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Old Sunday 25th June 2017, 23:45   #1
Hauksen
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Red Dot Sights (Reflex Sights) on Spotting Scopes

Hi everyone,

After trying a red dot sight (also known as reflex or reflector sight) on my Nikon ED50A both from a tripod and when held in the hand, I'm pretty enthusiastic about the technology!

Here is a picture of my test rig. It combines a "flash grip" mounted between tripod and scope base by means of a tripod screw with a hotshoe-to-Weaver mount, on which the reflex sight is mounted (with an extra Weaver-to-dovetail adapter).

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The "flash grip" was a cheap collapsible one the local photo dealer had in stock. The hotshoe-to-Weaver mount is the all-metal Xtendasight from Photosolve:

https://photosolve.com/main/product/...ght/index.html

Photosolve also offers the Weaver-to-dovetail adapter, but due to the confusing rail designations (in Imperial units) I missed that opportunity and later bought an equivalent adapter locally.

The reflex sight is a cheap one from Amazon, but I'm really pleased both with the features and the quality. It offers different reticles and, importantly, green illumination (which shows much better against a bright, sunny background). Had I understood the mounting rails better, I'd probably have bought the Weaver rail version instead of the dovetail one:

https://www.amazon.de/Cvlife-1x22x33.../dp/B00IODSYTO

Since reflex sights are sometimes confused with laser pointers, probably because of the "red dot" in their popular name: Reflex sights do not shine a laser at the target, but they only project the image of the reticle (a dot, crosshairs, a dot in a circle, etc.) on a piece of glass in front of the eyes of the observer. This image is focussed at infinity (for easy viewing) and overlays the target. Within a cone behind the sight, it's possible to move the eye around and still see the reticle on target - which makes a reflex sight much more convenient than "iron sights", like a ring-and-bead sight.

Overall, I'm really thrilled with the ease of use of the scope with reflex sight attached. It's really point-and-view for all stationary targets, with the scope being on target pretty much every time. When not using a tripod, I found that it was also surprisingly easy to acquire birds in flight by putting the dot on them (or a little in front) and then switchng to the eyepiece. This worked even for common snipes in display flight overhead, which I thought was a tough situation, especially considering I was using an angled scope (and high magnification).

However, the rig itself turned out to be a bit on the bulky side and not stiff enough. Transporting it in the backpack without disassembly meant the sight was usually off target after a while, and disassembling and mounting it to the scope again also meant that it was off the target. This was owed to the flash grip being somewhat flexible, collapsible, cheap, and mounted with a tripod screw - which gives no positive repeatable alignment.

One benefit of using a reflex sight that might not be immediately evident is that it works both ways - not only can you put the scope on target, you can also easily locate a target's surroundings if you have spotted a bird while panning. Even better, it's fairly easy to let someone else have a look through the reflex sight to understand where to point his (or hers) own scope to pick up the bird you have spotted. This works a lot better than peeking through the scope, which in many environments (such as vast meadows, or tidal flats) often doesn't help too much unless by chance the bird is sitting in front of a unique landmark.

I've read that other people have tried reflex sights on their spotting scopes too, and I'd be interested in your experience!

I've also found a ten years old thread on this board which even included photographs of the scopes with the sights in place, which I found very interesting, but unfortunately these photographs didn't show much detail. If you'd like to share a picture of your installation, that would be much appreciated!

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 09:32   #2
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Hi,

have you tried the cable tie sight? Does the same for cents and doesn't look so martial... red dot or rather telrad is nice for astro though... unless you have glow in the dark cable ties.

Joachim
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 10:31   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
have you tried the cable tie sight? Does the same for cents and doesn't look so martial...
Indeed. Below a pic of my set-up with the same scope as above. Work's great, I'm a big fan :)
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 11:37   #4
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Hi Joachim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
have you tried the cable tie sight? Does the same for cents and doesn't look so martial...
I'm certain it's hard to beat with regard to cost, weight, or simplicity :-)

However, if you're familiar with the technology, I'm sure you'll agree that a reflex sight has some very real advantages over the cable tie.

