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

Request for information on thermal imagers. (1 Viewer)

My make & model and a few random images with it that I found on my phone - Snipe, White Stork, Purple Sandpipers & Magpie. Some better Owl pics on here somewhere I think.

Edit - a few more pics. Dusky Nightjar, Owls & Birdquest group.

All the best

Paul
 

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For finding wildlife with your own eyes, I try to remember particular branches or leaves around it. Also know how much magnification your camera has - mine is 2 x so about the naked eye.

I no longer look at sleeping songbirds. They are surprisingly difficult to identify at night, because their colors are strange and the birds puff themselves hiding much of plumage characters. And they turn to be the commonest species locally. After wasting many minutes on one warbler, I feel that it is more productive to search for something rarer at the same time.
 
For a cheaper option, I just bought this little thermal camera that attaches to one's phone:


I haven't used it much yet (heading to Colombia in 2 weeks when it will get it's proper breaking in!) but the friend who recommended it to me just spent a month in West Papua + Borneo and he LOVES it. He said he found lots of nightbirds and mammals, thrushes in dark daytime understory and even useful for skulky canopy birds. I have found that even on fairly bright days at home, it picks out chickadees and Crossbills in the treetops no problem.
Interested to hear how you got on with the T2 in Colombia @AveryBartels ?
 
Interested to hear how you got on with the T2 in Colombia @AveryBartels ?
Well, to be honest I broke it before I had many opportunities to use it! Immediately before I broke it, I was testing it out in montane rainforest, during the day and it found a hummingbird perched about 30-40m away and a cicada (a surprise!) on a tree about 10m away. It certainly has amazing capability...but it is a bit on the delicate side. I am in the process of returning it and (presumably) getting a replacement sent to me.
 
Well, to be honest I broke it before I had many opportunities to use it! Immediately before I broke it, I was testing it out in montane rainforest, during the day and it found a hummingbird perched about 30-40m away and a cicada (a surprise!) on a tree about 10m away. It certainly has amazing capability...but it is a bit on the delicate side. I am in the process of returning it and (presumably) getting a replacement sent to me.
That's useful feedback Avery: in one of the video reviews I watched the reviewer tore the lens cap mounting ring the first time he used it. It does appear as if they might not be sufficiently durable for in-the-field birding use. A shame as they do appear to be otherwise quite exceptional for the price.
 
That's useful feedback Avery: in one of the video reviews I watched the reviewer tore the lens cap mounting ring the first time he used it. It does appear as if they might not be sufficiently durable for in-the-field birding use. A shame as they do appear to be otherwise quite exceptional for the price.
I think it depends on the person to some degree, if one is careful there isn't much reason why it shouldn't last. Knowing that it is less robust, once I get my replacement I will try to pay a bit more attention to how I am using it. We'll see.
 
I went down this rabbit hole about 2 months ago and pulled the trigger on a Pulsar Telos LRF XP50, which was just about the most expensive unit I could find (~$4200 USD). figuring buy once... cry once..

I just returned from birding at the Sax Zim Bog and found it invaluable. as others have said, I would feel very strange going out looking for wildlife without a thermal now. It's such an incredible tool. Being able to drive down the road at 55MPH and identify hidden grouse, snowshare hares, and Great Gray Owls that were obscured by trees is insane.

I think someone else mentioned, but popularity in the UK is probably largely due to the cloudy weather. Here in the US (Michigan), I previously could only use it during the early and late hours of the day. However, in Minnesota it was 30 degrees and cloudy each day and I could use it 24/7 which made it feel like a permanent superpower

Some pics from the trip attached

my next goal is to try some "cheaper" imagers, as I have many friends and family who would love to pick one up but don't have the budget of a used car to spend on one..
 

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I think this depends on the nature of the user a lot. I know that I can use my Pulsar during the day if the Sun is not out, but I don't. I just like looking at the real world more! My wife does use it in rainforests during the day sometimes, I guess she has seen enough lianas for her, and it's sometimes impressive how much we get to see this way, but to me it feels too much like work mostly.
 
This one at nhbs seems miles cheaper than most but nhbs usually stock good stuff. Anyone got any experience of it.
One factor with a thermal imager is the detection range. The quoted figure in the spec is roughly the distance that you can detect a human.

This may not seem particularly relevant, but (and I check this with a Pulsar rep), you can basically pro-rata the figures for the size of object you want to detect... so if you are looking for an 17cm bird rather than a 170cm human, then you will need to be roughly 10 times closer. The scope in the advert has a detection range of 400-1000m, so for the example I have given, you may nee to be within circa 40m to be able to detect the bird.

