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Sightmark Photon Inexpensive Digital NV

Discussion in 'Night Vision/Thermal' started by Brian Shaffer, Aug 2, 2013.

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  1. Ratdog68

    Ratdog68 LSB Official Story Teller Lonestarboars Supporter

    No, not at present... but, I'm scheming.
  2. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

    inexpensive is a relative term, what is the price point?
  3. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

    Should know a price point officially in the next month or so. Any number up to this point is an educated guess based on Euro to Dollar conversions...
  4. PRyan1877

    PRyan1877 Roselle, Illinois Lonestarboars Supporter

    I saw hay bales, trees and washed out grass, it would have been nice to see an animal somewhere in the field to see what clarity you can get on something dark and moving in that field.
  5. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

    Well I hope one of our vendors will carry these, I may be your guinea pig!
  6. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

    It takes many hours of filming / editing / reviewing to produce 10 mins worth of informative video.

    While I strive to do reviews that include live game, as I am sure you can appreciate they don't always cooperate. So therefore I use decoys and attempt to evaluate products throughout various lunar cycles and environmental conditions to relate overall capabilities to other consumers.

    Here is a snipet of what the scope did over the no moon period two days ago, closest decoy is 140 yards, furthest decoy is 245 yards out and the deer (estimate small/medium deer 100 lb) were 350 yards out. The far fence line is 550 yards away.

    IR reflects and digital technology washes out as a result, choosing the right IR illuminator that is focusable, not too bright but yet cast light far enough out to accomplish detection at distance is the key. Also mounting location will be key of the IR illuminator on the gun to attempt to offset near field of view washout.

    Hopefully the final field test review will have some useful information, I hope to release it in late October 2013.


    Illuminator used :
  7. PRyan1877

    PRyan1877 Roselle, Illinois Lonestarboars Supporter

    That is better. Now these old eyes can see hog targets and deer movement.
  8. Hard_ware

    Hard_ware Here piggy piggy! Deep Deep S. TX.

    If the money was spent on a fishing boat that would be ok, but spending that money on NV or thermal hard to justify? I don't have a boat anymore but I have thermal and NV and they don't depreciate as fast as a boat :D You only live life once, if you can afford it get it and be happy I am sure TLM will enjoy the pvs14 every time he uses it. I don't day hunt anymore or spend money on a lease . With a suppressed ar-15 pvs-14 4.5x lens, eotech, flir ls64 thermal, night hunting is too much fun! (except for the mosquitos) To be able to keep up with someone that has spent $10K+ on equipment, a $600.00 digital scope & a $140.00 IR light will have you shooting under the same stars, right next to them if they invite you :D
  9. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

    Any word on this offering yet?
  10. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

    No Sir- No additional information that I am aware of.

    I should have a video review done by end of September to go over the features and capabilities so that you can get a better idea if it is worth your hard earned $$$.

  11. Brian Shaffer

    Brian Shaffer Forestburg, Texas SUS VENATOR CLUB Lonestarboars Supporter

    The best reviews are when you show it in action...shooting pigs. Make some of those!!!
  12. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

    I am considering the unit on sale here on the forum but don't know the performance differences.
  13. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

    Frank what unit is for sale that you are referring to?

    I haven't used all NV but quite a few so maybe I can weigh in based on my experience with it.

  14. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

  15. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

  16. Hunt TXHogs

    Hunt TXHogs LSB Member

    Written review is below the video - for this review I cover different points in each so you might want to check them both out.

    Sightmark Photon 5x42mm Laser IR riflescope Model # SM18003

    Date: November 22, 2013

    Location: Dallas/Ft Worth TX metro area

    Objective: The objective of this field test review is to determine if the feature set is practical for night hunting in no moonlight conditions with various IR illuminators. The goal is to broaden the consumer knowledge base through a written and video review so that a well informed purchase decision can be made.

    Product: This model is a first generation product run for Sightmark in the dedicated riflescope line, it will be produced in a 5x and 3.5x fixed magnification configuration, this review is of the 5x version. Sightmark utilized a daytime scope and removed the front objective and integrated a digital front attachment. The manufactuer selected a 150 mW laser IR illuminator in the 780nm wavelength. The scope features a Dot-Duplex reticle and has an onboard weaver rail for attachment of peripheral equipment.

    Type of Review: Field Test

    The scope ships without scope mount rings, I tried a one-piece two ring style (as shown in the photo) and noted that there was no adjustment able to be made in where the scope sat within the rings therefore it caused issued both in my eye relief and access to the charging handle of my AR15. I opted then to use separate 30mm scope rings to allow for more adjustment.

    Zeroing the scope is accomplished by adjusting mechanical windage and elevation knobs, their movement is firm and precise, and I experienced no issues with tracking or adjustment. Looking into the Photon for the first time provides viewing of an unorthodox rectangle image through a round objective. This did not detract from using the scope in any way but should you run out the elevation to its limits you will begin to lose video display real estate therefore shimming the scope base is an option to keep the video display as centered as possible. I zeroed the scope on 5 different centerfire rifles at 100 yards with no issue and 1 rimfire rifle, at close distance (40 yard zero) - it is with the rimfire rifle is when I experienced not having enough elevation adjustment.

