Review: HUDAKWA Digital Night Vision Binoculars (NVG-5)
Although we’ve had pretty good consumer night vision technology since at least the 1990s, there’s still something undeniably cool about a supernatural ability to see in the dark. The HUDAKWA Digital Night Vision Binoculars (NVG-5) offer a premium, hi-tech way to do exactly that, as well as function as regular field glasses with photo and video capability.
In the box, you get the binoculars with built-in threaded tripod mount connector, microUSB transfer cable if you don’t want to take out the microSD card to access the stored files (or for some reason use it as a computer camera), 32GB microSD card (the max it says its supports), straps, cleaning cloth, case, and a manual. It’s a fairly complete package, although it does require 8 AA batteries, which are not included. While I would have preferred rechargeables, it’s not a deal-breaker for me.
While the company and I refer to these as binoculars, that’s really only true in the sense that it has two lenses. Otherwise, you look through a single viewfinder and at an LCD screen when scoping out a subject. It’s actually quite comfortable doing this, but also reveals some of the limitations.
While you can focus with an adjustment knob and it does indeed optically magnify objects, you’re maxing out at maybe 6X optically, which is the equivalent of lower-end binoculars. Otherwise, the rest of the magnification listed is digital, and as we all know, digital zooms have limited utility as they only enlarge the pixels already present (even if you yell, “enhance!”).
Photo resolution maxes out at 3MP, or 2048/1536, while video resolution maxes out at 1080p, or 1920x1080p at 30 FPS. The binoculars default to 1MP (1280×960) for photos and 960P (1280x960p at 30FPS), which is sufficient for most uses. The screen is a 2.5″ 640×480 resolution TFT LCD, which itself is optically magnified 6X and remains bright and clear.
Of course, while these are not great versus even low-end optical binoculars, its primary function is still its seven levels of infrared-based night vision, with each higher level compensating for darker conditions. While you lose all color with this technology, you do get to see your subjects clearly. The top-mounted push-button controls are intuitive and easy to access.
For the price, I’d like better optical magnification, but I’m sure there are practical limits to what can be done given the other capabilities. If your magnification needs are modest and you want to use these primarily for night vision uses, then the HUDAKWA is rugged, comfortable, and capable.