By Dan Kidder
Rubber or glass? That is the question. Would you rather invest in hours of walking to get to an animal you have spotted in your binoculars to determine whether it is something you would like to harvest or would you rather look through a spotting scope from miles away before deciding to make the hike or pass for a better animal?
Both have pros and cons. If you rely on spot and hike, you can expend not only a lot of energy, but a lot of time that could be better spent looking for a better option. If you rely on glassing to determine the quality of an animal, you can expend a lot of money on good glass, but it can also wear out your eyes looking through the tiny eyepiece for hours.
Phone Skope is a digiscoping adapter that transforms the relatively small eyepiece of your spotting scope or binoculars into a screen, by allowing you to attach your smartphone to your optic. It also lets you use your phone’s onboard camera to capture photos and video so you can show them to your buddies or look at them in more detail back at home base on a larger screen such as a television or computer monitor.
There are several options on the market for this task, but at Sportsman’s News, we exclusively use Phone Skope products for our own hunting as well as capturing footage to bring you great video for Sportsman’s News Television. The other products on the market take a much more universal approach to their adapters and they generally are a “one-size-fits-none” approach in that they never seem to get the proper eye relief, alignment or clarity that Phone Skope gets. The reason the Phone Skope adapters work better is that they utilize a two-piece format to use a specific phone model case, coupled with an adapter, customized specifically for your particular make and model of optic. This properly aligns the camera on your device with the optimal placement on the optic.
With Phone Skope, you purchase two different pieces. First you select the proper case for your phone. These are available for most major manufacturers of smartphones. Obviously, this doesn’t include antiquated flip phones. It is the Twenty-First Century already and if you are still using those, then get ready to burn some shoe leather the same way the other cavemen hunted before you. These cases also can be purchased to slip over your favorite Otterbox or Lifeproof phone case without removing the phone from your protective cover of choice.
The next piece you purchase is the eyepiece adapter that slips snugly over the eyepiece of your optic. They make an outrageous number of these to accommodate the vast number of major optics-makers on the market. The selection of options is staggering. This adapter has three lugs on the outside that engage the case with a twist with three locking tabs on the phone. Once done, you may need to move the adapter back and forth a little on the eyepiece, but otherwise, the set-up does a great job of properly aligning the camera and setting the correct distance from the focal lens.
Because not all phone cameras work the same way or are of the same quality, if the adapter and case combination still doesn’t work properly, you can download the free Phone Skope app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. This allows some fine tuning to get everything just right.
While Phone Skope makes an impressive number of adapters, you may have an off brand or something that is older and they don’t make an adapter for it. They even have a solution for that contingency that doesn’t require you buy new binos or a spotting scope. They make two different universal adapters that employ the same three-lug locking system but feature a rotating ring that will snug-down on your eyepiece. These universal adapters come in large or small sizing and will fit an unlimited number of models of optics.
Phone Skope also makes a Bluetooth remote that will allow you to start recording or snap a photo without touching the screen. But this operation without a Bluetooth remote can also cause the tripod to move slightly and cause distortion or loss of the subject at extreme magnification as your finger hits the record button.
As I get older and the body parts start to protest more and more from hiking over rough terrain, the Phone Skope system saves my knees, back, feet and eyes from extra strain and allows me to use that extra time that I would have spent hiking miles to get a closer look at an animal, to sit back and let my glass do the walking. And that is why it is an indispensable aid for western big game hunters looking to harvest big animals and why it is always on my spotting scope when I am in the field.
Get your Phone Skope phone-specific cover at your local Sportsman's Warehouse before you head out with your optics again!