Thermal imaging cameras and night vision devices are becoming increasingly popular and widespread among hunters. On the one hand, they are unbeatable when it comes to tracking game, on the other hand, they can provide valuable support in identifying game without any doubt - especially when hunting wild boar at night, this can help to avoid missed shots.
In the following, we would like to explain the most important features of thermal imaging cameras and present the most popular ones on the German market - with their advantages and disadvantages.
The most important features of thermal imagers are:
Range of application:
The greater the distance of the game, the more powerful the thermal imaging device must be - i.e. equipped with a high resolution and the largest possible objective lens. The reason for this is that it is possible to detect and address game even at long distances. In the forest, visibility is limited, so less power may suffice in wooded areas.
The most common manufacturers in Germany are Pulsar and Liemke. Although both make excellent optics there are differences that may be relevant to the user: Pulsar equips its thermal imagers with external batteries, while the batteries are built into Liemke.
In addition, the devices differ in their design. The Liemke devices are round, cylindrical and are held like a spotting scope. Pulsar devices are more like camcorder designs and are more right-handed. Liemke devices can be held equally well by both hands.
Both manufacturers offer devices in the entry-level as well as in the professional segment.
Pulsar: Axion Key (from 1300 €), Accolade XP50 LRF
Liemke: Keiler 19 Lite (from 1000 €) , Challenger 35, Keiler 35 Pro
Whether you should buy a night vision device or a thermal imaging camera depends on the application. In the forest, thermal imaging cameras are superior because nearby trees or branches hanging in the field of view do not outshine the image, i.e. appear brighter than objects in the background. In the field, however, night vision equipment is much better than thermal imaging cameras at detecting the nature of the terrain.
Night vision devices are residual light amplifiers, these work optimally in the dark when used with an infrared illuminator. This is invisible to the human eye, but not necessarily to game. Game may therefore notice that it is being observed with a night vision device, but this danger does not exist with a thermal imaging device because no infrared beam is emitted. Thermal imagers are also less weather dependent than night vision devices. Although some details can be seen less accurately with a thermal imaging camera than with night vision, it is almost impossible to miss game - it stands out in the image in high contrast to its usually cooler surroundings. Thermal imaging can also be used for tracking: The heat signature of sweat as well as the piece of game tied to the spot can often be recognized well with it (although thermal imaging technology cannot replace a dog).
The best test reports of thermal imaging cameras can be found at our premium partner Geartester. In addition, Geartester provides high-quality video content on the topic on YouTube: