Wednesday, May 19, 2010

more with the Leica V-Lux 20

handheld digiscoped imagetaken with new Leica V-Lux 20 at 75 mm equivalent

Following up on the comments from the last blog post discussing the performance of the NEW Leica V-Lux 20 compact superzoom digital point & shoot camera. Clearly as a stand alone camera it functions swimmingly. but above and below I will show some more performance proofs from the V-Lux 20 as a digiscoping camera. In the last post I showed a number of images with the camera zoom near minimum, hand held behind the Leica 20-50x wide-angle zoom eyepiece and APO Televid spotting scope. The question was asked at what point of zoom and to what degree do the images degrade. At minimal zoom (as shown in the image in my past post of the Purple Martin pair), you get a solid defined vignetted edge on each corner with camera zoom at a 35 mm lens equivalent.
With camera zoom near 75 mm equivalent (above in this Great Crested Flycatcher image) the field begins to collapse. It presumably continues to collapse as more zoom is added, but unfortunately I only had the camera to test for one full day and was trying to get nice wildlife shots rather than doing standardized tests.
Eastern Wood-Pewee digiscoped w/ Leica V-Lux 20 through APO Televid scope

The Eastern Wood-Pewee above was again taken with the new V-Lux 20 handheld behind the Leica APO Televid 82 mm spotting scope. The camera was zoomed to a 44 mm lens equivalent and the scope zoom was at lowest power (25x wide angle). This image is completely unaltered and shown as uploaded from the camera. You can see that with this combination of camera & eyepiece zoom there is no visible vignetting at all! While I've always been a huge fan of using adapters to stabilize a digiscoped image it is nice that this camera is a pocket-sized (compact) superzoom with 12x optical zoom (300 mm equivalent) that can be easily handheld on this scope / eyepiece combination with incredible results. It is just another tool in the arsenal for those who want something that is more versatile as a stand alone and still able to be coupled with the scope to reach magnifications well over 1,000 mm equivalents.

Eastern Wood-Pewee digiscoped Magee Marsh, OH 5/14/10

Again with 14.5 megapixel resolution at my disposal, I was able to easily crop the image to a portrait mode with the bird and snag filling most of the frame with negligible loss of quality.
male Cape May Warbler digiscoped through Leica APO Televid 82 w/ V-Lux 20

Yet another example of a high-quality handheld digiscoped image is shown above. This adult male Cape May Warbler image was once again taken simply holding the new Leica V-Lux 20 behind the APO Televid eyepiece.
- Program mode, ISO 200, 1/250th sec, f/3.7, +1 step EV, auto image stabilization, 42 mm lens equivalent & 25x on scope zoom eyepiece

As a final example of the camera's prowess as a digiscoping tool, here is a digiscoped video (videscoped) taken by holding the V-Lux 20 camera behind the scope eyepiece once again. This video shows an adult male Baltimore Oriole feeding. In this instance the wind reduction feature was activated and the video was recorded at the highest level of quality at 1280x720 pixels @ 60 fps (frames per second)!

Needless to say I'm VERY impressed after being able to "play" with this little gem of a camera for only one full day. Unfortunately, I had to send it back though, so will have to wait before showing more tests & results. Never fear though, there will certainly be some!


  1. Nice pics Jeff, appreciate the update very much,



  2. No worries Paul, as you can see my images didn't reinforce what I thought I'd remembered. I was thinking I'd run the zoom well up on my Olive-sided Flycatcher images but in reality it was only 50 mm. So while I can't prove it without the camera at present you can see the level of "field collapse" shown at 75 mm equiv, so likely safe to assume this gets continually worse as zoom increases beyond this point. Still - look at that untouched Wood-Pewee shot! You can see why I'm so excited about this new digital camera!

  3. Fab shots,whats your Digiscoping set up,and are you happy with the results.
    At the moment i use the P6000 nikon,but would like to try something new.

  4. Jeff,

    I learned about using the Leica V-Lux 20 as a digiscoping camera in an article written by Bill Schmoker in the October 2010 issue of the ABA's Winging It.

