Lions, tigers, wolves, bears – all these apex predators have one thing in common: best thermal imaging camera
They all hunt at night.
When darkness covers the earth, the strong come out to play. With no light to guide the way, prey are but sitting ducks to these stealthy predators. best thermal imaging camera
Then there’s us humans.
The most dangerous predator in the world by far – yet completely blinded when the sun goes down. best thermal imaging camera
Without light, we go from the top of the food chain, all the way to the bottom.
Not only are we visionless, but any light we use will give away our position immediately. Your hunt will see you coming from miles off, and your predators will stalk you in the shadows.
That’s why you need a thermal imaging camera.
Table of Contents
Night Hunting Made Possible
Humans are not stronger than lions…
…they’re not stealthier than tigers…
…they’re not as organized as wolves.
So what makes us better than all of these beasts?
Our brains and technology.
These two things have led us to develop thermal cameras – the best way to hunt during nighttime. best thermal imaging camera
With a thermal camera around, you have a huge advantage.
You see, animals see in the dark thanks to their superior light sensors. Their eyes pick up the faintest hint of light, and multiplies it until their surroundings become clear (like how night-vision goggles work). best thermal imaging camera
Thermal cameras are different.
Instead of sensing light, these cameras sense heat.
Whether you realize it or not, every surface around you gives off heat. Some areas, such as living things, give off more than others.
A thermal camera will show you these heat differences in precise shapes. This way, even if you’re in a pitch-black room, you can “see” everything inside of it.
How does this apply to hunting?
It’s obvious. Use your thermal camera in a dark forest and nothing can hide from you. You can spot faraway animals as if it was midday – and they can never spot you!
Since it shows thermal energy, not light, even grass won’t camouflage your hunt. Their body heat makes them glow bright in your camera’s lens. That’s why even during day time, these cameras can help you a lot. best thermal imaging camera
Those predators following you? They’ll never guess that you know exactly where they are. It’ll baffle them how you’re always two steps ahead.
You’re the king of the jungle. No animal can ever outsmart you with your thermal camera.
How to Choose a Hunting Thermal Camera
But wait. best thermal imaging camera
Don’t go and buy the first thermal camera you see.
Chances are, you’ll end up with one that’s worthless for hunting.
Hunting is just one of the many uses of thermal cameras. They’re also used for home surveillance, gas leak detection, disease control… anything our eyes can’t detect.
So how do you choose a good hunting thermal camera?
Animals are always on the move.
They hardly ever stay in one spot. best thermal imaging camera
Can you imagine trying to shoot an animal with data from a few seconds ago? By the time you pull the trigger, the animal will be far from your target.
Refresh rate is so crucial in hunting thermal cameras.
The refresh rate is the rate at which your thermal camera reads what’s in front of it. Good thermal cameras can do this real-time, while cheap ones give you choppy footage.
You’ll need a refresh rate of at least 9 hertz. This will be slightly choppy, but it should be enough to track animals. best thermal imaging camera
You could also go for 15, 30, or 60 hertz, but keep in mind that cameras in this range are export controlled. You may run into some high fees to get them online.
Thermal cameras come in a few forms. There’s the cellphone thermal cameras, the handheld thermal cameras, then there are the big, bulky, video-camera-like thermal cameras.
For hunting, you’ll need something that’s portable. You don’t want to be lugging around a huge camera, do you?
A cellphone or handheld thermal camera is the perfect size. With it, you can scan your surroundings anything with ease.
What good is a thermal camera if you can’t see anything on its screen?
To get clear images, you’ll need a resolution of at least 80×60. This should be enough to spot game from a little way off.
If you want bigger and clearer images, going up to 160×120 is a great idea.
Field of View
Finally, you’ll want a good field of view.
Field of view indicates how wide your thermal camera can see. The larger the number, the more can fit into the screen. best thermal imaging camera
25-degrees is a great place to start. With it, you can see pretty much everything you need to see.
You could go for an ultra-wide 50-degree camera, or a 10-degree zoom one.
Keep this in mind as you look for a thermal camera. best thermal imaging camera
The Top 3 Hunting Thermal Cameras
Want the best of the best? Here are my top picks of thermal cameras for hunting.
Looking for an affordable thermal camera that can connect to your phone?
Look no further than Seek’s Thermal Compact.
It’s small, it’s extremely portable, and it’s super easy to use. All you have to do is plug it into your phone (whether that’s ios or android), and you’re good to go. Since it utilizes your phone, you don’t have to worry about batteries or charging.
It has a 206 x 156 resolution that can detect heat up to 1,000 ft away. Its 36-degree view allows you to see more than most phone cameras can see. Also, it’s 9hz refresh rate is fast enough to pick up animals on the move.
You get all of that, plus a waterproof case. So you don’t have to worry about getting wet either.
The only problem with this camera is that it may face the wrong way. You can’t rotate its plug, so some phones will have it facing you instead of in front of you. You can easily fix this by buying an adapter though. best thermal imaging camera
Phone thermal cameras may be convenient, but they often aren’t as high-quality as handheld ones.
The Leupold LTO Quest handheld thermal camera is one of the most durable of its kind. It’s waterproof, it uses gorilla glass, and it’s overall very strong.
Its field view may be smaller at 22-degrees, but this allows you to track your hunt from as far as 400 yards! You can see this through its high-quality 206×156 resolution screen.
With its built-in digital camera, you can also snap thermal images. Plus, you get to choose from 8 color palettes for maximum visibility.
Don’t want to be in the dark? The Leupold LTO Quest also features a 300-lumen flashlight. You won’t need it with thermal vision, but the option is always nice to have.
Unlike phone thermal cameras, you will need to charge your LTO Quest. However, once charged, it can run for more than 4 hours at a time. best thermal imaging camera
Another handy thermal camera you should check out is the Flir C2.
It’s small, it’s lightweight, and it can easily fit in your pocket. It will never limit your mobility when you’re on the move. You can get to hunting spots quickly, and see where everything around you is.
It comes with a durable casing that can withstand dropping. It’s also made from wear-resistant materials. Even exposure to the sun and lots of use won’t let it lose its shine.
Its ultra-wide 41-degree field view lets you scan the entire area with one look. The 80×60 resolution isn’t the best. But, as we’ve already seen, it is good enough already.
9hz refresh rate ensures you don’t miss your shot. Plus, its 2-hour battery life will keep you going for a long time.
There are also other features the Flir C2 has. While they’re not exactly for hunting, you can download the Flir tools app for reports, analysis, and image editing.