My D300 2+ MS Review

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

Moderator: Michael

My D300 2+ MS Review

Postby Optik45 » Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:23 am

D300 2+ Mil Spec & Commercial headgear Review

Images to come soon – I haven’t quite mastered night vision photography yet.

Purchasing and Shipping:

I was in the market for a Gen II or III unit. I looked around at all online sources to gather information then finally made a stop at www.nightvisionforums.com. The Resources were unlimited, and the guys at Opticshq and Nightvisionmall we quick to respond to all questions honesty and unbiased. I decided this is where I was going to make my purchase. Due to limited funds I was hesitant to spend $3000 on a NVD. So I went with the D300 Gen II. For $1200 I figured if it sucks then someone on ebay will buy it.

I placed my order through OpticsHQ and within 5 days received my product.

Contents:

My D300 came in many carry and storage accessories; One large Nylon bag (similar to a camera case) with one large pocket to hold the Commercial Headgear and Pelican Hard Case 1050 (which contained the NVD). There was also a smaller pocket on the front of the nylon bag that contained the Data Sheet, user manual, two CR123 3v Batteries, a small leather zip up pouch to carry the D300 and a small hand lanyard that screws into the units housing, just incase you fear dropping the sucker. I was surprised that it did not come with a lens cleaning cloth.

Everything came in great condition except for the Commercial headgear. The front of the headgear is made of a leather material; this material had a small tear in it and was missed by inspection before shipping. It did not bother me. I just placed a little glue and bam, good as new. Michael at OpticsHQ offered to replace the headgear for no charge but I didn’t bother with it.

D300 2+ MS At First Glance:

D300 2+ MS was very solid. The Unit was much smaller than I expected. Weighing in at 16oz, it wasn’t too heavy nor too light. Definitely nothing compared to the 24oz PVS-7 (Skull Crusher). The housing is nicely manufactured, no rough edges, burrs or pitting, and it has a smooth matte black finish.

The front lens appeared to be very clean and void of any scratches or dirt. The rear eyepiece lens had some small debris from manufacturing. One swipe with a cloth and it was clean. I did notice after I cleaned the eyepiece lens, there was a very thin glue residue ring around the outer edge of the lens and a very small scratch/pit in the center.

The eye piece is fitted with a nice soft rubber accordion type boot. It is very comfortable to the eye, unlike the ATN’s MK6600 & MK7700 which literally felt like it was cutting.

The battery housing was simple, just one screw off o-ring cap on the front of the housing, drop in the CR123 and your good to go. Only downside to CR123 batteries is that they are expensive. They run about $2.50 each but can be bought in bulk online for cheaper and have a long shelf life compared to AA. I was happy to see that the unit was not marked with gawdy red diagrams of “This is where the battery goes n00b” like you will find on ATNs and other manufacturers products. In fact the housing does not having any unnecessary markings or logo’s on it. I’m glad because these markings and engravings make a unit look cheap.

The Diopter focal ring was nice and tight and seemed improbable to turn itself out of focus during normal use. The front lens came with a protective cover/daylight filter cap that was attached to the housing by a thin braided cord. The front lens focal ring was the same, nice and tight. Both focal rings had a smooth operation and felt very well lubricated. There was no metal on metal feel like I have experienced with some units.

The only button on this housing is a single multi stage selector switch that rotates from the 12 O’clock position to 3 O’clock. The first stage is the off position, second stage is power on, third stage is the IR and fourth stage is IR 2. The placement of this selector was easily accessible, even when headgear mounted. The use of only one switch eliminated any unnecessary “fumbling around for the right button in the dark”.

The Housing has three tapped screw holes. Two on the top of the unit for attachment of the commercial headgear (and various optional accessories). One on the right of the housing for attachment of the included lanyard. The unit comes with two screw in caps to keep dirt, etc out for when the holes are not being used. I would prefer three of these caps since I do not use the lanyard, but 90% of the time I am using the headgear which uses the top 2 holes, so not a big deal.

Overall the Housing is solid. Unlike the ATN’s products, which feel like a toy. This Unit feels like a tool.

Now to test this baby out!


