These devices were initially used by military and law enforcement agencies only. In today’s world, you can easily find the best thermal binoculars and bi-oculars for your use as well.
Similar to thermal Imaging Scopes, thermal binoculars and bi-oculars allow you to detect heat signatures of the target and convert them into visible images.
You must be wondering, how does this work? Basically, every object emits infrared light in the form of heat. This light is not visible to human eye but it can be detected by thermal imaging devices.
The detector on these devices firsts creates a detailed pattern known as thermogram. This thermogram is later converted into electric impulse which enables you to see the pattern on the display screen.
The Basic Difference Between Thermal Binoculars and Bi-oculars
When it comes to thermal imaging cameras, you must have heard a variety of names including binoculars, monoculars, riflescopes and bi-oculars.
Thermal Binoculars, just like regular binoculars, use two lens systems for viewing. Thermal Bi-oculars, on the other hand, has one large optical system for both eye viewing.
According to a research conducted for traversing off-road terrain on foot, it was found that for a sample of 35 male participants, binoculars yielded better performance.
Another study conducted for targets in a bush lane concluded that target detection for both bi-ocular and binocular showed no significant differences.
Top 5 Best Thermal Binoculars & Bi-oculars 2018
Now we are going to review the top 5 best thermal binoculars and bi-oculars present in the market for the year 2018.
|ATN Binox-THD Thermal Binocular|
|FLIR BHS-XR Command 640x480 Thermal Bi-ocular, no lens 30Hz, NTSC|
|N-Vision Optics Atlas Thermal Imaging Binocular, 60 Hz|
|ATN ARES4x Bi-ocular, 3P|
|S&L SL-800B Thermal Binocular|
BinoX-THD comes with Obsidian Core which offers unmatchable speed and amazing performance. Its thermal sensor comes with a high resolution of 384*288.
With its smooth zoom feature, you can effortlessly get up close and personal with the target. Its magnification power ranges between 4.5 and 18X.
The Smart Rangefinder on BinoX-THD makes it an ideal choice for hunters. This feature allows you to measure the exact distance between you and your target. In a matter of seconds, you will know how far away your target is.
BinoX-THD has the ability to record HD (1280*960) videos which can be stored in a microSD card. It has a built-in gyroscope which keeps the image stable during recording. With its built-in Wi-Fi, you can share these videos with friends and family members. The Wi-Fi supports both iOS and Android platforms.
The multiple navigation features on this binocular allows you to make use of it in various terrains. Its GPS, Geo-tag and E-Compass helps you in finding your exact location leaving no chances of getting lost in mountains or jungles!
BinoX-THD can be used in different weather conditions as this is a weather resistant binocular. It operates on 3 CR 123A batteries which have a battery life of 6-8 hours.
Weighing only 1.85lbs, it is one of the most lightweight binocular available in the market. It comes with 3 years warranty.
Pros – Inexpensive, Ergonomic design, Provides HD photos and Videos
FLIR BHS-XR has an uncooled sun-safe Vanadium Oxide (Vox) microbolometer with a native resolution of 320*240. Full resolution of 640*480 can also be achieved using aux video jack. Its 30 Hz refresh rate allows the bi-ocular to display 30 images per second.
Specifically made for security personnel and law enforcement agencies, it offers 2x and 4x digital zoom which is paired with FLIR Propriety Digital Detail Enhancement (DDE). This feature preserves details in high dynamic range scenes.
The BHS series bi-ocular supports different lenses. It is compatible with 35mm, 65mm and 100mm lenses. You can order these lenses separately.
It allows you to capture 640*480 JPEG Photos and record AVI videos which can be stored on an SD or SDHC card. You can also make videos in NTSC or PAL formats and send them to an external display.
BHS-XR is a waterproof and shock resistant bi-ocular which can withstand harsh impact. In order to ensure a non-slip grip, it has a rubber covering.
Please note that you cannot export this bi-ocular outside of the United States of America.
Pros – Durable, Lightweight, Offers crisp and clear images
ATLAS uses 12-micron thermal core amorphous silicon microbolometer sensor. It has a detector resolution of 640*480 and a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
Both 2x and 4x zoom options are available on ATLAS. It has a detection range of 2250meters for man sized targets. Images can be seen through its high-speed AR coated germanium optics.
Its unique Edge Detect Mode helps users to focus on the visible target only by darkening the surrounding areas. According to N-Vision, this feature is not available in any other binocular in the market.
It captures images which are stored in the internal memory. You can record videos using a USB or an analog output.
ATLAS is perfect for marine navigators as it has a proven IP67 waterproof rating. It operates on 3 CR123A batteries. Just like other binoculars, export of ATLAS outside the US is not allowed.
Pros – Sturdy, Lightweight, True-to-Life Images
ARES has a magnification power of 4x and a resolution of 64-72 lines per mm. The lens has a proshield lens coating for greater clarity as well as protection.
Its infrared illuminator is easily detachable and offers multiple brightness options. The IR indicator alerts when the IR is on and working.
