Do you enjoy camping, wildlife, boating, or any of the various other outdoor activities that inevitably take place at night? If so, then you know how difficult it can be to see in near or total darkness. You might say, “turn on a flashlight” if you want to see at night, and true, they are very effective. The problem is that flashlights have a very limited range and they tend to scare off animals and blind people when you aim one at them.
This is where a night vision monocular such as the Aura NV-150 from Carson really comes in handy. Not only will you reduce the likelihood of spooking that animal you are viewing, but you will also be able to see much further in the dark than using a flashlight since the NV-150 has a variable 2x / 4x magnification power.
Conventional night vision devices amplify ambient light using a fragile amplifier tube that will eventually burn out after a couple thousand hours of use if you don’t break it before then. The Aura, on the other hand, utilizes a digital sensor to amplify the ambient light not unlike what you would find in a digital camera. This sensor has the potential to greatly outlive its amplifier tube-utilizing cousins.
The Aura has 3 buttons, two focus adjustments, and an IR illuminator. It also comes with a wrist strap as well as a protective pouch with belt loop. One focus ring adjusts the diopter and is located on the eyepiece. The main focus ring is at the end of the lens. Both the eyepiece and the main focus rings are rubberized, making them comfortable and easy to use.
I found the Aura NV-150 fairly easy to use, and I really liked all the adjustments that it offers. For example, users are able to switch magnification/zoom levels between 2x and 4x by holding down the button marked with the magnifying glass.
Users also have control over the IR illuminator brightness output, which I think is pretty cool. The IR illuminator is located on the front of the Aura just below the lens and allows you to see in total darkness at a range up to 229 feet. My only gripe would be that when using the IR illuminator and trying to focus the lens, my hand would tend to block the IR illuminator.
On top of that, users are also given control over the video frame rate/shutter speed, which adjusts how much light makes it to the sensor. In this case, users can choose between 30, 15, & 8. Smaller numbers equal more light hitting the image sensor, which equals a brighter image at night. With that smaller number comes one small drawback: a slower frame rate, which means a little bit of lag in the image.
If that’s not enough adjustment settings for you, get ready for one more. The Aura also lets users adjust what seems to be the light sensitivity of the image sensor, or what photographers would refer to as ISO. This lets the user choose from 4 levels of image sensor brightness.
Please note that the photos above were taken through the lens of the Aura with an iPhone handheld up to the eyepiece of the monocular while outdoors, at night, with a full moon, some with the IR illuminator on and some with it off. So, be aware that the sharpness of these photos does not accurately represent the sharpness of the image when looking through the Aura. When focused properly, the viewed image is tack sharp.
When compared to the ancient 1st gen amplifier tube Russian night vision scope I used to own, the Aura NV-150 blows it out of the water when it comes to clarity and sharpness. The only thing that could potentially use a little improvement would be better starlight amplification. The Aura NV-150 performed quite well when used without the IR illuminator during a full moon, dusk, or with the distant glow from city lights. When used during a new moon with the only ambient light being starlight, the IR illuminator became almost mandatory, especially if there happens to be cloud cover.
All in all, I found the Aura VN-150 night vision monocular from Carson to be quite effective for low light viewing, especially anything within a couple hundred feet when the IR illuminator is turned on. Its very compact form factor makes it able to fit in most normal sized pants and coat pockets. I especially liked how it is powered on 3 AAA batteries. That may not seem that impressive, but when you compare it to all the night vision scopes out there that use obscure and hard to find batteries, a scope that uses AAA is a God-send.
All tech specs and features aside, the most important thing about the Carson Aura VN-150 is that it’s tons of fun to use, and you definitely need one for your collection of awesome gadgets.
Made in China
Price: $137.74 – $184.99
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