As far as I'm concerned, the reflex sight is totally worth a bit of extra hardware effort, though my test rig isn't fully satisfactory.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 11:42   #5
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Indeed. Below a pic of my set-up with the same scope as above. Work's great, I'm a big fan :)
Thanks for the pictures, I've got to try that too! Never noticed the stay-on case also fits the angled version, by the way :-)

Do you use it hand-held, or on a tripod? If on a tripod, how do you mount the Nikon, considering that the tripod screw is re-purposed to hold the stay-on case in place?

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 12:48   #6
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Hi Henning, I mostly use it with the 27x eyepiece, and handheld it does not really work for me. So I use it either on a monopod or tripod.

On a monopod, the grippa case is great, as it can be hold very well using the grip of the case. However, as you said, I needed to buy a longer screw to fix the plate to the scope with the case on. Good enough, but not perfect. Main problem is that the screw loosens with time, and as the srew I use needs a wrench to fix it, it's a hassle in the field. I now mostly use it without the case.
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 13:55   #7
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Hi Henning,

if you really want to go forward with red-dot, have a look at the Rigel Quikfinder. It's fairly small and has a glue on shoe from which it can be detached easily without loosing collimation. It usually goes on the dewcap so it doesn't interfere with the EP.

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/...leuchtung.html

Joachim
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 15:52   #8
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Hi Joachim,

>It usually goes on the dewcap so it doesn't interfere with the EP.

Thanks a lot for the recommendation! "Dewcap" is the "Sonnenblende", I presume? But what's "EP"?

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 16:38   #9
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The plastic tie "sight"(sight) is not very reliable as a guide due to only having a single reference point to aim the device..what do you align the plastic tie with to use as a reference?.."..with the eyepiece?..well that is random collimation at best..the red dot sight its only seen refrected in the screen in one point,always the same,no matter where you are situated,hence collimation is not aproximated but right on..this works amazingly well with close range,fast moving or flying birds when mounted on a scope..I ,by the way,use plastic ties to fix the mount to my scopes,and remove the sight when not using it..
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 17:13   #10
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Small dab of lume paint on the eyepiece upper, when it's aligned with the cable tie sight, voila, bird in eyepiece.

Much like a weapons open sights. Very quick, very fast, very cheap and very easy to camouflage as well.
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 17:40   #11
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Hi Mayoyao,

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayoayo View Post
the red dot sight its only seen refrected in the screen in one point,always the same,no matter where you are situated,hence collimation is not aproximated but right on..this works amazingly well with close range,fast moving or flying birds when mounted on a scope..
I agree, the constant position of the red dot (or green circle, in my case :-) is the big advantage of the reflex sight.

I've just tried to capture this on camera, but it's a bit difficult.

Here a series of three pictures, taken with the scope in a fixed position, and the camera in three different positions looking through the sight:

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You can see that the circle and the centre dot are always in the same position relative to the target.

What you can't see due to insufficient depth of field is that I have arranged the end of a bicycle spoke in the centre of the sight in an attempt to simulate a cable tie (which, being narrower, would be even less visible on camera). It just appears as a vague shadow in the centre of the sight's "frame", in different positions relative to the target, and thus in misalignment in two of the pictures.

The constant reticle position allows more head movement without losing alignment, which is more relaxed, more convenient, and probably quicker.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayoayo View Post
I ,by the way,use plastic ties to fix the mount to my scopes,and remove the sight when not using it..
So the cable tie is indispensable after all! :-) If you'd like to share a picture of your mount, that would be highly appreciated!

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 19:39   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Thanks a lot for the recommendation! "Dewcap" is the "Sonnenblende", I presume? But what's "EP"?
Sorry for optics jargon... that would be eyepiece or "Okular"...

