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

SWAROVSKI AX VISIO: MY LEARNINGS IN A NUTSHELL (3 Viewers)

The following personal findings reflect my experience using the Visio on a daily basis for over a month, doing literally hundreds of bird identifications with it.

1. Not a “quick and easy” device
Unless you are willing to invest some time and learn how to best use the Visio, you will likely experience many frustrating moments. That’s probably what happened to some internet reviewers who spent a few hours with the Visio and then concluded that it wasn’t really a useful device, since it didn’t reliably identify birds. Give it some practice and you will find that the Visio actually does the job it is designed to do quite well.

2. Don’t expect the impossible
As mentioned somewhere else, you as an experienced birder may be able to identify birds that are partially hidden in branches and behind leaves so that you can only see a small part of their body. For an algorithm, this is a greater challenge. Don’t expect the machine to be as “smart” as you. I have had surprisingly good results with birds almost invisible in or behind bushes, but not on a reliable basis, so don’t get mad if the Visio doesn’t give you a bird’s name or doesn’t even see a bird that you have spotted in the binocular but that is not really clearly visible.

3. Distance, distance, distance
Large birds (herons, storks, large birds of prey etc) can be identified by the Visio at distances well beyond 150m or more, both in flight and sitting still. The same is not true for small birds. Even 40m may be too far for tits or chiffchaffs. You will know it in advance when you look through the Visio and the shape of the bird in question by far does not fill the red circle it is supposed to fill. You may get an ID, but more likely you won’t. Too great a distance between me and the bird has been one of the main reasons of frustration for me, esp. if the bird had been well visible in the binocular of the Visio.

4. Turn on and leave on
As mentioned earlier, it is advisable to turn the Visio on when you actively start birding, and to leave it on. It will last several hours, perhaps most of the day, with a single battery charge. This ensures the GPS is active and bird IDs have a good chance of success.

5. Backlight is bad
IDs are much more successful with birds sitting on the ground or flying at your altitude or when observing against an earthen background than with birds sitting high up in a tree when the bright daylight is behind that tree. The same is true when you observe from a dark shelter with a low roof, watching out into the bright daylight or sunshine. Results are better if you are in the same lighting situation as the bird.

6. Focal length is not the main issue with the camera
I have experimented a bit, trying to find out what it would bring if the 260 mm of the Visio were increased to something like 370 mm (using a Lumix with Leica DC Vario objective). The difference isn’t that great when it comes to detail recognition (see pics attached). More focal length would be welcome in the Visio, but it would not drastically change things.

7. IS would be a clear improvement
Had the camera an image stabilization, many of those shots that I messed up when in a hurry, or when I was more jittery than usual, would have come out usable. Of course, this would further increase the size and weight of the Visio. So you may want to find other means to ensure stable shots (monopod, tripod, leaning against a tree, resting your elbows on something, etc.)

8. If you can get close enough and the bird is well visible, the Visio works almost 100%
You may get many birds identified even if the conditions mentioned in the manual are not fulfilled; but then the risk is high that the Visio will turn out a “no bird” result. However, if you get a clear shot at a bird that fills a large portion of the ID circle in the display, is well visible, the backlight is not too strong and you don’t jitter like hell, the success rate is close to 100%. When all those conditions were met, I did not have one single case of “no bird recognizable” with the Visio.

9. The rate of “no ID” is much higher than the rate of wrong IDs
That is my personal experience. I do get the occasional wrong ID that you would expect in situations where there are several bird species that look similar and ID would be tricky also for good birders. When I get a positive ID, it is usually right, or then I get a “no bird recognizable” much more frequently than a wrong ID.

10. The combination of binocular and camera is the greatest asset
Being able to observe and make a photo without having to put down the binocular is a fabulous thing. That alone (with the capability to later ID birds with the Merlin app) is much more important to me than the ability to ID a bird in the Visio right on the spot. Of course, the camera does by far not count as a “wildlife camera” with which you can shoot brilliant images of wildlife that you hang on your walls, but I think it is sufficient for recording and observation management tasks.

