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Old Saturday 14th October 2017, 00:48   #1
jurek
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Advice needed for a camera

I am looking for a camera for bird and general nature photography. I previously had Canon350D with Sigma APODG zoom 80x300mm.

My technique involves shooting whatever rare I see on a birding travel, rarely bothering with much technique except composition, zoom, ISO and shutter speed, little post-processing, and generally photography should not take over walking round and birding. Still I made some amazing pictures and sold some.

The new camera should be generally, a new replacement of that one. In particular:
- It should not be significantly heavier - large bird lenses are no-go for me. I need to be very mobile.
- It should still be a good camera with telephoto lenses, able to take high quality pictures (not just documents).

My problem is that not photographing long I completely lost contact with what is relatively cheap entry level camera which many birders buy.
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Old Saturday 14th October 2017, 10:41   #2
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If you are interested in BIF (birds in flight), I'd suggest the combination of Nikon V3 + CX 70-300 lens. What I use is the less expensive, basically similar model Nikon V2 (thread here). The V3 gives you more pixels and no AA filter, for better feather detail. The particular advantages are:

- silent shooting, no lens adjusting, low repair costs (mirrorless, electronic shutter = no wear)
- 810 mm equivalent
- 10 / 20 / 30 frames per second, up to 20 fps with refocusing between shots
- mobility: low weight, after a little training you rarely miss a rare bird flying by.
- small, in a few seconds a little plastic bag becomes your rain protection ;-)
- modest price, if you can find a secondhand seller.
- Warning: The Nikon One series is discontinued. This may deter you, yet it could also mean lower prices.

The V3 + modular EVF + grip isn't cheap even if it comes used. V2 + CX 70-300 costs circa Euro 800 (used).

Last edited by HermitIbis : Saturday 14th October 2017 at 10:51.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 01:51   #3
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Thanks a lot! Some alternatives, especially Canon? In my old memory, Nikon is lodged as the best brand, but above my price tolerance which was within Canon. But if I am talking nonsense please correct me.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 08:39   #4
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Thanks a lot! Some alternatives, especially Canon? In my old memory, Nikon is lodged as the best brand, but above my price tolerance which was within Canon. But if I am talking nonsense please correct me.
Before I changed to the Nikon camera mentioned above, I had only used Canon cameras. At first the Canon 450D combined with a Tamron 70-300 lens. The birds were too small, so I added a 1.4x converter. Still very small. Later I bought a Canon 650D, not much difference. Then I began to use the Canon SX50 (practically from day one when it came out, in November 2012), a phantastic superzoom camera. Suddenly the (stationary) birds were large enough, filling the frame. Over the next four years I shot almost 500,000 photos.

Occasionally I tried to return to my Canon DSLR with its better picture quality. Buying the Sigma 400mm and combining it with the teleconverter was a phantastic experience. I've heard that the Canon 400mm offers a similar quality and much better autofocus. Perhaps that's the path you want to take? Personally I loved the picture quality, but it was a lot of weight, and I was practically forced to use a monopod. I added a 2x converter, but then the autofocus doesn't work anymore. There was the option to buy a Tamron 150-600, or a Canon 7D or a 7D2 or... all of those are pretty expensive, unfortunately. And heavy. I am 55 years old... And they are noisy. After using the bridge/superzoom I had become used to photograph silently.

Today I own three Canon SX50 bodies. Those are inexpensive, about Euro 250 (used). But it is difficult to shoot birds in flight, and it's only 1-2 fps.

The Nikon V2/CX 70-300 is capable to do BIF. To get the same performance with a Canon DSLR, you have to pay significantly more (3x or so). What you'd get is better image quality. On the other side, you add weight.

Those who strive for ultimate quality are nowadays using trolleys in the birding reservation, to transport their equipment. Not an option for me...

Last edited by HermitIbis : Monday 16th October 2017 at 08:46.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 09:59   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jurek View Post
I am looking for a camera for bird and general nature photography....
A couple of options come to mind:
* Bridge Camera - Sony RX-10 IV - just released 20Mp 1" sensor, phase detect giving DSLR type tracking for the first time, and 24-600mm f4 Zeiss lens. Ability to crop to 900mm and 1200mm at lower resolutions (10Mp and 5Mp respectively)
* DSLR - Nikon D7200 - a 24Mp APS-C sensor prosumer camera offering 1.3x in-camera crop to give effectively 2x focal length + either 300mm f4 PF lens and 1.4x TC, or the Tamron G2 150-600mm f6.3 (or the Sigma Contemporary 150-600mm f6.3). A bit heavier option is the Nikon 200-500mm f5.6.

