What is a Phone Skope?
What is a Phone Skope, exactly? The Phone Skope is an adapter system consisting of a smart phone case (pictured above) and a complementary optic adapter ring (pictured below) that perfectly align a smart phone’s camera with the eye piece (ocular lens) of a variety of optics, most commonly a spotting scope or binoculars. Put more simply: Smartphone + Spotting Scope + Phone Skope = Digiscope. Wait, what’s a digiscope? Digiscoping is the practice of taking digital photos or videos through a spotting scope or other optic device.
Back to the Phone Skope. Each Phone Skope case is specifically manufactured to fit a particular smart phone model, and each optic ring adapter is specifically manufactured to fit the eyepiece of a specific optic. However, the connections that join the phone case to the optic ring are universal, which allows multiple optic ring adapters to connect to a single case. For example, my binoculars and my spotting scope have differently sized eyepieces, which each require a unique optic adapter ring. However, both of those optic adapter rings connect seamlessly to a single S21 Phone Skope case.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth is worth a million! The Phone Skope is capable of all the same features of your smartphone camera, which includes, photos, videos, slow motion videos, applying filters, etc.
I currently own a Samsung S9 smartphone, and a Vortex Razor HD 20-60 x 85mm spotting scope. The Phone Skope is a versatile scouting tool, that quickly became a staple of my pre-season and in-season scouting for whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, and more. During the pre-season, I spend a lot of time searching for target animals. This involves a lot of time behind the glass, and for the last few years, my phone has worn a Phone Skope case. The Phone Skope allows me to take pictures of noteworthy bucks or bulls while scouting and catalog them on my laptop at home. One of my go-to scouting processes is to snap a photo of a target animal using the Phone Skope and add it to a waypoint on OnX Maps, which now supports adding a photo to a waypoint.
The Phone Skope is also a great companion while traveling. I have used my Phone Skope extensively to photograph and video wildlife while visiting Yellowstone National Park (Fox Video Below) and Glacier National Park.
Ease of Use
The Phone Skope system is incredibly easy to use.
- Order the correct phone case and optic adapter ring(s) for your hardware.
- Insert your smartphone into the Phone Skope phone case.
- Affix the optic adapter ring to the phone case (insert and twist the ring).
- Slide the optic adapter ring over the eyepiece of your chosen optic (spotting scope or binocular).
- Open your phones camera app.
- Take pictures or video.
- Share with family, friends, or social media.
Images From My Phone Skope (Samsung S21 and Vortex Razor HD 20-60x85)
Tips for Use
- Use a tripod or vehicle window mount to steady your optic.
- Turn your vehicle off when utilizing a window mount to eliminate vehicle vibration and prevent blurry images.
- Most smartphones are equipped with a voice command option to take photos. Enable the voice command option so that touching the phone screen to take a photo or begin a video isn’t necessary. This will minimize loss of focus and result in clearer photos.
- Use the smartphone camera’s zoom feature to remove vignetting created by optics’ tubes.
- When taking videos, mount the phone to the eyepiece horizontally (landscape mode 16:9 ratio) if you plan to incorporate footage into videos to be shared on YouTube or other video hosting sites.
A Few Drawbacks
Price: The system (case and optic adapter ring) typically retails for around $85, dependent upon specific case and optic adapters. Pricing for this product is clearly based on perception of value. The case and optic adapter rings are plastic, and manufacturing costs are likely a fraction of the retail price. However, if you already own a smart phone and a spotting scope or binoculars, adding a Phone Skope is significantly cheaper than purchasing a quality digital camera and telephoto lens.
Tight Squeeze: Phones are secured in the Phone Skope case by four rubber 90-degree corners found on the interior of each corner of the phone case. It is very difficult to place the phone into the rubber corners without folding the rubber corners in on themselves—which then causes the corners to not secure the phone properly or adequately. To counteract this issue, I have found using a small amount of phone safe lubricant (a small amount of Dawn dish soap applied lightly with a q-tip is my go-to) on the rubber corners, makes fitting the phone into the rubber corners a MUCH easier task.
For capturing photos and videos from scouting, hunting, wildlife viewing, or any other outdoor activity where high magnification is desired, it’s really hard to beat the easy to use and extremely practical Phone Skope. My Phone Skope goes with me on all of my outdoor adventures, and it will continue to do so long into the future!
Let me know you favorite ways to use your Phone Skope in the comments section below!