D-300 2+SHP Review (With Photos)

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

Moderator: Michael

D-300 2+SHP Review (With Photos)

Postby cpuman » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:40 am

After quite a bit of web research and talking with Michael, I settled on the D-300 2+SHP. The 2+SHP tube is made by DEP Netherlands, and is a XX1441 tube. I did not want to pay the extra cost of the Gen-III tube, and it seems the 2+SHP tube typically has less defects than the Gen-III tubes but less sensitivity than a Gen-III tube. I had previously experimented with Gen-I equipment and –hated- the curvature of field and lack of flat focus. So I took a deep breath and ponied up for the 2+SHP. It was more than I wanted to pay, but I guess anyone reading here already knows that this stuff is not cheap.

I choose a monocular so one eye can stay 100% dark adapted in use. I also wanted 1x magnification since I wanted the highest close-in awareness so I could walk in wooded and obstacle filled areas without feeling like I had “tunnel vision” that too much magnification would give. I also like the very wide focus range from map distance (or less) to infinity. My eye diopter is about +1.75, and I found it can easily adapt to that and probably 2-3x more which means the diopter specification is conservative.

I am an electronic and software engineer, and am used to finding specifications on circuits and devices easily. Not so with NV equipment as the Mfgrs seem to want to keep the detailed Specs close to their chest. This is where a call to Michael really helped, as he was able to answer all of my questions.

The payment was easy, and shipping trans-USA was fast. I received the unit as new and it has worked perfectly. I have had it for about 6 months now, and have used it a few times a week during that time.

Mechanical: (Please see the picture “SHP_Normal” below for a size comparison with a “D” battery). I am pleased with the D-300 even though many have said the Mini-14 has a clearer view. The controls are very easy to use one handed. I can hold it in my left hand and control the front focus with one finger. Close focus (maybe 10 Ft) to infinity is easily accomplished with out changing the finger position on the ring (fast focus). My only complaint with the focus is that there is some drift when pointing the unit up and down. However I found that I almost always tip it between down and level, and if I approach the focus from one direction, the focus lash is corrected for no drift. So that does not bother me anymore. When I want to turn on and off the IR, I usually use my right hand to do this.

Optics: I am pleased with the optics but I would not put it up to the typical 35mm SLR camera quality. The field is very flat and there are almost no defects in the tube. The sensitivity is superb! Compared to a Gen-I, this is brighter with the IR off, than the Gen-I with the IR on a close well IR-lit object. Looking at stars, there is some asymmetric flare when the stars are not centered. The IR illuminator is too bright for the 2+SHP tube, but I see there is a resistor in the case that I might change. I would not attempt this if you do not have mechanical or electrical experience, as I am sure it would be easy to damage something. I am sure the IR would be fine for a less sensitive tube, but even on the low setting the 2+SHP tube is clearly in limiting and rolling back the gain on an object that is 10 feet away. I have heard the Mini-14 IR is much dimmer, and better for reading maps, etc. However I would prefer the brighter IR for distance. In practical use, I almost never use the IR as this tube is super sensitive. I have attached a 2nd picture of the eyecup rolled back as some have suggested is a good method to get your eye closer to the lens and have a wider field of view. I use it exclusively with the eyecup rolled back.

Sensitivity: Others have suggested that it would be good to compare photos of the same subject with and without the NV equipment. I do not think this would be a good comparison since basically you would just see nothing with the unaided photo. I understand that one could tweak the exposure and ISO to make a facsimile of reality though. But then in the dark areas one’s PC monitor setting would make large differences. What I tried to do below is explain with some detail my perception of the scenes with a fifteen-minute dark adapted eye. Overall, I am very impressed with the sensitivity. In my below description, when I compare to what my unaided eye sees, assume my eye is dark adapted, and that I have sensitive night vision. I live near some woods, and I can walk in the woods on a moonless night (overcast or not) when sufficiently dark that I can not see my hand in front of my face. In this worst-case scenario, I can see the obstacles and pretty good detail with some noise. Anything that I can see with my eye dimly, is bright through the 2+SHP (like a cheap Gen-I with a bright IR on a close object). Anything that you can see easily by the unaided eye (bit still very dim) is like daylight with the 2+SHP. I attached two pictures to illustrate the darker end of the spectrum. The pictures are a bit blurry at the edges, but this is my handheld camera, 1-second exposure, and not the D-300 itself. The “Swing” picture is of a wooden swing-set at the edge of the woods. The swing-set is barely visible with the unaided eye (barely with averted vision), and not enough to even tell what it is. The bottom of the trees behind the swing-set is total darkness to the eye. The brighter leaves in the foreground are lit from a 40W bulb about 200 feet away and are dimly visible to the eye. The “Fence” picture shows a dimly lit fence (I can just see the wood slats with the unaided eye), and behind the fence is a field of trees. With the unaided eye the top of the tree outline against the sky is visible, but with no other detail. The bottom area of the trees (trunks and ground) is 100% black with the eye. I have tried many times to see any detail there (bottom of trees and ground) with my eyes, even with averted vision, and can not see –anything-. As you can see the 2+SHP brings out this dark area. The view is sharper in real life, but I wanted to illustrate the sensitivity to light.

I had my friend who has been to Iraq a few times (using the “real-deal” military Gen-III equipment) look though it, and walk into the woods on a moonless night. He was very impressed and said that the sensitivity was pretty close to the Gen-III, but he said the Gen-III that he uses had less bloom around lights.

I hope this brings out some good information on how the DEP tubes perform in the D-300. I have no regrets with the purchase, except that, based on the reports of others, I would have gone to the Mini-14 (including its accessories) if it did not cost $700 more!! However I think the built in IR is more versatile in the D-300 at longer distances.

Michael is very knowledgeable and filled in the gaps of knowledge and specifications in what seems to be a fairly secretive industry.

Rolling back the eyecup, as others have suggested, it very useful and easy to do. I hope my photos have illustrated this.

I’ll check back from time to time to answer any questions…. See ya (even in the dark, hehe :wink:
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Postby keck314 » Sun Sep 10, 2006 6:29 pm

Excellent review! You convinced me to go get one! I do have one question, though. When you say:

>The pictures are a bit blurry at the edges, but this is my handheld camera,
>1-second exposure, and not the D-300 itself.

Do you mean that your shots below are simply attempts to recreate the visual appearance of the D-300 scene through digital editing?

...or are they really shots through the tube?

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Postby Kalua1969 » Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:37 pm

I think what he means is that the edges within the visual field of the actual tube are *not* blurry... and that the blurriness was simply a result of his camera not being properly aligned and/or focused with the eyepiece by hand (i.e. - didn't use a camera adapter).
A 1-second shutter exposure time can also cause a bit of blurriness in the overall picture if the camera isn't properly stabilized on a tripod.

The actual views through his D-300 would be crisp and sharp, with extremely little to no blurriness in the tube's outer edges.
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Postby easy610 » Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:36 am

Your killin' me! My D300 is in the mail as I type. Can't wait! Now even more excited. I am the worst when ordering new gear....my patience is nil!

Another thanks to Michael for walking me thru my purchase also.

Nice review, thanks for your time.
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Postby keck314 » Wed Sep 13, 2006 1:38 am

easy: Mine's coming tomorrow :D:D:D

Seriously, I hope I can get home early enough to catch the FedEx truck. I probably should've just had it sent to my office, but oh well. If not tomorrow, then the next day.

I'll probably disappear for a bit after that, but rest assured that there WILL be pics...sooner or later. :P

/Thanks to all who helped, including the author of this thread.
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