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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)

First impressions of the Axion Key XM22:
A very nice feel to it, sits in the hand very nicely. A few little finger exercises for the power button would come in handy, but I seem to manage one handed most of the time!
I have kept to the hot white palette, which seems fine. I have found several mammals in the field behind the house and in the garden including roe deer, brown rat and presumed wood mouse and bank vole, but a walk in the woods failed to turn up any woodcock.
I used it on my WeBS count yesterday and it helped to turn up a record count of jack snipe (7). This needs practice though as whilst I found several on the ground with it, we couldn't pick them up in bins and ended up flushing them anyway - which defeats the object. Part of this was a result of spring tides pushing the birds into more densely vegetated areas than usual. It is also quite a large area to search. I obviously need to work on my technique. I'll probably have another try next weekend.
Other points: as others have observed in daytime overcast conditions are easier than sunny. Man-made objects warm up a lot - bits of plastic etc. in the marsh were a distraction.

So I researched the active near IR night visions a bit more and decided for the Bushnell Z2 6x50 as it universally gets the most positive reviews. It just arrived and I have to say that I would like to meet the guy who thought this is how they should design it, get him to explain his thought processes and then kick him in the nuts. Because I am completely fascinated by how stupid the display is. They have made a nice handy device, which can produce pretty clear view - as is easily seen when you watch the stream via wi-fi on a smartphone - and then gave it a display with pixels bigger than some animals I am expecting to observe and apparent field of view of looking through the Mont Blanc tunnel. WHY? It just doesn't make any sense, both LCDs and eyepieces cost peanuts compared to the overall cost of the device. It's just pure condensed stupidity to produce something like that in 2020 ... What shocks me even more is that basically none of the reviews I have seen even mention this, what is wrong with people?

It's actually a bit similar to many of the inexplicable design choices found in the Pulsar - these things are just not very popular and thus there just isn't a lot of competition leading to design improvements. If someone engineered a camera this poorly, they would just see no sales and be immediately forgotten or broken down to death by reviewers, but it's clear that a dedicated community for these things is almost nonexistent and thus the pressure is really small.

Well, I am looking forward to seeing how it actually performs in dark, which is the main goal. But I am a bit afraid that I will eventually be forced to figure out some smartphone holder for it so that I can look at the proper picture instead of the tiny pixelated abomination ...

In fact, it is often the case that the marketing department gives clear guidelines on how the individual models in the lower price segment are to be distinguished from the next more expensive ones.

After all, a manufacturer wants to serve the low-budget market as well as the middle segment and high-end customers.

I also have the impression that from a marketing point of view, the function of a device should never be completely perfect (even if engineers would like that) because then you would no longer have any customers for the next model series.

I have long since given up worrying about why a product was not designed better in one aspect or another 🥶

Cheers, Vollmeise
But Bushnell is not making any more expensive competition, this is literally their top model in the field! That's why is it exceptionally confusing.
Okay, there is no longer any benefit of doubt: the Bushnell is a piece of crap, don't buy it under any circumstances.

I finally got around to putting an SD card into it for recording. First SD card it completely ignores, second one it accepts, fine. But when i press "rec", sometimes the display goes to "00:00:00" and shows the red circle, but it never starts flashing and it never responds again to anything. The result is a series of 1-second random videos and then it continues recording a normal long one, without indicating so and the only way to stop it is to power it off. Then maybe on next restart, it works normally ... or not.

As a cherry on top, it loses date/time everytime you change the batteries (which will be quite often given the consumption). Really? In 2021 you can't even have a continously running clock? Get lost.

For 440 Euro, this is a total ripoff and Bushnell should be ashamed of themselves, I will never even remotely consider buying anything from that brand ever.

edit: I hope whoever gave me the idea for it upthread doesn't feel bad, this is by no means meant against them, it's just a rant against poor quality of Bushnell - they deserve to be scolded for what they are selling!
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The pulsar key works ok with reptiles. Picking up Adders and a Slow Worm this afternoon, plus bumblebees surprisingly.

Think different colour palettes work better in different conditions.. the red/yellow hot was picking up nothing except reptiles ( and birds, mammals if there were any) which was very accurate. Other palettes pick up warmer vegetation which can be distracting.
The pulsar key works ok with reptiles. Picking up Adders and a Slow Worm this afternoon, plus bumblebees surprisingly.

Think different colour palettes work better in different conditions.. the red/yellow hot was picking up nothing except reptiles ( and birds, mammals if there were any) which was very accurate. Other palettes pick up warmer vegetation which can be distracting.
I must have been very lucky the first time I tried for reptiles.. and caught the sun just gone behind clouds, but the Adders still out.
Ever since, the sun has been shining, and the noise, or "false positives" from heated up vegetation is quite distracting.

Trying different angles compared to the sun doesn't seem to make much difference. I did pick out a Common Lizard with the Thermal camera today, (and the thermal camera didn't miss any snakes that I would have subsequently flushed).