Between these are MILC's - the discontinued Nikon V3, or the MFT Olympus OM-D E-M1 MarkII.

I carry the Nikon DSLR + 150-600 Tammy all day on a Black Rapid Sling along with binoculars. At 6lb it is a deliberate rather than incidental decision, but very manageable, and the reach (1200mm) is addictive! The Sony sourced sensor is one of the best.

Good luck!



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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 11:26   #6
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If you want to avoid heavy lenses while retaining high image quality, I think micro four-thirds format is the way to go (Olympus and Panasonic). The top cameras and lenses aren't cheap though. Another good lightweight alternative is the second one mentioned by chosun-the nikon 300mm f4 phase fresnel lens with a nikon dslr.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 12:03   #7
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A very good Canon option is the Canon 400 5.6 l. Quick and accurate focus and superb image quality. Not to heavy. I'm using that one with a Canon 750d.
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Old Monday 16th October 2017, 14:44   #8
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I'd give a third recommendation (to the two above) for the Nikon D7200 / 300mm PF combo...I haven't yet invested in a 1.4x TC, but only heard good reports from those who have. I've recently ditched the Nikon strap for a Peak Design Sling, which is great - camera sits over your shoulder, out of the way until you need it so you can concentrate on finding and watching birds if that is your primary activity.

In terms of technique I decide whether I need to prioritise fast speed or depth of field, take account of light conditions and set shutter & aperture manually, leaving auto ISO to sort out exposure.

Not so enthralled by M4/3 - bought my partner a Panny G80 / 100-300mm MkII combo, which theoretically has better reach than the D7200/300mm, but isn't anywhere near it for IQ or speed / accuracy of acquiring focus. It is a lot lighter even than the D7200/ 300mm PF though.
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Old Tuesday 17th October 2017, 09:49   #9
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Not so enthralled by M4/3 - bought my partner a Panny G80 / 100-300mm MkII combo, which theoretically has better reach than the D7200/300mm, but isn't anywhere near it for IQ or speed / accuracy of acquiring focus. It is a lot lighter even than the D7200/ 300mm PF though.
Just to be clear, the 100-300mm is a good, moderately priced, lightweight zoom. I used the mk. I version for several years. But I wouldn't expect it to compare to a prime in image quality, and it's certainly not the lens I would choose to demonstrate the image quality that m4/3s is capable of. For that, you'd want the pana-leica 100-400 or the olympus 300mm f4 prime.

No experience with the G80 though I will note reviews have praised its autofocus abilities; also, it's not panasonic's top of the line.

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Old Sunday 29th October 2017, 19:41   #10
jurek
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Thanks a lot, if you have more advice, please keep it coming!
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Old Sunday 29th October 2017, 21:28   #11
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I would go for a Nikon APS-C camera, D7500, D7200 perhaps (D7200 is probably the best value right now). But try first, you might not like the grip and ergonomics if you are into Canon.

Combined with a 400mm lens you get a slight edge compared to the 300mm you've had, but still the weight is not that cumbersome. Around 1 kg for the Tamron below.

A new Tamron 100-400 is on the way soon, looks nice, might be a better alternative than the latest sigma 100-400. Some test shots in smaller size in the link:

https://www.dpreview.com/news/547939...telephoto-zoom

Weight is 1135 grams, weather sealed, 4 stops of images stabilization, tripod foot is arca-swiss compatible (foot is optional), 17 lens elements (3 Low Dispertion), 1.5m close focus.

"The new Tamron 100-400mm will be available in both Canon and Nikon mounts on November 16th at $799."

Last edited by Vespobuteo : Monday 30th October 2017 at 09:17.
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 19:05   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim M. View Post
Just to be clear, the 100-300mm is a good, moderately priced, lightweight zoom. I used the mk. I version for several years. But I wouldn't expect it to compare to a prime in image quality, and it's certainly not the lens I would choose to demonstrate the image quality that m4/3s is capable of. For that, you'd want the pana-leica 100-400 or the olympus 300mm f4 prime.