11. Other functions of the Visio
The “share discoveries” function of the Visio is useful when you are out with colleagues. Without a range measurement capability, the compass is of limited use to me. I haven’t used the mammal ID function; more useful is probably the possibility to ID butterflies and the like, but I haven’t used it much yet.

fwiw Canip
Thank you for your comprehensive review on axvisio; your insights are incredibly valuable! I'm thinking about purchasing one and would really appreciate your detailed feedback.

I’m particularly interested in what you find most valuable about the axvisio. Is it the real-time bird ID, or do the capabilities to simultaneously observe and capture images make it stand out for you?

Also, as you seem to own various devices, how frequently do you find yourself reaching for the axvisio? Is it your go-to device mostly for dedicated birding trips, or is it also handy for casual observations around your home area?

Given your experience with multiple devices, do you think the axvisio could replace traditional binoculars + cameras? I’d love to know in what ways you find it superior or perhaps lacking compared to using separate devices for birdwatching and other activities.

Looking forward to your thoughts!
 
A device that needs to be within 150 meters of a heron, in order to identify it, is not going to make me reach for my wallet.

Maybe I misunderstood.
 
A device that needs to be within 150 meters of a heron, in order to identify it, is not going to make me reach for my wallet.

Maybe I misunderstood.
There's 2 ways of looking at that isn't there.
1. I can identify a heron with my naked eye at that distance!
Or 2. You can get to within 50 metres of the vast majority of birds without them being concerned about your presence. So provided it identifies medium / large birds at 50m then it could be ok. Ditto Small birds at 10m.

For me, it seems to be joining a lot of birders' products that go very quiet a month or two after the release! (See also "remembird", "flight identification of European passerines", and the original Swarovski smart binoculars).
 
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Thank you for your comprehensive review on axvisio; your insights are incredibly valuable! I'm thinking about purchasing one and would really appreciate your detailed feedback.

I’m particularly interested in what you find most valuable about the axvisio. Is it the real-time bird ID, or do the capabilities to simultaneously observe and capture images make it stand out for you?

Also, as you seem to own various devices, how frequently do you find yourself reaching for the axvisio? Is it your go-to device mostly for dedicated birding trips, or is it also handy for casual observations around your home area?

Given your experience with multiple devices, do you think the axvisio could replace traditional binoculars + cameras? I’d love to know in what ways you find it superior or perhaps lacking compared to using separate devices for birdwatching and other activities.

Looking forward to your thoughts!

Here are my 2 ct.

For me, as indicated earlier, the most useful feature of the AX is the combination of a first class binocular with a camera. It allows to take pics of observed wildlife without having to put your bino down and grab a camera. Once you get used to this comfort, you don‘t want to miss it anymore.

Of course, the camera has its limitations (that have been discussed). Beside a limited „reach“ due to its focal length of 260 mm, the main limitation is its restriction to use in daylight. At dusk or dawn, pics become grainy quite quickly. So the AX is really tailored to be used for wildlife observation and documentation when there is sufficient light for that purpose (when there is, the AX works just fine).

This means that as a wildlife photographer, you are going to take your camera along, whether or not you carry a Visio.

I tend to take the Visio along when I plan to observe, e.g., breeding storks, mating kestrels or migratory birds that happen to rest in my area. I.e., the Visio comes with me when I am out in the fields with a purpose. When I just go for a walk, I usually take a 6x, 6.5x, 7x or 8x bino with me, not a 10x32. But of course the Visio can also serve as a general purpose bino if that‘s what you plan to use it for (you get used to its weight quite quickly).

Many reviewers have complained that the bird identification capability of the Visio does not live up to their expectations.
My view: perhaps, but that has more to do with unrealistic expectations than with the limitations of the hardware and software of the Visio.

For me (a mediocre birder), the Visio has helped me expand my knowledge of birds (example: I never could tell which of the main 5 pigeon species present in my area I had before me; now I can).

Of course, experienced birders may snear at the Visio. But all others will find some of its functions useful if they use it in line with Swaro‘s instructions.

Canip
 
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Here are my 2 ct.

For me, as indicated earlier, the most useful feature of the AX is the combination of a first class binocular with a camera. It allows to take pics of observed wildlife without having to put your bino down and grab a camera. Once you get used to this comfort, you don‘t want to miss it anymore.

Of course, the camera has its severe limitations (that have been discussed). Beside a limited „reach“ due to its focal length of 260 mm, the main limitation is its restriction to use in daylight. At dusk or dawn, pics become grainy quite quickly. So the AX is really tailored to be used for wildlife observation and documentation when there is sufficient light for that purpose (when there is, the AX works just fine).

This means that as a wildlife photographer, you are going to take your camera along, whether or not you carry a Visio.

I tend to take the Visio along when I plan to observe, e.g., breeding storks, mating kestrels or migratory birds that happen to rest in my area. I.e., the Visio comes with me when I am out in the fields with a purpose. When I just go for a walk, I usually take a 6x, 6.5x, 7x or 8x bino with me, not a 10x32. But of course the Visio can also serve as a general purpose bino if that‘s what you plan to use it for (you get used to its weight quite quickly).

Many reviewers have complained that the bird identification capability of the Visio does not live up to their expectations.
My view: perhaps, but that has more to do with unrealistic expectations than with the limitations of the hardware and software of the Visio.

For me (a mediocre birder), the Visio has helped me expand my knowledge of birds (example: I never could tell which of the main 5 pigeon species present in my area I had before me; now I can).

Of course, experienced birders may snear at the Visio. But all others will find some of its functions useful if they use it in line with Swaro‘s instructions.

Canip
I find curio and AX to be a good combo for short, spontaneous cases, and include the ATC with tripod on planned walks/birding. Leaving my G9 with 100-400 mm more and more often at home 😥.
Used as an "aid to navigation" (the original description of the Decca, Loran and gps-systems, compass, logg and map still rule!) the AX is super. The bino-function works well, as does the photo, share and the "find-it"(for want of a better phrase), and not just with birds and mammals.
The best, of course, being that actually spending money on one is quite totally voluntary.
 
I find curio and AX to be a good combo for short, spontaneous cases, and include the ATC with tripod on planned walks/birding. Leaving my G9 with 100-400 mm more and more often at home 😥.
Used as an "aid to navigation" (the original description of the Decca, Loran and gps-systems, compass, logg and map still rule!) the AX is super. The bino-function works well, as does the photo, share and the "find-it"(for want of a better phrase), and not just with birds and mammals.
The best, of course, being that actually spending money on one is quite totally voluntary.

Thank you for sharing your experience! The combination of Curio + AX sounds fascinating! I'm intrigued by your choice to carry an additional binocular alongside the AX, which is marketed as an all-in-one device. Could this be because the optical quality doesn't quite match up to traditional binoculars?

It also appears that the AX mainly serves as a substitute for your mirrorless camera. Could you elaborate on your main goals for taking pictures? Given the concerns often raised about the photo quality of the AX, I'm curious about your views on how its photography capabilities stack up against your camera.

Looking forward to your insights!
 
A new review of the AX has been published on the Dutch website of „Twente Bird Working Group“, see:

I think it’s worth reading by anyone who is interested in the Visio.The author did take the time to explore the Visio in some detail.

While I don‘t agree with every single statement in the review, I find it overall a fair and useful assessment of the Visio‘s capabilities.

A quote from the review (google translated):

With the AX Visio, things go wrong in the field ….. usually because the birds are too far away or have the wrong attitude.
Right from the front or from the back, determination is often not possible. You will then receive the message 'Bird not recognised.
Even with a blurred photo, e.g. due to vibration, a good determination is not possible.


That is in line with my experience and my write-up at the beginning of this thread. If birds are too far away, i.e. don‘t more or less fill the identification circle ⭕️ in the image, you may not get reliable identifications.
The same is true if the bird is only visible from the front or the back (in that case, identification can be tricky even for very experienced birders), or when it is half hidden behind branches or leaves.

On a German optics forum, some members read the review and concluded that the Visio is „expensive and half-baked“ („teuer und unausgereift“).
Their view, not mine!

