The Pulsar Quantum Thermal Generation
WHEN THERMAL IMAGING CHANGED THE WAY WE VIEW WILDLIFE!
Pulsar first launched their hand held Quantum thermal imager series as the Pulsar Quantum HD38...and with recent advances in technology we have seen now 5 incarnations of the model...
Thermal Imagers were introduced to provide assistance in spotting wildlife, for security and surviellance and for medical and industrial research.
In terms of hunting and wildlife observation, thermal imagers provided an enhancement in detection and observation, primarly due to the huge detection ranges available but also intrinsically their ability to detect heat signatures in cover such as foliage and grass, as well as in adverse weather where the thermal is unimpeded, compared to traditional night vision.
Thermal imagers can also be used during the day for spotting deer, tracking blood trails and for scanning woodland for intruders, or searching for a lost sailor in stormy seas.
What came first....the chicken or the egg?
We are often asked what the difference between models of Pulsar Quantum thermal imager are so this handy guide should explain the main differences, whether you are confused by which model you have...which model to buy second hand..or what the latest model is?
The Pulsar Quantum HD series
Pulsar first introduced the Quantum HD series in 2011, and it turned the hunting and wildlife observation market on its head....with affordable, fast refresh thermal imaging now available to the consumer.
Available in a HD19, HD38 and HD50 model, these hand held thermal imagers had a fast 30hz refresh, black hot and white hot, and a push button variable magnification, which took optical mag from 2.8x to 5.6x...albeit with a degree of pixelation and noise at higher magnification.
Calibration was a manual process...where the user closed the lens cap to calibrate the device.
With a 30hz refresh and detection range of up to 1200m (HD50) and 950m (HD38) the Quantum HD series provided a superb image quality with a RRP of around £3999.99 for the HD50
You can read a review of the original HD series in this article from Mike Powell from Sporting Rifle.
Whats the difference between LD and HD thermal models?
To add to the confusion...Pulsar also generationally including a L series thermal whether it be a LQ38 and a XQ38 or a LD50 and HD50.
As you may not be aware, thermal imaging above a given specification is restricted for export. What this means is that should you be going on a hunting trip to shoot boar in Poland..you cannot simply take your HD38, XD50 or XQ19 overseas with you.
They are restricted for export and require a special licence to use and indeed take overseas, even on holiday.
The 'L' designates an "exportable model....using a 9hz thermal core, rather than a 30hz or 50hz thermal sensor.
Performance in terms of detection range and magnification stays the same...but the refresh rate drops to 9hz which limits the frame rate.
So what does that mean?
Lets imagine we are looking at a field of roe deer...the static roe deer appear through the XD50 almost identically as the LD50.
All of a sudden something spooks the herd and they scatter...with the XD50's 50hz refresh the running deer appear visible with detail still such as leg movement etc...the LQ50 however the image is laggier and the image may amalgamate into a heat "blob" with less visible detail. The same applies for quick panning, the image is laggier and may break up more noticeably.
Model differences in the range.
With every generation of the Pulsar Quantum there is a 19, 38 and 50 model.
This designates the lens size such as XQ19 (19mm) XQ38 (38mm) and XQ50 (50mm), and with these lens differences comes performance enhancements in terms of magnification and detection range.
The XQ19 has 680m detection 1.6x to 6.4x mag, XQ38 has 1350m detection with 3.1x to 12.4x and XQ50 with 1800m detection and 4.1x to 16.4x magnification.
The next generation...Pulsar Quantum HD 'S' series
Like the Apple iPhone 4...there was a updated 4S model...and the same applies with Pulsar hand held thermal imagers.
The HD50 and HD38 hand held thermal imagers were then updated to the new HD50S and HD38S versions.
Performance stayed around the same in terms of detection ranges...but there were some huge advances in technology.
Most noticeably the manual calibration requirement was gone.....frustratingly with the HD series when the image became confused or grainy you had to stop viewing, and close lens cap to manually calibrate.