No experience with the G80 though I will note reviews have praised its autofocus abilities; also, it's not panasonic's top of the line.
My main gripe with the G80 is I expected it to be easier to use than the D7200, especially for my partner who already had an FZ200, and therefore a basic understanding of Panasonic menus. It isn't, and I think we are both going to have to invest a lot of time getting to grips with it. In contrast, I found the D7200 intuitive, despite never having used a Nikon camera of any type before.

I didn't expect it would compete with the D7200 / 300 PF in IQ, or the 100-400 pana-leica / oly 300 prime, but hoped the Mk II version of the 100-300 would represent an upgrade on what I'd read on the Mk I. Maybe it was a mistake not going for the 100-400, but my partner would kill me if I'd spent that much on a birthday gift!

So far I'm also underwhelmed with the autofocus capabilities of the 100-300 MkII, but again we probably haven't discovered the best autofocus options. I appreciate this isn't a top-of-the-range combo for demonstrating what M4/3 is capable of, but then the 100-400 pana-leica isn't much cheaper than a 300 PF, while the Oly 300 is significantly more expensive. Similarly, the top-of-the range Panny GH5 is significantly dearer than the D7200, and comparable to the D500 (based on UK prices).

So for similar outlay to a top of the range GH5 / Oly 300 combo, you could have a D500 / 300PF +1.4 TC mkIII (both around 3700 total in UK - likely significantly less in US of course!). Unless the advantages in weight and bulk are important (and I concede for birding they often are), I'm not seeing any other reasons to choose M4/3 over what would be a relatively compact and extremely capable DSLR setup.
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 19:46   #13
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My main gripe with the G80 is I expected it to be easier to use than the D7200, especially for my partner who already had an FZ200, and therefore a basic understanding of Panasonic menus. It isn't, and I think we are both going to have to invest a lot of time getting to grips with it. In contrast, I found the D7200 intuitive, despite never having used a Nikon camera of any type before.

I didn't expect it would compete with the D7200 / 300 PF in IQ, or the 100-400 pana-leica / oly 300 prime, but hoped the Mk II version of the 100-300 would represent an upgrade on what I'd read on the Mk I. Maybe it was a mistake not going for the 100-400, but my partner would kill me if I'd spent that much on a birthday gift!

So far I'm also underwhelmed with the autofocus capabilities of the 100-300 MkII, but again we probably haven't discovered the best autofocus options. I appreciate this isn't a top-of-the-range combo for demonstrating what M4/3 is capable of, but then the 100-400 pana-leica isn't much cheaper than a 300 PF, while the Oly 300 is significantly more expensive. Similarly, the top-of-the range Panny GH5 is significantly dearer than the D7200, and comparable to the D500 (based on UK prices).

So for similar outlay to a top of the range GH5 / Oly 300 combo, you could have a D500 / 300PF +1.4 TC mkIII (both around 3700 total in UK - likely significantly less in US of course!). Unless the advantages in weight and bulk are important (and I concede for birding they often are), I'm not seeing any other reasons to choose M4/3 over what would be a relatively compact and extremely capable DSLR setup.
Its my understanding the 100-300 mk11 has the same focus motor speed as the 100-400, if thats the case spend more time on sorting settings because the 100-400 is very fast and accurate.
There is a setting in the G80 to tell the camera how fast to refocus,i had this set at its fastest.
To get it at its best there are a few tweaks you need to sort but sorry i cant remember any more.
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:01   #14
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Just found this which i posted on another forum ref the re focus speed, taken from the manual.

