The Nitehog TIR-M50XC Caiman X-Core we received for testing from Nitehog Europe GmbH is the company’s current flagship for performance and quality. It is the “big brother” to the Chameleon thermal imaging optic we recently tested on all4hunters.com (Test + video: Nitehog TIR-M35 Chameleon X-Core hunting clip-on thermal imaging optic – The second generation 2021) offered by the same German manufacturer.
The Caiman shares the same basic appearance, build and features of its sibling, being able to be both used as a Thermal Imaging clip-on conversion optics for daytime riflescopes and a standalone hand-held observation monocular with 1x magnification and 4x digital zoom.
It features the same, intuitive three button user interface and mechanical power switch; and all the accessories, mounting hardware and batteries made for the Chamaleon can be used with the Caiman.
The amorphous Silicon (a-Si) LYNRED-built 17 μm pixel pitch Focal Planar Array sensor capable of 640x480 resolution is also the same; on the other hand, and this is where similarities end, a much better 50 mm objective lens is installed on the device, and the updated X-Core image processing engine both work towards an impressive improvement in image quality, viewing angle and general performance. Nitehog sent us a sample with its optional proprietary Wifi module, for remote viewing and recording on a smartphone or tablet, and the Rusan built daytime riflescope interface for mounting on a daytime riflescope.
Features in detail of the Nitehog Caiman
As we said, the Caiman uses the same, nitrogen filled and strong chassis that’s CNC machined from Magnesium billet stock of the Chamaleon; and since many other traits are also shared between the two devices, from now on, we will concentrate on the differences.
The most important improvement is the objective: a 50 mm focal length Germanium lens with fast F/1.1 aperture, featuring a dramatic increase in image quality and field of view, that now is 12.4x9.3° (that is the FOV presented by the full color 800x600 AMOLED microdisplay).
Also improved is the focusing ring for the objective, in our opinion quite sturdy and easy to grasp even in slippery conditions, such as rain or sleet; it features threaded holes to mount a stud to assist focusing. The Germanium front lens is also protected with a hard Carbon coating.
The Optix X-Core image processing engine also improves image quality, with much smoother transitions and eliminated wash outs in sharp contrast scenes with large temperature differences (such as hot fields and trees with the sky in the same view).
Detection range is also improved; remember, this is still a 1x magnification optic, so the human static detection range of 1320 m is impressive, as is the recognition range of 440 m. We also received a custom made 903S Wifi module with a 7-pin Fischer cable to connect to the unit and add wireless communication. The free “Wifiav-hd” app is available for both Android and IOS devices, and allows basic remote viewing, snapshot and video recording on the smartphone or tablet. It is very easy to setup and works immediately.
The device is delivered with a protective soft leather cover and nylon straps to secure it to the hunting gun (or the Caiman itself if used as a standalone monocular). The Wifi module is powered by the Caiman battery, and reduces battery life somewhat from the standard 4 hours continuous operation. Titling the Caiman over 40° sideways or over 60° vertically from level places the device in standby; levelling the gun automatically turns the thermal imaging device back on.
To compare the Caiman to our previous experience with the Chamaleon, we used the same hunting setup: a GECO Black 1-6x24i variable magnification daytime riflescope with 30 mm diameter objective bell mounted on a Benelli Argo E-Pro semiauto hunting rifle in .30-06, a setup that is ideal for both driven hunts and short to medium distance shots. Our experience is convincing, the improvements to the image processing engine increase usability and perceived quality. Image through the eyepiece of the Geco Black is very good; the available filters allow the hunter to adjust the contrast and enhance details when needed.
The size of the AMOLED display in an add-on optical attachment may dictate maximum magnification useable by the daytime riflescope. It is a tradeoff: to be able to be used with the naked eye, the display must be large enough, and to be able to have magnification available to the daytime optics, it must be small. Therefore, with the Caiman the maximum suggested magnification setting for the daytime riflescope is 3x. At this setting, the resolution is excellent, and the quality of the AMOLED can be appreciated. Contrast is improved, as is image stability. Being Nitehog’s flagship, the TIR-M50XC Caiman X-Core multifunctional clip-on thermal imaging optic has a suggested retail price on the high side, around 4500 euro. The actual price in other EU countries may be different due to local VAT and taxes regulations. Notable the 5-years of warranty, which speaks volumes about how much Nitehog trusts the reliability of their products.
Nitehog Caiman X-Core specs and price
|Distributor: ||RUAG GmbH |
|Model:||TIR-M50XC Caiman X-Core|
|Type:||Multifunctional clip-on thermal imaging optic|
|Magnification:||1x optical and 4x digital zoom|
|Lens Focal Length:||50 mm F1.1 with full Germanium elements|
|Sensor:||LYNRED a-Si microbolometer / resolution 640x480
/ 17 μm pixel pitch|
|Processing Engine:||OPTIX X-CORE Module|
wide angle afocal relay optic with 800 x 600 resolution full Color AMOLED microdisplay
|Features:||Available as hand-held or pre-mounted with clip-on attachment, stadiametric distance measurement, freely selectable image optimizations,
|Focusing Range:||3 m to infinity|
|Dimensions:||68 x 68 x 198 mm|
|Weight: ||480 g without batteries|
|Materials/Finishes:||Made entirely of Magnesium, CNC-machined|
|Notes:||Powered by 2 x CR 123 lithium, 2 x RCR 123 Li-Ion or 2 x 16650 Li-Ion (with extender
for batteries); operating times: 2 Hours with lithium batteries / 4 hours with 16650 with extender, optional
903S Wifi module compatible
with Android and IOS smartphones/tablets, nitrogen filled and IPX66 waterproof
|Price:||4500 euro. MSRP may vary depending on local
taxes and VAT|
As is the case for all thermal and night optics that can be used directly mounted on a firearm, all legal regulations of the weapon law and the respective national hunting law must be respected.