What it is/does: Nightvision capable, IR based digital camera
Reviewed by: The Genesis Factor
Manufacturer : NiteMax
Specs: See Review
Manufacturer website: Unknown
Purchased at: NiteMax Mark
Now that i followed new protocal, let's get down it business...
This is a solid all around camera at a price that is simply unbelievable. At the cost of a cheap CMOS bullet cam, you can own piece of near state-of-the-art equipment. Its self adjusting capabilities, its quality of picture, and its digital control give it pretty much near top marks across the board. Minor quirks and such are easily forgivable when measured up to the enjoyable, yes enjoyable, performance that it delivers. Tech support is always friendly and helpful, the camera’s performance is solid to yesterday’s camcorders and completely blows away webcams. The end result is a tool that, I hope, will become legendary in terms of performance, ease of modification, and reliability on this forum.
A few of us are no stranger to this seller and device. Many of us ordered it. I will be reviewing it. This review is going to be comprised of several parts over a decent period of time. Some people will have attempted certain things before me (and I hope they do and post their findings on this thread). Please, this is a community, so chip in when you can!
I am no stranger to night vision/lowlight/no light devices, although this is my first digital output device, so bear with me. Many of us have those neat-o bullet cameras with either CMOS or CCD image capture. This unit will be compared no to the ATN Viper1 Night vision Monocular. As with the NiteMax unit, it comes with an IR illuminator and has the ability to see in no light situations. Also, will be testing the NiteMax unit that many of you will be receiving, which I will dub the “Basic” model, as well as an upgraded model that comes with 2x digital zoom, which I will dub the “Advanced” model, also known as the NiteMax Viewer II.
I want to apologize for the qualities of the movies and pictures and no sound. They were done with a lesser camera than the one I’m used to (mine broke, so I used my girl’s). All images on the camera LCD are pretty much sharp with a salt and pepper graininess at times.
Lens 1X f1.2
Optional Digital Zoom 2X
Resolution 420 TV Lines
Display 2.5" LCD
Field Of View 40°
Weight 14 oz.
Battery Lithium Ion Rechargeable
Battery Life 2 hrs.
NightMax Viewer: - Digital Night Vision
NightMax Viewer II: - Digital Night Vision W/ Digital Zoom
NightMax Viewer C: - Digital Night Vision Color - 3X 25mm objective lens standard
Why night vision over HID?
Simply put, night vision rocks. But if the cool factor isn’t enough for you, consider this: HIDs work best after you do a complete upgrade to your housing and bulbs, they’re expensive, and they burn out after a while. They also blind other drivers as they are up to and can exceed three times the brightness of regular bulbs. My eyes are light sensitive, and to be honest, nothing ****es me off more than cruising down at ungodly speeds to be blinded going around a bend by an idiot in a civic trying to look cool. My apologizes to any civic owners out there who do not fit the bill, but your brothers and sisters can be annoying at times. Also, some states have restrictions laws on HIDs.
Now, all light/low light cameras, such as the Nitemax NM-1000 are just, flat out, superior. Why? Because it doesn’t’ just let you see the road, or around, o peripherally. It lets you see EVERYTHING. You can read a book using night vision goggles (trust me, I have), so you can easily see road signs, people, trees, road kill, whatever, whenever. No bulb upgrades necessary, and it’s a one time payment until they break. Now, at ~$20 for a set of ebay HID bulbs and ~$50 for a complete Nitemax kit, you may think the bulb is better…but OEM housing for, let’s say an accord, ebays for around $500 shipped and the conversion kit, which if you do not have, you will need to properly use those neat-o bulbs, ebays for around $250. Can we say bargain? Especially since this IS a $700 camera…and it can hook up to your LCD or computer using the Video RCA.
Day one: Arrival
2 days after shipping, the package arrived. I had ordered in bulk for a few friends, yet, despite that, Mark had managed to neatly pack in everything with “not enough room left for a paperclip”. He wasn’t kidding. My shipment was packed, thoughtfully, very well in a Flat Rate box. This guy needs to come organize my garage or something. He included everything: the three full kits, which comprises of a camera body, a lens, a battery 2000mAh and charger, and a car adapter, and the review unit. Each came in its separate box, each separately bubble wrapped, and everything was new, as advertised. A very promising start. The cameras themselves were smaller than I anticipated. It fits in the palm of your hand and if you have big hands, like me, you can wrap around the body with ease. I removed my personal unit, a lens, and the three batteries and chargers, which I had let charge over night.
Day two: Initial test of non DOA.
After coming home from the police station, as I let the batteries charge, I decided to play around with my Advanced unit, to see just what I was dealing with.
The Advanced unit’s body is similar to the Basic unit’s, however, there’s a few notable differences in the button layout. Here’s a picture of the two of them, side to side. Let’s play find the differences. There’s 3 of them. Ready, set, GO!
Okay, now that we had our fun, here’s the answer. The color of the Advanced is darker, the On/Off button is blank on the Advanced, and, most importantly, a zoom button replaces the second gain button on the Basic. Beyond that, they’re the same camera. Now that we’ve seen the differences, let’s look at the rest of the layout!
The front has the Sony 1/3 CCD, just waiting for a CCTV lens to cover it. There is also a place for the battery pack/car adapter that takes a little force to get it. Oh, and of course, the IR illuminators, 15 LEDs of it.
The buttons are simple, intuitive, neatly laid out and labeled. There is an On/Off button on top. The LCD up/down adjust the brightness of the LCD itself. The IR up/down adjust the brightness of the IR illuminator. The gain provides an immediate bump in contrast at the push and hold, and goes immediately back to normal at the release. There is also video out RCA and DC in @ 9V.###INSERT REAR PIC###
Performance (Bum Around the House Test)
Before I get into the performance, I will say, that, compared to my ATN unit, I’m liking this one a little bit more. Why? Four reasons. First, the IR illuminator is adjustable. Second, this is digital and has little lens aberration. Third, I can easily use this to my specifications. And finally: daylight capable. The ATN comes with a head set, and are monoculars, so its still cool, as well as a fine piece of equipment, in my book, so its not getting put in the closet with the Ninja Turtles jacket just yet. Yes I this unit impressed me…especially since I shelled out under a quarter less than the ATN for it.
Lights, camera, ACTION!
###insert TV pic 2###
At this point, I’m hoping I will have the videos hosted. I went to my car, whipped out my instant power pack, and set everything up. I adjusted the lens to a normal focus (all the way to where everything nearby showed up clear). Power on is instant and you a get a nice and clear picture. Playing with the buttons, everything is instant. There’s no appreciable lag in display either, as with webcams and what not. Day light image quality was good, though the field of view (FoV) is too narrow with the supplied lens for adequate car driving. I’ll have to upgrade lenses later. Something that impressed me about this camera is the automatic adjustment capabilities that it has. Moving from a bright room to a dark room took a second and no brain power to the user, even with the IR on. This would be especially helpful for those HID equipped civic drivers on the highway. That was one thing my ATN’s couldn’t compete with. You had to look away or be blinded. With this, just keep on truckin’.
Cool pic i thought.
Night time performance was very good in the control room (my computer room). It quickly adjusted between looking directly at my bright monitor and at the dark room behind it. However, the monitor looked flushed out. This was later to be found out that its an effect of the sensors of the camera, where the monitor wasn’t putting out enough IR radiation.
Using the Video out is great. The LCD is still fully adjustable, however none of the adjustments comes though on the TV. The picture is very, VERY clear on the 27”.
The digital zoom of the advanced model is just a push and hold to activate zoom in of the center of the image. It’s a pretty nifty quick peek feature.
To be continued....