As I write this, the second-generation pulsar scopes (Helion 2 XP50 pro have arrived with improved thermal performance via an improved sensor. The NETD of the Helion2 versions have an NETD of 40mk and the Helion2 PRO an amazing sub 25mk. As an avid tech lover, I tend to always check out what’s new and opt for the latest in optics and improved technology if budget allows. I have included the specs of version 2 in the table below for comparison but haven’t tested it myself.
Thermal Monoculars Device Specification Comparison
|Specs / Device||Pulsar Helion XP28||Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro||Guide TrackIR Pro 19|
|Detector resolution (pixels)||640×480||640×480||640×480|
|Battery life||Approx. 8 hrs Replaceable||Approx. 13 hrs Replaceable||Approx. 4.5-5 hrs internal|
|External screen option?||Streamvision app compatible for viewing on smart devices||Streamvision app compatible for viewing on smart devices||Connects to smart phone app, and can connect to external monitor|
|Thermal Sensitivity (NETD)||60mk||Sub 25mk (non pro version sub 40mk)||Sub 50mk|
|Radiometric jpeg and video recording||X||X||X|
|FOV options||XP38, XP50 only. 19 and 28 now discontinued||XP 38 and XP 50 only||Options available IR pro25, IR pro35/td>|
|Price point (at time of writing)||Discontinued but XP 38 £3,599.95||2XP50 – £2949.95 2XP50 Pro – £3,399.95||£2619.95|
Thermal Cameras Device Specification Comparison
|Specs / Device||Pulsar Helion XP28||Pulsar Helion 2 XP50 Pro|
|Detector resolution (pixels)||640×480||1024×768|
|Battery life||2.5-3 hrs/ battery Replaceable. X2 batteries per device||2.5hrs /battery Replaceable/ AC adapter X2 batteries per device|
|External screen option?||On board screen and wifi stream to app on smart devices||On board screen and wifi stream to app on smart devices|
|Thermal Sensitivity (NETD)||Sub 30mk (at 30 degs)||Sub 20mk (at 30 degrees C)|
|Radiometric jpeg and video recording||✓||✓|
|FOV options||Wide angle, standard, telephoto available||Wide angle, standard, telephoto available|
|Price point (at time of writing)||Discontinued equivalent models circa 23k||Circa 31/33k|
Testing Criteria / Protocols
I wanted to do some in the field tests with the cameras, looking at scenes an ecologist might look at and in habitats we might find ourselves in. The big exception of this test is bats, being out of the active bat season I wasn’t able to do any night shooting tests with bats, but this I something I will be running during this season on different kit. The set ups / protocols on all scenes were as follows:
- The cameras/scopes were all set up along the same horizontal plane and as close together as possible.
- Although the scopes have a built-in range in range finder, the FLIR’s didn’t, so I used a dedicated rangefinder to measure the distances from the objects or features within the scene. The rangefinder was accurate +- 60cm.
- For the FLIR I shot in standard MP4 video to compare against the scopes standard video, and then reran the test recording radiometric video.
- I shot using automatic settings and auto calibration on all devices. The scopes had scene modes that needed to be used so I opted for the closest to the FLIR output for comparison but looked at them all.
- I looked at the various colour palettes available for the scopes
- The FLIR T1030SC was brought in for the tests on detection distances