Digiscoping: How to attach your D-SLR to a spotting scope and the settings to use

How to attach an adapter to your Nikon
(Image credit: Chris Rutter)

Normal 400mm or 500mm telephoto lenses aren’t powerful enough to get close enough to many wild animals. However, digiscoping, where you attach your D-SLR or mirrorless camera to a spotting scope, can give an equivalent magnification to an 800mm lens or more. To do this you will need an adapter, which are made by many of the main scope manufacturers. Most adapters have a ‘universal’ attachment, known as a T2 mount, that are available in a range of camera fittings.

Spotting scopes don’t offer the automatic functions such as focus or a variable aperture that you’d have with a telephoto lens, and the effective aperture of most is between f/8 and f/16, so you’ll need plenty of light to use them effectively. You’ll need to use high ISO settings to get shutter speeds fast enough to prevent blur. Despite these limitations, digiscoping offers a relatively accessible way to get huge focal length optics for your D-SLR. 

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Chris Rutter

I’ve been interested in the art and craft of photography since I pestered my parents to buy me a ‘proper’ camera aged about 10. Armed with my new Zorki 4k camera, I set out on a photographic journey that continues to this day. I learned the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the craft by doing a photographic degree at the University of Westminster, and have been involved in the photographic industry since then. For the last 12 years I have combined taking photos with writing articles and features for some of the UKs best-selling photographic magazines, including Practical Photography, Digital Camera and N-Photo. During this time I have also had two photography books published by Rotovision, on color and composition, and spent three years as a professional car photographer, working for evo magazine. All of this means that I have experience of shooting almost every type of subject, but I always come back to my first love – landscapes (and particularly the British landscape. I know live in on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.