Leica very kindly let me borrow there new 1.8x extender, it fits nicely onto the leica apo 82 and 65 range of scopes. This new adapter fits directly onto the scope and then the main zoom lens fits above it. Unfortunately this will only work on angled Scopes but not straight.
This zooms up the 25-50x eyepiece by another 1.8 making the lens 45-90x.
Fitting the extender onto the scope is fairly straightforward and is exactly like fitting the main lens, and its just as quick and easy to take off too.
The first time I took this out to test I actually digiscoped with it, taking pictures of a really nice Desert Wheatear. I was amazed at the results as the quality seemed better with the adapter than without it. I felt the results were actually DSLR quality. Then I started using it just to look at the bird and the image were stunning. I will say the conditions I was testing in were perfect, light breeze, sunny and the bird was close. I will say I'm taking these pictures with slight Vignetteing and cropping them back at the computer as this gives the best quality results. Although I'm yet to test it on further away subjects.
Its been tough since then and testing has been sporadic but this time I decided to go out in bad conditions, drizzle bad light and birds further away. Once again I found the results tremendous even in less than perfect conditions.
Now to test at 500m The quality is never going to be great at these distances, theres no camera out there that will produce stunning shots but at least with this set up the images are acceptable record shots. Here's a Digiscoped shot without the Extender
So you can see the difference, below is a picture of the same birds but with the adapter.
A Shot of a Bewick swan at 250m
Overall I'm very very impressed with this awesome set up for Digiscoping and I hope you'll agree the pictures say it all.
Now onto the practicalities of using this set up for birding. Theres certainly pros and cons with this and the pros being the quality in good light is awesome almost right up to 90x. This is a great set up for searching through huge flocks of distant Geese and Waders and is brilliant when sitting in a hide where the buffeting of the wind is greatly reduced. For General use this set up is superb.Another pro is the lens sits nicely in the leica cover that's a bonus as I always like to put the cover back on when finished useing the scope and when its raining.
The cons are the light needs to be very good and In poor conditions its unusable at 90x but at 36x its still very sharp and impressive. Its inevitable your going to loose the light the higher magnifications but its still usable, just bring the magnification down a little.
My birding involves a lot of sea-watching in poor conditions and unfortunately I do have to take it off and even in good conditions the quality and sharpness for me just isn't quiet there.
Another con which is to be expected is focus length is massive so going from short focus to long focus is very tricky going from a tree to something on the sea is difficult and takes some getting used to.
Lastly I would recommend a very good sturdy tripod making the shake at higher magnifications reduced because the greater shake is to be expected at higher magnification.
In conclusion would I buy one... Hell yeh I would for my type of birding and digiscoping there's more pros than cons and it takes no time at all taking the extender off if I'm going to be doing a seawatch, that's the only time I wont use it and for normal birding you could keep the extender on permanently.
Still a bit of testing to do whilst I've still got it but I think I've used it in all conditions and covered all angles.
For all those Astronomers out there I think this set up is pretty impressive even for taking shots of the moon.
Retailors such as Focalpoint Optics ring Paul Brewster or Viking Optical ring Paul or Scott, can get you this piece of kit for a competitive price but it does seem to be retailing at between £262 and £320.