P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

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Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
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I enjoy using the Nikon P950 & P1000 bridge cameras for birding because of their huge zoom range for distant subjects etc. However, they struggle against a DSLR when it comes to capturing birds in flight - often hard with a DSLR as well!

So over the last couple of days, I've been trying out the Nikon DF-M1 dot sight to see if it improved things. Link showing it below + basically you attach it to the camera hot shoe, look through it and aim the lit pointer to your subject. Then use camera to obviously focus and take pic.

Nikon DF-M1

Main advantage being you're looking through dot sight with both eyes open so easier to view subject when in flight rather than losing it from your viewfinder! Plus, you don't get that blank viewfinder when you've taken a shot and can always keep your eye on the bird. Think it's mainly designed for the P950 & P1000 (won't work with P900 as no hot shoe) + useful on DSLRs with long lenses.

Is it worth it - probably not for the £179 asking price - something like £80-100 would be more realistic in my mind (Olympus EE-1 price range!). Will I keep it - guess that depends on how well I can master it. Examples below show it's not bad (but not great) on the big stuff (compared to normal P950 shots) but I'm still struggling with the smaller faster ones like the Martin - even with some post processing.

On the technical side I've been using Shutter Priority mode at 1/000 to 1/1250th, AF Area Mode set to Subject Tracking or Target Finding (maybe slightly better results with former) and Auto Focus Mode set to AF-F.

TIPS....I've set the sight up on a tripod which is easy enough (also possible to do hand held but fiddly) but make sure you fasten it tightly to the hot shoe as if not, even the act of collapsing the sight to momentarily turn off etc will throw it out of alignment - this tends to also make the camera harder to fit in a camera bag without taking the sight off + if you do take it off, you have to set it up again when you put it back on. I'm tending to stick to the 800-1000mm zoom length (to hopefully have more chance of getting target in frame) but set sight up at 2000mm zoom initially to cover all options. Finally, make sure you keep your eyes away from the sight (don't use it like a viewfinder) or you'll bang into it with your forehead and knock it out of alignment!

DRAWBACKS....You don't really know what the frame/size of the picture will be because not looking through viewfinder - but seem to develop a feel for what should be about right. Unless you set a zoom level at start - there's no way of telling what exact zoom position you're using without looking through viewfinder - get an idea from length lens is extended or feel it kind of stop at 2000mm but maybe putting a small mark on lens barrel to indicate 1000mm would help me. Some lenses may also be so large at the objective end that they block the view from dot sight - no probs with P950 though. Finally, cost - just seems over priced.

Any advice from others who have one would be much appreciated re settings used or tips etc as I'd like to give it a good test before deciding whether or not to keep it. Verdict so far is it looks a good idea but could I get just a bit more from it (maybe practise would help!) or, is the P950 not really up to really good level bird in flight photos?

Black Headed Gull 50yds away

Canada Goose 80 yds away

Red Kite 250-300yds away

House Martin 50yds away & moving fast!

 Caster the Dog's gear list:Caster the Dog's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P1000 Nikon D7200 Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | C
Nikon Coolpix P1000 Nikon Coolpix P900
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