Sets the sensitivity to be applied when adjusting the focus
according to the movement of the subject.
• When the distance to the subject changes drastically:
– [+] side: The camera re-adjusts the focus immediately.
You can bring different subjects into focus one after
another.
– [-] side: The camera waits for a short period of time
before re-adjusting the focus. This allows you to
prevent the focus from being accidentally re-adjusted
when, for example, an object moves across the image.
• This item works only when the Focus Mode is set to [AFF]
or [AFC].
s
MENU > [Custom]
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:04   #15
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Hi Jurek,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jurek View Post
Thanks a lot, if you have more advice, please keep it coming!
I'm not sure the Panasonic DMC FZ1000 has been mentioned yet. It's a bridge camera so the lenses are not interchangable, but it has a 1" sensor and a tele lens of 400 mm equivalent focal length. The autofocus is quick and easily good enough for birds in flight. Not too expensive, either.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:19   #16
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Hi Jurek,



I'm not sure the Panasonic DMC FZ1000 has been mentioned yet. It's a bridge camera so the lenses are not interchangable, but it has a 1" sensor and a tele lens of 400 mm equivalent focal length. The autofocus is quick and easily good enough for birds in flight. Not too expensive, either.

Regards,

Henning
Talking to a guy on flickr that used one for BIF but he said he needed a red dot finder to follow the birds,dont know if that was just him.
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:32   #17
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Hi Nikonmike,

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Talking to a guy on flickr that used one for BIF but he said he needed a red dot finder to follow the birds,dont know if that was just him.
That's quite fascinating as I've also experimented with a red dot sight on mine.

However, the FZ1000's electronic viewfinder's frame rate is high enough and the lag short enough to make it almost as functional as my old Alpha 700 DSLR with a purely optical viewfinder, so I don't usually mount the red dot sight.

I have used the reflex sight to shoot pictures of swifts is full flight at fairly short range, and that's a situation where I'd also have needed one on my DSLR.

Regards,

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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:43   #18
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Hi Nikonmike,



That's quite fascinating as I've also experimented with a red dot sight on mine.

However, the FZ1000's electronic viewfinder's frame rate is high enough and the lag short enough to make it almost as functional as my old Alpha 700 DSLR with a purely optical viewfinder, so I don't usually mount the red dot sight.

I have used the reflex sight to shoot pictures of swifts is full flight at fairly short range, and that's a situation where I'd also have needed one on my DSLR.

Regards,

Henning
Could easy be that guys lack of ability then, i know from my m4/3 BIF experience its quiet possible to do it but some people cant grasp it.
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 20:47   #19
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My main gripe with the G80 is I expected it to be easier to use than the D7200, especially for my partner who already had an FZ200, and therefore a basic understanding of Panasonic menus. It isn't, and I think we are both going to have to invest a lot of time getting to grips with it. In contrast, I found the D7200 intuitive, despite never having used a Nikon camera of any type before.

I didn't expect it would compete with the D7200 / 300 PF in IQ, or the 100-400 pana-leica / oly 300 prime, but hoped the Mk II version of the 100-300 would represent an upgrade on what I'd read on the Mk I. Maybe it was a mistake not going for the 100-400, but my partner would kill me if I'd spent that much on a birthday gift!

So far I'm also underwhelmed with the autofocus capabilities of the 100-300 MkII, but again we probably haven't discovered the best autofocus options. I appreciate this isn't a top-of-the-range combo for demonstrating what M4/3 is capable of, but then the 100-400 pana-leica isn't much cheaper than a 300 PF, while the Oly 300 is significantly more expensive. Similarly, the top-of-the range Panny GH5 is significantly dearer than the D7200, and comparable to the D500 (based on UK prices).

So for similar outlay to a top of the range GH5 / Oly 300 combo, you could have a D500 / 300PF +1.4 TC mkIII (both around 3700 total in UK - likely significantly less in US of course!). Unless the advantages in weight and bulk are important (and I concede for birding they often are), I'm not seeing any other reasons to choose M4/3 over what would be a relatively compact and extremely capable DSLR setup.
One thing I did towards the end with my 100-300 mk1 was to use somewhere around 260 instead of 300. I found the extra sharpness of the lens a little below the max made it worth while.

Regarding top of the line pana camera: G9 is supposed to be announced very soon and available in the new year. This is being touted as a GH5 for stills shooters. Price is as of yet unknown.

I have two standard settings on my G85, both using aperture priority: 1/400 for stills with smallest possible focus area (centered), 1/800 for action with the central 1/3 or so of the camera becoming the focus area. I usually switch to AFC for this second mode. I get most of the shots I want. With busy background, there is a tendency for the AF to choose more distant rather than close, sometimes helpful, sometimes the opposite.

