Steve's Digicams

EagleEye OpticZoom


Review (in progress) posted 2/29/2000
updated 12/6/2000


EagleEye OpticZoom

The EagleEye OpticZoom is a high-quality 5x add-on lens for most cameras or camcorders with at least a 3x zoom lens. Ideally the camera's lens should have accessory (filter) threads to facilitate the attachment of the Opticzoom.

At the initial time of writing of this review (2/28/00) the only cameras I had in-house to use the lens on were the Coolpix 950 and 990 and the new Canon S20. It works fine on the Nikons but the Canon S20's 2x zoom even in full telephoto causes too much edge vignetting, the result being a circular-bordered picture. I have since tried the OpticZoom on the Olympus C-3030 and found it to work OK at wide open aperture but it suffers from varying degrees of vignetting at all other settings.

I will be updating this review and adding new sample pictures as we get new cameras in for review that are compatible with the OpticZoom lens.


EagleEye OpticZoom

Anyone who has used a heavy lens on the Nikon 900 or 950 knows that it's a problem keeping the lens section of the camera aimed properly without it drooping. One of EagleEye's new accessories is called the "Wing" and it works perfectly to keep your Nikon lens section from tilting downwards.


EagleEye OpticZoom

The new Wing design will hopefully work with both the older Nikon 950 and the newer Nikon 990. Note the two different tripod mounting slots on the bottom, and how it allows access to the batteries on the 990. You can also change batteries on the Nikon 950 but to access the CompactFlash card requires removal of the Wing.


EagleEye OpticZoom

Not only does the Wing support your lens -- it also serves as a platform for a cable release on the front and an LCD sunshade on the rear. Future options include an external flash bracket.


EagleEye OpticZoom

To make using the OpticZoom easier the EagleEye folks have cut a deal with our friends that make the Xtend-a-View LCD sunshade and magnifying eyepiece. This is a specially modified version that attaches to the EagleEye Wing without need of any velcro.

Also see the new Xtend-a-View Pro mounted on the Wing



EagleEye OpticZoom

Here's another picture of the Wing and the cable release, this time it's mounted on the new Nikon Coolpix 990.


EagleEye OpticZoom

The new ULTRA COMPACT Flashgun Arm Attachment for Nikon CP950 / CP990 cameras. Simply attach the flashgun to the flash shoe, slide into our WING bracket and lock-in. KIT INCLUDES - Arm & Locking Screw / Standard Flash Shoe (must be used in conjunction with the EagleEye OpticZooms WING bracket) Accepts the Nikon AS-E900 cable/hotshoe.



New Tripod Mount

EagleEye OpticZoom

12/6/2000 update:

Here's the new EagleEye tripod mount that attaches to the lens barrel. This eliminates the problem of the camera's swivel joint having to support the weight of the big lens plus its own weight on the camera's tripod mount.


EagleEye OpticZoom

A closeup view of the tripod mount shows how it securely clamps onto the lens barrel. The mount has been designed with the same high-quality components as the lens. The two large-head, knurled screws let you easily tighten it or remove it.



New Xtend-a-View Pro Wing Mount

EagleEye OpticZoom

And here's the Xtend-a-View Pro mounted on the EagleEye Wing with the new screw-mount stud. Click on the link to go to the PhotoSolve web site for the new Xtend-a-View or any EagleEye product.









Steve's Conclusion


EagleEye OpticZoom The OpticZoom is much easier to use (focus) on the Nikon 950 than the Kenko 8x32 which is the only other lens currently in this category. Both lenses have some edge distortion but the EagleEye typically exhibits less than the Kenko.

Both lenses are large and the OpticZoom is the heavier of the pair. The fit and finish of the OpticZoom is excellent. A lot of attention to detail was exercised during its engineering and manufacturing. The barrel has a knurled surface where you grip it to change the focus (a total of one turn from close to distance.) The lens cap is a machined piece of metal that screws onto threads that can also be used for filters. And the lens comes in a padded carrying case that has a belt loop and velcro-closing top.

The same precision machining can be seen in the Wing, the cable release and the modified Xtend-a-View sunshade. When you have it all mounted on a Nikon 950 it looks as if it was originally part of the camera and not a third-party accessory. All metal parts has been annodized black, there's felt in the places where the metal meets the camera and even the tripod screw has been knurled for a "good" feel as well as being functional.

