of all I needed to establish which of the many Swarovski scopes would
suitable for my cameras. I contacted Swarovski and was told that any of
their scopes would do the job but that the new High Definition (HD)
range of scopes would give me the best results for high quality
was also advised that there were a number of ways in which a scope can
be attached to a camera, depending on the type of camera. As I intended
using it with my SLR bodies, I opted for their Telephoto Lens System
TLS 800. It is a
photographic lens and telescopic eyepiece in one. When combined with
the ATS 80 HD scope
and my 4:3 single lens reflex camera it forms a photo unit with a 32x
magnification when compared with a standard 50mm lens (35mm format
800 attaches directly to the
scope with a bayonet fitting and the camera via a T mount. The T mount
for my camera would be an extra acquisition but cost only a few pounds.
cost of the "package" (excluding camera) - £2,398.28
"taking the plunge" I checked
the prices of normal photographic lenses with the same reach. I could
find nothing of such power but for those which came close (between a
half to three quarters the reach, some using converters), prices were
all more than £5,000 with the
top marque lenses costing between £7,000 to £10,000 at the discount
Admittedly the Zwarovski
package has a fixed aperture of f10.0 and manual focus but for my needs
and having learned my photography when it was manual everything, this
seemed a mere inconvenience when the huge cost saving was considered - providing
the results were of the
high quality promised.
As soon as the equipment
was delivered, I was keen to try it out. A warm summer's evening
with plenty of birdsong from the woods behind my garden; so I
set up on my patio where I have a good view of the trees and shrubbery.
The Swarovski spotting scope comes with clear
instructions but I did not find them necessary as assembly is
it is a fixed aperture lens and the lighting in the woods was fairly
even, I set the camera to aperture priority and light metering to ESP.
Although I was using a tripod, I set ISO to 800 to give me a good
chance of a shutter speed that would freeze any motion of the bird
I could hear a wren
nearby so I pointed the scope in its general direction. With a lens of
this power, I found it necessary to use the alignment aid on its side
before locating the bird itself through the camera's viewfinder.
Found it - WOW
A good ten yards away but what I saw through the viewfinder
is the image at the top of this page. I've never seen such detail in a
wren before and had no idea they possessed such beauty. I grabbed a
immediately - just as well as the bird soon took flight. I've since
been told by the editor of an ornithological magazine that such a fine
photograph of a wren is quite rare. Not
a bad indictment of the lens.
As a photographer, I was also very impressed by the total absence of
any vignetting in the image and by its resolution - a quality which
became even more apparent in the next example.
afterwards I noticed a thrush nearby on my garden fence - about fifteen
yards this time. Practice was already enabling me to locate the subject
in the viewfinder more quickly and manual refocusing of the lens was
smooth and easily refined.
Once again I followed the fundamental rule when photographing wildlife
- take a shot immediately then await the possibility of an even better
At this distance, and possibly because the bird was young and less wary
than the wren, it was happy to pose for me for several minutes. A
slight turn of its head revealed a catch light in its eye, a slow even
depression of the shutter - job done. It was not until I examined the
image on my PC screen that the outstanding performance of the lens
just a catch light, but one which revealed a "birds eye"
reflection of the edge of my white conservatory, the red roof on my
house, the top of my pergola, the bird table on the patio and white
clouds in the blue sky.
It was at
that moment that I realised that Swarovski Spotting Scopes
were more than just a lower cost means of obtaining considerable
tele-photo reach. The HD models clearly offer superb
for dinner so I began to pack up, but suddenly - a call I
have rarely heard - followed by a rustling in the undergrowth deeper in
the wood. Standing as still as possible, I swivelled the lens around
very slowly and focussed on the undergrowth and waited. The quail
A quail !!
I have lived here for 18 years - woodpeckers, buzzards, even a red kite
or two but never a quail before. Without the scope and a huge amount of
I doubt anyone would have believed me.
Following dinner - not roast quail - I telephoned my son and then a
friend to describe the lens and the results of my first attempts. They
are both keen photographers so I suggested an outing to the London Wetland Centre at Barnes
Located on the banks of the River Thames in Barnes, Southwest London
the centre is home to rare and beautiful wildlife including Bitterns,
Kingfishers and a colony of endangered Water voles.
On the day we chose to visit, the herons decided to take centre stage -
albeit a stage which was between 50 and 100 yards from the hide in
which we set up. These images would not have been possible without my
Swarovski spotting scope.
Finally, I was keen to try out the scope at night time.
A clear night presented the opportunity for me to obtain my
most detailed image of the waxing moon in my 50 years behind a camera.
As promised -
and now in my opinion -
"The latest Swarovski Spotting Scopes
combined with a digital camera give you excellent high
Now, where are those buzzards