Source: The Magic of True Safari Magazine (#6'2015)
Dependency of thermal scope’s capabilities from firmware can scarcely be overestimated. Even basing on the identical parts one can create two very difficult in functionality devices. A typical example – new Quantum XD38S. Taking into regard the hardware part it is almost a copy of Quantum HD38S. Microbolometer with 384x288 resolution, frost resistant OLED-display, same objective lenses, same housings, etc. But the capabilities of XD38S are far more interesting.
New line includes 3 models Quantum XD19S, XD38S and XD50S. Devices differ from one another by objective lenses and respectively by characteristics influenced by this or that objective lens. Quantum XD38S was chosen for a review as a device ensuring sufficient optic magnification and field of view and having comparatively small size and weight. XD19S is ultimately lighter, smaller and has a large field of view but has almost 2 times smaller detection distance (claimed detection distance for an animal like boar or deer is 500 meters against 950 in Quantum XD38S) and magnification (1,1x against 2,1x). Quantum XD50S provides basic magnification of 2,8x and detection distance of about 1300m but has a smaller field of view and bigger size.
XD product line has to be reviewed through the prism of operation of previous modification of “quantum” (HD38S thermal scope was tested by the author about two years ago). First peculiarity of XD series is increased frame rate (fifty per second or 50Hz). Advantage of high frequency is that the image does not slow down even during abrupt movements of the observer (for example when the observation is conducted from a moving vehicle) or of the object.
Black and white palette characteristic to all previous “quantums” was complemented by 6 additional modes of scene rendering. Modifications preceding XD allowed to only chose between “hot white” (the warmer the object the whiter it is) and “hot black” (warm objects look dark up to black). Here one should mention that such color scheme is admitted by the majority of users (including author) if not the best then optimal and sufficient. Regarding visualization Quantum XD will satisfy the majority, close to 100%: already mentioned black and white palette is complemented by six new ones in which the areas of different temperature are marked by a different colors. Example of one of such palettes: the hottest areas are marked with red, less hot – marked with yellow, average temperatures are rendered in the shades of grey, cold and coldest areas are marked with green and blue. Apart from this palette I personally liked “sepia” palette. Switching between the color modes is done in the menu but what is interesting there is a quick switch (with the help of button pressing) from any color into black and white (“hot white”). Seems like the manufacturer also considers this palette the most demanded one.
Considering the use experience of Quantum HD38S the most serious drawback was absence of stand-by mode. Often it is necessary to stop observation for a minute or two. If thermal scope is not switched off there is a danger to be disclosed (light from the eyepiece) and if it is switched off a time is required to start the device once again (thermal scope starts in about 10 seconds). For HD38S the problem was solved with the help of installation of cat’s eye eyeshade from the other thermal scope (Pulsar unfortunately didn’t offer anything like that). Not very convenient since the scope with a different eyeshade fitted badly into the carrying case. Desired for a long time stand-by mode was realized in Quantum XD38S – observation can be stopped by a short pressing of ON button which will turn the display off. To start the operation again in a share of a second one needs just to press the same button.
Another software innovation – integrated rangefinder. Difficulties in distance evaluation are characteristic of all monocular devices day or night and thermal scopes are not an exception. Rangefinder of Quantum XD38S represents a dynamic scale meant for measuring distances to objects from 170 cm to 70 and 30cm tall (relatively deer, boar, hare). The measurement process is performed in the following way – bottom vertical line is aligned with the legs of the observed animal, after that by spinning the encoder the second line is moved so that the animal fits fully between the lines. The distance is indicated on the screen at the same time. Of course such method will not allow to measure distance with the accuracy of 1 meter but for distance estimation it is more than enough.
To innovations that are worth mentioning we can attribute a 4x digital zoom. So now the magnification of Quantum XD38S is increased from the basic 2,1x to more than 8 times.
The most useful innovations from the point of view of field application are increased frame rate and stand-by mode and also the fact that functionality expansion was performed without making controls more complicated – as before all operations are done without the necessity of entering the menu (not counting the initial set up) with the help of encoder and buttons on the body. The cost of thermal scope against the background of serious functional upgrade remained practically the same. That means we can state a change of leader in Pulsar’s thermal range.