Basement Test – Very Little Ambient Lighting:

My basement is dark. I mean I can not see my hand 5” in front of my face dark I patiently waited ten minutes in the dark to let my eyes adjust. I turned on the D300 without the IR. Like described earlier the Focal rings were very well constructed. It took very little turning to get the unit into focus. I could amazingly navigate through my basement but with a lot of Noise. I could see major objects but with little detail. It reminded me of when I was 12 years old watching scribble porn on TV, trying to make out the figure of a woman (come on you all know what I’m talking about). I turned on the IR….holy crap, Paris Hilton would be jealous. It was a night and day difference. Best described it is a near perfect image with just a green hue. I could make out very thin cob webs in the corners of the basement and amazing detail on all objects. The image and detail detection was better with the D300 with IR on than when just using my Surefire visible light. The IR projection filled the entire field of view at 20’ (longest part of my basement). The IR does go into the visible red end of the spectrum but is only visible when looking directly into the IR lens, even then it is subtle. This could however cause some concern to Law Enforcement and Military Personnel. There are two LEDs within the tube’s outer edge. One to signal when the IR is on, and the other, which I have not seen lit yet is the low battery. The LED is small and does not disrupt viewing.

To get a good image of the blemishes I took the unit to the white basement brick wall. With the IR on I could make out 3 very very small blemishes. Exactly as shown on the Data Sheet. They were all inline like Orion’s Belt, starting from the top left corner diagonal to the bottom right. None of these blems obstructed view and actually were barely noticeable. I noticed that in bright conditions, like when using the IR against a white wall I could see an outline of a small square box. It was not like chicken wire nor a honeycomb effect. The Tube did have sort of a dirty haze throughout when looking at a white wall. This haze was only apparent when looking at a white wall. I did not notice any issues from the thin layer of glue residue around the eye lens or the pitted scratch as stated above. For indoor use this gen II unit will perform to most user’s satisfaction. The only need for a Gen III unit would be for reduced noise for better non IR navigation.

Outdoors Test – ½ Moon, Overcast:

I patiently waited for a couple of days for the rain to clear. This test was made in my neighborhood. My Neighborhood has one street light and some ambient glow from a distant city. Visible distance without the NV was about 30 feet. I made my way out of my second story window onto the roof. Again I waited about ten minutes for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. The D300 performed much better without the IR outdoors. As stated before the focal ring took very little adjustment to focus from 10 feet to 100 yards. When I say little I mean about ½” of a turn and it is very precise. I could easily see detail out to about 80 yards. I had the luck of seeing a neighborhood cat at about 75 yards, It was easily recognizable but I wasn’t able to tell if it was a male or female (haha). At about 100 yards, clarity, detail and depth perception was greatly reduced but I could still identify an object as small as a shoebox. At about 120 yards there is a Dead End sign on my road, I could see the diamond sign but impossible to read the text. The Bloom from small houselights was very small, it did not obstruct viewing and there was very little to no tracers. All blemishes that I noticed in the basement virtually disappeared outdoors, especially the dirty haze effect that I experienced against the white wall in the basement. The noise was a tad noticeable but nothing compared to the basement. After getting my fill I flicked on the IR. The IR was useful out to about 50 yards. It helped for viewing detail under trees and in deep shadows. When the IR is on it really lights up close range objects but fades down the intensity of distant images. All street signs, license plates, car reflectors lit up like Christmas. Especially the neighborhood cat’s eyes, that was now lying under a tree at about 75 yards. I walked around the roof to get a view down into my backyard. I noticed a lot of little glowing objects in the grass, confused I went downstairs. To my amazement the glowing objects were the reflection of the IR on little Toads eyes. There were about 10 toads in my grass out hunting for the night. It was quite an experience to see toads feasting without interruption of visible light. The IR really brought out the detail in the grass and terrain of my backyard, better than my Surefire flashlight could do. I decided to low crawl it military style up to an unaware toad. I was able to get about a foot and a half away from the toad before the image started to become unfocused.


