By: Cary Kieffer
I picked up a Carson Digital Night Vision Mini Aura NV-200 Monocular NIB from Ebay for $80. What do you get for $80? Well, I got my $80 bucks worth and on the flip side I got $80 bucks worth if you know what I mean. Let’s take a look at it.
I’m pretty damn spoiled when it comes to night vision. I own a set of Gen 3 flip down goggles and a Gen 3 monocular, both of course are totally awesome, the cost was not so awesome but I did get every dimes worth. I also have a pair of digital night vision rifle scopes. The Pulsar N750 which is pretty good and the Sightmark 4x Proton which is good for what it costs. Then there is the SightMark Ghost Hunter Gen 1 1×24 goggles I picked up awhile back that are pretty good if you use an external IR light source in addition to the onboard IR.That brings me to the bottom of my barrel, the Carson NV-200 Mini Aura.
I spent most of last night at a bonfire party, I cracked a Coors Banquet Beer and walked off all over creation to try this thing out. This is what I discovered.
Woods: You can navigate, you can see individual trees and brush to a certain extent but you do get IR feedback when the leaves are very close to the unit and it sorta “whites it out”. All in all for the woods it beats being blind. You can also turn down the onboard IR from 100% to 60 or 30%, so you can adjust it a bit for that sort of thing. Like I said it beats falling all over the place, it was very dark last night and I could see well enough to walk around. I came across a large metal tank of some kind in the woods, it showed itself pretty good against the foliage, same with a Quad that was out there, it really stuck out in the woods.
In the House: The field of view is very narrow up close. You can only really see what it is exactly pointed at, you have no peripheral vision whatsoever. For example, when Miss Pippy the Cat sits next to me on the couch and you put it on her, her head fills the entire screen. This is a small, old, scraggly cat and her little head fills it up at about 2 feet. Walking around the house you can focus pretty well on things on the counter for instance…again not a wide field of view at all. All in all same as the woods, it beats being blind and you can get around.
People and Animals Walking: I had what I felt was pretty good luck there. I followed some people at the party leaving the fire and headed up to the house I had a good view of them up close and the view remained good till they got approximately 55 yards away. At 55 yards you’ve just about lost them. If you were looking for somebody or an animal I’d say after 55 yards you can forget it. The dogs running around showed up well too, just as good as people.
Wrapping up the Testing: I did make adjustments on the focus several times last night depending on distance and what your looking at. There are 2 knobs to adjust focus. The on board IR light glows red and you can see it a long way away if your looking at someone looking at you. So don’t go thinking you can sneak up on anybody with the Carson NV-200, they will probably see you coming. I don’t know how long the 3 AAA batteries it runs on last, it’s got a few hours use on it and still going strong so it’s at least a couple hours on and off. I also tried a separate IR flashlight I have that is made by Pulsar to go with my N750. It didn’t work so well with the Carson. I thought I might be able to extend the range or clarity with the more powerful IR unit, not the case here.
Summary: Is it worth $80? Yes, I think it is, I have no intention of returning it. At the same time you get $80 bucks worth of performance…so keep that in mind. The thing is tiny and weighs just a couple ounces so you can take it anywhere, hell, you could make it your key ring. I can dock the boat in pitch blackness, see well enough not to fall and kill myself in the woods, navigate a pitch black house and find people and animals at close range if I needed too. As a camp tool to find the outhouse or look to see what you just heard move in the brush…about a million other little simple things it can probably do just fine. It’s definitely the lowest entry level device I’ve ever seen personally but all in all for what you pay it does pretty good. You just can’t expect the world for $80. As long as you keep that in perspective I think you’ll be fine with your purchase. This last picture is not that good really, it was clearer than I could get a cell phone pic of through the Carson. So the view was clearer than this, it’s the stove at 9 feet with a teapot on the right and a spoon holder in the middle. As always thanks for reading and train often.