A thermal imaging camera, also known as a thermograph, infrared camera or thermal imager(WBG forshort), is a type of camera that can receive and measure infrared radiation and use this radiation to digitally draw the image of the objects being viewed.
Since most of these devices used today - similar to a digital camera - have a recording function in image and video, they are called thermal imaging cameras.
In the field of hunting, these devices are classified as optics.
The use of thermal imaging cameras, which cannot be directly combined with conventional targeting optics or even completely replace them, is permitted without restriction in Germany with regard to their use in hunting. Their use fulfills here only a "reconnaissance" purpose.
For example, with their help, game can be better located in difficult weather or light conditions. Also, with their help game can be better addressed. Especially when hunting sows at night, they serve the purpose of addressing, because through them also smaller freshlings can be better discovered and a sow can be better addressed as a leading sow.
A thermal imaging device can also be used for tracking purposes. Especially at lower outdoor temperatures, larger heat radiating sweat patches can be easily detected by such a device. However, it should be clearly pointed out at this point: A thermal imaging device does not replace a trained hunting dog!
The prices of thermal imaging cameras vary greatly and are mainly dependent on the manufacturer and the technical performance data. For example, you can spend almost 3700€ for the top device of the well-known German brand manufacturer Liemke, the Keiler 50 Pro. The far less powerful entry-level device from the Chinese manufacturer HIKVision, the Lynx LC06, on the other hand, costs just 500€.
There are even cheaper, so-called thermal imaging cameras - also as an adapter module for the smartphone - but these are not thermal imaging devices for hunting reconnaissance purposes, as we describe them here.
The distance at which you can detect heat sources with a thermal imager while hunting depends primarily on the nature of the sensor and the size of its lens. Nowadays, top of the line devices can display heat sources at a distance of up to more than 2000m.
Most thermal imagers in the mid-price segment have detection ranges of about 1200-1500m. Of course, the larger the heat source, the better the WBG can detect it at a greater distance.
Weather conditions also play an important role for the detective. In fog, rain or snow flurries, for example, the visibility through a thermograph is not as good and does not reach as far as in clear cool air.
Since thermal imaging cameras have made a big splash among the hunting community in recent years due to their manifold benefits, you can find many thermal imaging tests on the web dedicated to finding the best thermal imaging camera for hunting use. However, in the end it is mainly a question of the price-performance ratio, which thermal imager is convincing and above all suitable for one's own purposes.
Also, between the years 2016 and 2021, the thermal imager market has seen countless new manufacturers and models emerge, all of which offer their own unique benefits.
Therefore, we want to introduce you to a few of the most popular models among hunters:
Liemke Keiler 26 Pro:
Liemke's Keiler 26 thermal imager is a compact, high-performance thermal imager that features a 25mm objective lens diameter and a VOx sensor. The display is said to convince in a resolution of 1,280x960 pixels.
Hikmicro Owl OH25:
The Owl OH25 thermal imager from Hikmicro is a handy but powerful thermal imager, with a detector resolution 384 x 288 pixels. The image is presented to the hunter on an OLED display (resolution 1024 x 768 pixels).
Pulsar AXION XQ38:
The AXION XQ38 from Pulsar is a handy thermal imager for stalking and raised hide with 38 lens, 3.5x-14x magnification (4x zoom) and effective range to over 1300 meters. The internal memory of 16 GB allows extensive recording (image / video).
Infiray Xeye E3n:
The E3n is a high-quality thermal imaging camera from the manufacturer Infiray Xeye. Like almost all devices of this brand, the E3n is also supposed to impress with its excellent price-performance ratio. Furthermore, Xeye relies on a wide field of view with a high-resolution sensor for this device.
As mentioned earlier, different manufacturers focus on different merits of their thermal imagers. Therefore, many models on the market differ in weight, memory as well as battery capacity, detection range and ultimately price.
Below, we want to familiarize you with a few of the most well-known manufacturers:
Basically, thermal imaging cameras belong to the spectrum of night vision devices, as they too can digitally image things that remain hidden from the human eye due to a lack of light and thus make them visible.
In today's linguistic usage, however, the term night vision devices is used to refer to devices that irradiate the surroundings with the aid of an infrared emitter installed in them. This infrared radiation (near infrared, NIR) from the surroundings is converted into visible light with the aid of a built-in residual light amplifier. This technique artificially brightens the entire irradiated environment, which can then be digitally displayed.
Night vision devices that function in this way have the advantage over thermal imaging devices that they can reproduce all irradiated objects (even cold surfaces) in great detail. Thus, the different nuances of an object are somewhat easier to represent by night vision devices. Thermal imagers, on the other hand, have the advantage of contrasting heat sources in the image, making them easier to detect. This function has proven to be an advantage for hunters in particular, because game can be detected more quickly in the landscape.
When purchasing a thermal imaging camera, as with any hunting item, you should make sure that it serves the purpose for which you need it. For example, if you hunt exclusively in the forest, you usually do not need a thermal imaging camera with an unusually high detection range, because most of the time your view is limited by the vegetation anyway.
It is therefore advisable to always make sure that the thermal imaging device chosen has above all the attributes that are important for one's own hunting practice. It is also advisable to make sure that the price-performance ratio of the device is right.
Thermal imaging devices, which are also designed for hunting purposes, are not capable of imaging heat sources hidden behind solid materials. Only if the heat source protrudes behind or radiates onto them can it be seen on the WBG's display.
There are infrared pyrometers specially designed for thermography of houses. These serve the purpose of making visible conduits, pipes and other heat sources hidden in walls. However, they are not at all suitable for hunting purposes.
As mentioned earlier, the market for thermal imaging equipment for hunting use has grown rapidly in recent years. Every self-respecting hunting store now carries them, and a number of gunsmiths and smaller hunting stores also offer the opportunity to purchase thermal imaging cameras through them. There have even emerged purely on the sale of night and thermal imaging technology specialized stores such as Venari.
Gunfinder.de offers you the possibility to compare many different models with regard to different criteria and to find the device suitable for you. You can also order your desired device from many dealers directly via their store on Gunfinder.