Canip
 
the Visio has helped me expand my knowledge of birds (example: I never could tell which of the main 5 pigeon species present in my area I had before me; now I can).
Honestly, you should not need the Visio to tell you that. I'm guessing the five species are three large to medium-sized pigeons - (common) woodpigeon, stock dove, feral/rock pigeon - and two smaller doves, collared dove and turtle dove? Each of these has clear and simple field marks that will let you ID them quickly, and likely from well beyond the distance that the Visio probably could. All you need to do is study the differences between them, in books/websites and in the field, with the same dedication you would in studying the qualities of binoculars. :giggle:
 
Thank you for sharing your experience! The combination of Curio + AX sounds fascinating! I'm intrigued by your choice to carry an additional binocular alongside the AX, which is marketed as an all-in-one device. Could this be because the optical quality doesn't quite match up to traditional binoculars?

It also appears that the AX mainly serves as a substitute for your mirrorless camera. Could you elaborate on your main goals for taking pictures? Given the concerns often raised about the photo quality of the AX, I'm curious about your views on how its photography capabilities stack up against your camera.

Looking forward to your insights!
😄First of all, after I got it, the curio has been my ever-present bino, seconded by a Habicht 10*40 and an ATC.
I would usually have a camera somewhere, but not always: if I was in a car on my way to somewhere and I found time to look for winged creatures (or one invited a closer look), the camera would be secondary. But the Curio and usually the Habicht, would be there in the mid console.
Often, the time spent fiddling with the camera (even though it is ready to use in its bag in the rear seat or worse, the boot) would often lose the bird, or to quote "canip": "without having to put your bino down and grab a camera".
Now, the curio still fills it's old function, and the AX has more or less replaced the Habicht: rapidly on hand and with a non-delayed photographic function: when I get home I have timestamped pictures with GPS POS of where and when. And I can relook and learn.
So yes, the AX has become the replacement camera for the immediate and unplanned photos. For planned and deliberate birding (when I get the time), the ATC and G9 with their tripods (if necessary) are the main tools. The AX is not a camera, it is a tool to help me ID and position what I see before it hides or flies away. The optical quality of it and the curio is better than my former Zeiss Conquest, as is (and I'm keeping) the Habicht.
The pictures I take are not in any way professional, it is a hobby I've had for 60 years (I still miss the dark-room!). But with spare time being at a premium, the AX is a wonderful tool. But the G9 with it's 100-400mm is a better camera.
The two pictures below (they are not identical but taken a few seconds apart, it's the same bird at the same distance) are to demonstrate what you get at distance with the AX and what you can get with cropping. In this specific case good documentation of a first sighting in that location since 1957 or something.
1000006429.jpg1000006393.jpg
 
😄First of all, after I got it, the curio has been my ever-present bino, seconded by a Habicht 10*40 and an ATC.
I would usually have a camera somewhere, but not always: if I was in a car on my way to somewhere and I found time to look for winged creatures (or one invited a closer look), the camera would be secondary. But the Curio and usually the Habicht, would be there in the mid console.
Often, the time spent fiddling with the camera (even though it is ready to use in its bag in the rear seat or worse, the boot) would often lose the bird, or to quote "canip": "without having to put your bino down and grab a camera".
Now, the curio still fills it's old function, and the AX has more or less replaced the Habicht: rapidly on hand and with a non-delayed photographic function: when I get home I have timestamped pictures with GPS POS of where and when. And I can relook and learn.
So yes, the AX has become the replacement camera for the immediate and unplanned photos. For planned and deliberate birding (when I get the time), the ATC and G9 with their tripods (if necessary) are the main tools. The AX is not a camera, it is a tool to help me ID and position what I see before it hides or flies away. The optical quality of it and the curio is better than my former Zeiss Conquest, as is (and I'm keeping) the Habicht.
The pictures I take are not in any way professional, it is a hobby I've had for 60 years (I still miss the dark-room!). But with spare time being at a premium, the AX is a wonderful tool. But the G9 with it's 100-400mm is a better camera.
The two pictures below (they are not identical but taken a few seconds apart, it's the same bird at the same distance) are to demonstrate what you get at distance with the AX and what you can get with cropping. In this specific case good documentation of a first sighting in that location since 1957 or something.
View attachment 1586807View attachment 1586811
The detailed reply was very helpful!

