We have compared some of the important specs from some of the main models available in New Zealand and also their real performance and service.

  • Focus on the Features and Benefits that actually mean something to you
    • Size
    • Laser Rangefinder
    • Just looking at specs just leads to nowhere - they can all sound similar

We have looked at the following important aspects:

  • Size
  • Laser Rangefinder
  • Battery
    • Extremely important for the overall life span and usability of the device
  • Sensitivity
  • Core Size
  • Pixel Spacing
  • Lens F Number
    • The above 4 items are critical to the performance
  • Warranty and Service
    • What happens if they have a issue and after the warranty period
  • Optical Magnification
    • Thermals are very low magnification consider what they actually need

Watch our videos, talk to us - We really do hunt at night and use all types of night vision - We can very much state we are Experts

Important Notes for when talking to Hunting Stores:

  • Be very aware if the sales person (yes a sales person) is trying to push another brand
  • Be VERY aware they may base their answers to make MONEY - and some brands PAY MORE MONEY to them to SELL their Products
  • Have they actually hunted at night with them - where are their videos
  • Ask them why this brand is better than a PARD
  • Do they stock PARD?
  • Where are your New Zealand Basic REAL images (Not marketing)
  • What batteries does it use
  • If it breaks how long before I can get it back (PARD's are serviced in Whangarei)

Looking at something and want advice

If you would like to know more or compare what you are thinking – talk to us or even experts from a competitor they should all be able to answer your questions.

Any thermal device is significant investment and should last you quite a long time. It's important that you understand how and why they work so you can make a good decision on where to spend your money; they are quite technical, and we have compiled the key points that you should be looking at before even looking at an image.

A thermal handheld is all about detecting something - that is the key

Don’t just look at marketing images they don’t tell the real story, often they are literally just in front of the camera and not even taken in New Zealand.


Size is really important - for most users you need to have the convivence of just putting it into your pocket or case and having it ready for use

Small and compact without sticking out bits is best

Laser Rangefinder

These are REALLY useful to have at night 

  1. You can tell the distance (duh) but that also gives you the ability to plan and judge the size
  2. You can MARK what you are looking at for Night Vision Scopes - This is a HUGE benefit, how many times have you tried to describe where this target is and got confused with ya Mate!! - NO NEED with a LRF, simply turn it on and point them in the general direction - they look for the flash of the laser!

This is an ABSOLUTE MUST feature for a Handheld

We actually stopped selling non LRF models, the price difference was only $300 (so thats not a reason) and ours are Tiny Built INTO the unit so there isn't a size penalty either


The idea of a Thermal Handheld is to use it a lot!! So battery life is very important.

This is probably the most important item that will determine the overall lifetime of the device

Issue 1 – Recharging An internal battery must be recharged from a power source; while on shorter hunts this isn’t an issue, however on a longer hunt this renders the device unusable for quite some time while its being recharged

Issue 2 – Battery Life Batteries fail over time and degrade with usage – once that internal battery fails or doesn’t hold charge for long you have an expensive Brick!

Issue 3 – Battery Performance in Cold Weather Batteries are also affected by cold weather and often the higher run times are quoted at temperatures of 25c or so – How many of you have been night hunting in that sort of temperature?! Real world run times are going to be less than the box says.

Anything with an Internal Battery is a Bad Idea – Replaceable batteries are the best thing to have and totally remove the above issues. Even Pulsar points this out; however, they rely on their own special expensive batteries.

Our Advice – Simply you shouldn’t buy any device that relies on Internal Batteries – PERIOD!

Best Choice? PARD TA Series – these use a simple 18650 Battery – typically worth $35 for a good spare. Plus they are common for a lot of other devices such as torches and headlamps.

The Pulsar is next, they at least have replaceable batteries of their own design; but they are more expensive at $100 per battery and only usable in their own devices.

The remaining brands all have internal batteries!


One of the key figures in a Thermal Device!

This is called NETD

Simply put this is how well (at a defined set of parameters) the thermal sensor can discern between 2 temperatures. It is measured in Millikelvin (mK). Typically from 25mK to 50mK. The smaller the figure the better the sensor can discern small temperature differences, a lower figure will generally result in a better image, with better contrast

The PARD series uses a Thermal Core with a NETD of <35mK

HOWEVER - the MK figures have become used as Marketing BULLSHIT by some brands

They show a nice image of a pig at POINT BLANK range filling the screen - thats not real, the reality is once you have a bit of distance on the animal there are very few pixels actually looking at the animal - in fact often at 300m its 9x9 pixels

MK claims like that belong on electricians thermals looking at circuit boards - NOT for hunting.

Core Size

The more pixels there are, the more they can be used to make nice images, however you will notice that for the same size lens a 640 delivers around half the optical magnification of a 320-400 size core – this is because the lens must focus the ‘light’ over nearly twice the area.