Gruss aus Frankfurt,

Joachim
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 19:41   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratal View Post
Small dab of lume paint on the eyepiece upper, when it's aligned with the cable tie sight, voila, bird in eyepiece.
Indeed - I just use the highest point of the eyecup and the cable tie which works great unless sb with spectacles screws down the eyecup... but since I get bad kidneybeanning then I need to screw it out again anyways...

Joachim
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 21:05   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mayoayo View Post
The plastic tie "sight"(sight) is not very reliable as a guide due to only having a single reference point to aim the device..what do you align the plastic tie with to use as a reference?.."..with the eyepiece?..well that is random collimation at best..
If you tried it and came to that conclusion, you must have done sth wrong.

Yes, the first reference point is the eyepiece. You put your eye to the eyepiece for looking through the scope, and then just look slightly up over the eypiece and align the cable tie tip with the target. That works perfectly easy, intuitive and precise. There is no need to move the eye from aiming to scoping, so it's very fast and easy, e.g. to follow raptors in the sky.

I believe you that the red dot sights work great as well. But comparing the two ED50 pictures in these thread, I know which type of sight I prefer
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 21:36   #15
Hauksen
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
Yes, the first reference point is the eyepiece. You put your eye to the eyepiece for looking through the scope, and then just look slightly up over the eypiece and align the cable tie tip with the target.
Thanks for the explanation! Reminds me a bit of self-bow archery where for consistent results, you draw your hand back to a certain anchor point.

Trying it with my bicycle spoke sight, it seems to take a bit of practice to be on target consistently, but I guess it becomes natural fairly quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
But comparing the two ED50 pictures in these thread, I know which type of sight I prefer ;)
Out of curiosity, is that preference born out of aesthetic concerns, or because of the extra weight or bulk of my test rig?

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 21:37   #16
Hauksen
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Hi Joachim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
Sorry for optics jargon... that would be eyepiece or "Okular"...

Gruss aus Frankfurt,

Joachim
Ah, I should have guessed that - it was easy enough!

Dank aus Hamburg :-)

Henning
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 21:54   #17
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the gun open sight,if you have seen any,has some ways to adjust and align both ends of the gun,and a very specific angle to make it coincide,usually along a rail or between an open notch or even a peep hole...otherwise the position of the head is always different and the angle on which the dot and the piece of plastic aligns is always changing for some degrees...of course you can look through the eyepiece and then pretend that the tie is aligned with the target,and it would be relative to your eye at that very moment,only at that moment...move your head and you have to start again..also..you align the tip of the tie,right?
I mean if it works for you is great,im so glad..I am just saying I have tried both for birding and there is no comparison in the way i can acquire my moving target between one and the other..You prefer the plastic tie to the red dot sight,well,your experience is as good as mine.
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Old Monday 26th June 2017, 23:02   #18
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Hi,

well I think the tasks of getting a bird inside the 15/1000m fov (that makes 5/333m for better comparison) of a scope at max magnification and hitting a large mammal into the heart at 333m with a rifle (shudder, sorry for mentioning it) are about two orders of magnitude apart in precision needed - which might explain why the cable tie sight works in case of the former.

Since my cable tie is pulled quite tightly around the stay on case, it doesn't move so easily. Most of the times it's dead on. If it isn't due to having been bent in the trunk, I just look through the scope and over top of EP and cable tie and adjust the cable tie until it points to the same place - takes a few seconds and is certainly faster than recollimating a red-dot...
I know the ordeal from my Quickfinder on the astro scopes... but of course it also needs a bit more precision and luckily holds collimation well.

Joachim

Last edited by jring : Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 07:16.
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 03:35   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Out of curiosity, is that preference born out of aesthetic concerns, or because of the extra weight or bulk of my test rig?
If simple and cheap does the job as good as sth more complicated, i prefer the simple solution.

