Thanksgiving Day I traveled to a friend's house in Santa Barbara, CA (to sit on their observation deck on a cliff 70ft above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean) to test the functionality of using a tactical reflex rifle scope for tracking fast moving subjects with a super-telephoto lens (my Nikon AF-S 500mm f/4 II lens). SEE HOW I BUILT THIS TACTICAL REFLEX CAMERA SIGHT HERE - https://www.vingle.net/posts/1229145-DIY-Reflex-Camera-Sight
TEST SUBJECT #1 - Hawk with field mouse
First I have to say that not only did this reflex scope do EXACTLY what I wanted it to - but the added bonus was that when I got the photos into Camera RAW to process them I saw details that I did not see with my naked eye. This bird moved pretty fast - flying towards me then over me then back around and past me... and I was so focused on keeping him in the center of the scope that I did not see or notice he had his Thanksgiving Day meal in his talons. I didn't miss one shot. In all - it was a perfect first test.
TEST SUBJECT #2 - American Eagle Flight into Santa Barbara Airport. The Santa Barbara Airport is about 3 miles from my friend's house. His house is about a mile from the flight line - Jets will come out over the Pacific and then back over Santa Barbara - turn to avoid the mountains right on the coast and land on the airport runway - north of the city. With the ocean and the wind - you typically don't really hear or notice the planes. I just happened to see this one coming in and I decided to snap a couple of photos. I really wanted to see if I could see anyone's faces in the windows - that 500mm lens is so sharp and crisp. The planes will leave my eye line as they fly over the coast - because of the size and shape of my friend's house. I have to reacquire the planes as they come into the valley - once they clear the other side of his house. Then there's a row of palm trees. I have about 2 seconds to catch them in the valley before they are obstructed. This is a task I've never been able to do unless I was sitting there waiting. To catch a plane come in off the ocean then reacquire it on the other side of the house in that small window of clear space - I've never been able to do it until now.
TEST SUBJECT #3 - Black Cormorant and Seals on Rocks
This Black Cormorant was sailing about 2 ft above the water - moving between a large series of rocks covered in seals. I caught the motion out of the corner of my eyes - something the reflex sight was designed to allow - and I quickly tracked in on it and started shooting.
TEST #4 - Quick Draw Style Single Shots
I decided to do some shots where I'd pick a subject and see how fast I could zero in on it and shoot it using just the reflex sight. Let's just say it was probably 10x faster than if I'd tried to get the lens pointed in the general direction and then look through the eyepiece to try and search around for the subject. All were moving - some slowly and others quickly. A couple were stationary. In EVERY application this reflex sight made finding and capturing the subject so much easier.
FINAL THOUGHTS - If you are going to be shooting fast moving objects/subjects with a super-telelphoto lens - the hot-shoe mounted reflex (red/green dot) tactical gun sight is an amazing tool to help you get your shots. I've got years of experience shooting fast moving subjects (cyclists, car races, various sports, birds, wildlife, etc...) and I can say without question that I was able to capture photos with this sight that I would have missed otherwise. Regardless if you buy the Olympus dedicated (made for camera) pop-up sight system or you decide to "Frankenstein" a system using a real gun sight (like the one I built), it's something I'd seriously consider investing in.
FOR MORE USEFUL TIPS AND DIY PROJECTS FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS - BE SURE TO FOLLOW MY "PHOTOGRAPHY AND CINEMATOGRAPHY 101" COLLECTION.
GO OUT THERE AND TAKE A BUNCH OF PHOTOS AND LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT!
Photography & Cinematography 101 by Jon Patrick Hyde - 2015
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