Eye candy

Matthew Godson gives Habrok binos two thumbs up

The Hikmicro Habrok range of compact binoculars is said to effectively integrate thermal imaging and traditional technology. They have a classic compact binocular design to meet daytime users’ needs, yet also incorporate a dual system with multi-spectrum features to enable 24-hour use.

They’re designed to deliver high-performance thermal detection with vibrant, full colour daytime digital imagery. Night vision capabilities are enhanced by a low illumination optical detector with built-in adjustable infrared illuminator. And to top it all off there’s also an inbuilt 1000m laser rangefinder, a very handy feature for hunters.

The Habrok’s fusion of features supercharges what can be produced and seen with traditional binoculars. The thermal imaging lets hunters find and see more, allowing you to use binoculars in any light where you’ll be able to see in the shadows and through foliage. The daytime digital optics also let you view more via functions allowing adjustment for lighting and contrast as well as digital zooming.

For the tech-minded, the Habrok model HQ35L provided for review was equipped with a 12µm 640x512px thermal detector and 2560×1440 HD digital day and night detector with 850nm IR light. With less than 20mK NETD and a 50Hz frame (refresh) rate, the sensors should provide perfect image quality and detail recognition in all weather (it’s quoted detection range is a handy 1800m).

The focal lens attached to the thermal module is 35mm F1.0 with magnification range of 3.0x-24.0x (8x). It has a field of view of 12.5ox10.1o (22mx17.6m) and thermal detection range of 1800m. The focal lens attached to the optical module is 31mm F1.2 with magnification range of 2.9x-23.2x (8x) and field of view of 13.9ox7.8o (24.4mx13.6m) which provides plenty of coverage. The 1000m laser rangefinder can accurately measure the distance within one metre.

The OLED display is 0.49” with a 1920×1080 pixel sub-round-shape screen. With the four replaceable and rechargeable 18650 batteries supplied, you have an impressive six hours of continuous operation (without wi-fi enabled). The unit uses two at a time which means, depending on how you operate, a set of charged or charging batteries could be in the charger waiting to be swapped over when required. If necessary it can also be used while connected to a charging source via USB-C cable, and it comes with a neck strap and tripod mount to make it handsfree if desired.

Function-wise the Habrok has many things you don’t find on traditional binoculars. The Zoom Pro function is an advanced image processing algorithm which ensures maximum image optimisation under digital zoom, while the Smart IR function helps view targets clearly in dark environments. It’s equipped with satellite positioning modules so the device can be located with the GPS system, and there’s even a compass to detect the azimuth and elevation angles with direction information displayed on-screen.

Auto Screen Off mode allows the device to enter standby or wake-up mode through angle changes, the screen darkened to save energy and increase battery time. It also allows app connection so you can capture snapshots, record videos and set parameters using the Hikmicro Sight app after connecting to your device via hotspot.

The classic daytime binocular design enables the Habrok to be held comfortably in the hand. Its lightweight but robust magnesium alloy construction (898g with batteries) is ergonomic in design and an intuitive button arrangement makes it easy to operate. Both the thermal and optical lenses support focus adjustment using diopter adjustment rings to suit user needs, as well as the adjustable interpupillary distance from 60mm to 70mm.

The five function buttons on top include Power which switches on or off and activates standby mode. The Capture button permits taking photos and starting or stopping video recording, while Measure turns on/off laser ranging and corrects non-uniformity of display issues. The Mode button enables switching of palettes (White Hot, Black Hot, Red Hot, Fusion) and the day/night/auto mode. The Menu button enables the selection of mode to confirm, set and save parameters and exit menu, while Zoom activates adjustment of the digital zoom and turns on and off the Picture-in-Picture function.

During testing I mounted the Habrok to a tripod which let me clearly view long distances at trees in paddocks to exam the power of digital optics and zoom. Across all stepped zoom ranges (2.9x 5.8x 11.6x 23.2x), I was able to see clear digital images with a little lens adjustment here and there. When playing around with the LRF and capture functions I found you need to be quick to snare a still image, which includes the distance displayed on-screen before it disappears. It was just a matter of practice to solve that one.

Later that day it was time to use the Habrok on pest control activity. Setting up late in the afternoon gave me plenty of time to test all three display modes. I was able to see good clear images from the digital optic well towards nightfall in Day mode and, when it became too dark for colour digital, the binoculars automatically switched to Night mode. This is when the adjustable IR light activates to provide clear night vision imagery. When you enable this smart function, the IR light intensity is automatically controlled to deliver the best possible image.

The night-time functionality of the Habrok really kicks in when you switch to the highly sensitive thermal detector. The <20mK detector produces very crisp and clear imagery and is one of the best I’ve seen. Although I had a thermal monocular connected to a tablet to keep an eye on what was happening on the track I was watching, I kept lifting the binoculars to investigate goings-on in open bushland around me.

It was at this point I realised the Habrok has functionality that could be used for other things such as distance sampling surveys. During this type of operation, you follow a transect line (or bearing) and record the angle and distance to a species observation from your position along the transect. This device has the ability to take a screenshot and capture all that information with a couple of clicks. No need to juggle a compass, rangefinder or tape measure, clipboard and pen to write down all the necessary info as the Habrok will record it for you.

The digital and thermal imaging technology within this unit provides users with optimal performance both in daylight and at night. There’s no doubt that compared to traditional binoculars, all the additional features which permit 24-hour use offer endless possibilities and opportunities.

Crystal clear day and night imagery, thermal detection, laser range-finding, picture and video capture and app connectivity are features sought by many looking to add a thermal monocular to their kit. During testing I realised the Habrok can do what such a monocular can and more. If you’re someone who walks the hills or drives through paddocks looking for game, this product is more than adequate and adaptable to service both needs.

The Habrok range starts with the HH35L model with RRP of $4349 and the HQ35L as tested has an RRP of $5599, both offering a choice of either an 850nm or 940nm IR illuminator. The product is backed by Hikmicro’s three-year factory warranty on full product and 10 years for the detector.

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