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Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.

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Old January 1st, 2009, 01:38 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Posts: 880
Green Laser Finder

A recent thread discussed at length aids to finding the subject with long lenses. It talked about optical sights, peep and frame sights, and “red dot” finders. I have used (and use) all three, but my current favorite technique involves the use of a green diode laser pointer.

A couple of years ago guides on birding field trips- especially in the tropics- began using green lasers to help their clients find birds in the bush. It is generally thought to be less intrusive than pointing your finger and less confusing than giving verbal clues (go left at the forked branch, then up two feet to the right and…). Amateur astronomers have been using the lasers as pointers for several years also. I had previously used red lasers to align the cameras in the dark prior to turning on flood lamps and was eager to try the green lasers on my camcorder. The green lasers are much more visible in daylight. I have been very pleased with the results. It is especially helpful with small subjects that move unpredictably- songbirds in heavy vegetation, insects, some small mammals ect.

There are, of course, ethical issues involving use of lasers in the field. These have been extensively discussed in the birding literature and I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say they don’t burn holes in feathers or fur, and don’t generally cause eye damage. (I’ve been hit in the eye by one and suffered neither damage nor discomfort. It remains a concern to always keep in mind.) Never point a laser at a human for civil reasons. Most subjects simply ignore the laser. The few that don’t often try to capture the green dot.

Since I’m new to the forum and haven’t mastered attachments, I have set up a web page with photos and links to suppliers. At the bottom of the page is a video of the finder in use.
Green Laser Finder

If you decide to try one of these I’d love to hear how it works out for you.
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Old January 1st, 2009, 02:45 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Sydney-Australia
Posts: 443
Hi Mike,

Thank you for this fantastic information!!
Please be more specific as to the exact model you use as they are all so similar.

Happy new year mate!
Ofer Levy Nature Photographer
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Old January 1st, 2009, 04:08 PM   #3
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Location: San Antonio, Texas
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Howdy Ofer! Glad to help. The model I use is BTG-6. Howie sells the same one and calls it SkyPointer. Any one that is about ½” diameter and at least 3 “ long should work with Howie’s mount. Z-Bolt now has an inexpensive plastic mount that attaches with sticky tape…Hmmm. The main thing is it needs the remote switch. Z-Bolt has reorganized their site and I don’t find the switch for the BTG-6. The ones I did find seem too short to be useful for video work. Howie now sells it (when I ordered he didn’t). You’ll notice the various models have differing power outputs. You probably shouldn’t need more than 5 mW. I can see my 4 mW in sunshine at about 200 feet. At that distance in bright light it’s hard to detect and I usually have to “walk” it out there. (I didn’t say that well, I hope you follow.) There are differing maximum output regulations in each country as well. Also, I didn’t mean to imply these were the only sources. It’s always good to shop around.
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