I predicted a few years ago, to a friend of mine who is in the optics business, that this would happen in the near future. It did, with a combination and manufacturer whose name I forget - it did not "take off".
The probable cost of this Zeiss initiative, especially in such a depressed financial environment, will almost certainly mean that this will not succeed either.
There is only one way to take high quality photographs of birds, and that is with a DSLR (preferably a "pro" body) and an extremely expensive telephoto lens. You can have a very good quality 'scope, and you can have a very good quality DSLR and long lens, but it is not really feasible to combine the two. A high end 'scope bought now will last you the rest of your life, the best DSLR will be redundant within three years.
I really do not know, or understand, why Zeiss are doing this. A colleague of mine here in Portugal is actually working with, and for, Zeiss in promoting the combination of their 85mm Diascope, DSLR adapter, and Canon DSLR body to produce excellent images (and they really are very, very good).
This new initiative sounds like short-lived gimmickry to me.
In the hands of someone who knows how to digiscope, the quality of digiscoped bird images with a compact camera, quality scope and tripod is fantastic and getting better all the time.
I agree they do lag a little way behind a pro DSLR and may not print out at size to the same quality. However, this is not what most birders (as opposed to photographers) want.
Birders want to go birding and almost by chance be able to record their birds simply; either as small prints but especially for a computer screen. A2 prints are not what most digiscopers are in the game for! Digiscoping with a compact camera is an ideal way of producing quality bird images on the screen, good enough to satisfy for most birders needs to record memorable birds and trips.
There is no need to constantly upgrade for screen images, just look how popular Coolpix 4500's still are! If Nikon still made them or the 995 or 990 for that matter they would still sell like hot cakes.
I bird Titchwell almost daily, the popularity of digiscoping is phenomenal. This is because they never previously thought of themselves as nature photographers.
If the Zeiss scope is the right quality optically and photographically (and both sound good, lack of image stabilisation apart) and if at the right price I predict it will be the first of many.
I suspect within 5 years time top of the range scopes will all have built in camera options and they'll probably be able to send your messages instantly to friends and your photographic pager or phone.
Doubt it. If the economy carries on the way it is at the moment, people will start coming to their senses and be wanting £200 scopes, rather than £2000 scopes.
The bottom line is, quite simply, that you cannot do "birding" and "bird photography" at the same time (for want of better phraseology!), which is what "digiscopers" expect - it is an unacceptable compromise. When I go out to take photographs (as in tomorrow, when I am trying to photograph a Pectoral Sandpiper and a Spotted Crake at Lagoa dos Salgados) I will have a 1D3 body and 500mm lens + 1.4TC with me; there simply is no contest between this and ANY digiscoping setup.
I also think that Michael has a good point that in this economic climate, with firms such as Leica announcing a new 'scope costing in the region of £2,500, no-one is going to 'chance their arm' on this 'scope + camera combination.
Have just been back to have a closer look at this - the whole thing sounds like a big joke to me, and the actual kit looks like it was designed in the 1950's. This will not succeed - I will take bets on that.
Not my cup of tea at all
As I actually go out and look FOR birds, rather than AT them, meaning I walk and bike about a fair bit, I need less and lighter gear. The superzooms are the way forward for me, allowing record shots of interesting birds to be taken rather than all that faffing around with cameras attached to heavy scopes/tripods etc with cables dangling. Scopes should be left for seawatching...
Although it might be useful for seawatching records, come to think of it - that WOULD be handy!
Doesn't mean for a second that it will be unpopular with the burgeoning section of pager 'birders' with all the gear... imagine it might be just what they want?
er, been a tiring day...
With a decent tripod and head, decent light you may well be able to digiscope close in stuff sea or raptor watching with this new kit.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't got the £££ to dash out and buy one but it will be very popular and is the way to go for birders who want to record their birds.
Good luck with the Pec and Spot crake!
But will they still next year, when they have been made redundant and their pension fundholder has gone under? . . . then £1800 is more than a year's income . . .The Kowa 883 at around £1800 is selling rather well judging by the number I see at Titchwell and around Norfolk