Reviewed by Jason DiMichele
Many sports and nature photographers use super telephoto lenses (300mm and longer) to capture the action. Recently there have been some super telephoto lenses, mostly zooms, introduced by various manufacturers providing very high quality with more affordable price tags. This has allowed more photographers the opportunity of acquiring one. A lot of these new lenses are lightweight and easy to shoot handheld. Always being ready for the action provides great photo opportunities and is truly a wonderful experience and the Olympus Dot Sight (EE1; $129) takes this experience and steps it up a notch.
The dot sight is a light and compact optical viewfinder that you attach to your camera’s hot shoe. It uses crosshairs that are laser projected onto its glass screen. It’s made of plastic, is dust and splash-proof, powered by a CR2032 battery and includes a soft protective case.
Using the dot sight will allow you to track your subject with greater efficiency and accuracy. It has a wide angle of view, and because you hold the camera away from your face while using it and look through the dot sight from a bit of a distance, you’re able to see subjects about to enter your frame with more ease. This technique may feel a little awkward at first, so I recommend practising with it before bringing it on that important trip. Using a camera neck strap and firmly holding it away from your body will generally allow you to track your subjects more smoothly. Mainly used by photographers with super telephoto lenses, the dot sight can also be used for macro photography. Much like a super telephoto lens, a macro lens has a small field of view where the dot sight could be beneficial.
I found the dot sight setup to be straightforward, requiring a simple calibration process. The process consists of finding a recognizable object in the distance and placing it in the middle of your LCD screen (or camera viewfinder). Once you’ve centred your object in your camera, use the dials on the dot sight to move the crosshairs onto the exact same object you centred in your camera. There are three dials on the dot sight. One dial controls the power and sight’s adjustable brightness and the other two dials control the left/right and up/down positioning of the crosshairs. Calibration is best done on a tripod or stable surface. If using a zoom lens, calibrate the dot sight for the longest focal length. I suggest re-calibrating the dot sight as you switch from shooting long distances for wildlife to short distances for macro. You can now be assured that if you nail the focus of a subject in the crosshairs, you’ll get the shot! The dials should remain set when you put the dot sight back into its pouch, but it’s quick enough to calibrate for each outing.
The dot sight worked equally well on the Panasonic Lumix GX8/Leica 100-400mm and Nikon D750/Tamron 150-600mm combinations. The dot sight will work with any camera that has a hot shoe mount. The quality of auto focus is determined by your camera’s technology and your skill. The dot sight simply provides you an opportunity for capture, whether handheld or on a tripod or monopod. A nice feature of the dot sight is that even if you manage to look at the crosshairs from a slight angle, they will accurately indicate if the subject is being tracked. A fantastic benefit of the dot sight is that once you press the shutter, you can still see your subject as you’re not relying on the camera viewfinder, which might be blacking out due to various shooting modes or frame speeds.
The Olympus Dot Sight is a pleasure to use and a game changer when trying to locate and track fast moving subjects. If you’ve ever tried to scan a scene looking through a telephoto lens, you’ll appreciate being able to quickly scan the scene while being ready to capture that fleeting moment! I would highly recommend it for both amateur and professional photographers.
To read more of this issue please pick up the Fall/Winter 2016 (#39) issue of OPC. Or to never miss an issue please SUBSCRIBE today!