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
6

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!

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Augustin Man
Augustin Man Forum Pro • Posts: 10,583
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

You're right that the price paid for such a huge FL is a small sensor, that makes those cameras unsuitable for action and low light, let alone a combination of them.

However you got impressive BIF images, particularly the last one!

Thank you for sharing and happy shooting,

Augustin

P.S. Thank you very much for the useful tips when shooting with the RDS

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p900learner
p900learner Senior Member • Posts: 1,066
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

I recall few months back there was discussion about the Olympus EE-1 Dot Sight for the p950 - believe it was Sherman who uses this one. It is less expensive than the Nikon one.

Ev

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

Augustin Man wrote:

You're right that the price paid for such a huge FL is a small sensor, that makes those cameras unsuitable for action and low light, let alone a combination of them.

However you got impressive BIF images, particularly the last one!

Thank you for sharing and happy shooting,

Augustin

P.S. Thank you very much for the useful tips when shooting with the RDS

Cheers Augustin,

I think it's great to be testing new gear + trying to get a bit more out of it or finding its limits etc.  Guess that's what I've been doing with photography for the last 50+ years!

Thanks for the kind comments + one other useful tip I've just become aware of is to extend the zoom to a suitable length before using!  With not now looking through the viewfinder and seeing the zoom amount - a couple of times I've just turned on the camera and the sight + taken a distant pic via the dot sight at 28mm zoom!:-D

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

p900learner wrote:

I recall few months back there was discussion about the Olympus EE-1 Dot Sight for the p950 - believe it was Sherman who uses this one. It is less expensive than the Nikon one.

Ev

Many thanks for that - I've heard about the EE-1 including its lower price and watched a few videos about it + it does sound reasonable although a mate in the trade did say it wasn't as well built as the Nikon.  Mind you, the Nikon would have to be really well made to warrant an approx double price!!

I'll see if I can find any further info + always happy to hear from others on here.

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Marcodpr Regular Member • Posts: 396
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

Hi. I don’t have any information  to add on the red dot sight question, but just wanted to say you’re already doing really well in my book. I particularly like the gull 👌

sherman_levine
sherman_levine Forum Pro • Posts: 12,138
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

NIcely done. I have some RDS discussion here

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4467894

I've yet not had the opportunity to try this myself, but I think the best way to use the RDS is to keep the LCD open and visible, get the bird centered with the RDS, and then keep it in the LCD frame using your peripheral vision.

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threed123
threed123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,438
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
1

More info and reviews: https://www.adorama.com/r/iomee1-reviews

From the Olympus Website: https://www.getolympus.com/us/en/ee-1-dot-sight.html

Price isn't too bad, but some say it's hard to keep aligned properly especially when hand-holding camera.

threed123
threed123 Senior Member • Posts: 1,438
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
1

Ok, just found this on Amazon. Price is right and read the review. Yeah requires some fiddling, but doable.

https://www.amazon.com/SVBONY-Reflex-Tactical-Reticles-Brightness/dp/B01N4CCR7X/ref=sr_1_1

"I bought this to over come challenges in capturing fast moving animals that were darting into my lens field of view too quickly to react to using the camera viewfinder. As a bonus feature, it also allows you to take in the overall scene and activity in a more relaxed position between opportunities while maintaining readiness. I will also be using it to improve close-quarter BIF (Bird in Flight) shots. Mounted on a Nikon D500 DLSR Hot Shoe. Mount is reasonably stable (but there is some potential to shore up some lash/play on the hot shoe to rail mount - note that a hot shoe mount is not the most ideal stable mount). Keep in mind there is no ballistic trajectory for a lens, so you need to take parallax into slightly different consideration when "zeroing" in. Windage is never a problem. If you are shooting a particular setting and know your distance, zero to that distance and forget about it. If you are shooting a variety of distances I would suggest zeroing at the maximum that you need this site for to capture action moving in and out of your frame (for example 100 feet), and then compensating accordingly for the parallax as the subject gets closer. For example if your max parallax is 5", then you would put the dot 2.5" above the center of you target frame for a subject at 50 feet. You would put the dot 3.75" above the center of the target frame for a subject at 25 feet. Anything over 100 feet (for this example) the dot would need to drop below the center of the frame, but that that distance the impact would less (depending on the field of view of your lens). For example at 1 mile the dot would have to be 22 feet below the center of frame, but if you needed that distance for action you should re-zero."

OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

Many thanks threed123 + some interesting points about the EE-1.  
I’m wondering how the DF-M1 could be better than the Olympus for the extra money?

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

Marcodpr wrote:

Hi. I don’t have any information to add on the red dot sight question, but just wanted to say you’re already doing really well in my book. I particularly like the gull 👌

Much appreciated Marcodpr + thanks for the kind comments.  Guess I’m trying to get a bit closer to a DSLR standard but should realise that that’s not fully possible!

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

sherman_levine wrote:

NIcely done. I have some RDS discussion here

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4467894

I've yet not had the opportunity to try this myself, but I think the best way to use the RDS is to keep the LCD open and visible, get the bird centered with the RDS, and then keep it in the LCD frame using your peripheral vision.

