Thermal binoculars are increasing in popularity as the price comes down, using both eyes is more comfortable than one especially at night, in low light conditions and when using them over long periods of time. Some users can struggle a little with monocualars and end up with headaches due to having a large amount of light entering one eye while the other has next to no light at all. Shooters used to examine clearfell and open areas carefully, spending valuable time looking for the twitch of an ear or tail to spot quarry when there was nothing there, with a thermal binocular an area that used to take 30 minutes of careful study can be checked over and disregarded in seconds as everything with a heat source including deer, rabbits, birds, rats and squirrels become instantly visible.
Despite making quarry easier to spot there is still a good level of skill required manoeuvring in to position in order to take a safe effective shot, it is amazing what you can see through a thermal device that you cannot see at all through normal day optics even when you know exactly where the quarry is as it can be screened by bushes and undergrowth making it impossible to place a shot.
Over the years the sensitivity of thermal sensors has increased massively, the size of the thermal sensors have increased, the algorithms that produce the picture we see from the results of thermal sensors have improved and the screens themselves increase in resolution meaning much finer detail can be seen through thermal devices and at higher magnification levels aiding in quarry identification. A few thermal binoculars now also have the option of in-built Laser Range Finder (LRF) enabling the distance to target to be accurately judged so the user knows whether the quarry is within range or if they need to stalk closer to take the shot with confidence.
Pulsar has been the market leader when it comes to thermal binoculars however we are now seeing many users opting for HikMicro with their new Habrok range. If you are looking for the thermal binocular that offers the highest quality thermal image then the Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is the binocular for you, they are a great binocular being easy to use and it comes with the benefit of built in laser range finder so you have two top quality tools combined into one unit. We are now however selling far more of the HikMicro Habrok HQ35L and HH35L thermal binoculars, they are not quite as good as the Merger XP50 when you compare the thermal image on the binoculars however on top of the thermal sensor they are a multispectral binocular featuring a high quality day/night sensor allowing images to be seen in colour in daylight and around 30 minutes before / after it is too dark to see with your eyes, they also can see in pitch black using the in-built IR illuminator although this offers a black and white image the same as that found in day/night scopes. HikMicro Habrok binoculars also feature a built in laser range finder allowing the distance to target to be accurately measured, are fractionally lighter weight than the Mergers and on top of this come in at around half the price of the Pulsar Merger binoculars which in our opinion represents incredible value for money and are an asset to all from someone just starting out to a seasoned veteran. The advantage of having a digital day/night sensor as well as a thermal sensor is that the thermal channel can be used to spot quarry easily, once located the user can simply press a button on the binoculars and it seamlessly swaps to the day/night sensor for quarry identification. No matter how good a thermal sensor is it cannot offer as much detail as day/night sensor as it only reads heat, day/night sensors see the visible spectrum of light as well as IR light so gives us an image we can easily identify as it is pretty much what we are used to seeing anyway only enhanced by light beyond the normal visible light spectrum seen by humans.
Both Pulsar and HikMicro have a 3 year transferable warranty allowing their units to be sold on used with the remainder or the manufacturers warranty ensuring the value of used units under 3 years old is kept up enabling people to upgrade over time without losing too much compared to other technology such as TV's and phones which have next to no value when used.
Thermal technology and the difference between devices can be a little difficult to understand online, it is much easier comparing units in the flesh which is why we advise prospective buyers pop in and look through them in person however there are several aspects that make up the difference in performance between different models and manufacturers. Each manufacturer has their own algorithm that converts the data collected by the thermal sensor into a picture so some models and manufacturers may show on paper that their device has a better sensor and screen than another but in reality the device with the lower specification sensor and screen actually offers a better clarity image and performance in the field. We also find that when a manufacturer is able to increase the performance of their algorithm they usually roll it out in the form of a product update to all of their devices still in warranty so all their compatible units old and new will benefit from this new found increase in performance.
One specification to look out for when comparing different models is the NETD value; the lower this number, the more sensitive the sensor, allowing lower changes in temperature to be detected resulting in a more detailed image. This is especially important in poor weather conditions where there is moisture, mist and fog in the air effectively clouding the reading of the thermal sensor as the temperature differences detected is effectively diluted by the lower temperature of the suspended water in the air limiting the distance and clarity offered by thermal technology in these conditions. The size of the thermal sensor is important as it gives an increased field of view and collects more data to be processed and shown to the user again for a more detailed image to help with identification. The Micron figure is effectively the space between each thermal pixel in the thermal sensor, if two thermal sensors have the same size ie. 640 x 512 but one has a lower micron value then the sensor with a lower micron value would send through more data points for a more complete thermal image which should result in a better definition image provided the algorithm can process this increased level of data quickly and the screen it is displayed upon to the user has sufficient resolution to display this data, this allows thermal binoculars to perform better at slightly higher magnification levels. Screen resolution is also important as there is no point in having the best thermal sensor and a brilliant algorithm if that data cannot then be displayed at its highest resolution to the end user.
Thermal binoculars are not limited to hunting uses, they are also incredibly useful in a range of occupations and other hobbies including electricians, plumbers, roofers, building insulaters, house builders, police, fire services, search and rescue, finding lost pets, bird watching and other animal studies. The applications for thermal technology are far reaching and detecting higher and colder temperatures is useful to many applications from finding bad joints in electrical installations to tracking cold and hot water pipes through walls and under floors, to checking for areas that lack insulation or have air gaps to reduce the thermal efficiency of buildings.
If you have questions or would like any advice on picking the right thermal binocular for you please call us and we can go through the advantages and disadvantages of the models you are interested in to find the right spotter for you.
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