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The best thermal imaging binoculars in 2022

Pulsar Accolade thermal binoculars
(Image credit: Future)

Looking for the best thermal-imaging binoculars? This guide will help you invest your money wisely, and help you track down the right price at the best available price.

As observational tools to draw the faraway closer, binoculars come in a range shapes and sizes, yet there are a number of specialisms they fulfill. These include marine binoculars waterproofed and equipped with navigational aids, night-vision binoculars that provide that amplify available light for night viewing, or image stabilized binoculars that to avoid any visible wobble at maximum magnification without the need for a tripod. 

Thermal imaging binoculars are different again and very much another niche within a niche. Thermal imaging binoculars differ from night vision binoculars and goggles, in that thermal binoculars provide us not with a brighter view in the dim, but rather with the heat signature of our subject. Any avid viewer of nature documentaries will be aware, as seen through thermal-imaging cameras, colder parts of any living creature will typically appear blue, while warmer parts will appear as yellow, orange and red. In this way we derive their heat ‘signature’.

As thermal or heat-sensing binoculars are very much a specialist tool, rather than a mass-market device, don’t be surprised by the fact that they cost more than a regular pair of binoculars. 

While thermal imaging binos may be used for detecting and observing animals in varying terrains, they can also come in useful for detecting sources of heat loss and retention in man made structures, as well as being used as a security device. By identifying heat signatures, they come in very handy for spotting subjects in environments in which they might otherwise be obscured, for example.

Thermal binoculars: what to look for

Like with any other binoculars, what we want to be looking for amongst the specification is the magnification provided. Thermal binoculars obviously also comprise thermal sensors, so we might also want to take a cursory glance at the thermal resolution of said sensor and, as we’re destined to be using binoculars outdoors in the main, also its operating temperature if given and detection range. 

The detection range is related to the resolution of the thermal sensor; the higher the resolution, the further it can detect. Generally speaking, because we’re looking to pick out and identify subjects that we might not be able to spot with the naked eye if viewing at night, thermal binoculars offer a wide or large field of view, so as to give us a better opportunity for observation.

Because these are very much specialist tools, tracking down these thermal imaging products may be less easy than finding your common-or-garden optical binocular, while choice and popularity seems to be greater in the USA than elsewhere. But, thanks to the Internet, we live in a global market, so snagging your thermal imaging binocular of choice is often only a few clicks away…

Best thermal binoculars in 2022

(Image credit: ATN)

1: ATN BinoX 4T 384 2-8X Thermal Binoculars

Multi purpose thermal imaging binos also offering video capture and remote control via smartphone app

Specifications

Magnification: 2x to 8x
Sensor: Gen 4 384x288, 60Hz
Field of view: 12°x9.5°
Range: 5 – 1000 yards
Battery life: : 16+ hours
Eye relief: 10-30mm
Weight: 1120g / 2.5lb
Dimensions: 240x128x67 mm / 9.4 x 5 x 2.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Integrated laser rangefinder 
+
Clear thermal imaging performance helps spot wildlife that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in the dark
+
Can shoot Full HD video 
+
Up to 16 hours of viewing time

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive if you don’t need the thermal imaging facility
-
A tad bulky, weighing 1kg

Promising 16 hours of active use and the ability to pick out creatures otherwise disguised by thick vegetation are these thermal binoculars, which – although a relatively pricey specialist tool offer cost-effective multi-purpose use. A key benefit is that they can record Full HD video at 60fps stored to microSD card. We also usefully get a zoom function, as well as remote control via a smartphone app, thanks to on-board Wi-Fi. 

A further promise is ease of use, in that subjects can be acquired and distance gauged with just one button click. Featuring a fourth-generation thermal sensor, and pitched as being well suited to bird, wildlife and nature observation, its manufacturer suggests that the built-in laser rangefinder can additionally be used for golfing and other sports. Inter-pupillary distance is adjustable as is eye relief for viewing comfort, meaning that these weather-resistant binos can be shared around and used by different members of the family, if desired. Other handy features include an electronic barometer and compass. A lithium ion battery is required for use; thankfully this is included in the package. 