Using the OpticZoom with the Nikon 950 is fairly straight forward if you follow these basic rules:

  • Be careful when screwing the lens on. Crossthread it and you risk damaging the lens and/or the camera. Seasoned pros know that when using screw mounts you turn it backwards until you feel the threads line up -- and then you turn it carefully forward paying close attention to the alignment.

  • Set your camera for continuous autofocus. The OpticZoom also needs to be coarse adjusted for the camera to subject distance. While watching the LCD, slowly turn the OpticZoom in or out and allow the camera's autofocus system time to adjust to the changes. After using it for a while this will all become second nature but it can be very frustrating at first.

  • It's best to use shutter speed priority if your camera has that option. Set it for the fastest (1/500s or faster) shutter speed possible for the light conditions.

  • Using one of these "long lenses" requires a tripod or other support device to produce optimum images. There's a big difference between a good tripod and a cheap tripod, you get what you pay for!

  • Use the selftimer or some sort of remote trigger or cable release to eliminate any possible camera shake. Even the slightest movement at the time of exposure will blur the image.

  • Always shoot (at least) two pictures of the same scene. What looks good on that little 2" LCD in the field may not look so good later on the big screen.

  • Don't be in a hurry. This is not a lens for sports photographers. You may be able to get some incredible action shots given enough practice and a lot of luck.

I have been able to capture handheld images using the OpticZoom with the Nikon 950 in shutter-priority mode set for the fastest shutter speed. Just remember that even the steadiest hand produces a significant amount of camera movement and the farther the distance to the subject, the more it is amplified. Looking through a magnified LCD viewfinder while hand holding a long focal length lens can be a dizzying experience.

This lens is not for everyone. There's good reasons that most digicams are only equipped with 3x or 5x zooms -- most people can't hold them steady. The OpticZoom on a camera with a 3x zoom becomes a 15x zoom. The OpticZoom lens is not cheap, it will represent a significant investment. But, if you like shooting pictures of birds high up in trees, or people or things too far away for a 3x zoom, then this is an excellent lens for that application.

So how does it work? It works quite well. How well? I'll let the sample pictures answer that question. There are also many sample pictures on the EagleEye Homepage too.




Purchase EagleEye in the U.S. from:

PhotoSolve



Click here to see some
Kodak DC290 + OpticZoom pictures





Opticzoom Sample Pictures

On the left is the full (uncropped) image captured with the OpticZoom and on the right is a scaled down (but uncropped) 640x480 image of the same scene captured using full telephoto without the OpticZoom.   Unless noted a tripod was used.
cp950_sample1.jpg
cp950_sample1.jpg

806.60 Kb
1600 x 1200
Nikon 950 w/EagleEye
cp950_sample1_3x.jpg
cp950_sample1_3x.jpg

89.84 Kb
640 x 480
Nikon 950 3x
cp950_sample2.jpg
cp950_sample2.jpg

888.10 Kb
1600 x 1200
Nikon 950 w/EagleEye
cp950_sample2_3x.jpg
cp950_sample2_3x.jpg

72.28 Kb
640 x 480
Nikon 950 3x
cp990_sample1.jpg
cp990_sample1.jpg

1092.32 Kb
2048 x 1536
Nikon 990 w/EagleEye
cp990_sample1_3x.jpg
cp990_sample1_3x.jpg

77.92 Kb
640 x 480
Nikon 990 3x
cp990_sample2_handheld.jpg
cp990_sample2_handheld.jpg

1046.11 Kb
2048 x 1536
Nikon 990 w/EagleEye
cp990_sample2_handheld_3x.jpg
cp990_sample2_handheld_3x.jpg

58.73 Kb
640 x 480
Nikon 990 3x


Olympus C-3030

OpticZoom on new Olympus C-3030 Zoom

Edge vignetting occurs at any aperture smaller than F2.8 but with
its image size of 2048x1536 that leaves a lot of room for cropping.

c3030_sample1.jpg
c3030_sample1.jpg

238.50 Kb
1280 x 960
C-3030 w/EagleEye
c3030_sample1_3x.jpg
c3030_sample1_3x.jpg

75.94 Kb
640 x 480
Olympus C-3030 3x
c3030_sample2.jpg
c3030_sample2.jpg

683.76 Kb
2048 x 1536
C-3030 w/EagleEye
Handheld
c3030_sample3.jpg
c3030_sample3.jpg

673.04 Kb
2048 x 1536
C-3030 w/EagleEye
Handheld





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