    With the intention of buying a Leica V-Lux 20 I recently brought my 80 mm Swarovski scope into a local camera and telescope/binocular shop here in Minneapolis and tried pairing it with the Leica V-Lux 20 in the store at the counter.

    Unfortunately neither I, the shop telescope expert nor the shop camera expert were able to get a satisfactory image when we paired my scope set up with the camera.

    We set the zoom on the scope at 44X as you did and tried various zoom settings on the camera. We tried hand holding and we tried with camera mounted to the scope using the Sarovski digiscoping adaptor. Of course we tried setting the front of the camera lens at varying distances from the front of the telescope eyepiece. We didn't try any other camera settings such as "Macro Zoom" used successfully by Bill Schomker with his Nikon EDG scope.

    We conducted our trial while standing at a crowded counter inside the store. It was dark outside but the store was brightly lit with overhead ceiling lights.

    I am still intrigued by many of the features of the Leica V-Lux 20 and I am not yet convinced that the Leica will not work with my Swarovski scopes (I have both a 45mm and a 80 mm model). A crowded sales counter with limited room to spread out and limited time to just take things slowly and methodically may not have given the Leica a fair chance.

    Since May when you posted this blog have you learned anything about matching the Leica V-Lux 20 with the 25-50X zoom on a Swarovski scope, either the 65mm or the 80mm model? I am willing to try again at the store but with more time and space than the last time.

    Have you learned anything more about the utility of the Leica V-Lux 20 camera itself as a digiscoping camera regardless of which scope/eyepiece is being used?

    Thank you for any ideas and recommendations,

    Renner Anderson

  5. Hello Jeff,

    I was wondering if you can help. I have a Leica X1 and am interested in buying the digiscoping adapter for the X1 with the Televid 65. Since you wrote: "you get a solid defined vignetted edge on each corner with camera zoom at a 35 mm lens equivalent", does this mean you can only shoot vignetted edge photos with the X1 since the camera has a fixed focal length of 24mm (36mm equiv. in 35 mm)? Thanks

  6. Renner,

    Unfortunately, I have not tried this camera with any other scope models or eyepieces. The one thing I am 100% certain of is that digiscoping using an afocal coupling (camera with lens, shooting through an eyepiece) seems to always offer different results when you change any of these variables.

    As an example, using the same camera behind three different manufacturer's eyepiece designs may offer very different results. I know in year's past we've experimented with Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski scopes all with similar sized objectives and 20-60x zoom eyepieces with the same camera. Despite the same power of magnification on eyepiece, we noted that zooming the eyepiece often offered differing results with the same exact camera at the same magnifications.

    It seemed to have something to do with the mechanical movements of the lens elements internally in the eyepiece. At any rate, while people always hope for absolutes when trying to figure out digiscoping, the reality is that EVERY camera functions differently behind each manufacturer's spotting scope and eyepiece design. So you still have to develop your own set of customized "rules" for your specific rig. When teaching digiscoping seminars I've tried to teach people how to get the best results possible with their rig by understanding limitations. Takes a bit of experimentation, but understanding the causes of varying effects seen helps to speed up the process.

  7. Ron,

    Per the closing statements above, you cannot judge performance of one camera model behind a scope based on the performance of a different camera even if they have similar specifications. So much of afocal coupling success / failure is dependent on the size, length, and extension of a particular lens. In general, a shorter lens projection is better than longer in digiscoping.

    Specifically, the X1 does show some vignetting with the eyepiece zoom at minimum but this disappears when you increase the zoom slightly above 30x.


  8. Jeff,

    Do you have any settings for the Dlux5 in regards to the autofocus, etc. as it relates to the Televid 82? I asked the Leica website and they pointed me here. Just curious before I take the plunge buying the scope.


  9. I use autofocus on - burst mode activated, set ISO to 100 or 200 only, and shoot in program mode or aperture priority typically with this rig so I can easily manipulate exposure compensation which I activate by depressing and turning the dial at the upper right corner of the rear panel.