One knob operation allows the user to easily adjust the images using precision wind age and elevation adjustments. Its red on green reticle offers perfect night vision.
ARES operates on 1 AA type battery that lasts up to 30 hours. You can easily mount it standard weaver rails. It has the ability to withstand rain and fog as it is a water resistant bi-ocular.
Pros – High resolution images, Sturdy and Easy to Mount.
#5. S&L SL-800B 640×480(17μm) Thermal Vision Day and Night Vision Distance Measuring Binocular
One of a kind thermal binocular, SL-800B can be used for both day and night vision. It is considered to be a multi-purpose tool for military personnel.
It comes with an uncooled FPA detector with a ½’ low light night vision sensor. The resolution of this detector is an impressive 640*480. It can detect a man target as far as 2500m.
Like other binoculars, it has a 2x and 4x zoom options. It has the ability to capture JPEG photos and record 640*480 videos for up to 10 hours. It supports USB 2.0 output and has a storage capacity of 16GB.
For better navigation at night, SL-800B has a GPS system. Connectivity with your smartphones and laptops is achieved using a built-in Wi-Fi.
Pros – Multi-Purpose, Great for Long-Range Detection
How to Choose Best Thermal Binoculars
While choosing the best thermal binoculars you need to look at a few important factors. These include the size, user-friendliness, resolution and other connectivity features. In order to help you in finding the best thermal binoculars, we have provided a concise yet useful list below.
Easy to control
Isn’t it obvious that instead of focusing on the various buttons on your binoculars you would like to focus on your target? Spending so much time on the controls contributes in wasting your time. As a hunter or a shooter, time is a critical factor. You wish to be as fast as you can.
You need to buy a binocular which helps you in getting closer to your target in no time. With easier controls and simple features, you will be able to save a lot of time! Make sure that the user interface is simple and efficient.
Whether you are hunter or a shooter, you would already be travelling with rifle or other equipment and you would want to keep the weight as less as possible.
A compact and ergonomically designed binocular will be easy to travel with. If you are someone who has to move around with their binocular, then we highly recommend you to go for a compact one.
Range of detection is the distance which allows you to detect an object clearly. There are a variety of detection ranges for different objects. You can find long-range, medium-range and short-range binoculars/bi-oculars.
In order to find a detection range that is suitable for you, you need to determine what’s your purpose of buying a binocular/bi-ocular.
If you are going to get up close and personal to your target like in hunting or wildlife observation, medium and short detection range is going to work for you.
As a law enforcement agent or marine navigator, you need to look at targets that are far off. For this purpose, you need to select binoculars/bi-oculars with long range of detection.
Picture taking and video recording
The best thermal binoculars and bi-oculars should be able to capture pictures and record high quality videos. With this feature, you can share your hunting experience with your friends and family members.
We recommend you to go for a device that has the ability to support an SD card. With such a card in place, you don’t have to go through the hassle of purchasing additional USB cable.
Resolution allows you to capture images in greater detail. The resolution power is linked with binocular’s aperture in the sense that the larger the aperture, the higher the resolution.
Other factors that impact the resolution of a thermal binocular include the type of optics used, the quality of optical coatings, the conditions in which the binocular is used.
A standard for the detector resolution is 640*480 which provides state-of-the-art images. Anything less than this, and you will have issues in deciding as to what you are looking at.
While you cannot do much about the sensor of a certain binocular/bi-ocular, you might want to look at the temperature at which it operates.
Some binoculars come with a Vanadium Oxide (Vox) microbolometer while others use Image intensifier tubes for thermal imaging and night vision.
If you have to use your device in harsh conditions, your sensor might not function in a right way. This is something that you shouldn’t take lightly.
Connect methods (Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
The freedom to easily share pictures and videos with others is something that has become a must in our world. While choosing the best thermal binocular and bi-ocular, we always recommend our readers to pick the one which has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features.
With better connectivity features, you are able to share photos and videos instantly and in a hassle-free manner. Make sure that the Wi-Fi is supported for both iOS and Android operating systems.
How is Microphone
A good microphone is a great feature for hunters. They are able to record the sounds in their surrounding in a better way.
It also helps users in clearly getting their message across while recording videos. A good microphone should produce crisp and clear sound.
Finding the best thermal binoculars and bi-oculars might seem like a challenging process to many of the potential buyers. In reality, it is quite a simple process!
If you know the things that you need to look for in a binocular/bi-ocular, you are already on the right path. Sensor, detection range, connectivity, resolution and user-friendliness are some of the factors that you should keep in your mind.
By comparing the top 5 binoculars and bi-oculars for 2018, we hope that we were able to assist you in finding a perfect match!
Todd Davis; Night Vision vs. Thermal Optics: What you need to know; wideopenspaces.com; June 8, 2016
John McHale; Thermal binoculars from FLIR Systems debut at AUSA; us-tech.com;
U.S. Army Issues Solicitation for Thermal Binoculars; GLOBE NEWSWIRE; May 31, 2018
Flir Receives $16M Order for Thermal Binoculars; Photonics; July 15, 2013