But of course it also has to do with my style of birding: i frequently stuff my scope in a backpack or bike bag for transport and between birding locations, and so i'd have to disassemble that red dot mount every time. If you can let it permanantly mounted, i guess that is less of a problem.
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 03:53   #20
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This old thread has good explanations and drawings on how the cable tie works: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=99084
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 11:03   #21
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Hi Joachim,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
Hi,

well I think the tasks of getting a bird inside the 15/1000m fov (that makes 5/333m for better comparison) of a scope at max magnification and hitting a large mammal into the heart at 333m with a rifle (shudder, sorry for mentioning it) are about two orders of magnitude apart in precision needed - which might explain why the cable tie sight works in case of the former.
Good explanation! :-)

My series of pictures was not meant to demonstrate any shortcoming of the cable tie sight, but only to show that the reflex sight allows the birder to move his head around a bit and still get a perfect sight picture.

That's more a question of convenience and relaxed use than one of accuracy, aided by the sight image being easily visible with both eyes open.

This also facilitates the "reverse aiming" process ... is there a common birder's term for this, by the way? I'm thinking of picking up a bird through the scope, and then informing the birder next to you where to point the scope to see the same bird.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jring View Post
I know the ordeal from my Quickfinder on the astro scopes... but of course it also needs a bit more precision and luckily holds collimation well.
My hope is to devise a mount that's not as flexible as the test rig so it stays true. The test rig is fairly good vertically, but due to the use of tripod screws for mounting to the scope, it's not so good laterally. I can "bend" it into position in a similar way you describe for the cable-tie sight, but it's no fun. The sight itself stays true reliably - despite its low cost, it's quite nicely made from metal. Pleasant surprise when I opened the package! :-)

Trueing my sight is relatively easy, but I'd still prefer to do it only at home as it requries two different sizes of hex keys - one to unlock and re-lock, and the other to adjust horizontally/vertically. Other airgun sights don't have the locking screw, and their adjustment screws can be turned with a coin ... much more user-friendly.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 11:20   #22
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Hi Dalat,

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalat View Post
But of course it also has to do with my style of birding: i frequently stuff my scope in a backpack or bike bag for transport and between birding locations, and so i'd have to disassemble that red dot mount every time. If you can let it permanantly mounted, i guess that is less of a problem.
I agree, and I'm in fact attempting to come up with something that stays permanently mounted. I did stuff the assembled test rig in my backpack occasionally, but that's only possible if I don't cram in as much gear as I usually do ;-) It tends to go out of alignment in the backpack, or even when carried with the sling, so it's not yet a practical design.

This shows a possible solution, to be clamped around the dewcap of the ED50:

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Still, I had hoped for some inspirational photos from people who are already using reflex sights on mounts of their own making ... feels like I'm re-inventing the wheel all over again ;-)

Regards,

Henning

Last edited by Hauksen : Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 15:33.
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 15:22   #23
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Trueing my sight is relatively easy, but I'd still prefer to do it only at home as it requries two different sizes of hex keys - one to unlock and re-lock, and the other to adjust horizontally/vertically. Other airgun sights don't have the locking screw, and their adjustment screws can be turned with a coin ... much more user-friendly.
With the Quikfinder you just need to get the base placement halfway right - the rest is done by moving the glass with the etched reticule using the 3 white plastic screws... no tools needed.
But still fiddly in the field in darkness, especially on a non-tracking mount where your target moves away all the time...

Joachim

Last edited by jring : Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 15:23. Reason: speling
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 17:14   #24
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Don't have this problem with a straight through scope. E.g. The Nikon ED82 has 'notches' on the outside of the scope to line up if needed. I don't use them as the scope is lined up by eye. My old Kowa 624 had a sighting tube on the side for the same purpose.
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Old Tuesday 27th June 2017, 17:33   #25
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My old Kowa 624 had a sighting tube on the side for the same purpose.
My Swaro has this as well. It works ok. However, switching from aiming to looking through the scope requires moving the head quite a bit. The cable tie doesn't rquire this, so is much faster. Getting flying raptors in the scope is difficult with the little tube, but no problem with the cable tie. So I never really used the tube thing...

Last edited by dalat : Tuesday 27th June 2017 at 17:45.
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