CHOOSING A DOT SIGHT
There are a number of choices when considering which Dot Sight to add to your gear. The first choice is to consider whether you want to select the parts and assemble one yourself, or if you want to buy one already assembled and ready to be calibrated.
Dot Sights – DIY – Doing it yourself to save money or to make a custom sight that isn’t available without being put together. For example, most dot sights use a premade rifle or gunsight that normally would be used by attaching to a rifle instead of a camera. There are almost as many kinds and brands of dot sights as there are photographers! First you will need to buy a dot sight. You can check Amazon.com for a very large selection. If this is your first dot sight, you might want to start with a basic model.
If you check Amazon, you will find dozens of different branded dot sights like the one on the left that looks as though they all came from the same factory. There are some color choices and some have 3 brightness levels instead of 5, but they all share the same design.
These are set up to connect to a rifle mount which is a standard called a picatinny or weaver rail. You loosen two hex screws on the sight, and it will fit over the rail, and can then be tightened in position. Camera’s do not have a compatible place to mount this, so you need a connector or adapter. There are several on the market.
The Dot Sighter Connector, The Higoo adapter, and the Astromania adapter. These attach to the dot sight on top, and then connect a camera via the accessory/flash shoe. Once attached they can be calibrated and used to sight fast moving objects (see the part about camera settings).
Unfortunately, the accessory shoe wasn’t designed to keep parts in the same position after they are removed and reinstalled. Because of this, the Higoo and Astromania adapters may move slightly after reinstalling the dot sight and you will need to recalibrate each time. That is not particularly difficult, but it does require you to use a tripod and it takes a few minutes. The Dot Sighter Connector has thumbscrew that expands the base to fill the accessory shoe when installed so it comes back to the same position and does not need to be recalibrated each time.
Dot Sights: Assembled and Ready to Use
There are four Dot Sights that are currently available, fully assembled, and ready to use.
The Olympus, Nikon, and Tokina all require recalibration after removal and reinstallation. Only the Dot Sighter has a provision for bringing the position of the sight back to the same spot each time. To their credit the Olympus and Nikon have adjustments that are easily moved with your fingers and do not require tools. Note that all of these Dot Sights can be used on any camera with an accessory shoe. So a Nikon dot sight will work just fine on a Canon or Sony and so on.
The Olympus EE-1
The Olympus has a unique pop-up design to save some space in the gadget bag. It has one reticle and and only one color (red) dot. In can be adjusted without tools. Unfortunately, it does not return to position when reinstalled without recalibration.
The Nikon DM-F1 Dot Sight
Nikon’s offering shares a similar pop-up construction to the Olympus. It offers both red and green LED dots and well as three reticle shapes and easy adjustments without using tools. Unfortunately, it does not return to position when reinstalled without recalibration.
Tokina TA-018 SZ Super Tele Finder Lens
The Tokina has only one size red dot with no other choice of reticles. It has 10 brightness levels and push buttons to adjust the brightness and on/off. It has a “shake and wake” feature that turns the dot sight off after 5 mins and on when it detects motion. Requires a slotted screwdriver for calibration. Unfortunately, it does not return to position when reinstalled without recalibration.
The Dot Sighter
The Dot Sighter uses off the shelf classic dot sights that feature both red and green LED’s and either 5 or 3 brightness levels. It also has the switchable four styles of reticles. Requires hex wrenches (included) to calibrate. It has a custom, carbon fiber, composite part that connects the dot sight to the camera’s accessory shoe. It has a thumbscrew that expands the foot of the connector to make a solid and repeatable connection without recalibrating. Note: you can buy the connector part separately if you prefer a specific style/type of dot sight.
NOTE: Dot Sights should be installed just before use and removed when the session is concluded. Care should snagged on clothing, straps or other obstructions. Use carefully and remove when not in use, or in transport.