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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Night vision equipment for mortals (1 Viewer)

this is quite interesting feedback, thank you! The Helion XP28 you are referencing is quite ancient, 5-10 years old, no?

I find it to be noticeably worse than my new Telos XP50, so for the iRay to appear worse than the XP28 doesn't bode well. I wonder how much of it is the issue of eye piece and using glasses.

Do you generally prefer the ZH38 or the XP28?

in other news I bought an AGM TM10-256 for $465 USD, so I will soon have that to compare to the more expensive models and see if it is worth purchasing as a birder on a budget
right, I bought my XP50 and the interchangeable 28mm lens in late 2017 and I'm still happy with it. I do prefer my XP50 in comparison, not least as I don't know anything about Infiray's durability when in everyday use.

Once I'd change my XP50 I'd choose a Pulsar Merger XP50 or even XL50, due to relaxed bino view and higher resolution.
right, I bought my XP50 and the interchangeable 28mm lens in late 2017 and I'm still happy with it. I do prefer my XP50 in comparison, not least as I don't know anything about Infiray's durability when in everyday use.

Once I'd change my XP50 I'd choose a Pulsar Merger XP50 or even XL50, due to relaxed bino view and higher resolution.
gotcha, good to know!

if you ever end up wanting to sell that XP50/28mm lens, let me know. I'd love to purchase it
a friend of mine got his iRay ZH38 the other day and these are his initial impressions:

"Ok, first night under my belt with the ZH-38. It was a lot to take in at first as I got accustomed to how one of these thermals functions, but eventually I set out on a night walk to try and see what I could find in the patches of woods around the neighborhood.

First off, the optical zoom is a dang useful function, being able to go wide to scan, and then zoom in for a larger image to ID. 38mm, which I think is the equivalent of the XPF 50/Axiom units is a decent length for scanning a tree line from a distance, but I've yet to actually take it into the woods.

Scared off a feral cat from sneaking into my property, which was totally satisfying, as they've been marking stuff on my front porch.

The unit has 5 palettes:

  • highlight (which is just a different take on white hot)
  • white hot
  • black hot
  • red hot
  • color

So far, I'm finding either white hot or red hot to be ideal for scanning at night. Found a few rabbits bouncing around, and the aforementioned feral cats. No owls as yet though.


1) when scanning tree lines, if I point up higher and include some of the sky, the trees start to glow hot. Is this normal? Maybe it's due to the massive temp difference of the open atmosphere and trees, so it's attempting to display the difference?

2) out of range/far distant landscape objects (trees, hills that are beyond the scan limit) all glow hot. Is this normal?

3) this thing is straight out of China, and so you get the typical badly translated guides, but also some fairly unrefined interfaces. Build quality seems hefty and solid, though a couple of things are annoying: I'm left-eye dominant, and I can't flip the eye shade around to the opposite side. The battery close/lock doesn't secure tightly enough, so the little lock ring will jingle a bit. I wish Pulsar had made this unit, honestly.

4) firmware: their website says there is a much newer firmware available, but the Infiray App doesn't seem to think there is. Documentation is limited, so I may have to contact support and see how to go about it; again, it's not well translated.

Aside from those few niggles, I think it's a unit that will tremendously aid in finding stuff. Hoping to take it out sometime this weekend to an area that has Saw-whet Owls and finally get a shot of one of those!"
My Pulsar is also useless for branches against the sky. The temperature differences needed to find animals are minute, but the overall absolute temperature range of the world around is humongous, so you actually want the scope to constantly adjust the scale based on the field of view - but this fails when sky is in it, because unless it's heavy low clouds, sky is extremely cold. Maybe in the future the software could improve to recognize this and compensate?

This is also the reason I am a firm believer in the rainbow scale, because it gives me the most information. The animal does not have to be the brightest thing in the image, sometimes it's only slightly warmer, sometimes the scale is skewed by something warmer in the image etc... in the B&W or red hot scales, you really notice only something that stands out, in the color one, you see much more subtle things, which can be sometimes helpful (and the red things still stand out). The only downside is that Pulsar refuse to make the screens dim enough, so with the color scale, I lose a lot of night vision in the relevant eye and that makes photographing the animals more difficult.
my friend is most likely going to be returning the iRay ZH38 as he finds the build quality is not up to snuff for the price

here's my first review ish of the 3 units I have

this weekend I'll get to try the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Pro, and I'll probably buy an AGM TM15-384 eventually because I think that one is going to be the best value thermal currently available
got to try the Pulsar Axion 2 XQ35 Pro today looking for owls. we successfully located two screech owls with it.

for $1500 (30% of the Telos XP50 price) it offered about 80% of the quality and features. If you're going to go with a narrow FOV anyways, that's certainly a more cost effective choice.

I was finally able to get rid of my Telos XP50. Traded it for $1400 cash and an old discontinued Helion XP50. I'm on the search for an interchangeable 28mm lens so that I can have two of them.
Just as traditional cameras corrected exposure based on the average brightness of the subject, thermal imaging cameras adjust the display of objects of different temperatures based on the average temperature of the entire subject.