    I noted that the eye relief of the Photon is significant (3.22 inches) relative to other night vision scopes and monoculars that I have used. Rather than snugging up into an eyecup the Photon will have you place your eye at a consistent distance inorder to view from the sweet spot. As the scope is designed you are looking through a magnified scope tube body directly at a video display screen. Based on your eyesight and the lighting conditions you will experience a wide variety of image renderings, specifically clarity, from the scope. As an example daytime images are sharp and clear because you have alot of IR light and the video screens refresh rate and pixels flow smoothly through the magnified scope tube to your eye. In 1/4 moon or less dependent on type of IR being used you will enjoy the challenge of identifying small targets (cat/raccoon / skunk) at distances beyond 100 yards as the video display's refresh rate and contrast/brightness factors render the image to your eye. So proper amounts of IR light and focus will be paramount in making your Photon experience a good one.

    I experienced more eye burn from extended viewing with the Photon unlike with other night vision scopes I have used because the video display screen is inherently bright. The Photon does come with adjustable brightness control (rotary knob on left side) however as you turn down the brightness you also lose sight picture visibility in the process so it is a darned if you do and darned if you don't situation. I did eventually become accustomed to the brightness of the image however you might consider using a colored lens filter on the rear objective to lessen the brightness to your eye.

    Unfortunately the hogs and coyotes did not participate with my review so the good ole decoys were used to demonstrate the video image quality to you. There are times when the video output resolution (which is fixed at near 640x480 res) looks better than the image being rendered to the user's eye through the rear objective of the scope therefore be advised that this is not necessarily a "what you see is what you get" representation of the Photons capabilities. Capture of the video was performed via the onboard video output jack on the Photon, there is no way to transmit the reticle image with the video output signal because the reticle is a mechanical fixture within the scope tube body.

    Night 1: Overlooking a hay pasture I set out decoys at 50 / 150 / 230 yards. I attempted to demonstrate use of the Photon with readily available external IR units so that you can garner how the image is effected (both good and bad) when using IR. There was no moon at the time of the video therefore with no IR you get a black screen - this is digital's achilles heel in that it must have IR to render an image. The onboard laser IR is very powerful, it will serve the hunter well out to about 150 yards, beyond that because it is fixed in place the IR light throw is too low to illuminate a target and the background while maintaining a correct point of aim. I also observed that within 50 yards the onboard illuminator washes out the targets based on IR reflectivity. The TNVC Torch Pro LED IR unit allows for adjustable focus of the IR beam and based on what mount you select for the IR you may be able to direct the IR light to tune the image. The Streamlight TAC IR pumps out a generous amount of IR light however it is not focusable / defocusable so aiming the IR light will be critical to deter washout. With the Torch Pro / Photon combination I had confidence in detecting and identifying medium to large bodied targets out to 250 yards and felt that I could make a safe and ethical shot. With the Onboard IR I would reduce that range to a maximum of 150 yards.

    Night 2: I decided to waver from conventional practice and experiment a bit with other equipment onhand. The previous night's experiences with the onboard IR got me to thinking "What if".... What if I could adjust the power output of the built in IR, would that translate into a clearer image? What if I could direct the laser IR light pattern to where I wanted it? I had a Pulsar Digisight n750 onhand and set it to a power output setting of 1 out of 3 (low) and observed that the washout was less. You will notice that eye shine is represented with an abundant blooming effect, I was unable to tune the Photon's video display to negate the bloom and I attribute this to the highly sensitive CMOS system used in the Photon design. Lastly I experimented with my Bosch AEGIS IR system, it runs off of 24 volts and has 18 Osram LED bulbs - overkill? Yeah!!! but what the heck why not!

    Conclusion: I truly believe the night vision market needed a sub $ 1k night vision option for the cash strapped hunter that performed at higher than Gen 1 performance standards. You don't have to be a tactical savvy person to operate the system, and you can see in complete darkness out to 150 yards with the base configuration (retail package).

    I believe there are some tweaks that can be made by Sightmark on future versions to make the scope's image more refined which will only serve to extend the useable range and therefore enhance the user's experience.

    The Photon is a foundation for a bevy of possible aftermarket options to design and tune the system to each users desire. There will be optical doublers made which will increase magnification and clarity of the image. There will be IR cut filters and rear objective filters made to augment the system. As these products come to market I will attempt to demonstrate through future reviews if they are worth additional money.

    Ultimately, the Photon will be judged against a wide array of other scopes on the market and I have to say that consumers should bear in mind the cost of the unit when making comparisons.

    Thanks for checking this review out and Happy Hunting !

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
    PRyan1877 and Brian Shaffer like this.
  17. Brian Shaffer

    Brian Shaffer Forestburg, Texas SUS VENATOR CLUB Lonestarboars Supporter

    Neat review. Thank you!
  18. 1956_4x4

    1956_4x4 Crestview, Florida Lonestarboars Supporter

    Thanks for doing such an in-depth review. Which model AEGIS are you using toward the end?

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  19. FrankT

    FrankT Destin FL Lonestarboars Supporter

    HTXH, available yet?
  20. DDriller

    DDriller New Member

    Looks like I need one of these if the price point stays low. Would love to have a pv14 but can't justify it right now.

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