applied


Other usefulness of the VR, while focusing at 500mm up to 1750mm, it helped me in obtaining faster perfect focus while focusing on the helical through the viewfinder without getting back and forth. No shaking on the images and videos even at 1750mm ! This is one of the important aspect by having VR scope when recording videos at high magnification where a slight movement by wind etc could caused shaking and blurring on the recording itself.

The VR scope uses 4 x AA batteries and could last for 17 hours. After 30 minutes of non-active usage, the VR will turn off itself in order to save power consumption. I didn't really feel the weight differences between my EDG85 and EDG85 VR. Plus it looked like the EDG85 VR seems to have better better contrast than my EDG scope ...

Mike Freiberg and Bill Schmoker from Nikon Prostaff USA tested the VR scope on windy day at :


Summary : I like this scope very much ! Is it worth upgrading to EDG85 VR scope ? Yes and for those who wants to take Digiscoping and Videoscoping to another level plus for visual use especially when you do lots of sea watching !

Thanks to Tee at Nikon Malaysia for the loan unit.

Digiscoped with Nikon Fieldscope EDG85 VR via FSA-L2 on D300s and D7000





 

 




Happy Digiscoping !

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Greater Painted Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

October 2011



Secretive and very shy ! But luck was on my side last October, saw a couple were feeding at one of the paddy field plot just next to the main road. The female did paused for few seconds when she saw my car stopped but it didn't bother her especially when I unwind the window and pointed my scope to her. Opportunity !

There were more than 3 pairs seen at Penampang paddy field with around 500m each that set them apart and this particular pair had a successful nesting with 3 juveniles were photographed by Gary Albert the following month.

Digiscoped with Nikon Fieldscope EDG85 via FSA-L2 DSLR Photo Adapter on Nikon D300s



The male above has more role here than the female such as incubating the eggs and taking the immature for feeding (Not in the picture)



 The interesting part is, the female seems to be leading the male while feeding. This is obvious especially when both were crossing on the open spaces at the paddy field like shown on the picture above.




Hope I can get better and cleaner pictures of this beauty next time !

Happy birding ...