Optical Equipment

Yes, this is a bit geeky but I lots of other birders and photo people have an equipment page so we shall have one too – if only to save people from having to ask. Most of our equipment is mid range (well, not the spotting scope – if there is one thing I leaned in my career it is that cheap optics are lousy optics) because portability is more important than having the longest lens on the heaviest tripod. I am a biologist that takes photographs rather then a photographer who has hopes to be commissioned by National Geographic.


  • Swarovski 8×32
  • Leica 10×42

Spotting scope:

  • Swarovski ATX/STX 65 mm with 25-60x zoom eyepiece
  • Swarovski TLS/APO digiscoping adapter with mounts for Canon and Sony e-mount lenses


  • Sony a7ii mirrorless (full frame sensor) interchangeable lens camera body
    • Sony 35mm f2.8 lens (made by Zeiss) – stunningly sharp lens
    • Metabones Canon EF to Sony e-mount lens adapter (the Canon 24-105mm lens below is perhaps my most commonly used lens on the Sony body other than the Zeiss lens)
  • Sony Nex-7 mirrorless (APS-C size sensor – 1.6x crop factor) interchangeable lens camera body (note – this is the body that I use for digiscoping – it is also used a lot for lightweight bird photography – with the crop-body I can achieve a little over 300mm lens equivalent and the sharpness of the Sony sensor is such that I am always surprised at how good many record shots turn out to be. An excellent compromise when weight and bulk are an issue.)
    • Sony 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 e-mount lens
    • Sony 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 e-mount lens
    • Sony 30mm f3.5 macro lens


  • Canon EOS 7D body (with an older 20D in reserve – because even modern cameras break down on occasion)
    • Canon 300mm EF f4 image stabilized L-series lens (main birding lens – retains all functions with 1.4x extender, all but auto-focus with the 2x extender)
    • Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 image stabilized L-series lens (for years, this was my “walk-about” birding lens but a bit ‘soft’ … excellent now for flight shots of insects)
    • Canon 24-105mm EF image stabilized L-series lens (all purpose landscape to portrait lens)
    • Canon 100mm EF series macro lens
    • Sigma 10-20mm  f4 wide-angle lens (for those really wide landscapes)
    • Canon 1.4x III extender
    • Canon 2x II extender



Tripods etc:

  • Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripod with ball head and pan heads
  • Manfrotto aluminium tripod (light)
  • Manfrotto aluminium tripod (tall and heavy) with gimble head for video
  • Manfrotto monopod – 4 section, short, packs well in case.


2013-07-02_ 3

This is the Swarovski scope with the relatively heavy Canon DSLR mounted – all the weight at the back. It’s a terrific camera but will probably now be used for landscapes and macro photography, flowers etc rather than distant birds and bears. It excels at those – always use the best tool for the job.


Scope with the much smaller and lighter Sony camera attached.

Scope with the much smaller and lighter Sony camera attached; as can bee seen it is altogether more balanced.


The business end

The business end, ready to get that picture of a lifetime.




3 thoughts on “Optical Equipment

  1. Thanks Richard.

  2. What did you use as an adapter for the Sony NEX? The Swarovski T2 for Sony does not work with the E mount. Thanks.

    1. I got a T2 adapter for the Sony e-mount lenses (not the same as the DSLR Sony mounts). Made by Fotodiox and I bought it through Amazon. Very pleased with it, it does a good job and is very well made.

Leave a Reply