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Review - Phone Skope digiscoping adapter, page 2

Posted: 16 March 2019

Astrophotography

This photo shows my iPhone 8 Plus mounted on my ETX-125 Observer telescope with a 1.25" 26mm eyepiece:

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This photograph of the Great Nebula in Orion (M42) was taken with the iPhone 8 Plus (1X lens) on the ETX-125 Observer telescope afocally 73X:

Phone Skope iOS app
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NightCap Camera iOS app (Light Boost, ISO 8448, 1/4sec)
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Some stars, including the Trapezium star cluster, are visible in the Phone Skope app. NightCap Camera captured some nebulosity.

These photos show the iPhone 8 Plus on my 12" LX600 telescope with various eyepieces:

1.25" 40mm eyepiece
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1.25" 26mm eyepiece
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1.25" 15mm eyepiece
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2" 30mm eyepiece
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The following iPhone 8 Plus (1X lens) afocal astrophotographs were taken with the 12" telescope:

Moon, 81X, Phone Skope iOS app
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Moon, 94X, Camera iOS app
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Moon, 163X, NightCap Camera iOS app
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Double Cluster, 81X, NightCap Camera iOS app (ISO ISO 8448, 1/3sec, 10 seconds)
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M42 Great Orion Nebula, 81X, NightCap Camera iOS app (ISO ISO 3200, 1/3sec, 31 seconds)
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I mounted the Vortex Diamondback 12x50 binoculars on my SkyTracker Pro and set the tracking rate to Lunar. The U1 adapter was used to attach the iPhone.

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I took these photos of the Moon and Earthshine. The photos are pretty much unedited.

Phone Skope app, 1X camera lens, Earthshine
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Phone Skope app, 1X camera lens, shortest exposure
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NightCap Camera app, 1X camera lens, Earthshine
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NightCap Camera app, 1X camera lens, good exposure
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Phone Skope app, 2X camera lens, Earthshine
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Phone Skope app, 2X camera lens, good exposure
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NightCap Camera app, 2X camera lens, Earthshine
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NightCap Camera app, 2X camera lens, good exposure
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As can happen with any afocal photograph with a bright object surrounded by a dark area, reflections from the multiple glass surfaces are evident in the Earthshine images.

Here are crops and sharpening of two 2X lens images to show the details that were captured:

Phone Skope app
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NightCap Camera app
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Summary

The Phone Skope adapters worked great. When an eyepiece was properly inserted in the adapters there were no optical alignment issues; I could always rely on the object being visible on the phone without needing to fiddle with the alignment. And there was no change to the alignment when the telescope was slewed to other objects. These are tremendous advantages when imaging faint objects using a telescope. The Phone Skope adapters provided a secure attachment to all my eyepieces that would fit. Swapping eyepieces was simple; just loosen to remove one eyepiece, insert another eyepiece, and tighten the adapter. You can do this with the phone still attached or removed. I did find that rotating the adapter to tighten and loosen was a little hard on my fingertips due to the small surface area on the yellow portion of the adapters, but that is just a nit.

Two lens smartphones are supported. Using the 2X telephoto lens can be useful to provide additional magnification of the object. Unfortunately, you can not just switch between lenses from software; you have to physically change the position of the flat disc. While that is necessary to ensure optical alignment, it can be a nuisance unless you plan for it ahead of time. Of course, the universal smartphone adapters force you to loosen the locking bolts to re-align the image for the other camera lens, which is an even bigger but necessary nuisance.

The Phone Skope Shutter Remote was used for all the astrophotography images in this review and was a joy to use. In the past when I have used the Earbuds they would occasionally change the audio volume instead of triggering the shutter. This should not happen with the Bluetooth remote when using a camera app. And with the Shutter Remote there is no dangling cord to catch on something as the telescope is slewed.

The Phone Skope iPhone app provides some useful manual exposure control functionality and has the benefit of optionally saving to Raw files. It includes other features for general photography that some users will like. Other than the two odd bugs I experienced and the limited exposure control when used for astrophotography, I had no issues with the Phone Skope iPhone app.

The Phone Skope case does not provide for tripod mounting your smartphone. They do have a Phone Tripod Mount which attaches to a smartphone, with or with a case, and can be purchased for $13 (not tested).

The Phone Skope system of cases and adapters is more expensive than other types of smartphone afocal adapters I have tested. From a convenience perspective alone they are worth the costs for serious smartphone afocal photographers and astrophotographers. If you want to avoid the hassles of dealing with the camera alignment, Phone Skope is what you want.

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Copyright ©2019 Michael L. Weasner / mweasner@me.com
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