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VOLUMES 165 & 166  --------  MARCH/APRIL 2016

May 30, 2016

For those who have been following my admittedly sporadic reporting on the Shot Show 2016 page, I have ended that venue and will continue to report here on my regular newsletters.

On my January 20 Shot Show posting, I reported visiting the Carson Optical booth and looking at a device they are marketing that enables one to take photos through an optical device with a smartphone.  This gadget, called the
'Universal Smart Phone Optics Adapter' immediately went on my list as something to try out for capturing images inside gun barrels through my Hawkeye Borescope.  Previous attempts to capture such images via my digital camera adapter have been somewhat less than satisfactory, so why not try it with my phone?  I'll tell you how that worked out, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

When I visited with the young man who demonstrated the 'Universal' at the show, I gave him my business card and indicated a desire to review a sample sometime in the future.  He, in turn, handed me
Pamela Hulbert's card.  Pamela is Carson's Marketing and PR Manager.  A few days after returning home I received an email from Ms Hulbert, asking where to send the sample.  I provided the address and in due course, the Fed Ex van showed up at our door.

FEDEX package from Carson Opitical - Just like Christmas in February

As you can see the packaging is quite attractive, and the hardshell, zippered carrying case inside the box holds everything nicely with a small carabiner provided for attachment to your person.

Opened case with device nestled in its foam cutout.

Front and back views of the universal

Here's some more detail about how the Universal holds the smartphone.

This is the slider and locking lever that adjusts the lateral positioning of the phone

Here is the spring loaded arm that swings out to clamp the phone in place against the pad


The mechanisim that clamps the Universal to the chosen optic adjusts with a squeeze of the wings

This is the locking lever for the adjustable pad that secures the phone from the bottom

The iPhone 4s attached to the Universal with the camera 'eye' centered in the opening

My first attempt at using the universal on a binocular did not turn out well.  First, it takes some practice to get the little iPhone 4s camera centered in the opening in the backing.  Second, I quickly found that hand held operation of the binoculars and phone camera is not for me!  I'm way too unsteady for that scenario!

So usage for me requires a steady rest, such as a tripod.  Which in turn, required switching from my 8 x 30 Swarovski SLC's to Ann's 10 x 42's.  We have a tripod adapter for Anns binos, but not mine.  Problem solved! 

Ann's Binoculars and the Universal Smartphone Adapter on the tripod

The steadiness plus more practice in centering the phone's camera provided much improved ability to get the  iPhone camera to 'see' through the binocular.

Now to the main reason for wanting to try the Universal; getting 'inside a gun barrel' images with my smartphone.  There were a couple of reasons that didn't work out too well.  The shape of the eyepiece on the Hawkeye Borescope is not conducive to providing a secure grip for the Universal.  The eyepiece has a flare out on the end of the ocular that comes to a fairly sharp edge.  This provides only a very narrow surface area for the four points on the clamping fixture to grasp.  Keeping the arrangement from slipping and causing mis-alignment was a problem.

I also found that the bright concentrated light source in the Hawkeye illuminating the barrel, caused the automatic exposure feature on the phone to have serious issues.  To make a long story longer, the Universal does not work for me on the borescope.  The regular camera, while somewhat unwieldy, works better for that application.

No, you did not misread the date at the beginning of this newsletter.  I am indeed finishing the March/April 2016 newsletter at nearly the end of May!

I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice it to say, that working with Ann on her Mother's estate issues, teaching Hunter Education classes, and annual medical tests have taken their toll on our time!  So, it was only recently that I finally forced myself to try and finish the photo testing with the Universal Smartphone Adaptor and binoculars.

Of course it was drizzling and miserable outside as I set up my equipment on the 100 yard shooting range.  By setting up under the roof overhang in front of the shop door, I was able to avoid some of the rain.
  I first stapled up a target on the target stand to provide a reference for the zoom comparisons.  The following photos will attempt to illustrate how things looked with only the 10 power binoculars, my Sony DSC-F717 digital camera, the iPhone 4s alone, and finally the smartphone and Universal on the binocular.

In this case the smartphone wasn't too smart, as it kept providing me with a crash shortly after activating the digital zoom feature.  The crash consisted of a dead battery icon and shutdown, when in fact, the battery was fully charged.

Target stand photo with Sony digital camera at regular setting, no zoom.

Target stand w Sony at full zoom.  This camera has 5X optical zoom and an additional 5X digital zoom, which approximates the view with the 10X binoculars alone.

Target stand with iPhone at regular setting. (No zoom)

Target stand with iPhone at full zoom, 5x digital.

iPhone, no zoom, attached to 10X Swarvoski binoculars with Carson Universal.  As you can see, the dark fringe on the left indicates the phone was not perfectly centered.

iPhone at full zoom (5X digital) on binoculars.  Still not perfectly centered, and zooming the phone captures only the center of the field of view.

I was not happy with my efforts to make the balky iPhone work properly nor my alignment technique with the Universal.   Also, the optical quality with all the various lenses in play and digital zoom is nothing to shout about.  But, the Universal Smartphone Adaptor will bring the subject of your photos up close and personal when coupled with your optic, which is exactly what Carson says it will do!

Shortly after my trials in the cold and wet, Granddaughter, Jennifer and her Dad came in for one of Grandma's home cooked meals.  (Baby Back Ribs, Scalloped Potatoes, Meat Loaf, Salad, and Pecan Pie)

After I explained my troubles with my iPhone camera, Jennifer said, "Let me try it with my phone."

A quick adjustment of the Universal to fit her iPhone 5s, and attachment to an 8X binocular, resulted in a photo taken from our living room, through a glass storm door, toward the corner of the shop building.  The 5s phone is a little larger than mine and the camera lens is in a slightly different spot so it does fit the Universal a bit better and is thus more secure.

Jennifer's photo with 8X binoculars and iPhone 5s.  (The actual distance to the door in the picture is 83 yards as ranged with a Leica rangefinder)

So, while my desire to use the Carson device to get smartphone photos of the inside of a gun barrel didn't work out as I had planned, it does work as advertised on other optics.  I can see the device at it's best in applications such as astronomy telescopes or coupled with a spotting scope to photograph bald eagles during their annual fish catching visit to nearby lake Coeur d'Alene.  Of course those giant telephoto lenses on quality cameras will provide better photos than any smartphone, but nearly everyone already has a smartphone and those long lenses are very expensive!  (The Carson Universal list price is well short of $100.)

I'll be sending a check to Carson Optics to add the Universal to my supply of gadgets.  For more information about Carson Optics, visit their web site at:

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from a tee shirt in one of those little novelty catalogs:  (I may have used this one before, but with all the politics in the news right now, I couldn't resist)

"Politicians and diapers need to be changed often . . . for the same reason."

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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