Outdoors Test – ¾ Moon, clear skies:

To get a good comparable I went back out onto my roof to examine the neighborhood in this lighting condition. Both detail and object identification was increased at longer distances. I could now make out objects at 100 yards much better. The contrast of shadows was much more apparent as well. I could see the strobe effect from a small car alarm LED inside my neighbor’s vehicle, this was not visible to the naked eye. Virtually all noise disappeared and I had a clear image of the neighborhood. The IR didn’t perform as well out to 50 yards as before but it wasn’t needed. The IR still performed quite well for viewing objects under trees and deep shadows within 50 yards. I would have stayed out longer but the Mosquitoes were driving me nuts. Time to get out of the neighborhood and into the woods.

Commercial Headgear At First Glance:

To ready myself for the woods I decided to break out the headgear. The construction of the gear seemed well manufactured. It utilizes thick nylon webbing and has good stitching. The Mount itself is constructed to take a beating. The D300 attaches to the headgear by one thumb screw that screws into one of the tapped holes on top of the D300 housing, a second non threaded pin goes into the second tapped hole to prevent rotation of the unit on the headgear. Two thumb screws would probably be a better design as far as security but the single thumb screw held the unit to the headgear very securely and didn’t loosen even after 4 hours of running around the woods. The mount itself has 2 adjustment mechanisms. One is to adjust the NV closer or farther from your eye and to rotate the NV from either left or right eye, and the second is to flip the NV up or down.

The headgear straps did take a lot of playing around to get it to fit just right. For me I was having a hell of a time adjusting the straps to allow a perfect inline view. The D300 was sitting too high and I wasn’t getting a centered view through the tube. I finally figured it out and now, no complaints…yet.

In the Woods – ¾ Moon, clear skies:

With the D300 mounted to the commercial headgear I headed out for the trails. The Trails winded through a thick canopy forest. Light amplification wasn’t as good as in the neighborhood. I could however easily navigate my way through the woods without the IR. I could not make out detail farther than 20 yards though. The Noise was definitely apparent but not as bad as the basement. I spent about 2 hours wondering around with the IR off. To my amazement I did not trip nor get whacked by a branch, slow navigation was indeed needed to protect against this. Openings in the forest canopy definitely let the moonlight in and aided in depth perception and detailed object recognition. The woods does indeed take more playing time with the focus due to a lot of varying object distances but I was able to quickly find a happy medium. I flicked on the IR, and it made a great difference. I was able to see extreme forest detail out to about 50 yards. I could see the vain structure on leaves at 10 yards. Yet again using the IR in this environment really brings out the objects within 50 yards but dims more distant images, but this is just how night vision and close range IRs work. The IR navigating was much easier and a bit more fun. I could see eyes in the trees glowing back at me. I really felt like I owned the forest. The trailed ended with the forest and lead to an open field to my lake. IR came off immediately the light amplification it was extremely well in the open field, where there was no need for IR. I could easier see dog sized objects at 150-200 yards. The lake was also very well illuminated. I could see fish jumping at 50 yards and bats making their nightly flights. There was absolutely no image noise. The tube blemishes were a little more apparent in this lighting condition but nothing to bother me. Image Noise bothers me more than blems.

After about 3 hours the commercial headgear started to get to me. The forehead does have padding but the rear strap does not, this started to cut into the back of my head. More padding on the sides would be good too. That was really the only thing that bothered me. That and when using headgear the NV eyepiece lens fogs up often, but the fogging you cannot avoid with any unit. The Commercial Headgear is what it is, it attaches the NV to your head, nothing more and nothing less.

I did not want to test the water resistance of my unit, for good reasons. I also wasn’t able to test battery life, since I have not put that many hours on the tube yet.

Closing Conclusion & Comments:

This Gen II NVD is a great deal. The Unit offers a very well designed and compact housing and flawless operation. The tube and optics are superior compared to competing manufacturers. It also offers a lot of modular accessories for all your mission needs. If you are looking for a great night vision device for hunting, airsoft, wildlife observation, or just screwing around in the woods and don’t want to spend money on Gen III and want to stay away from Gen I, then this is the NVD to get. It performs great in almost all outdoor conditions and works extremely well in very lowlight conditions with use of IR. It is more than any hobby user needs. I will be enjoying this NVD for years to come.

