New to Digiscoping w/ Binoculars

I received a pair of Bushnell 16x32 binoculars as a gift years ago. A week ago I began using them for birding and realized they were wretched for that–16x is worthless without stabilizing, a 16x32 (32/16=2mm exit pupil) runs dark, and it’s hard to digiscope it with a smart phone perhaps also due to that small exit pupil.

I’m test driving a Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 and it’s superior and amazing in every aspect during the day. Still, I had a hard time hand-holding my iPhone to the binoculars to shoot sparrows 6min after sunset. The phone couldn’t focus in low light.

What’s the best solution for this?

  1. Upgrading to the Nikon Prostaff 3S 8x42 for more light? (+$25, 2x weight)
  2. Buying a phone-to-binocular adaptor ($20-$80, bulky)
  3. Buying an app and use manual focus ($5?)
  4. Read more on digi-scoping.

Thanks in advance for any guidance you might provide. :)


I think you nailed it. Read more on digiscoping. In order for it to work well, the optics have to be stabilized (i.e. on a tripod). Optimally, the phone will also be firmly attached to the binocular or scope by a mount.
And practice, practice, practice before you get out into the field where you want it to work.


There are free phone camera apps that allow manual focusing. I’ve tried one called Open Camera on my Android phone and found that it decreased the quality of images, but that might be different for other phones.


It is incredibly difficult to hold binoculars steady enough with only your hands, even if using a quality mount, to get a shot in focus with your phone peering through the scope lens. Best advice is definitely to get a tripod and adapter.

The 8x42s are going to bring in considerably more amounts of light and thus will produce a sharper image on your phone than a 8x25. Plus they are better for birding, esp if you want to start doing sparrow ID :)

I’ve been digiscoping for years, until I got a camera, finally (and I will still digiscope sometimes!). It definitely takes a lot of work, so practice, practice, practice! I have to agree, though, that it is beyond tough to hold binoculars steady. My advice would be to invest in an adapter. There are some decent ones on the market, but most are pretty clunky. Definitely keep reading up on it, though. You also have to take into account how much you’ll need to zoom in, to avoid the picture being a circle in an otherwise black frame. I can’t speak for any of the other options, though, since I’ve not tried them.

Here’s my first digiscoped photo, by the way. Since then my quality has gone up and down variably. Still, though, all I can recommend is practice!

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