Tested: New Light Shows Objects at 200 Yards
November 09, 2017
The Optical Dynamics Long-Distance OD40 Illuminator provides a new way to light up at 200 yards — and it mounts on a rifle.
Optical Dynamics has introduced a new illuminating device, called the OD40 Illuminator, that is revolutionizing long-range lighting.
Judging by the 40mm diameter and length of the OD40 lens housing, it's easy to assume that the OD40 is yet another high-output flashlight. Peer into the lens, however, and you'll notice there is no shiny reflector, just the black insides of the housing. Point the lens at a wall, press the tail cap switch and you'll get a tightly focused spotlight. Throw it down a field and the spotlight grows with distance, yet it maintains a tight circular disc of light. Its clarity and evenness from edge to edge are striking.
Don't call this a flashlight though. The OD40 has no reflector to converge and diffuse the light onto everything from you to the object you're illuminating like a traditional flashlight. Instead, the device's LED light rays are directed to run parallel to each other to form a tight, harmonized column of light, known as "collimated light." Everything outside that disc remains as dark as the rest of the environment. There is no hot spot, corona, or splash as seen in a typical flashlight.
Collimated lights are not new, projectors and lasers are examples of collimated light, but the way the light is projected through the OD40's Collimated Amplified Lens System (CALS) is unique and the system is patent pending. Designed by Optical Dynamics engineers, the CALS is a patented photonics lens system that projects a narrow and adjustable column of light to illuminate a target, not the entire area, or the user. The engineers at Optical Dynamics informed me the technology they utilize produces the highest quality lenses ever used in a light projection device for the outdoor market.
The OD40 Illuminator is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, measures 8½ inches long, and weighs 13.6 ounces, including the two CR123A batteries. There are no sharp corners, checkered areas, or hard edges. Everything is smooth; even the finger grooves in the lens housing, which allow you to adjust the field of view (FOV). The LED has a 100,000-hour life, and its beam peak intensity is 11,633 candelas.
To test the Illuminator's reach, I adjusted the light to its smallest and brightest FOV and panned a nearby field. At this setting, the OD40 is bright enough to identify a small animal out to 200 yards with the naked eye, more if you are looking through a riflescope. At 235 yards, the light was too dispersed to clearly make out anything small that was moving unless its reflective eyes looked back. The distance you can see will vary depending on the existing ambient light.
From my observation at 50 yards, the disc of light at its smallest FOV is 16 feet wide and increases to 24 feet at its largest. With an increase in the FOV, the light beam gets dispersed over a larger area and substantially decreases in intensity offering a softer light with soft edges. Zooming in concentrates the 750 lumens back into a small, tight, intense disc.
Hunting Inspired Ruggedness
Optical Dynamics offers the OD40 in a kit complete with a scope mount and a remote switch with tail cap. The ring allows you to mount the scope to a 30mm or 1-inch scope tube and has windage and elevation adjustments. The remote switch is tethered to a tail cap via a coiled cord which has a reach from 13 to 24 inches. The kit also contains a red and green filter, which are popular colors used for predator and feral hog hunting.
To install a filter, unscrew the cap at the top of the lens housing. The filters are nested in a silicon ring to protect them from being crushed. Be careful, the O-ring can be easily dislodged during handling and installation. The standard OD40 includes a padded nylon-zippered case, red and green filters and a cleaning cloth.
It's obvious the Illuminator is designed to take on an abusive outdoor environment. Its designed to operate in temperatures from -20 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, is waterproof to a depth 1 meter of water or less for a duration of 30 minutes, and is impact resistant. The OD40's innards are also dust proof. In the hand, it feels like a club. I challenged its ruggedness by first dropping it 3 feet from the ground and then flipping it end over end and letting it drop while it was on. It didn't seem to notice.
The benefits of using an LED is that they run cooler and last much longer than incandescent bulbs. The long-distance Illuminator gets warm while scanning an area for several minutes, but it doesn't' get close to feeling hot. The thick-walled construction and large lens housing help dissipate heat. The total rated run time with two fresh batteries is 100 minutes, which makes it great for general use, but if you're using it for hunting or camping, bring along several extra batteries.
The Optical Dynamics OD40 Illuminator proved to be a well-constructed and powerful illuminator that makes it suitable for many outdoor uses rain or shine, hot or cold. It is especially well suited for those times when you want to isolate an area and not flood everything in between you and its farthest reach. The ability to mount it on a scope along with the red and green color filters extends its capabilities beyond many lights.
Although too big to conveniently carry in a pocket, its technology to produce a spotlight-like beam from a relatively small sized and lightweight device makes it handy for everything from night hikes to hunting.
The OD40 Illuminator retails for $160, with the complete Illuminator kit coming in at $215. For more information and ordering, visit longdistancelight.com.