I apologize if this is the wrong forum to post this in; there doesn't appear to be a "right" one at the moment.
I just got myself an N80 (whoo-hoo!) and I really like telephoto, particularly when trying to get birds and other rather uncooperative subjects. Unfortunately, most of the larger focal length lenses are... shal we say, less than accessible to the average non-IPOed photo enthusiast.
It has been suggested to me that I look into spotting scopes. As an example, Celestron (www.celestron.com) specifically notes in most of their product line that with a few adapters (that they also sell), one can use the scopes with a 35mm SLR.
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? Obviously, astronomy and such will be easier than wildlife or people with a scope that large, but they also make some smaller ones that start at about $250. (This is for a 1000mm-4000mm zoom scope.) I don't know what the aperture would be on that one, but for that price and at that kind of magnification, I can be flexible. Any thoughts?
You do not get a small circular image! I own the Celestron 60mm Zoom Spotting scope, the one they advertise as being equivelent to 1000mm-4000mm. It's a great spotting scope/telescope. I for one prefer to do my astronomy right side up. So of course I HAD to buy the T-mount adapter for the Nikon to try. It works well with a couple of limitations. Number one is f-stop. At 15X (1000mm) setting the fstop is equivelent to f16, and drops to f64 at 60X (4000mm). This makes it an extremely slow lens for taking aviary photographs. For astronomy, you really need a tracking motor which I haven't tried. If you are looking for a good spotting scope I would recommend the Celestron, and if you have one, buy the T-adapter and Nikon adapter. If you're looking for a cheap telephoto lens, don't. Buy a cheap reflex lens instead. Or spend a little more money and buy one of the Sigma 500mm zooms. You'll be happier with them.
DaveDosch Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but bubbles.
The Coolpix offers an advantage with spotting scopes that isn't possible with SLR cameras like the N80. Because you're essentially using a scope as a front mount teleconverter, you retain aperture functionality for exposure control. The other advantage is that the imaging chip is much smaller than 35mm film, so you're using the best part of the scope's image circle.
With an SLR, the chief drawbacks are lack of aperture control, slow effective aperture and relatively low edge performance (often with quite a bit of light falloff).