It is more expensive to make a 640 Core vs a 384 Core of course as well Typically, there are 2 main sizes now, 384x288 (384) and 640x480 (640), then some brands are running 320x240 (320) and 400x300 (400) and there are a few other sizes which of course bring cost savings, such as 256x192 (256) and 160x120 (160)

640 Cores have 307,200 Pixels

If we look at the 320-400 class of cores, using the 384 as the standard

384 Cores have 110,592 Pixels

320 Cores have 76,800 Pixels – 30% Less Pixels

400 Cores have 120,000 Pixels - 8% more Pixels

256 Cores have 49,152 Pixels – 55% Less Pixels

160 Cores have 19,200 Pixels - 83% less Pixels

The number of pixels is a key figure directly responsible for the performance of the Thermal Device – The difference between 384 and 400 isn’t much, but a 320 core has nearly 1/3 less pixels which is a significant amount. The last two sizes should be avoided as they offer a vastly lower amount of pixels and would likely lead to disappointing performance against any standard Thermal Device. They do generally appear in a cheaper device, but you should check it meets your needs first in the field.

Our Advice – You are going to want to choose a Device that either has a 384/400 or 640 core. Anything less than this has significantly less pixels to work with and this will affect its overall performance.

The ideal is a 384 size for cost and optical magnification

Pixel Spacing

Another key component in determining the performance of the Thermal Device. This is measured in microns (um), smaller is closer and therefore more pixels per square inch of target, which means more resolution. Over the years this was .25 then we have moved to .17 and now we have .12 as the new standard.

The difference from .17 to .12 is 29% so that is a significant difference

Our Advice – Choose a device that has a .12um core; anything else is based on older technology.

Lens F Number

So what does F1.0 and F1.2 mean?

Basically it represents the size of the lens - Just like the pupil in your eye, a larger aperture lets in a lot of light – Any number larger than F1.0 is losing ‘light’ and therefore reducing the performance of the scope

A F1.0 allows 44% MORE light than a F1.2 of the same size

Why do they make F1.2 Lenses – its cheaper, the material they are made out of is expensive, also for larger lenses say 100mm they become quite heavy and bulky too – so sometimes its worth sacrificing some performance.

Our Advice – Choose a device that has an F1.0 Lens. In this size of Thermal Device, there is no need to save weight or size – you are losing performance which added to the core sensitivity will add up to a significant performance loss.

All PARD TA Series have F1.0 Lenses as do Most of the Night Tech and also all of the HikVision devices. Pulsar and Burris both use F1.2 Lenses which provide less thermal light through and contribute to less performance.

Warranty and Service

While electronic devices are quite reliable, these devices are used in the outdoors and weather. You should be looking for a 3 year warranty on any Thermal Device, this is becoming quite standard. However a very important factor is what happens when something does go wrong. Ask the following questions:
  1. How Long is the Warranty For?
  2. If I have an issue where is it repaired?
  3. Will they be able to service it after the warranty expires?
  4. Do they send it away straight away or hold it for one shipment in a month?
  5. How long will it take?
The last one is critical; if Our answers are below:
  1. All PARD thermals have a 3 year warranty
  2. We are to our knowledge unique in that we can repair our units in our facilities in Melbourne (We also Repair LabRadars and other items for Civilian and Government Users)
  3. Yes we are able to repair at a cost after the warranty has expired, we will examine your device and give you a price and if its economic then we can repair it
  4. We send them straight away if needed and time away is generally only 2-3 weeks

All devices come with a 3 year warranty (Burris didn’t list theirs). The key point to find out is going to be about their servicing abilities and how long it will take – We suggest you ask the above questions.

Service and backup are VERY important when something goes wrong - you should avoid anyone selling a bunch of brands - really how are they going to support all of them long term - the manufacture (Overseas) isn't likely to be grateful that they don't treat their brand with respect so ...

Optical Magnification

Remember to factor in the Optical Magnification you are looking for – your binos are probably 8-10x – Thermals are generally around 2-5x that’s a huge difference, don’t rely on digital zoom, that’s just making a low-resolution image bigger.

Our Advice – Choose the OPTICAL magnification level you want

How Digital Zoom Works

When you use digital zoom, it ONLY enlarges the pixels AND reduces the image resolution and the image quality. And the further you zoom the worse it gets

The more steps you use in Digital Zoom the worse the image will be from the base optical level – The size of the sensor reduces this at the beginning if it is more pixels recorded, but once the image is smaller than the sensor there aren’t any extra pixels to make up the image and from then its all down hill for image quality.

For example if the 384x288 sensor is on 8 times zoom you are using just 48×36 pixels displayed on your screen at 21×21 pixels for a SINGLE real pixel

Bottom Line – be very wary of claims of huge Zoom ranges as to if they are really usable or not at real world distances; especially with thermals you need to have the base Optical magnification for most of your viewing requirements.