A Camera for Tele-photo “Scouting”
I found myself in central Texas on business earlier this year. I was killing some time before dinner, after checking into a hotel. I keep a set of binoculars in my vehicle and decided to bring them upstairs. I had a thought beforehand to see what the image quality would be by holding a smart phone’s digital camera over the binocular eyepiece.
So, what is the point? Well, the potential uses are endless. An around-the-house
example is to use this set-up to identify an issue with the roof on your house (and don’t feel the need to risk a fall from a ladder) or a house you are considering a purchase on. I know people who have been messed-up from a fall of just 10-15 feet. A roof is one way to test out the set up you might use at a closer distance, versus my hotel example below.
With the civilian operator in mind, here are a few potential uses:
• You want to identify and photograph a suspicious vehicle or person.
• You find yourself in the next post-Katrina-lawlessness and want to relay critical information to family/friends (photo messaging is golden for this).
• You witness some sort of crime, and assuming you might not intervene, you can grab details to assist afterwards.
What Tools are Required? Only Two:
* Any modern smart phone with megapixel camera. An iPhone was used in this case.
* Any decent set of binoculars. I used a $70 pair of Nikon Action 7×35 binoculars. By the way, these Nikon’s are a very good value. These are far from $500-1000+ Steiners, I know, but they work for my typical needs.
NOTE: A spotting scope could work as well, but is more difficult to keep aligned unless you have access to a bench, car trunk, truck bed, etc.
The trick to make it work is:
BRACE (#1) one hand on a surface or wall, if available and then ALIGN (#2) the phone to the binocular eyepiece. If you are sitting in your car, this will be pretty easy. The rubber eye cups on binoculars help grip the back of the smart phone a little. If you have a non-slip smart phone case…even better!
HOLD both items still (#3) while you “break the shot” – i.e. snapping the photo without messing up the camera-to-optic alignment. Since both hands are full, you will need to use a phone button to snap the photo, rather than tapping the screen. Most phones have this feature once the camera application is running. Some phones have a dedicated photo button.
In the examples below, I was looking out the window of a hotel, about three stories up. I wanted to pick a vehicle to see what I could view clearly inside or outside of it. I used the license plate as my baseline.
SMART PHONE only (no zoom)
SMART PHONE (no zoom) with BINOCULARS
SMART PHONE (with digital zoom ACTIVE) with BINOCULARS
Just use your imagination to see what you need to see. You may spy a 12-point white-tailed deer at lunch someday when you least expect one, or a 2-point NFL cheerleader at the Houston Texans game. I’m just sayin…
Keep your Eyes Open & Stay Dangerous!