The new Quantum HD 'S' series now added Automatic, Semi Automatic and Manual calibration, with a shutter system which is automatically calibrated as and when the device senses it is required. Now when you move from the warmth of a vehicle out into the cold the Quantum automatically calibrates to ensure sensitivity and detection is unaffected. This is visualised by a slight freeze in the frame for a split second followed by a "zipp" noise as the shutter opens and closes.
You can of course also use manual calibration to eliminate this happening if for example you are recording a movie.
New Lens Style
The other visible change to the Quantum HD38S was the lens design. Moving away from the flat germanium lens, the new S series, had a concave lense design which offered enhanced performance, with less distortion and image noise.
Refresh rate stayed the same at 30hz
Bringing faster refresh, full colour thermal imaging to the table.
Now came a "Quantum Leap" in performance....as Pulsar introduced the Quantum XDS series.
Now with 50hz refresh, and full colour palette thermal imaging, the Quantum XD50S, XD38S and XD19S, brought true high performance thermal imaging to the consumer at a remarkable price.
With almost £1000 saving over the original HD50S the XD50S retailed at £2999.95, delivering 1250m detection, with a more advanced sensor, providing 2.8 to 11.2x magnification, for up close and personal details.
The full colour thermal palettes also allowed the user to choose from 7 display modes. As well as the traditional Black Hot and White Hot mode, the colour palettes were ideal for tracking animals in cover, as the colour spectrums easily highlighted a warm blooded animal from the colder surrouindings.
Great for spotting deer in a plantation as you could easily see movements in deep cover, often lost with the traditional White or Black modes.
The advanced 50hz refresh rate delivered a vastly smoother image, even when panning quickly or watching animals from a moving vehicle.
Standby mode was also added...which negated the need to turn on and off all the time, incurring a up to 10sec boot up time each time you turned the device on. Simply press the power button once and the device "sleeps" until you need it, instantly powering back on when required.
More "range" with Quantum XDS series
With the new sensor functionality you were now able to identify at greater distances that before, and that brought another difficulty into the equation....just how far away is that roe deer. The Quantum XD series now has a stadiametric rangefinder performed in the shape of rangefinding reticle which enables distance measuring to observed objects with known height (deer - 1,7m; boar – 0,7m; hare – 0,3m) with a sufficient precision.
The latest incarnation of Quantum... introducting the new XQ series
It wasn't long before Pulsar upped their game again, this time with the new Pulsar Quantum XQ series of hand held thermal.
These new devices appeared identical to the XDS series asthetically...however inside there was a lot more going on.
Lets take the XD50S for example...it has 1250m detection...2.8x to 11.2x mag, 25 micron sensor and a "useable" identification range of approx 300m...thats a realistic range for determining a fox from a collie for example.
The new XQ50 transformed the performance in less than a year from launch.
With a new 17 micron 384x288 sensor, the effective magnification jumped from 4.1x to 16.4x mag, but the biggest difference was the drop in pixelation. Now when zooming from base mag up through the mag range...the image break up was considerably less, and at last a useable thermal mag at big mag ranges was obtainable.
Detection range also jumped to an astounding 1800m man sized detection.
One of the other main advances was start up time. Like all thermal imagers at the time...when you came to turn on the device it can take up to 10 seconds for the image to appear. The new XQ series has a virtually instant on time...simply press the power button and by the time you have the device to your eye (circa 2 seconds) the image is there ready to go.
No longer having to ask that fox to hang around for 10 seconds till you are ready.....
Again three models were available, the XQ50, XQ38 and XQ19 and this handy chart gives you a run down of where the improvements come in the range.
The future in thermal imaging...
Pulsar now have a new range coming to the UK in April 2017....the Pulsar Helion thermal, which for the first time is available in both XP and XQ variants.
The XP designates a new breakthrough in Pulsar thermal imaging with a 640x480 thermal core providing twice the detail and resolution of the XQ device.
The Helion XQ series utilises the same sensor and performance as the Quantum XQ but with a brand new body shell, lens design, heat sink, and advanced functions including wifi and video recording.
There is also a new Pulsar Quantum Lite series...which is a entry level hand held thermal range at a remarkable price...offering similar performance to a HD50S..but at a third of the price....
More details on the new Pulsar Helion thermal imager range can be found on our website.