Many thanks for the link - really impressive pics.  I want to shoot mainly hand held so on a bit of a downer at start but will keep on practicing!

Often birds flying to fast for LCD (takes me back to P900 days) so will have to take my chances just using red dot!  Will give it a try though👍

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sunjester
sunjester Senior Member • Posts: 1,845
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

These are really good BIF images. Well done!

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

sunjester wrote:

These are really good BIF images. Well done!

Many thanks sunjester - I’ll keep practicing though!👍

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David A Evans New Member • Posts: 9
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

If you set Zoom Memory to On in the menus (default is off) you can choose to have the zoom function stop at any of the standard settings. So if you made it stop only at 500, 1000 and 1500 you could have a better idea of which it was set to.

OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

David A Evans wrote:

If you set Zoom Memory to On in the menus (default is off) you can choose to have the zoom function stop at any of the standard settings. So if you made it stop only at 500, 1000 and 1500 you could have a better idea of which it was set to.

Thanks for that David - I did try that out initially but wasn’t too happy with way it jerked from one setting to another + if you did have a large gap between settings - weren’t able to obviously go to an interim level if needed.  
Could be good to re-address that idea though with maybe 800 & either 1000 or 1200mm settings memorised as they seemed to be the ones I settled on most 👍

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight

David A Evans wrote:

If you set Zoom Memory to On in the menus (default is off) you can choose to have the zoom function stop at any of the standard settings. So if you made it stop only at 500, 1000 and 1500 you could have a better idea of which it was set to.

Tried that today David and it did work well - camera turns on at 135mm, then had 800mm & 1200mm zoom memories + was easy to operate.

Thanks for the tip + I'll keep on using it like that for a while:-)

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CMCM Senior Member • Posts: 5,754
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
1

Your BIFS are really quite excellent, among the best I've seen from the P-series cameras.  However....I have to qualify this a bit....they are really good "for a P950 or its brothers", because the characteristics of the camera make it difficult to get close to the results you can get with a DSLR.

I tried and tried and TRIED to shoot BIFS with my P900, and was pretty continually frustrated by what I managed to capture.  For the longest time, I figured it was just me, my inexperienced technique, my lack of experience with setting up and shooting BIFS.  But I finally realized it was really all about these types of P&S cameras  that simply had their inherent limitations due to very small sensors and more basic AF systems, so at that point I shifted over to using my DSLR and a moderately long lens for BIFS.  My very first time out  I got the clear, sharp, defined BIFS I'd been hoping for.  I could hardly believe the difference!

My own BIF shooting abilities hadn't suddenly morphed into the ability to get good BIFS....I quickly realized it was the camera that made the difference.  Among the differences offered by my DSLR were a very efficient continuous shooting system, AF that was specialized for grabbing focus and holding it as you track a bird, an AF-On button to use when tracking a flying bird and which separates focus from the exposure, and a much larger sensor which gathers more light and thus allows for better images with low noise at higher ISO.  So I mostly gave up on shooting BIFS with my P900.  Even now, whenever an opportunity presents itself and  I give it a go, I'm always dissatisfied with the results, which don't even come close to what I routinely get with my DSLR kit.  Disappointing for sure, but it's what it is!

I think the Coolpix long zooms are great fun and are wonderful for stationary subjects, so that's what I use mine for.  I'm even about to upgrade to the P950  because I do love these cameras for things other than BIFS, and the P950 results I see look far better than what the P900 produces.  The Coolpix series are fabulous for scenic landscape shots, too!

Despite what I say above, I do want to re-emphasize how superbly you did with your photos so you should feel very good about your results!   I myself have never gotten such good results with BIFS on my P900!

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OP Caster the Dog Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
1

Many thanks for the really kind words CMCM + I totally agree with you re the fact that the P950 and other Coolpix etc find it hard to get anywhere near the quality of a DSLR for BIFs.

Although the P950 does a better job, because of its better viewfinder etc, than the P900 (which I also used) - if I'm going out for serious BIF work I'd certainly take my DSLR.

However, BIFs tend to be only a small part of my shots and I find it better to have the reach of the P950 for most subjects and also use it for those few BIF opportunities ie the Barn Owl shown below which was taken last week with my P950 without the Sight!

Often you probably only get one chance, maybe two, to capture a sudden bird + with the Sight I might get more chance of getting better results!  Plus, using a P950 rather than a DSLR means I'm carrying less weight/size + shouldn't be short of reach for those distant subjects so can capture more!

Hope you enjoy the P950 when you get it + maybe you might even invest in a Sight!

Barn Owl 100yds away

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CMCM Senior Member • Posts: 5,754
Re: P950 + DF-M1 Red Dot Sight for Birds in Flight
1

Nice owl shot....you're so lucky to spot one.  I know they are all over the place where I live (mountains) but I've never been fortunate enough to see one well enough to shoot a photo of it!

As for the dot sight...I find it intriguing, but I've never seen one and I confess I don't entirely understand how it works!

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