(Image credit: ATX)

2: ATN BinoX 4T 384 4.5-18X Thermal Binoculars

Specifications

Magnification: 4.5x to 18x
Sensor: Gen 4 384x288, 60Hz
Field of view: 6°x4.7°
Range: 5 – 1000 yards
Battery life: : 16+ hours
Eye relief: 10-30mm
Weight: 1120g / 2.5 lb
Dimensions: 240x128x67 mm / 9.4 x 5 x 2.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Laser rangefinder
+
16 hour battery life
+
High magnification
+
Built-in digital camcorder

Reasons to avoid

-
Weighs 2.5lb

The ATN BinoX 4T 384 4.5-18X binoculars look exactly the same as the ATN BinoX 4T 384 2-8X - and share the same set of impressive features. But the big difference is in the magnification range which offers you the potential of seeing much further into the distance, with a much narrower angle of view. This could be particularly useful for when using thermal imaging at night - allowing you to detact the presence of a human body at upto 1800m (as opposed to just 920m with the 2-8X version). The range for human recognition or identification are not as great, of course, but the workable range is still significantly enhanced with the great magnification. 

The core features still include a laser rangefinder, and the ability to record 1280x960-pixel video at 60 fps - which can be saved on a memory card, and transferred to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

(Image credit: AGM )

3: AGM Explorator FSB50-640

Handheld thermal and optical binoculars combined that can take photos and record video

Specifications

Magnification: 4x digital
Sensor: 1/3-inch CMOS
Field of view: 12.42° × 9.95°
Range: Not given
Battery life: : 7 hours
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: 1kg / 2.2lb
Dimensions: 164x182.3x73.3mm / 6.46 × 7.18 × 2.89in

Reasons to buy

+
Snapshot and video recording functionality
+
Wi-Fi and GPS built-in
+
Around 7 hours continuous operating time
+
Waterproofed
+
32GB built-in memory provided

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Heavy

These handheld binoculars are packed with tech. They combine an ultra low light optical detector with a 640x512 thermal detector, 1024x768 OLED display and an eyepiece offering a large field of view. The device can also pinpoint moving subjects even in fog, rain, smoke and snow.

As expected then, the binos are waterproof to IP67 level and built to withstand more challenging weather conditions. We also get the ability to mount the binoculars on a tripod, thus allowing the viewer to enjoy hands-free use. Four rechargeable lithium ion batteries are required for use, providing up to seven hours’ performance, which falls in the middle of the options showcased here for battery life. With both a video and snapshot facility, the thermal imaging unit purports to provide different image palette variants, including white hot or black hot, which are adaptable depending on the environmental conditions at the time. Peace of mind is provided via a limited three-year warranty.

(Image credit: Luna Optics )

4: Luna Optics D-55 Genesis Dominus biocular

A generous detection range combines with a built in laser rangefinder to pinpoint skittish subjects in the dark

Specifications

Magnification: 3.5-14x
Sensor: 384x288 (enhanced to 640x480)
Field of view at 1000m: Not given
Range: 1500 yards
Battery life: : 2-3 hours
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: 1130g
Dimensions: 27.94x15.24x15.24cm

Reasons to buy

+
1500 yard detection range
+
1312 yard laser rangefinder built in
+
Video recording and streaming via Wi-Fi to smartphone
+
32GB internal memory 

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive if you don’t need the thermal imaging facility
-
Modest operational battery life of two to three hours
-
A tad bulky and weighty at just over a Kg

Resembling a laser-emitting Star Wars gizmo, this one costs almost as much as one might bid for such a movie prop in a charity auction, yet has a Latin word in its title to further signify the seriousness of its intent. This uses a biocular design, rather than a binocular one - so the eyepieces share the same front objective lens assembly. On the plus side, we get a maximum detection range of an impressive 1500 yards, while its integral sensor’s native resolution of a modest – yet fairly standard for this market – 384x288 pixels can be boosted to 640x480. In terms of the view provided, there are ten color palettes to choose from, while battery life, provided via a pair of CR123 cells, is good for a so-so two to three hours. The device is also IPX5 rated splash-proof, plus displays distance in yards or metres. 

