Steve's Digicams

CrystalVue Optics
SharpShooter 8x32

Updated 5/9/01


CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

This is the CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 monocular lens from our friends at CKC Power. This lens can be mounted on various digicams using the appropriate adapter.  It is shown here with the precision-engineered Nikon Coolpix 28mm adapter.

This lens comes complete with the original eyepiece cup, carrying case and strap and can be used as regular monocular field scope when not mounted on a camera.



CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

Here's the SharpShooter 8x32 mounted on the Nikon Coolpix 950. With this combination you now have a 24x zoom when the camera is set to full telephoto position. This adapter allows the lens to be mounted on the Nikon 950 or 990. To be used on the Coolpix 880 you will also need the Nikon UR-E2 lens adapter.


Coolpix 990 3x Coolpix 990 with CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32

The photo on the left is with the Coolpix 990 in full 3x telephoto, the photo on the right is in full telephoto plus the CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 lens. Click on either for a larger, uncropped picture.



CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

The CrystalVue Optics Sharpshooter 8x32 and Kenko 8x32 monoculars are very similar in physical size, weight and optical magnification.



CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

The big difference is that the Kenko was never designed to be attached to anything other than a rubber eyecup. The CrystalVue SharpShooter has a 37mm threaded rear section that makes attaching it to camera lenses and other adapters very easy.



CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

Fact is the SharpShooter is threaded on both the rear and the front so it can also accept filters or other lenses too.



CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 Add-On Telephoto Lens

Here we have mounted the SharpShooter on the new HP PhotoSmart 912 which is an excellent platform for add-on lenses because it is a true SLR so you see what the lens sees through the viewfinder. The SharpShooter was mated to the HP 912 using a 49-37mm stepdown adapter ring.


HP 912 3x HP 912 3x with CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32

The photo on the left is with the HP 912 in full 3x telephoto, the photo on the right is in full telephoto plus the CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter 8x32 lens. Click on either for a larger, uncropped picture.




For best results on the Nikon and other non-SLR cameras you do need to use an LCD shade as it is critical to get the monocular lens as well focused as possible. I would highly recommend the Xtend-a-View as it is both a shade and a magnifying eyepiece.


Xtend-a-View LCD Shade



Nikon Coolpix 995



Nikon Coolpix 995

The new Nikon Coolpix 995 can now easily support long and heavy lenses without the need for any third-party "wings" or special supports. Located next to the tripod socket is the new swivel lock.  It keeps the lens section from "drooping" downwards beyond the 90-degree point. The lens section may still be turned upwards even when the lock is engaged.

Here we see the Coolpix 995 easily supporting the large CrystalVue Optics 8x32 SharpShooter lens in the proper shooting position thanks to the swivel lock.


Nikon Coolpix 995

And even better news is that thanks to the Coolpix 995's new 4x optical zoom lens there is much less vignetting than with the 3x lens on the Coolpix 990. In fact, almost the only vignetting occurs at full wideangle, the SharpShooter lens is very useable on the new Coolpix 995 as the following photos will prove (click to see the full 3-megapixel image, about 1.1MB).


Nikon 995 wideangle
Full wideangle with SharpShooter


Nikon 995 4x w/out SharpShooter
Nikon 995 at 4x w/out SharpShooter


Nikon 995 4x plus SharpShooter
Nikon 995 at 4x with SharpShooter





Steve's Conclusion

The CrystalVue Optics SharpShooter is an inexpensive ($150) way to extend your camera's telephoto range by a factor of 8.   I have previously used the Kenko 8x32 and even though it worked OK on the Coolpix 950 it wasn't as easy to mount or focus as the SharpShooter. I found it relatively easy to focus the Sharpshooter by leaving the Nikon 990 in macro mode with the LCD on and continuous AF. Depending on whether your subject is close or far you will need to coarse adjust the focus on the SharpShooter so that the Nikon can do the rest. I won't try to tell you that this combination turns your Coolpix into a sports camera because you'd go crazy trying to follow and focus a fast-moving subject at 24x zoom. Focusing these monoculars takes some practice, it is not a finite thing and varies from camera to camera.

It was very easy to screw the 37-28mm adapter ring on the back of the SharpShooter and then screw the lens to the Nikon. The Kenko used a cleverly designed slip-on adapter that always left me wondering if I had pressed it on far enough and whether or not I'd be able to get it off again. The SharpShooter simply screws on and off like a filter. Overall the optic quality of the Sharpshooter and the Nikon's lens is sharper than the Kenko which exhibited considerable softness around the edges of the images. Another important thing is that the end of the SharpShooter actually sticks out which makes it mate closer to the Coolpix's lens and thus reduces vignetting.

All things considered this is a very cost effective way to give yourself a super telephoto lens without having to buy a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses. There is definitely a learning curve involved in using these types of lenses, don't expect to just slap it on and start taking wonderful pictures. For most pictures you will need a tripod, a camera that has shutter speed priority and lots of patience and a basically static subject. If you've ever used a pair of high-power binoculars then you know that a little movement on your end relates to a LOT of movement at the location of the subject -- hence the need for a tripod. If your camera has shutter speed priority you can set it for the fastest shutter speed that the light conditions will allow to minimize any blurring due to camera movement. Even with all of this you will still need patience and practice but the end results are worth it when you finally capture one of those special photos.








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