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Kowa's TD-1 Super Telephoto Zoom digital camera / spotting scope. Courtesy of Kowa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Kowa announces super-telephoto zoom digicam
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, March 17, 2003 - 16:04 EST)

Kowa Co. Ltd., a Japanese manufacturer which has been making electronics and optics since the end of World War II, showed a new digital camera at PMA that will appeal to nature photographers - or anybody else who must take photos a very long way from their subject.

The Kowa TD-1 Spotting Scope DSC super-telephoto zoom digital camera is pretty unique, combining a 3.14 megapixel CCD imager with a 3x zoom spotting scope that gives 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from 450 to a whopping 1350mm. The camera is SLR-style, using a TTL optical viewfinder, and comes with a remote control shutter that will help to minizimize camera shake (a major issue for an unstabilised lens at such long focal lengths!)

As well as nature photography, Kowa also suggests that the camera might be useful for shooting sporting events, but we're not sure how well-suited it would be for this use. At F2.8 - 4.0, the lens probably isn't bright enough to yield high enough shutter speeds for fast action at long focal lengths, although obviously this would depend on the maximum ISO rating which unfortunately isn't listed in the specifications. For a brightly lit event, though, it could offer you the chance to get up close to the action even from the "nose-bleed" seats at the back of a stadium, and even if there's not enough light for a photo, the TD-1 still works as a spotting scope as well...

Overall, the TD-1 is definitely a very interesting device- pricing and availability information aren't immediately available, but if you're into nature photography you'll want to keep watching for an announcement! Specifications for the Kowa TD-1 Spotting Scope / DSC follow:

Kowa TD-1 Spotting Scope / DSC
Kowa's TD-1 Super Telephoto Zoom digital camera / spotting scope. Courtesy of Kowa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Spotting Scope (Telescope)
Objective Lens 55mm Effective Diameter, ED Lens
Magnification 10x - 30x Zoom
Real Field of View 3.94 x 2.95 - 1.31 x 0.98 degree
Apparent Field of View 39.4 x 29.5 degree
Exit Pupil Diameter 2.7 - 1.8mm
Relative Brightness 7.3 - 3.2
Eye-Relief 20mm
Field of View at 1,000m / yds 68.8 x 51.5 - 22.9 x 17.1 m/yds
Focus Auto / Manual
Focusing Range 5m - infinity
Digital Camera
Image Sensor 3.14 megapixel CCD
Lens
Prominar ED 3x optical zoom
Focal length = 75 - 225mm (450 - 1350mm / 35mm film equivalent)
F/2.8 - 4
Focusing Range 5m - infinity
Focus Auto / Manual
White Balance Auto / Overcast
Viewfinder TTL Optical Finder, Diopter Compensation -5 to +5 dpt.
Monitor Color LCD
Still Image File JPEG
Picture Mode High Quality / Standard
Storage Media SD (Secure Digital) Memory Card (16MB card included)
Exposure Compensation +/- 2EV in 0.5EV steps
Playback Functions 1 frame (4x enlargement), Index Display (4 / 9), Slide Show, Delete Prevention Function
Interface USB 1.1 (mini-B), Video Output (NTSC / PAL)
Power Supply 4 AA batteries, AC adapter (optional)
Dimensions L: 385 x W: 130 x H: 125 mm
More Photos
Kowa's TD-1 Super Telephoto Zoom digital camera / spotting scope. Courtesy of Kowa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Kowa's TD-1 Super Telephoto Zoom digital camera / spotting scope. Courtesy of Kowa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Kowa's TD-1 Super Telephoto Zoom digital camera / spotting scope. Courtesy of Kowa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins.
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