The Side-Shot Scope Camera Mount
The Side-Shot was designed by noted Utah airgun shooter Val Simmons and developed into production by his son Thayne.
Together, they developed it into an unique, yet practical means of taking both still photographs and video through a scope – while still allowing the shooter to look through the eyepiece in the normal manner.
As many HAM readers will know, both Val and Thayne can really shoot! They’re both many-time award winners competing at Extreme Benchrest in Arizona…
Val’s solution was to mount the cellphone behind and to one side of the scope – hence the name – and incorporate a beam-splitting mirror in the adaptor.
This beam-splitting mirror allows the scope image to be seen by both the shooter, as usual, yet also to be directed into the lens of the cellphone camera.
So the scope can be focussed precisely and accurately through the eyepiece as usual, rather than relying on the cellphone screen to do so – as happens with “straight through” scope camera systems.
The Side-Shot is primarily a video shooting device. Turn on video recording, shoot, then playback the results to impress your friends. However, I used it for still photography by setting the gun on a rest, then taking photos while covering the eyepiece with a spare scope lens cap to improve contrast.
The Side-Shot system can also be used an an unique coaching/training tool. It enables the shooter to shoot normally, yet the coach can see video of exactly what the shooter is seeing, simply by looking at the screen of the phone. This can be a huge benefit in training a new shooter, or in diagnosing otherwise unaccountable operator errors.
The only slight issue is that – due to the mirror – the scope image is reversed right-to-left. This is not an issue for video or still photography because the image can be flipped horizontally using software either on the phone, or in a computer later.
However, it’s just something to be borne in mind when using the phone’s video image for direct visual observation in training.
The step is to attach the Side-Shot mounting clamp to your scope’s tube. Multiple size mounting clamps are available in the common scope tube diameters; 1-inch, 30mm and 34mm.The clamp locks solidly into place using two setscrews.
This clamp supports the cellphone adapter in its correct position over the end of the scope’s eyepiece. It also aligns the phone’s camera with the mirror, allowing the image to be projected directly into the camera. Just align the system slightly squarer than I did for this first shot!
Following the YouTube video instructions, I was able to align the scope immediately. Then it was simply a matter of double-tapping the phone’s screen to focus and set exposure before hitting the shutter button on the phone.
Adding the Side-Shot system didn’t unduly compromise handling either. The Side-Shot itself weighs just 12 Ounces, plus the cellphone. So the overall weight remains very manageable.
I used a single lens iPhone to take the photographs. However, Thayne tells me that his Side-Shot system works well with multiple lens camera cellphones too.