When looking at branches against the cold sky, you can easily approach your (warm) hand to the edge of the picture. "Overexposed" branches immediately show the details you want to see.
I did emailmpulsar suggesting a mode where it will scale the temperature around the value of a dot in the centre of the image and then with a user variable temperature range. Maybe one for pro use, but would solve many issues like the cold sky issue mentioned here, I’ll have to try the “warm hand” solution.

The warm hand solution is something that occurred to me almost immediately, but it doesn't really work at least with my pulsar 35 - the lens is too long and fast - or maybe my arms are too short? But in any case, even with an extended arm the edge of my finger is blurred across half of the field of view and the image is not very useful after all. I'd need someone to stand a few meters in front of me to provide an edge sharp enough for this to work.
So having read this thread I'm not much closer to knowing what might be the best option for a £1000 budget?!! Pulsars seem to consistently come out highly rated but with custom batteries and questionable service. What equivalent options are tried and tested?
Having seen this item mentioned in this thread back in July 2023, the Xinfrared T2 Pro Thermal Camera for smartphones, I was wondering if anyone had tried one? Thanks
Having seen this item mentioned in this thread back in July 2023, the Xinfrared T2 Pro Thermal Camera for smartphones, I was wondering if anyone had tried one? Thanks
Hi Tony, I recently bought one of these devices. Initial impressions are it's amazing for the price although I'm a little concerned how robust it might be for full-on birding. I got mine from Night Vision UK who included the option for a "focusing ring" that pushes over the lens and has the advantage it protects the lens from e.g. clumsy fingers. The downside is the device won't then fit neatly into its carrying case. I'm reluctant to keep pushing the focusing ring on and off because of the perceived fragility of the camera.

I've used the T2 Pro at half a dozen locations locally and it's particularly good for picking up mammals in total darkness. E.g. I've located 3 species deer, Rabbit, Hare, Fox, Badger, Wood Mouse, Grey Squirrel easily (plus numerous farm animals). Bird-wise I've found Tawny, Barn and Short-eared Owls at night while it's very good for picking up roosting birds. I find I can drive slowly along farm lanes with the window down looking for bright spots on the phone screen that you can then check with a spotlight. I've found e.g. numerous roosting Woodpigeons this way, also Pheasant, Long-tailed Tits, thrushes, and Linnets. During the daytime, the reflection off the screen is a nuisance while it's next to useless when the sun comes out as there's too many confusing bright hot spots but I have found a Jack Snipe. It's important to have a phone with a decent battery—I've not pushed how long I can spotlight for but 3–4 hours would seem easily feasible.
Sorry, should have checked the link,

my initial thoughts on the T2 pro can be found here:- Affordable thermal device that comes with a screen?

broadly my experience mirrors birdingbrickers closely

Just to add I tried the T2 Pro out in dull overcast conditions yesterday inside some woodland. I was amazed to pick up at about 15–20 yards range a heat spot which, when I eventually worked out where it was in front of me, turned out to be a bumblebee half-concealed in the leaf litter. Actually, that's probably the biggest challenge with using the camera: working out where something you've picked up actually is. This is especially hard at night with birds roosting deep inside bushes but I imagine the ability to locate things will improve with practice. It also helped me locate a non-calling Wren at about 25 yards distance. I knew something "hot" was nearby and in daytime you can soon relate the shape of branches on the camera to where they are in front of you so you simply scan where the hot spot is to see what it is. On nearby farmland, Yellowhammers feeding on a field were visible at about 40 yards range but were essentially too far away to pick up when perched in trees at about 50 yards range.
That's why a laser pointer aligned with the thermal camera is helpful. Still the usefulness is limited when looking through branches because it doesn't show how deep it is.
Just to add that the only glitches I've come across so far are: 1) you really need to make sure the wire between the camera and your phone is a very snug fit both ends otherwise you can lose the connection easily.

2) The other glitch is more problematic: you can double tap on the screen so it goes "full screen" without the control buttons at the side, which I find is better for scanning purposes. Sometimes when you want to e.g. take a photo and need to go back to "half screen", the screen image shrinks right down to a tiny little square and it's hard to get things back to normal without disconnecting your device and reconnecting it. That said, when I've tried to replicate this annoyance at home it only seems to happen when I'm bluetoothing from my phone to a speaker at the same time. Using your phone for both playing sounds and thermal vision is obviously very waring on the battery but is convenient if you want to locate something you're trying to tape in.
Everyday I get more impressed with this thermal technology. I will never go out looking for wildlife again without it.

In a decade of going on walks and looking for owls, I would come up empty handed a majority of the time. Since I got my Pulsar XP28, I haven't had a single dry outing. I've found so many owls, and owl nesting cavities that it is wild.

It was also invaluable in the Sax Zim Bog, and I think it's really going to shine in Yellowstone later this year.

The older Pulsars are difficult to find, but worth every penny over the new narrower FOV thermals.

I'm still looking for the cheapest, good performance thermal - which I expect will end up with one of the AGM models around $1000 USD. If you have $2000 USD to spend, picking up a used Pulsar Helion XP28 or XP38 is your best bet. As of today, 03/22/2024 there are two listed on eBay.

the view looks much better in the thermal, but here are a couple examples of screech owls in cavities and then the pics that resulted


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