Reviews

Have a camera lens and spotting scope in your bag without the extra weight!

We’ve just come back from India searching for the grey ghost of the Himalayas: the snow leopard. Knowing that I’d have to pack light, that I was going to need a scope and a camera, and that I was already going to be taking a heavy camera lens, I was curious to try out the new Tonta Lens2scope converter I’d seen at Orms.

What is the Lens2scope?

The Lens2Scope is a lightweight optical eye-piece which converts a telephoto lens into a spotting scope. It works on Canon, Nikon (and apparently Sony) lenses. There is a 10mm and a 7mm wide angle version. The magnification power is the focal length of the camera lens divided by the focal length of the Lens2scope.

Who would need one?

Anyone who’s into wildlife photography, needs a spotting scope (for birding, or searching for shy mammals), and is limited by weight or space. Taking a camera and a spotting scope on a safari vehicle can be clumsy. Taking both walking in the mountains can be exhausting (as a couple of my comrades would testify).

How much does it weigh?

Next to nothing (200g). And it comes with a pouch you can clip onto your belt.

How big is it?

About the size of a fist. Fits easily into a camera bag pocket.

How much does it cost?

At the time of writing…..10mm mount: around R1795 (US $170). 7mm mount: around R2395 (US$230). Go with the 7mm if you can.

Any disadvantages?

For those keen on photography and scoping, it is obviously a tricky decision whether to keep the camera body or the Lens2Scope on the lens in between the action, but it only takes a few seconds to swop them. Weigh this against the cumbersome disadvantage of carrying scope and tripod and camera lens (and possibly tripod).

The Lens2scope looks very fragile. Having said that I dropped mine from standing height onto hard rock and it came through completely unscathed.

If you are using a fixed lens, you may find the inability to zoom frustrating for scanning.

How did it perform?

Being a keen photographer, I kept my camera body attached to the lens in case I needed to shoot something quickly, and when we got into an area where we were scanning for the snow leopard, I would make the swap. We were lucky to find a snow leopard on our first afternoon, although it was late evening and probably about 4km away. All 8 of our group were serious wildlife enthusiasts with excellent spotting scopes and once everyone had had a good look, I was able to compare my view through the Lens2Scope attached to a 500mm f4 Canon lens to that through the Leica, Swarovski and Zeiss optics (eg: Zeiss Diascope 85FL).

The view was incredible. Granted it was on a prime Canon Lens, but on fixed view it outperformed all the scopes, and all members of our group were in agreement that the best view was through the Lens2Scope. Two guests immediately decided they would purchase one on returning. Even from that distance we were able to follow the cat as it tried to hunt some blue sheep.

Our next view of a snow leopard was two days later. The altitude and steep walks made me very thankful I wasn’t carrying the extra weight of a scope around. We managed to get much closer this time, and watched this cat for almost 10 hours from an opposing ridge about 800m away. The view through the Lens2Scope was good enough to make out the feint blue in the leopard’s eyes.  From a comfortable position I switched between taking photos with the camera and enjoying the view through the Lens2Scope.

* Please note that the images above taken through the eyepiece were NOT taken using the digiscoping camera adapter, hence their poor quality. I simply photographed them as rough examples using my iPhone camera clumsily held near the eyepiece. *

Where can I get one?

Orms Direct: www.ormsdirect.co.za

For any wildlife photographer or safari guide I would highly recommend this as an awesome addition to your wildlife-viewing arsenal.

For more information on viewing snow leopards feel free to contact me at James@rangerdiaries.com