Hope this helps
Niels
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 21:05   #20
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Hi Nikonmike,

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikonmike View Post
Could easy be that guys lack of ability then, i know from my m4/3 BIF experience its quiet possible to do it but some people cant grasp it.
Ah, you might be right.

With practice, one certainly gets better at tracking, but I've noticed that for some people initial acquisition seems to be the big difficulty, and a red dot sight would certainly help with that.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 30th October 2017, 23:06   #21
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Hi Nikonmike,

Ah, you might be right.

With practice, one certainly gets better at tracking, but I've noticed that for some people initial acquisition seems to be the big difficulty, and a red dot sight would certainly help with that.

Regards,

Henning
Initial aquisition definitely was a problem when I started using a telescope (angled). Compared to that, using a camera seems relatively easy.

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Old Tuesday 31st October 2017, 09:31   #22
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Initial aquisition definitely was a problem when I started using a telescope (angled). Compared to that, using a camera seems relatively easy.

Niels
Exactly my problem with angled scopes which I resolved by fitting a sighting aid to the lens hood. This was basically a vertically-extended version of the fore sight commonly fitted to rifles. Target acquisition was achieved by lining up the top of the 'scope eyepiece with the top of the fore sight.

Whether this would be an effective method with BIF I have no idea but it might be worth a try.
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Old Tuesday 31st October 2017, 10:10   #23
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Exactly my problem with angled scopes which I resolved by fitting a sighting aid to the lens hood. This was basically a vertically-extended version of the fore sight commonly fitted to rifles. Target acquisition was achieved by lining up the top of the 'scope eyepiece with the top of the fore sight.

Whether this would be an effective method with BIF I have no idea but it might be worth a try.
This is supposed to help

https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...ee-1+dot+sight
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Old Tuesday 31st October 2017, 15:48   #24
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Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by crapbirder View Post
Exactly my problem with angled scopes which I resolved by fitting a sighting aid to the lens hood. This was basically a vertically-extended version of the fore sight commonly fitted to rifles. Target acquisition was achieved by lining up the top of the 'scope eyepiece with the top of the fore sight.

Whether this would be an effective method with BIF I have no idea but it might be worth a try.
I imagine mounting a rifle sight to a camera could be a bit difficult, but since I previously experimented with a NATO rail on a hotshoe, I thought maybe something like pictured in the attachment would work.

Perspective drawing:

Click image for larger version

Name:	Sports Sight 1s.jpg
Views:	9
Size:	17.1 KB
ID:	644864

Isometric drawing:

Click image for larger version

Name:	Sports Sight 2s.jpg
Views:	10
Size:	15.8 KB
ID:	644865

It's designed for 3D printing and should be fairly cheap as it's just a single piece with no optics. The crosshairs are of 1 x 1 mm^2 thickness, the view opening is 32 mm x 18 mm. I've made the far "ring" 6 mm in diameter and the near ring 5 mm to help with alignment, but if you have experience with rifle sights ... maybe it would be better to do it the other way round?

(I have just completed the drawing, so I haven't printed the part yet.)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 08:23   #25
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Hi,



I imagine mounting a rifle sight to a camera could be a bit difficult, but since I previously experimented with a NATO rail on a hotshoe, I thought maybe something like pictured in the attachment would work.

Perspective drawing:

Attachment 644864

Isometric drawing:

Attachment 644865

It's designed for 3D printing and should be fairly cheap as it's just a single piece with no optics. The crosshairs are of 1 x 1 mm^2 thickness, the view opening is 32 mm x 18 mm. I've made the far "ring" 6 mm in diameter and the near ring 5 mm to help with alignment, but if you have experience with rifle sights ... maybe it would be better to do it the other way round?

(I have just completed the drawing, so I haven't printed the part yet.)

Regards,

Henning
Apologies if my post did not make it sufficiently clear that I did not mount an actual rifle sight to an angled telescope. In fact, nothing more sophisticated than a plastic cable tie cut to length as shown in the accompanying image.

The length at which to cut the cable tie was decided by taking a sight line through the top of the 'scope eyepiece and the tip of the cable tie and trimming the cable tie until the target object was in the centre of the 'scope eyepiece. Again, it must be emphasized that I have not tried this method for photographing BIF but at the cost of a few GB pence for a cable tie, it must be worth considering.
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