The only reason I would go to Gen III is to have farther clearer target recognition and lower light amplification without use of IR and reduction of image noise.

My only suggestions and comments to the manufacturers is to produce a D300 model that uses both AA and CR123 batteries. CR123 batts can be hard to find in a pinch. Also include one extra housing screw cap, a lens cloth, and to redesign the commercial headgear with more padding.

Like I said above, I will play with my different cameras this week and get a lot of pictures up.
Optik45
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Aug 22, 2005 8:53 pm

Postby mhe » Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:28 am

Just wow. One of the best reviews I've read yet about anything with optics in it. If the upcoming pictures are on par with the writing, this will be the definitive guide for anybody considering a D300.As you mentioned, airsoft is one of the possibilities of usage for this device, is there some kind of lens protection? Because a airsoft sniper round can shatter things you'd never expect from a little quarter-gram ball.Tried it last weekend and smashed my military grade S10 respirator lenses in one shot. This is something I wouldn't like to happen to a 1k$+ optics device... ;)

Also, if you have the opportunity, please provide pics of the headgear, as on the opticshq site, there are none available for any accessoires (something which should be taken care of, michael :roll:) At the moment I have problems deciding between the commercial and the military headgear. Walking through the night is one thing, but running through dense woods with about 30lbs of gear on your body and dive jumping into a nearby bush requires a really good mount solution for optics of any kind.

As an idea: Michael, you could just scan in all the manuals which come with your optics devices and integrate them into a kind of support area on your webpage, this would allow people to educate themselves about a device some more before making a buying decision and would also help those who already own a device but have lost their manual.
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot proof programs and the universe trying to build bigger and better idiots. So far the universe is winning...
mhe
 
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2005 1:33 am
Location: Vienna

nice review

Postby Guest » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:56 am

Nice review. I agree with the previous poster's request for pictures of the head gear and other add on devices on OpticsHQ and NightVisionMall.

I have a question for you guys that have Gen 3 devices with s/n of 29+.
How would they perform in the above described dark basement? Would it still be neccessary to use the illuminator?

It would be nice to see more Gen 3 images and movies in the image section.

Thanks
Guest
 

gen3

Postby Tman » Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:38 pm

I have one unit with a 72lp/mm 30:1SN ITT tube in it. It is a hand picked Am III mono I use with my SLR camera. I also have two other ITT thin filmed 64lp/mm tubed monos one with 25SN and the other with 27SN numbers. To be honest they all look so close to each other performace wise. I see very little difference most of the time outdoors between all three. They will make a good image in any light condition I have ever been in no IR needed. Down in my basement you can still see well no IR needed. Ir will make any NV unit look better even a gen 3, but its not a must have for good gen 3 in any light condition I have tested. I also bought a DEP high end gen 2 mono several months back which is doing very good to I am really impressed with it. With good light it looks as good as my high end gen 3 tubes the main difference I have seen is in super low light it just runs out of steam and needs alittle IR to boost it. Great tube tube though much higher perfromance than my gen 2 american made stuff and looks great in town very little tube bloom from street lights.
Tman
 

Postby easy610 » Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:00 pm

I know this is an older thread but an additional WOW was in order. I had a couple basic obsessive questions about the D300 I plan to buy VERY soon and your report answered them very well. Descriptive and clearly written.

Thank you for your time and attention to details.

Off to spend some $!
EASYSIXONEZERO
easy610
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 2:22 pm

Postby AKATTACK » Sat Sep 02, 2006 5:17 pm

easy610, please let us know how you like the D300, I'm just about ready to purchase one also, but I'm still trying to decide which one to buy. I think that I'd rather have 2 of the D300 Gen2+ than one of the higher-end models. Thanks-AKATTACK
AKATTACK
 
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Postby easy610 » Sat Sep 02, 2006 10:39 pm

Just sold a rifle to fund this purchase. Funds from rifle are en route. As soon as I have my greasy little paws on the money order I'll be ordering the D300. I'll post additional info/comments.

Cheers!

ps. This from a complete novice regarding night vision.
EASYSIXONEZERO
easy610
 
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