I think the difference is Reptiles look very smooth outlined, compared to the vegetation, which tends to be irregular. The ones I have picked out have stood out even with the distraction of the vegetation. I think I'm at the limit of it's capabilities now!
yes, xm22 works reasonably well with small animals fairly close up, despite the vegetation often giving false heat spots. Animals definitely stand out as smooth shaped compared to the irregular vegetation. Today's highlights..
2x Common Lizard, (~5m away)
2x Oak Eggar Caterpillar! (~2m and 4m away)
then after dark,,
1x Tawny Owl nest with 1 bird peeping out,
2x Roe Deer

Looking for advice on night vision equipment which is practical to use in the field and still within a price range of a normal birder.

I just tried a Hikvision DS-2TS01-06XF/W (hand-held thermal imaging monocular) at around 500 EUR.

Hikvision has a great variety of monoculars of generally similar appearance but with different technical parameters, so the exact type designation is quite important for drawing any conclusions.

My experience was, it doesn't have the magnification or the resolution to pick up birds at typical viewing distances. A Collared Dove at 28 m was not much more than a single pixel, and not discernible as a heat spot against the sky or the roof it perched on.

Other than that, the view through the device was quite good, with the frame rate being high enough that it was not too different from looking through the electronic view finder of a consumer camera.

The focal length was too short for bird observation in my opinion, and too long for use around the house, though it showed the location of the central heating and warm water pipes, the edges of the rolling shutter boxes beneath the plastering, the presence or absence of wall insulation in the neighbouring houses etc. quite nicely.

The device only had four colour palettes to offer, and these were basically non-customizable, though apparently, they could be modified by a summer and a winter setting. No absolute temperature figures were associated with certain colours, or displayed on the screen in any configuration I tried. Instead, the device auto-calibrated occassionally, according to no obvious pattern, with a soft click and an associated freeze of the display lasting for a second or so.

(In my opinion, a quick and easy to use colour palette scaling mode would be important for quickly finding birds - at least, that's my impression after seeing that the birds didn't show up with a visibly different colour in the pictures on the device I tried.)

The user interface appeared straightforward on first sight, but somehow didn't work for me, at all. I managed to save only two of the many photographs I took with the device, and to accidentally delete one of them when trying to download the other from the device. I could go into lengths on why the user interface is bad, but instead I'll just point to "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman.

Overall, I think maybe a more expensive device from the same vendor would be good for detecting birds, but figuring out which one that would be might be a bit difficult as you have to compare all of the technical data sheets and figure out which of the specifications have to be correlated to each other to give you an impression of the device in question is good for the purpose or not. It might also be difficult to figure out whether the user interface is sufficiently customizable without trying out the device in the field.


You see cold-blooded animals in IR? How? The Grass snakes we saw one night were colder than the surroundings and a Common Toad was outright pitch black. Sure, that also "stands out" but there is usually a lot of darker stuff around ...
Reptiles, Toads, and even caterpillars and bumblebees, I have found with the XM22. They are cold blooded, but warmer than the ground, in UK at the moment anyway.
The Toads were poking out of water, so also warmer.
Seeing Caterpillars and Bees thru it is pretty mind blowing.

As mentioned though, there can be lots of false alarms: moss/lichen and exposed twigs in direct sunlight, can be heated up, and look very similar.
There is a subtle difference between animals and sunlit foliage, but I'm not 100% sure what it is that makes me focus on the animals! I think animals tend to appear maximum hot to the edge, and smooth. Plus any movement gives them away.
Twigs etc are irregular in outline, and the different heat colours within can be a different shape to the outline. "Noisy" basically.
But it's not easy.
Has anyone used these ? and are they any chop ?

Chosun 👧
Has anyone used these ? and are they any chop ?


I seem to remember a thread here in which they were discussed, but can't find it at the moment. The opinion seems to have been that they can be good value for money, if your use case is within the capabilities of the device.

I have always wanted to try one for myself, but haven't gotten around to it.


850 is not no glow, you want to go beyond 900nm ideally. My gut feeling is that’s not going to be very good given features and the price, but if you can find a number of positive reviews then it might be OK, as noted it depends on what you want to use it for.
Recently bought a small Nightfox Cub scope to use alongside my HikMicro Lynx L15 Thermal Imager on my walks to work on dark mornings. Managed to find a Tawny Owl in a cemetery around 50 minutes before dawn on a cloudy morning (to give you some idea of light levels) and shot a video using the Cub. It was handheld so it isn't the steadiest, but there is enough detail to be able to see the shape of the bird well enough to confirm that it was indeed a Tawny Owl (heard calling anyway). The small size of the scope itself is a big plus for me, as was the price and the ability to operate it while connected to a powerbank if you run out of battery life. Also bought a Nightfox Corsac at the same time but haven't had the chance to try it out properly yet (much larger zoom capability).
Used mine regularly for about a year now
It is a game changer. As well as nocturnal mammals, in daylight Adders, birds, larger insects and caterpillars all found with it.
I don't think the field of view or magnification is important the way I use it. Just sweep the area for some heat then switch to binoculars/torch.

1x would be best because you could open the other eye and see exactly where the animal is!!?
Hi all,

Just wondered if there were any updated opinions or recommendations on this topic, I'm particularly interested in the usefulness of thermal imaging in general day-to-day birdwatching (whats the usable range for snipes/rails in reeds, warbler in a bush/tree etc)?
Thanks in advance

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