The HIKMICRO Condor LRF – seeing is believing
Mat Manning shares his first impressions of a new thermal spotter which boasts remarkable image quality and laser rangefinder technology.
In just a couple of years, HIKMICRO has established itself as a global leader in the field of digital day and night vision optics. The company states its key priorities for product performance as image quality, useability and reliability, and the new Condor LRF thermal monocular – which incorporates a very useful laser rangefinder – certainly ticks those boxes.
This compact spotter is equipped with a powerful, high-sensitivity (NETD <20mK) thermal detector, which captures exceptionally fine detail. The result is a vivid, layered image, which doesn’t just make it easy to spot and identify target quarry but also gives a very clear view of the surrounding landscape – an important consideration for ensuring that any shots you take are safe. It is hard to describe just how much detail this unit reveals, but I was clearly able to see individual fibres of fur on rabbits and the whiskers or rats while scanning through it at night.
Image quality is further boosted by several major advancements on the Condor. The Image Pro feature ensures maximum digital image optimisation of HIKMICRO’s rigorously developed algorithms and provides high-quality rendering of both target objects and background. The Zoom Pro feature works in tandem with this, eliminating pixelation to deliver ultra-clear images with impressive detail even at high magnification. Again, it is difficult to describe the difference this makes, and you really do have see for yourself to appreciate the clarify and sharpness of image by daylight or in total darkness.
The Condor’s remarkable viewing experience is backed up by a laser rangefinder which, at the press of a button, gives precise distance readings from 10m to 1000m and accurate to within +/-1m. I really appreciated having this information at my fingertips – it is a real asset and takes away the guesswork when applying correct holdover and holdunder to achieve accurate shot placement over varying ranges.
Weighing under 400g and at just 180mm in length, the Condor is a truly compact thermal spotter, which fitted easily into my jacket pocket. Careful attention has been paid to the ergonomic design of the device’s frame, which incorporates a sculpted underside that nestles perfectly into the palm for single-handed operation. Although light, the Condor feels to be very solidly constructed; its robust magnesium alloy housing has been built to withstand heavy use in demanding conditions. The shell guards against water and dust ingress and features a soft-touch rubberised finish on the main contact points. The Condor is even equipped with a loss-proof magnetic lens cover, which slips on and off silently for easy and effective protection of the high-quality SDLC lens.
Thermal spotters can be power-hungry – especially when you’re using their advanced features – but the HIKMICRO Condor delivers a respectable runtime which should satisfy shooters who spend long hours out in the field. The device runs on a single rechargeable 18650 battery and comes supplied with three – each of which can deliver a runtime of up to around four hours. Power efficiency is further boosted by an auto-screen-off feature triggered by horizontal and vertical tilt detectors as well as a user-activated standby mode activated by a short press of the power button. The Condor then kicks back into action in under three seconds.
Despite being packed with advanced technology, the HIKMICRO Condor is very easy to use, and I had no problems operating it in complete darkness or when wearing gloves. The dial in front of the soft rubber eyepiece is the dioptre adjustment – which you only need to set once to focus the display for your eye. The main focus dial around the objective lens quickly brings the target into sharp relief at whatever distance you are viewing over.
Digital controls are all activated via the four buttons on top of the unit. The front one is the power on/off button, which sends the Condor into power-saving sleep mode with a short press. A short press of the next button back activates the laser rangefinder (you can choose how long the rangefinder runs for on each activation and whether distance is displayed in metres or yards). A longer press of the rangefinder button activates video recording direct to onboard memory. A short press of the next button back (the menu button) scrolls through colour palettes, enabling you to choose between Red Hot, White Hot, Black Hot and Fusion, while a longer press opens the main menu.
HIKMICRO’s clever user-friendly interface ensures fast, simple operation by placing the most commonly used functions (Brightness, Contrast, PIP and Zoom Pro) within the initial basic menu. From here you can then open an advanced menu giving access to Image Pro, Tone, Sharpness, Scene Mode, Rangefinder Runtime, Network Connectivity, Audio, Smart Sleep, Hot Tracking, Function Settings and General Settings. These advanced controls enable you to get even more from the Condor, but you are unlikely to need to adjust them in the field, so HIKMICRO cleverly keeps them out of the way in that advanced menu.
The rear control button adjusts zoom, through 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x in the case of the Pro CQ35L model (£1899.99), which I was sent to test. The display shows the true zoom value rather than the times by which the digital zoom is multiplying the base optical zoom.
I have already mentioned network connectivity, and this permits WiFi connection to the HIKMICRO Sight app. This easy to operate app facilities a host of image and video sharing opportunities and also makes for quick and easy firmware updates.
The Pro CQ35L model has a stated detection range of up to 1800m, a 640×512 thermal sensor and 1024×768 OLED display. I have so far used it while shooting rats around the farmyard and for longer distance work targeting rabbits over open fields. It excelled in both scenarios and a friend who has been using the same unit says he can clearly identify foxes through it out at 700m.
The Condor range incorporates four different models with varying features, and prices start at £1499.99 for the CH25L model. The CH35L (£1699.99), which HIKMICRO describes as being best matched to open field conditions, is equipped with a 35mm F1.0 lens has 3.5-28x magnification, whereas the top of the range CQ50L (£2449.99), which has been designed to excel in field and woodland conditions, has a 50mm F1.0 lens and has 3-24x magnification.
It really is hard to believe the HIKMICRO has only been on the hunting optics scene for a couple of years. The Condor LRF thermal monocular is a truly remarkable product and exemplifies this brand’s unstinting commitment to delivering products which genuinely meet the needs of the shooters they are aimed at.
The HIKMICRO Condor LRF is supplied with three batteries, charger, USB lead, lens cloth and user manual and is covered by a three-year warranty. For more information, visit https://www.hikmicrotech.com
- NETD <20mK
- 640×512 thermal sensor
- 1800m detection range
- 1024×768 OLED display
- 35mm F1.0 lens
- 2-16x magnification
- NETD <20mK
- 640×512 thermal sensor
- 2600m detection range
- 1024×768 OLED display
- 50mm F1.0 lens
- 3-24x magnification