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New gear - night vision camera from SiOnyx

Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
One item that intrigued me at the Annapolis show was a nifty little monocular camera that uses available light. Aurora Sport
They had a dark box on hand to demo it and I was impressed, but I'm a skeptic and suspected snake oil or trickery. This is not a blurry green screen - it turns night scenes into full color daylight. I was also a bit confused -- is it a camera or a monocular for live images? (They say it's both). Is it comparable to FLIR or less capable? (It is much less expensive and uses different technology: IR vs. Thermal).
I passed on it while there, but took the promo card ($100 off until Tuesday 10/15 if you type Annapolis10 in the promo code box on their website checkout). I decided to do a little online research before buying. It seems this new model uses the same technology as the prior model, but they left out some features, explained below.
I researched it some more online, and Panbo has a favorable write-up of its predecessor, SiOnyx Aurora night vision camera demo ride - Panbo and discusses the new product here New color night vision action camera from SiOnyx - Panbo
Ben Stein explains: "’I've been in touch with SiOnyx to understand the exact differences and it seems there are two differences between this unit and the Aurora. The first is original camera is ruggedized and warrantied for mounting on a weapon while the Sport isn’t. The second difference is the inretial measurement unit (IMU) has been removed from the Sport. The IMU contains both inertial sensors and the GPS unit. So, this means the camera isn’t going to be capable of tagging videos and pictures with geographic information. But, I can’t see how this will affect the primary use case on a boat, holding the camera in front of your eye and looking through the viewfinder to see better in the dark. "
So I decided to order this tonight at the show promo price of $299. I'll report back after I get it.

PS - I have no affiliation with or business interest in SiOnyx or FLIR.
 
Nov 8, 2010
10,895
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
That looks very interesting, thanks for posting. The demos are impressive, and Ben does not pull punches when it comes to product reviews. I planning on ordering one as well.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
What is the usable distance on it?
No limit. It's got a low power I beleive it's 1x and has a "digital" zoom up to (I think) 5x. Keep in mind digital zoom causes a loss of resolution due to pixel size limits. It's "720p resolution" which makes it very clear on a small screen, but this might not be sufficient if you want to read ship names far away.
The woman at the booth at the show gave me a focusing tip - she said I should focus on the letters in the menu at the edge of the the image, and if that's in focus the image is in focus. That did make it easier to focus quickly.
 
Nov 8, 2010
10,895
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
No limit. It's got a low power I beleive it's 1x and has a "digital" zoom up to (I think) 5x. Keep in mind digital zoom causes a loss of resolution due to pixel size limits. It's "720p resolution" which makes it very clear on a small screen, but this might not be sufficient if you want to read ship names far away.
The woman at the booth at the show gave me a focusing tip - she said I should focus on the letters in the menu at the edge of the the image, and if that's in focus the image is in focus. That did make it easier to focus quickly.
Do you remember what the focus distance was when it went into 'infinity' focus?
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
Do you remember what the focus distance was when it went into 'infinity' focus?
I don't. I think it's pretty close, so looking at things that aren't on your boat should not require fiddling with focus.
When you consider the focus advice I received (see above post), I'm under the impression that focus is more about looking at the internal screen clearly (focus between your eye and the internals rather than distance of an external object from the lens). The "dark box" they used at the show for the demo was less than a yard deep.
 
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Nov 8, 2010
10,895
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
I don't. I think it's pretty close, so looking at things that aren't on your boat should not require fiddling with focus.
When you consider the focus advice I received (see above post), I'm under the impression that focus is more about looking at the internal screen clearly (focus between your eye and the internals rather than distance of an external object from the lens). The "dark box" they used at the show for the demo was less than a yard deep.
Good. You're right, that was exactly the reason I asked.
 
Dec 28, 2015
751
Laser, Hunter H30 Standard Tacoma
My experience with enhancement systems is they all have a usable distance limit were the enhancement no longer is effective. This is not the same thing as focal limit. Some are good, some are terrible at only a couple dozen feet. At that price I would be curious
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
My experience with enhancement systems is they all have a usable distance limit were the enhancement no longer is effective. This is not the same thing as focal limit. Some are good, some are terrible at only a couple dozen feet. At that price I would be curious
This one doesn't rely on its own illumination. (You could use it with an IR flashlight). It relies on very low levels of ambient IR light, so the distance limitation is likely more related to image resolution (for small details) not so much distance from a light source. Will report on this after I get a chance to experiment with it.
 
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Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
@MikeHoncho I checked the return policy before I ordered and they allow two weeks, less a restocking fee and I would pay shipping both directions. After trying it at the show firsthand I think the risk is minor, I’ll probably keep it and the show deal ends tomorrow.
I’ve always felt 7x50 binos provide enough image enhancement at night and they’re a lot more useful all-around than this gizmo. You can get some nice glass for less than $300, but I already own binos and I like tech toys so this scratches a different itch and I’m curious. ;)
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
Update- This camera is pretty good and I decided to keep it. My wife was also impressed, and usually she would be quick to ridicule me about a useless gadget. They have an app (I tried the iOS app) that lets you do a live connection to the camera over WiFi and view the live screen, take pictures and video etc. I didn’t get to try this aboard the boat underway before hauling out, but that would be great if it works well. I'd like to try it on the bow rail, and if it tests will I'll get an extra long USB cord to keep it operating. It is splash resistant, but not with the USB cord plugged in (the USB port has a rubber cover).
I encountered some unexpected crashes from the app but it restarted easily.
No pictures to post. There are plenty of examples already online from others and I don't have a good way to compare (in a photo) with the naked eye.
 
Last edited:
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
I just received an email from SiOnyx with a Black Friday promo $100 off. That makes the Aurora Sport $299 so if you missed the boat show special here it is again.
(I have no affiliation with the company.)
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,287
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
Still happy with it?
Yes but it’s been put away, with the boat on the hard. I recommend it only if you have the discretionary dollars, and want a cool useful toy.
Don’t judge it by using in a dark room. Take it out to the water.
 
Sep 11, 2015
145
Hunter 31 Marina del Rey
If you search for "starlight camera" on Amazon, you will find many similar offerings. I have played with quite a few cheap low light camera's and any vendor that does not list the minimum lux is not to be fully trusted. Not saying it is a bad camera but you may be able to find a similar camera for half of the money on Amazon. The other really useful addition to these cameras is a gun type illuminator. These can be zoomed in and out and can sometimes increase range dramatically.