comparision of D-300 Alpha with ITT 160 Night Mariner

Customer Reviews of Night Vision Equipment

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comparision of D-300 Alpha with ITT 160 Night Mariner

Postby fkalich » Sat Dec 25, 2004 8:40 pm

will mostly come later, this will focus on the ITT 160 Night Mariner/Night Quest more. I had to send my 1x lens assemble back for repair or replacement. But let me say that in the one day I had the Alpha, I could tell you that it blows away the Night Mariner. So this review is more on the Night Mariner, the D-300 Alpha will come after I get my eye piece module back from Michael.

Night Mariner:

1) It is a discontinued item. You can still buy them, and ITT says that they will still service them. I have not seen them less than $1,600 new from venders. They sell for $900 or more used on Ebay. I have seen new ones sold on by this particular Ebay seller for not too much more. But following up, I saw no feedback towards the buyer or the seller. I put a bargain bid that lost, and got a second chance offer (direct, not through Ebay). I shy away from any red flag myself. I have seen them sold new for about $1,200 on Ebay in cases that looked less suspicious to me. But watch it on Ebay.

2) My Night Mariner 160 has absolutely no blemishes on the screen, not even pinpoint. I don't know if they are mostly like that, or I just got a good one. I suspect the latter. The Alpha has some pin point blemishes. I expected that, the Alpha rating deals with resolution, brightness, and s/n. And large blemishes would exclude a tube from being rated Alpha (I expect). I don't think pin point blemishes impact on the decision to rate a tube an alpha. These only show up in condtions where you would not be using the nv anyway, such as in an attic with the IR on. You won't noticed them outside, they are pin point and hard to see under normal conditions. I can see maybe a dozen. But again each is minor, near pinpoint, you don't see them unless you are looking for them. You also can see the 'honey comb" on the view, under the same condtions (very bright such as in an attic with the IR on). Again you don't see that outside nearly as well under normal use. You can see it easier than the pin point blemishes though. Actually the pin point blemishes are often impossible to see outside, you can always see the honey comb at least a bit. I don't see that honey comb at all on the Night Mariner. However I suspect that is due to lack of sensitivity of the Night Mariner tube, and that you really want to be able to see honecomb; the best tubes will show that. At least that is my impression.

3) I loved my Alpha for the day I had it, and look forward to getting back my 1x lens assembly. You see much better clarity with that than the Night Mariner. This is the most notable, the farther away you are looking. That makes sense. You lose recognition ability with the lower resolution and higher s/n of the Night Mariner. I think the resolution improvment is the same regardless of the distance, you can just see things better that are close even with less resolution. But if given the choice again, I would buy the Alpha. I think it is worth it. The view is much clearer.

4) But still the Night Mariner is nice, I thought I would sale it when I got my Alpha, but now I may keep it. Mine may be a better one, I don't know.

A) The newer Night Mariner/Night Quests ahve a better tube than the originals, and have one-step focusing. I later feature is a mistake in my view. You don't have an occular adjustment, it adjusts like a binocular. You know, they often have only one occular adjustment to balance your eye, but one scope of the binocular is one step focusing.

What this means, is that you really don't get 1x power with the Night Mariner except at very close distances. After you get just a couple of feet out the view becomes smaller. It drops to less than 75% (subjective approximation) of normal by the time you are looking 7 or 8 feet out.

This is bad for hiking. One striking thing I noticed in the one day I had the Alpha D-300 was how hiking trails at night was much easier to use than with the Night Mariner. I found hiking with the Night Mariner very difficult. One reason is the head mount. But another is that reduction in view magnification is problematic; you lose having the depth perception of a monocular because of that factor.

When hiking (Jimmy could tell you this) you really will be looking 7 or 8 feet out. Your unaided eye really is important. That is why goggles are unsuitable for serous hiking. Anyone that tells you otherwise does not do technical hiking at night. A goggle (beyond being heavy) has both limited range of view, and lack of depth perception. A binocular has limited range of view. Your unaided eye helps you more than you know in the dark, you get some night vision with it, and it really does give you depth perception. I went on a night hike that one day, through some technical trails and cross country through woods, up and down gulleys. I never tripped once. I found I could even jump when in the gulleys. I read about headaches using a monocular. I did not get one. My theory on that is that if you start focusing on your unaided eye you will get one. If you just let your unaided eye be unconscious and do its job by itself you will not get any headache. You get a headace by alternatively focusing betweent he two eyes. You just focus on the night scope eye and let the unaided eye be unconscous, that is the way to do it.

I also think people may have gottten head aches using scopes such as the Night Mariner/Night Quest with the maginfication issue I mentioned.

But I found a solution. I got a DX kit. It sort of sucks in a way. You lose both clarity and brightness the those both the 2.2 and 3 in 1 lens. Expecially with the 2.2. I find them pretty useless by themselves. There is some use when you put all lenses on for 6x power, and also some use for the IR. The IR has a micky mouse way of turning on and off. But it works pretty well, throws out a focused beam if you want it. The 6x power and IR would be good for viewing wild life. The 6x by itself lets you read things you could never read using the Night Mariner/Night Quest alone or with just one added lense.

But there is a solution to make the Night Mariner/Night Quest a much better item. You just use the 1.5 lens by itself. ITT did not intend for that to be used by itself. On monday I will get a ring adaptor from a camera shop, a minor item. Right now I just have it securely fastened by wrapping it and the normal ITT lens adaptor with rubber tape. The 1.5 does magnify when looking within a few feet. But the it gives you very close to 1x magnification at distances applicable for hiking. Very close, close enough to say it does give 1x magnification. Maybe not exactly, but it is 1.05, but it is close enough. As I said, 7 or 8 feet out is most imporant. Your unaided eye sees the same area (and of course more) as does the night scope eye at that distance; that is why you get depth perception. Of course you don't see very much light with that eye, and as I said, don't focus with it, just let it be unconscious, or you may get a headache. Just accept that you can see holes in the ground that you could trip in that way, you won't see them if you close that eye.

Because using the 1.5 lens at that distance gives you what to me is pretty close to the same as normal magnification, your eyes blend together. It makes sense that looking at something with one eye normal, and the other eye .75x magnificaition would really not work. It does not. I think it makes your ability to walk even worse, you should probalby close your unaided eye in that case.

But my modification really makes it nice for what it is! There are times when maybe you don't want to put on the head strap. The head strap is nice, but it takes some trouble, you have to keep it on all the time. You could drop your scope messing around putting it on or off. You look like a Borg from Star Trek the Next Geneartion. There are times when you might just want to grab your handheld. The Night Mariner/Night Quest is real nice to hold. A bit heavy over 20oz with that lens. But it is real easy to hold, and very secure in your hand. It makes a good second scope. But you need an Alpha, you can't live without an Alpaha. I could tell that from having mine just one day.

The Night Mariner is suposed to float to! I suspect it will take a fall pretty well also. Although you don't want to drop any of these things.

frank
fkalich
 
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Postby pathfinder » Sun Dec 26, 2004 2:22 am

Frank,

Great comparison/review. Anyway, I was wondering if you were using the civilian or the mil-spec headmount for the D-300. If you were using the civilian headmount, I was wondering what you thought of it; since I personally use the mil-spec headmount, and I've never had the chance to compare.

Cheers,
Vic
pathfinder
 
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 12:28 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

civilian head strap

Postby fkalich » Mon Dec 27, 2004 9:53 am

I have not used the military, maybe you can comment on that back. But regarding the civilian:

1) It is pretty comfortable. It has four adjustable straps, I expect it will fit any head tolerable.
2) Their are two adjustments you can make to position the scope. It goes forward an backward, and it swivels on a pivit. You lock it in place with a lever. The swivel (rather than left right and up down) places a limitation of course on adjustable range. As a result...
3) I did have some trouble getting it line up properly, to where I could see the entire circle of view. I expect I will figure out how to do that, but it will involve adjusting the head straps. I would rather adjust those only for comfort and not have to do so get the view lined up right; in doing so you have to adjust the head strap in a way that is not ideal for comfort (too high on the head). But it is not too bad.
4) The flip up can come into use as you would expect. But not a big deal. You would only wear it like that for short periods. The flip up is less a big deal to me than I thought it would be.

I was curious about the military spec. It looks heavier to me, the mount and adaptor. I am wondering if that counters much of the the weight advantage of the mini over the d-300. Maybe it is lighter than it looks.
fkalich
 
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Postby pathfinder » Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:13 pm

The mil-spec mount is quite light. It has 5 adjustment straps which makes a great fit. I prefer the 'clip' mechanism instead of the flip mechanism. Mainly due to the fact that when you enter a doorway or a vehicle, people tend to forget that their height has just increased by around 10cm; whereas with the mil-spec headmount (not helmet mount), you can just unclip the NOD and let it hang around your neck. One criticism I have of the mil-spec mount is the stitching. The stitching around the chin cup area is obviously of a thick mil-spec type. It can sometimes irritate the chin area when the mount is adjusted securely. This problem can simply be solved by taping over the stitching with electricical tape.
Vic
pathfinder
 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

thanks pathfinder

Postby fkalich » Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:10 pm

I suspected that the military is pretty nice. I may end up with one at some point. It might be a thing where sometimes a person prefers the commercial, sometimes the spec. Or you keep one in your car. Or you end up with two scopes and you let a hiking or boating comrade borrow you extra. It seems that people who get interested in this hobby tend to end up with a bit of gear.
fkalich
 
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