The more expensive thermal imagers tend to have larger thermal sensors (hence higher resolution), and high resolution screens - these combine to provide greater 'detection ranges. A lot of have detection ranges of circa 1300m of more. - A Zeiss DTI 4/50 has a range of 2600m!. So if you are looking to pan the mountain slopes for Tibetan Snowcock (assuming they are not so well insulated as to have practically no heat trace), the advertised imaginer will probably not cut it. If on the other hand, you want to pan in front of you for a 'frozen' Jack Snipe, it should be OK.

How well birds show up depends on the density/insulation of the plumage and the environmental conditions - for example on a recent trip, Weka showed a strong heat signal from the head, but more subdued image from the body, whereas Kiwis (with their loose feathering) showed up very well. On a trip to the USA a Common Poorwill at dusk showed up cold against the blistering hot road, whereas a Paraque in the middle of the day was invisible (although it was only a few metres away) - presumable the bird's feathering was the same as ambient (circa 35 degrees). Their is quite a bit of trial and error with bird detection, and in general the poor FoV of thermal imagers does not help. I also find that it is quite hard to judge distance, so when you find something, it can be hard to then work out where look with your binoculars.... but I wouldn't have found any Kiwis without one and think it is a useful tool to have in the kit bag.
 
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I ordered a Hicmicro Falcon FQ35 on a Black Friday deal in November.

It worked fine: I found a Tawny Owl in the small parc close to my apartment, realized that the number of rabbits in the city parks is at least 5x times bigger than I had thought before, saw a couple of inner city foxes and finally saw one of the beavers that colonized a nature reserve at the city border in 2022.

Even though it worked fine I send it back. One reason for returning it was that a magnification of 1,82 felt too small for longer distances but at the same time the field of view still felt too small for searching in nearby bushes. But the biggest reason was that I agree with opisska

to me it feels too much like work mostly.
That‘s exactly how I described it to a friend. I like observing nature with binoculars or a scope but scanning with the thermal scope never felt like fun but always exhausting and like work.

Maybe I will buy one again at some point in the future but for now I it‘s not too high on my wishlist.
 
One factor with a thermal imager is the detection range. The quoted figure in the spec is roughly the distance that you can detect a human.

This may not seem particularly relevant, but (and I check this with a Pulsar rep), you can basically pro-rata the figures for the size of object you want to detect... so if you are looking for an 17cm bird rather than a 170cm human, then you will need to be roughly 10 times closer. The scope in the advert has a detection range of 400-1000m, so for the example I have given, you may nee to be within circa 40m to be able to detect the bird.

The more expensive thermal imagers tend to have larger thermal sensors (hence higher resolution), and high resolution screens - these combine to provide greater 'detection ranges. A lot of have detection ranges of circa 1300m of more. - A Zeiss DTI 4/50 has a range of 2600m!. So if you are looking to pan the mountain slopes for Tibetan Snowcock (assuming they are not so well insulated as to have practically no heat trace), the advertised imaginer will probably not cut it. If on the other hand, you want to pan in front of you for a 'frozen' Jack Snipe, it should be OK.

How well birds show up depends on the density/insulation of the plumage and the environmental conditions - for example on a recent trip, Weka showed a strong heat signal from the head, but more subdued image from the body, whereas Kiwis (with their loose feathering) showed up very well. On a trip to the USA a Common Poorwill at dusk showed up cold against the blistering hot road, whereas a Paraque in the middle of the day was invisible (although it was only a few metres away) - presumable the bird's feathering was the same as ambient (circa 35 degrees). Their is quite a bit of trial and error with bird detection, and in general the poor FoV of thermal imagers does not help. I also find that it is quite hard to judge distance, so when you find something, it can be hard to then work out where look with your binoculars.... but I wouldn't have found any Kiwis without one and think it is a useful tool to have in the kit bag.
thank you for such an educating response
 
What sort of distances were you viewing those snipe over, Paul?

In the same hide today, so here is another Snipe example with the Pulsar Axion SQ38.

The pics are - a phone pic out of the hide; a pic taken through the thermal on the normal 3.5x magnification setting; & a photo of the bird with my R5 & 100-500mm zoom.

All the best

Paul
 

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Received a Guide 210 yesterday from NHBS (£547 inc delivery). Works well with the local foxes but haven't had time to try it on small mammals yet.

The attraction of this one apart from the low cost was the 18650 batteries - commonality with my torch (and of course charger) and I'm only interested in it for finding, not ID or photography.

John
 

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