“A picture or it didn’t happen…” appears to be the new mantra in the hunting community. Gone are the days of adding a few inches of antler to that buck or bull you’ve been scouting. Doesn’t matter if it’s a text to a couple of buddies, a short trip recap on Rokslide, or just blasting it out there on your favorite sharing app for others to enjoy, everyone wants to see pictures. Nothing else can put someone right in the moment of the story as quickly as high-quality video or photographs. People can easily spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment to be able to capture and share these moments. For those of us on a tighter budget, we need to try and dual-purpose some of the expensive optics we already own. Que Digiscoping.  It is simply the activity of using a digital camera to record distant images by coupling it with an optical telescope.  Sounds simple, but getting a quality image is the combination of three things: a quality optic, a quality camera, and a solid correct-length connection between the two lenses. In this review, I’ll go over the Novagrade Double Gripper Digiscope Adapter. More info here.

How This Journey Started

This past season I experienced a major stream crossing incident that, among other things, required me to make a new cellular phone purchase. My choice of a new Motorola did not yet have a digiscoping case that fit my current spotting scopes eyepiece adapter, so I opted to finish out the season without a phone adapter hoping a custom fit case would come available soon. Dang did I miss out on a lot of great photo opportunities. It was like the late 90’s again, trying to hold my phone up to the eyepiece only to take blurry picture after blurry picture. If I wanted to have a photograph I could share, I was going to have to get a set up to center the camera and hold my phone steady.

My Research Started On Rokslide

After the water crossing incident I knew I had better protect my new phone with a waterproof case. This decision really limited the options to run anything but a universal digiscoping adapter.  Within a few keystrokes, I discovered this article from Matt Cashell.

Guess I must have been living under a rock because my search quickly followed up with a Justin Crossley article, Versatility in Digiscoping.

Then there was some member feedback in this thread as well, Novagrade Ranger App Review.

All the reviews were excellent reads, but I’ll share a few quotes from the articles.
  • @Bitterroot Bulls—” This is an instrument built for a lifetime of hard, versatile use.”
  • @Justin Crossley—“After the initial alignment, I didn’t have to make any adjustments when attaching my phone for proceeding pictures. That speaks to the robustness of the adapter.”
  • @SLDMTN—“universal normally means it can do them all but none of them well, which is not the case here.”
  • @elkeaterco—“I really like how secure and easy it attached to my spotter.”
  • @sneaky—“The adapter hasn’t skipped a beat, just wish the rest of my gear would hold up that well.

The Novagrade Phone Adapter sounded liked it checked a lot of boxes for me, so I knew I needed to get my hands on one. Come to find out, a Gen II Novagrade had been released since those reviews.  This model features two gripping points vs. the Gen I’s single point.  A big thank you to Doug and everyone at Novagrade for sending me a full Double Gripper system to try out for this review.

I’ve been using the Novagrade Double Gripper adapter for the last few months and wanted to share a few thoughts on it.

Novagrade Double Gripper Quality

The Novagrade is simply built to last. It is constructed of solid aluminum and machined to the finest aircraft grade tolerances which provides a proper fit every single use. Using a robust material for all the major components does add weight, but also durability. I could see where this extra mass might cause potential balancing issues when paired with a cheaper, light duty tripod head that exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendation. I’ve never experienced any similar issues even though I tried this Novagrade adapter on multiple buddies’ scopes and tripods.

Novagrade Versatility

This Novagrade is a truly universal adapter. The double or single gripper adapters will fit any phone, wearing any case, mated with any optic. It really is that quickly and easily adjustable if a phone or optic is swapped out. This adjustability also allows me to center the lens of whatever camera I want to use on my dual camera phone. This is perfect for me because I tend to hunt with different people throughout the season, and now with the Novagrade, we can use either of our phones on a single spotting scope, saving that weight. Now, whoever is directing the stalk can capture images or video as it plays out regardless of who owns the better spotter.

Any phone can easily be secured perfectly horizontal, as this is the optimal position needed to record quality video footage. It locks rock solid to the eyepiece and can also be used as a viewfinder. This is a huge benefit allowing children or other bystanders to enjoy the viewing experience. When solo, this allows for more comfortable glassing positions and less eye strain.

Ease Of Use

The design of the Novagrade adapter makes it easy to quickly capture video and photos as well as pull the unit off, replace in the backpack and begin the search again for the next animal. Nothing needs to stay mounted on the spotter or the phone. This keeps the phone light and handy for use with a navigation app or simply capturing regular photos. Without anything having to stay attached, it allows me to quickly return the spotter and tripod to their designated spots in my pack and gets me going off to the next spot. Covering ground efficiently is a definite key to success and every bit of efficiency adds up. I also find that this system keeps me taking more images just because it is just so convenient to use.

A Great Tool For The Range

I have been using the Novagrade frequently at the range to record my long range target practice. The Adapter paired with my phone using video has been indispensable for watching vapors trails and spotting impacts. It has really cut down on my time and frustration communicating with less experienced spotters by making sure I knew EXACTLY where my shots were impacting. It also makes sharing those same videos so easy.

In summary

The Novagrade system has been thoroughly vetted by the Rokslide Staff and many long-standing members.  It is precision machined right in Oregon, by Americans who share our passion for the outdoors.  Novagrade is also a long time Rokslide sponsor and for me, that is a big deal. Over the course of this review, I’ve gone from a Vanguard to a Maven, to finally a Kowa spotting scope so it really has been the perfect fit for me and my endless quest to upgrade equipment. The Novagrade is a premium “buy once, cry once” digiscoping adapter. Regardless of how many times you upgrade phones or optics, the Novagrade will always work perfect on your set up. You can order yours here.

You can comment on this article or ask Sam questions here.