MiNi-14 Gen 3 Select Alpha Hand Select Review

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

Moderator: Michael

MiNi-14 Gen 3 Select Alpha Hand Select Review

Postby jsonshk » Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:05 pm

After lots of research, I recently purchased a new hand select mini 14 through Kobi at OpticsHQ. Michael and Kobi were both very helpful answering all my questions and I was surprised that every time I called they were willing and available to talk to me. On customer service, delivery and pricing I would definitely give them a 10 out of 10.

I had a hard time deciding between the mini14 and the PVS14 but ended up going with the mini 14 for a few reasons. Better water proofing, more battery options, lighter, smaller and I personally think the overall look is way better. The only thing that made me want the PVS was the variable gain. After a lot of reading reviews and thinking I decided variable gain was not that important to me, and hoped the auto brightness control would do its job. Here is my review:

Clarity / Focus
10 out of 10, it still amazes me every time I look through it.

Image Contrast
So far I have tested it under these conditions …
Indoors with blinds closed (almost zero exterior light): very impressed, and blown away with IR illuminator on. Outside, half moon clear night: very impressed again, can see detail like blades of grass, sticks, leaves, ect. Also spotted a deer 300 yards away across a field, it was awsome. Outside clear night half moon, city (house lights, street lights on in the distance) did very good (this is where I was a little nervous because of the no variable gain) but I didn’t have any problems, the ABC did its job, it did not hurt my eyes or seem too bright at all. If a street light or someone’s indoor house light came into view there was a little blooming (to be expected on any night vision) but less then I’ve seen with other units/tubes, so once again I was very happy and only reaffirmed my decision to go with the mini14 over the PVS14. I also think if I was gonna be an any situation with any more light I wouldent need night vision anyway. I can’t wait to use it in some deep woods or on a cloudy night. I took some pictures through it and they turned out pretty cool, but they don’t do it justice, I have to mess around with the settings a little more but when I get it all figured out I will post some pictures. Also when I get a chance to mount it behind some scopes and whatnot I will add on to this review.

Hand Select Tube: signal to noise 27.7, true resolution 73, photoresponse 2117, halo 0.82. Black specs or defects: One very small “comet shaped” defect 3/4th to the edge, it’s like a black spot but with a tiny fading tale that I can see through. One more extremely small black spot very very close to the edge that I didn’t even notice until the 3rd time I had them out and a few more microscopic ones that are totally unnoticeable unless you stare at a white wall and search for them one small area at a time (I admit I am a perfectionist). I have even heard from a few army buddies that they have never even seen a flawless tube. Overall a very nice tube with great stats that anyone would appreciate when in a very dark environment.

Built in IR: no complaints, does its job, great for zero light conditions

Ergonomics: exactly what I wanted, looks awesome, fits in hand well, GREAT design, perfect

Overall it was a great experience and I would defiantly recommend (and will recommend) OpticsHQ to friends or anyone looking in to buying night vision. :D :D :D
jsonshk
 
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Location: Ohio

Postby Kalua1969 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 6:45 pm

Thanks for the wonderful review. It will definitely help others who may be considering the purchase of a similar unit. Be sure to post back with those pics.... people here definitely love NVD eye candy :D
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some pics

Postby jsonshk » Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:59 pm

ok guys listen, MY CAMERA DOES NOT DO the mini 14 justice, the real life view is way way way sharper, i took these manually holding the camera and im still figuring out better and better settings to use

Image

Image

Image
jsonshk
 
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Location: Ohio

Postby Kalua1969 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:03 pm

The first two are pretty decent. A fellow forum member once wrote a short topic about camera adjustments for NVD pics, which can be read at this link... http://www.nightvisionforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=803

What kind of digital camera are you using? If it has a manual focus setting (such as the one on my Canon Powershot S1 / S2 IS), it'll definitely come in handy. If not, be sure to set your camera to its "macro" mode since you'll be focusing on the eyepiece image (some cameras don't have a macro mode; rather, it automatically compensates focus adjustments when its IR sensor sense the object being less than a few inches from the lens).

As also stated in Frank's topic, ISO settings really won't make much of a difference in clarity, however, I do suggest you keep the ISO settings to no more than ISO 100... ISO 200 max. Any higher and you'll start to experience digital "noise" within the final image... which makes it appear rather grainy. Basically, don't worry too much about ISO settings. I always leave mine at ISO 50.

If your camera allows for more user-custom settings, play around with the Av mode (aperture value). Try starting off from a higher value of f8.0, and work your way down until you find one that works for you. Av mode will automatically set the shutter speed to correspond with the Av value.

In opposite relations to that, you can try tinkering with the Tv mode (time value/shutter speed). This will automatically set the aperture value for you. A good starting point is setting the shutter speed at 1/100, then work your way up or down until you find an appropriate setting. The pro's is that you'll get very sharp images with higher/faster shutter speeds.... the con's is that the images may appear darker due to the shutter not staying open long enough to gather the appropriate amount of light... which is why you'll really have to do a lot of experimenting.

If your camera isn't equipped with such custom settings, then you're pretty much at the mercy of it's auto-sensors in terms of true focus, aperture and shutter values (basically, a regular "point 'n shoot" camera).

When I have more time, I'll probably start a seperate sticky'd thread here later to combine all the info we know of in terms of different camera settings for those interested in snapping NVD pics. Most of the info compiled will come directly from members like you who are willing to share their tips with others. Good luck! :)
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Postby jsonshk » Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:37 pm

thx for the awsome info and link, give me a few nights off and ill be takeing very nice pics for sure
jsonshk
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:53 pm
Location: Ohio

more info

Postby jsonshk » Sun Jul 16, 2006 4:00 pm

last night i took my night vision to my parents house who live way way out in the middle of no where. i couldent wait for the sun to go down. here is how my mini 14 did: lightly cloudy, 3/4 moon, zero house or street lights...it did great and i strapped on my head gear and headed for the woods. i hiked very deep into the woods, and these r very very very thick woods, when you look up you cant see the sky at all and i was still able to walk around fine with no ir or anything, of couse darker then in the open because of the lack of light but i was suprized that i could safely make my way around with no help from ir. even in the think woods i could still see about 30 yards out. then i turned on my ir and could c very clearly. after hiking a while i headed back out to an open field and spent a while looking at the stars, you can see thousands of times more stars with the night vision, it was crazy :shock: ...i was able to track a few satilites and saw 2 shooting stars...still very very happy with my purchase....now i cant wait for a night with no moon and overcast so i can realy put these things to the test :twisted:
jsonshk
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 8:53 pm
Location: Ohio

Considering the Mini 14 3rd gen, two of them with bridge

Postby rotorman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:54 am

Anybody bought two of the gen 3 mini 14's and bridge option for binocular useage?
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