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Red Dot Sights (Reflex Sights) on Spotting Scopes (1 Viewer)

Hauksen

Forum member
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).

Nikon with Red Dot Sight.jpg

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/xtendasight/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-Leuchtpunkt-Zielvisier-Holographic/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
 

jring

Well-known member
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
 

dalat

...
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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Hauksen

Forum member
Hi Joachim,

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
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi Dalat,

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
 

dalat

...
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.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
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
 

mayoayo

Well-known member
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..
 

Ratal

Well-known member
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.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi Mayoyao,

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:

P1260604s.jpg P1260605s.jpg P1260606s.jpg

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.

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
 

jring

Well-known member
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
 

dalat

...
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 ;)
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi Dalat,

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.

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
 

mayoayo

Well-known member
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.
regards
 
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jring

Well-known member
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
 
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dalat

...
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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