December 23, 2020
Once you’ve used quality night vision equipment, you’ll never want to be without this technology. There are multiple uses for night vision—everything from navigating on foot or by boat in total darkness to personal defense at home or in the backcountry. The problem with most night vision cameras, however, is that it has traditionally been difficult to find one that offered clear, high-quality images at an affordable price.
SIONYX is changing that by offering affordably-priced night vision cameras equipped with a long list of features once relegated to cameras costing hundreds or thousands more dollars. Namely, all of the SIONYX Aurora cameras offer color night vision, a first for this market. In addition to their color night vision capabilities these cameras are equipped with high-tech features that allow owners to link their cameras to their phones or Apple or Android tablet, and SIONYX owners can customize their settings. With three different settings for different light conditions (day, twilight, and night) the Aurora line of NV cameras are functional around the clock for recording video and still images. Perhaps the best part about the Aurora line is their cost of ownership: with models starting at just $599 the Aurora family allows you to enjoy the benefits of night vision for a lot less money than competing manufacturers.
How Night Vision Works
Unlike thermal technology, which relies on sensors to identify temperature gradients, digital night vision cameras like the Aurora family use incoming ambient light to create a digital signal by an image sensor in the camera. It’s the same technology used in digital cameras. However, SIONYX Aurora cameras enhance the image multiple times before it is viewed through the display, and in doing so the cameras enhance color onto what would otherwise appear to us as total darkness. SIONYX cameras utilize infrared light, and while there must be some ambient light for Aurora cameras to function those light demands are minimal. In my experience starlight or moonlight was more than sufficient to see clearly through the camera.
SIONYX cameras feature patented technology that allows them to utilize near infrared light or NIR. Couple this with the company’s cutting-edge CMOS sensors and the Aurora family offers unparalleled low light performance, especially in its price class.
SIONYX Aurora cameras are easy and intuitive to operate, and if you use a digital camera or control your cell phone settings you probably won’t have any trouble mastering the Aurora’s basic controls. To begin operating the camera you’ll need to first charge the battery via the USB port. The rear viewfinder must be removed to access the SD card and battery. Removing the viewfinder requires depressing the tab below it and pulling backward on the rear of the viewfinder.
When the Aurora is fully charged (roughly two to three hours) you’ll be ready to use the camera. Begin by adjusting the scene ring to day, twilight, or night and power the camera on by turning the mode dial (on the left side of the camera body) to the appropriate setting. There are five setting options including camera, video, loop, playback, and WiFi/settings. Advanced settings can be adjusted using the keypad on the top of the unit, and there’s also a shutter button for taking photos and stopping and starting video. There’s a diopter dial on the right side of the viewfinder and a focus ring on the front lens of the camera.
Basic operations are quite simple, and even the advanced settings on the camera aren’t difficult to manipulate thanks to an extensive and easy-to-follow online user manual as well as a catalog of tutorial videos that SIONYX has made available on their website. I tested both the Aurora ($799) and Aurora Black ($699) models which offer similar features, though the Aurora comes with GPS, compass and accelerometer. There’s also a base Sport model ($599) and the line-topping Aurora Pro ($999). The Pro model offers special features like augmented reality capability and optional 256 GB card capacity. All Aurora cameras operate using WiFi and downloading the SIONYX app makes changing settings and viewing video and still photos fast and easy. SIONYX also offers payment plans when purchasing their cameras so you won’t have to pay upfront to own one.
In addition to their easy-to-use controls, the Aurora and Aurora Black cameras come with a long list of additional features that make them especially attractive options in the night vision camera market. For starters, both come with ¼-20 threaded bases that mount to conventional Arca-Swiss style camera plates. There’s also an option for a heavy-duty Picatinny rail attachment ($49) for mounting the Aurora on a firearm, and both cameras are rated to withstand at least 4,000 rounds of 5.56 recoil. The Aurora and Aurora Black cameras both measure 4.6 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and 2.1 inches high and weigh less than 10 ounces, which means that they can be carried in the pocket of a hunting coat or shooting vest quite easily. A durable exterior helps protect Aurora cameras against the elements, and they are IP67 waterproof rated.
In the Field
I mounted the Aurora camera behind a Steiner DRS 1X reflex sight on an AR pistol. So equipped, this optics/weapon combination offers perhaps the ultimate in around-the-clock personal protection. The DRS 1X comes with three night vision compatible settings that worked well in unison with the SIONYX Aurora, allowing for a clear view of the dot when shooting in low light or darkness. There were no issues with recoil, and after firing 50 rounds of ammunition the point of impact remained the same. As a side note, the team at SIONYX is very knowledgeable and very helpful, so if you have questions about setting up your firearm give them a call. They sent me a photo that detailed exactly where I should place the camera with my sight for optimum clarity and performance. The Aurora cameras would be a great choice for day or night predators and varmint hunts when mounted on your favorite AR rifle, and the cost of owning a SIONYX camera is considerably lower than purchasing a thermal scope.
The Aurora makes an effective weapons-mounted light, but that’s hardly the extent of this camera’s capabilities. Every homeowner and outdoor enthusiast will quickly learn to appreciate everything the Aurora offers, whether that’s a lightweight, functional still/video camera for day and night shooting or a handheld personal navigation device with a built-in compass and GPS. The Aurora is also an ideal personal security camera whether you’re in the backcountry or your own back yard. When you hear something go bump in the night you can turn off the lights in your home so that you remain out of sight yet you can still survey the surrounding area for signs of intruders and in urban areas the Aurora allows you to quickly scan dark parking lots and alleyways. Night vision is a smart investment for anyone who spends time outdoors and I wish I’d had one of the Aurora cameras in my pack when I was caribou hunting in Alaska this year. Having a SIONYX camera certainly would have made trips to answer the call of nature at night less tense because I could have surveyed the landscape and identified roving bears. Color night vision from SIONYX will also change the way that you scout for game animals, and if you’re a boat owner having the ability to navigate back to dock in total darkness using SIONYX night vision is crucial. Simply sitting on your back porch in the evening and watching raccoons, possums, stray cats and owls is great fun for anyone.
Rarely do products come along that satisfy the needs of so many. Shooters, hunters, nature enthusiasts, hikers, and homeowners will all benefit from using SIONYX Aurora cameras because they offer superb night vision capabilities with modern, easy-to-use technology at a lower price point than competing brands. There’s never been a better time to see what you’ve been missing.
For more information on the SIONYX full line of cameras and accessories visit their website at sionyx.com.
Enjoy articles like this?
Subscribe to the magazine.
Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine