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How to choose the right thermal imager for hunting

Over the past few years from the bulky, clumsy and heavy instruments, thermal imagers have become common, at first sight, rifle scopes and monoculars. While from a technical point of view, they made a real leap forward, and the threshold sensitivity of 0.05° is not fiction.

To choose the right thermal imager, we first need to understand its basic characteristics. And the first of them is the resolution matrix. Today on the market there are two types of devices — 640×480 matrices and 384х288.

It is clear that the greater the number of pixels the higher the resolution and detail of the image, the clearer the picture and the easier it is to see an object. Indirectly, this characteristic affects the operating range of the rifle scope or monocular. The second important feature of the imager is the size of the lens. It depends on the aperture ratio of the device, the multiplicity and, as a consequence, the angle of view.

The larger the lens, the more it increase, and hence the distance at which a discernible purpose. But on the other hand, when the device is used at a short distance a large increase uncomfortable, it is difficult to quickly find the target because of the small angle. For example, a lens diameter of 40 mm with an increase of 1.5–2.0 kratom has a wide angle of view and suitable for shooting at a distance of 100-200 meters.

The third important characteristic is the framerate. Early models of the Supervisory imagers had a small frame rate in the area of 8-9 Hz, the current generation of devices have a frame rate of 30 and 50 Hertz. It should be noted that for a comfortable perception enough frequency 25 frames per second.

Visually for low frequency instruments the rapid movement of the object monitor visible plume. In fact, the device begins to reflect not really located object, and a delay in time. In addition, the picture becomes blurred. This effect is almost imperceptible at slow motion and is not so important for the observation optics. But not for sights. At high frame rates, this effect completely disappears, and any fast-moving object clearly visible and contrasting.

One of the interesting features of the thermal imagers can be noted that they can see perfectly in the mist and smoke they have no barrier to detect heat sources. They have another highlight: warm objects that cannot be seen on the background of foliage or bushes due to their low contrast, the thermal imager, visible very well. Here we come to two important characteristics: detection and recognition of objects.

Upon detection of warm (or in our case — living) object imagers do not have competitors, they’re head and shoulders above any of the other devices, including night scopes of the third generation. But recognition imagers, unfortunately, noticeably lose other optical sights. Of course, if the object, such as wild boar, has a characteristic profile is that the profile is visible, no problem.

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But it can stand at an angle, can go through tall grass or lie down, and in these cases to know that the beast is visible in the device, is not easy. In addition, looking to the imager, it is difficult to determine the distance to the target, and the sleeping wild boar and a sleeping hare is very similar, just the distance to them is different. Shrub, grass can become an insurmountable wall for a nightlight, especially if you want to monitor uses a backlight, but the imager is not a barrier.

All of the above characteristics, it is important to consider when selecting a Supervisory device or sight. Generally, before purchasing a thermal imager, it is imperative to understand the purposes for which and the conditions in which it will be used, and on this basis, to choose a specific model.

For hunting we are interested in only two types of imagers: instruments for observation and rifle scopes. It is clear that to use a surveillance device as sight does not work, but on the contrary is quite possible. And minimizing sizes, it’s becoming quite true.

Today in the market there are devices, which by its dimensions similar to a small monoculars, and if you install them on quick release bracket, they are able to be versatile thermal imager.


For hunting we are interested in only two types of imagers: instruments for observation and rifle scopes. It is clear that to use a surveillance device as sight does not work, but on the contrary is quite possible.

In the search and surveillance device used as a monocular or attached to headgear and, if necessary, can quickly be mounted on the weapon and used as an optical sight. This ability helps the hunter to save money on the second device.

A separate interesting topic — installation of thermal imager in front of the optical sight. This type of device allows you to save on system insertion of amendments on the reticle and on the mechanism of sight. It does not need targeting, as it is already mounted on the weapon day optic sight. This direction is very promising because it allows to reduce the cost of the instruments themselves. Today the fight for the price — one of the main concerns of a manufacturer of thermal imagers.

When buying a thermal imager is often a question about installing it on the weapon. On the one hand, the special technical problems there, and put it in most cases is standard. But there is one subtlety.

Unlike optical sight, which is often attached “forever”, imager must be installed on quick release brackets, providing installation without re-zeroing or, alternatively, purchase a weapon and to install a thermal imaging camera without the possibility of dismantling. That’s why the installation of a thermal imager on the day sight seems very attractive.

When it comes to imaging, often referred to cooled and uncooled matrix. But the prices of these devices are so different that the question becomes irrelevant. Light devices can only be uncooled matrices, therefore, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages those and others in this article makes no sense.

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Separately I want to note that in recent years has spread sights with plastic housing. It is difficult to say whether this is good or bad, time will tell. An interesting direction in the development of the instrument sees the addition of a thermal imager a variety of functions such as a rangefinder is the ability to connect various devices to record video. Almost all modern devices have a video output that allows you to record the entire visible information.

Imager — a universal device, it can be used both day and night. Different materials heat and cool differently, at different speeds, thanks to the infrared camera and the tree branches, stones, and animals visible contrast. Of course, great importance is sensitivity. The only thing you should not do with a thermal imager is to look at the sun, and staring into open flames or welding to the benefit of the device will not go.

I would like to note the following property of the imager, such as the inability to see anything through the glass. The fact that the Windows of houses, cars completely opaque to thermal radiation, the reflection in the glass of warm objects can be seen well. The only exception is when the heat source is directly aimed at glass.

For example, a person’s breath warms the glass, and then we will see a warm spot on the glass. That is why the lens of the thermal imager isn’t made of glass and rare earth element — Germany. This material looks very similar to glass, but transmits the thermal radiation. It is very expensive, which explains the significant price difference of thermal imaging cameras with different sized lenses.

When choosing a device, especially if it will be used on a night hunt, keep in mind that some of them emit when you turn on a faint sound. When buying in a store you hardly hear, but the beast in the forest, especially sensitive boar, definitely. Still I must say that the camera does not need a backlight, which also unmasks the hunter.

From all this, I think, we can draw the following conclusions. A thermal imaging camera greatly expands the capabilities of the modern hunter. In fact, it allows you to see invisible heat radiation. Since hunting is conducted on warm-blooded animals and their temperature is always above ambient, the thermal imager allows to distinguish them from the “inanimate” world.

It filters for hunter hunting, and displays them in a convenient format. It as a search string in the browser, which responds to the request “Show animals”, all rejected, and you only see warm objects. Of course, to use this advantage wisely and with respect to hunting.

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