For those looking to capture video, we’re gifted the ability for streaming via Wi-Fi to a device running the specific ‘VLC’ app, while there is 32GB of internal storage for recording footage. Rounding off the package is a 1024x678 micro OLED display. If the spec here isn’t quite enough for you, there is also a slightly higher up D-80 model that extends the magnification from 6-24x and provides a 80mm lens, as opposed to the still very useful 50mm objective lens of this iteration.

(Image credit: Future)

5: Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro

Frost resistant display, impressive detection range and built-in laser rangefinder bolster this comprehensive package

Specifications

Magnification: 2.5-20x
Sensor: 640x480
Field of view at 1000m: Not given
Range: 1800 metres
Battery life: : 13 hours
Eye relief: 16mm
Weight: 0.7Kg
Dimensions: 164x130x64mm

Reasons to buy

+
1800 metre detection range
+
1000 metre laser rangefinder provided
+
Video recording and snapshot facility
+
16GB internal memory for storage 
+
Battery charger provided

Reasons to avoid

-
The price tag may have you feeling hot under the collar
-
Internal memory is half that of some rivals

Fitted with a 640x480 thermal sensor, frost resisting OLED display and boasting a generous 1800 metre detection range plus 13 hour battery life, the specification here is, in part, a cut above the norm for a device of its ilk. That said, the native magnification is a fairly modest 2.5x, even if this can be combined with an 8x digital zoom to offer the total equivalent of 20x. 

Like competing devices here, there is the ability to capture videos, along with photos in this particular case, both of which are written to the 16GB internal memory. The provided battery here is good for a robust 13 hours of use and can be recharged via standalone charger or using the USB port, while there’s also a laser rangefinder to help users pinpoint subjects, with a 1000 metre, plus a Stream Vision app to connect these binos to a smart device.  It all adds up to another comprehensive package for those requiring a thermal imaging component to their observations, even if the price tag is equivalent to sending a family of four to the Seychelles for a fortnight, no thermals required.

(Image credit: QYHGS)

6: Moumi 8x52 Thermal Imaging Binoculars

More affordable device than most offers Full HD video plus an operational experience closer to a standard pair of binos

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Sensor: Not given
Field of view at 1000m: Not given
Range: Not given
Battery life: : 3 hours (via 4x AA batteries)
Eye relief: Not given
Weight: Not given
Dimensions: Not given

Reasons to buy

+
Full HD video capture at 60fps
+
Built in compass
+
Black and white and color modes
+
Removable SD card slot provided 

Reasons to avoid

-
Four regular AA batteries add to the weight of the device and just last three hours

Looking a bit more pared-back than others when it comes to operation, this thermal imaging option, while pricier than a standard pair of binos, is also a lot more affordable than most rivals. We get the usual built-in sensor as well as USB and AV input/output, plus a slot for a removable SD memory card. Here there’s the ability to record up to Full HD 1080P video at 60fps and take photos of our observational quarry. The core specification marries an 8x magnification to a 50mm objective lens, which is similar to what we’d get from a mid range pair of standard optical binoculars. This makes them suitable for bird watching and nature observation.

Rather than a central focus wheel, as with a camera lens, focus is manually adjustable via a twist of the lens barrel itself. Distance indicators, magnification and battery life are displayed as part of the view, while we also get a built-in compass, plus black and white and color observational modes. Power comes courtesy of four bog standard AA batteries, which provide up to three hours of use.

Read more:

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• The 10 best spotting scopes
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Gavin has over 30 year experience of writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography


He has also written for a wide range of publications including T3, BBC Focus, Empire, NME, Radio Times, MacWorld, Computer Active, What Digital Camera and Rough Guide books.


With his wealth of knowledge he is well placed to recognise great camera deals and recommend the best products in Digital Camera World’s buying guides. He also writes on a number of specialist subjects including binoculars and monoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes, trail cameras, action cameras, body cameras, filters, cameras straps and more.