I've been grappling with a similar dilemma myself. I love the immersive experience of traditional binoculars, but I also want to capture those fleeting moments without sacrificing observation time. It's a tough balance to strike!

Now, the curio still fills it's old function, and the AX has more or less replaced the Habicht: rapidly on hand and with a non-delayed photographic function:
If I understand correctly, does this mean you typically observe with the Curio and switch to the AX only when you want to capture a moment?

yes, the AX has become the replacement camera for the immediate and unplanned photos.
Now I'm a bit confused about the AX replacing your camera. Given that you always have the Curio on hand, wouldn't switching to either a camera or the AX cause you to miss that moment you mentioned, "see before it hides or flies away"? Is there something specific about the AX that makes it faster or easier to switch to than your camera in your workflow?
 
The detailed reply was very helpful!

I've been grappling with a similar dilemma myself. I love the immersive experience of traditional binoculars, but I also want to capture those fleeting moments without sacrificing observation time. It's a tough balance to strike!


If I understand correctly, does this mean you typically observe with the Curio and switch to the AX only when you want to capture a moment?


Now I'm a bit confused about the AX replacing your camera. Given that you always have the Curio on hand, wouldn't switching to either a camera or the AX cause you to miss that moment you mentioned, "see before it hides or flies away"? Is there something specific about the AX that makes it faster or easier to switch to than your camera in your workflow?
I always have the curio handy, always in a pocket. A larger bino wouldn't fit.
So I'd scan with the curio and take a closer look at areas of interest with the AX (curio 7x, AX 10x). If it replaces anything (which it doesn't, it complements) it would have to be the ATC, possibly the Habicht (which I really love), and I certainly removed (my opinion again!) the need for a phonescoping adaptor and the problems associated with people calling you to ask if you've seen anything interesting while you are trying to take a photo.

The AX is not perfect, but I find it a very good "aid to navigation" in the field. It is a little like a Swiss Army knife (though I wouldn't use it as a can opener), and has these added factors like "mark the spot", sharing, ID, GPS, and photo, all very nice.
And check out Norwegian prices, you'll find them friendlier than others (and for export you deduct 20% VAT). ANY Swaro 10x32 is expensive, the AX a little more, but as I have said before: you are not obliged to buy one!
Per
 
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The detailed reply was very helpful!

I've been grappling with a similar dilemma myself. I love the immersive experience of traditional binoculars, but I also want to capture those fleeting moments without sacrificing observation time. It's a tough balance to strike!


If I understand correctly, does this mean you typically observe with the Curio and switch to the AX only when you want to capture a moment?


Now I'm a bit confused about the AX replacing your camera. Given that you always have the Curio on hand, wouldn't switching to either a camera or the AX cause you to miss that moment you mentioned, "see before it hides or flies away"? Is there something specific about the AX that makes it faster or easier to switch to than your camera in your workflow?
It depends where you want to go with all this.
You can see what the ax is all about in this thread. Those photos are pretty much the limit of it's capabilities.
Or do you want to aspire to better photos as you become a more experienced birder? In which case a decent pair of binoculars and "proper" camera would be the way to go. (Plus a lot of learning in how to use the camera, and how to identify birds. None of it is difficult, just needs experience in the field)
 
It depends where you want to go with all this.
You can see what the ax is all about in this thread. Those photos are pretty much the limit of it's capabilities.
Or do you want to aspire to better photos as you become a more experienced birder? In which case a decent pair of binoculars and "proper" camera would be the way to go. (Plus a lot of learning in how to use the camera, and how to identify birds. None of it is difficult, just needs experience in the field)
Very sensible!
If the main object is good photography: use a dedicated camera.
If the main object is a whole day out birding to see and ID, you would do well with binos and scope and one or two of the excellent bird guides printed. (I'd bring the AX as the larger binoculars here)
If you like the AX concept, get an AX and use it for what it's worth.
If you want to go for a walk in the woods or whatever, and want to see more of what's around, bring binos of some kind (or two as I do).
Main thing is: enjoy it!
Per
 

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