Lahoux Birding
A review of the Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V

Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V

 

Thermal Imaging Monoculars, Heat Camera, Heat Scope, Cheat Scope.. There are quite a lot of names going around in the naturalist circles for the same kind of product. This review is to help you decide if a heat scope will be of added value for you, and whether that might be one from Lahoux.

 

Our partnership – full disclosure

We contacted Lahoux before we went on our world travel for 2 years. Lahoux Optics already exist since 1992, but they only recently started LahouxBirding. We saw a great partnership opportunity in there and they saw it too! They sponsored our Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V, so that we could test it in many different habitats and with a multitude of species of birds and mammals all over the world. In return we provide them and you with information of the heat scopes for birding and mammal watching. We also supply photos and videos to LahouxBirding. This review is however not bound by any conditions from Lahoux and we are free to write our real experiences. The review will be expended as we travel further and further.  

 

First impressions

We received the Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V in a luxury box with nice accessories such as a protective bag and a strong carrying strap (from Peak Design! I use the same for my camera). This carrying strap is not easy to apply (read: very difficult), because the opening to attach it to is very narrow. But after you attached it, it works perfectly and it’s very handy to carry the Lahoux Spotter around your neck.

 

There is a 1/4 and 3/8 inch thread at the underside of the Lahoux Spotter, which can be used to put it on a tripod if you are in a bird hide or want to film steady for example. We only used it to make some videos, but prefer to hold it in our hand for maximum flexibility ourselves (as most naturalists will probably do).

 

The Spotter is easy to hold in one hand and is very lightweight (450 grams!). You have to use the other hand however to turn the focus ring to get that bird or mammal sharp. This is something to improve in the future, as there is a competitor that has automatic focus. However, even though I used multiple heat scopes from competitors, none was as lightweight and sharp as the Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V! Even a small bird is very sharp, and you can really see its shape instead of just a white dot. We are very impressed by the display! 

Easy to use

Another good thing about the Lahoux Spotter is that it is easy to use. There are four buttons on top of the spotter. The front (black button) is to switch it on and off and put the camera in stand-by. Below that, there are three grey buttons with clear symbols: 1. switching between different viewing-modes (5 different modes in a loop menu), 2. zooming (1x, 2x, 4x in a loop menu) and 3. making a photo (press shortly) or video (hold it for 1-2 seconds). These menus work really intuitive!

For the other settings like the brightness and contrast of the display, and to turn on and off the wifi, you will have to press the second grey button. The other two are for going up and down in the menu. This took us a day or three to get used to, but then it is quite easy. And after all, we don’t use that menu very often in the field.

The photo's are screenshots from a video and give you and impression of some of the viewing modes (white hot, red hot and pseudo colours). In the middle you see a Coruro, an endemic rodent from Chile the size of a small Guinea Pig.

Viewing mode: White Hot
Viewing mode: White Hot

press to zoom
Viewing mode: Red Hot
Viewing mode: Red Hot

press to zoom
Viewing mode: Pseudo Colours
Viewing mode: Pseudo Colours

press to zoom
Viewing mode: White Hot
Viewing mode: White Hot

press to zoom
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In the Field

Every time we get the spotter out, we were impressed by the crisp sharpness of the display and the light weight of the spotter.

 

Finding birds and mammals really depends on the circumstances (weather, habitat etc.). We use the Lahoux Spotter mostly in the early mornings or in the night. Later in the morning and in the afternoon the sun is getting too strong and it will be difficult to spot a bird or mammal because rocks and bushes light up the same way and you will see dots everywhere. This is of course also the case with other heat cameras. The best days were cloudy and colder mornings, when we could sometimes use it the whole morning!

 

As is the case with all heat cameras, after you found something in the spotter it can still be tricky to find the bird or mammal with your own eyes. You have to get some references on the display and then start searching for your object relative to your reference point.

 

A little but essential improvement for Lahoux in the near future would be the lens cap. The lens cap is quite shallow and it gets loose quite easily in our opinion. We store it in the protective bag, but if you were to put it quickly in a pocket of your jacket you might want to pay extra attention to the lens cap.

 

If we are nitty picking: the eye cover is symmetrical. It works good and can be used by people who want to look through their right eye but also their left eye. But you have to turn your head a bit sidesways to cover your whole eye and look through the Spotter. If the eye cover would have a small notch for the nose, it would make it possible to look more straight with the Spotter. In that case it would need to be possible to turn the eye cover 180 degrees for people that want to look with their left eye instead of with their right eye.

 

Connect With Your Mobile Phone

A nice feature of the Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V is that you can connect your mobile with the Spotter via Wi-Fi. To set this up, you only have to turn on the Wi-Fi in the menu of the spotter and connect to the spotters’ Wi-Fi on your mobile phone. When you are with more people, you can show via the app on your mobile phone what you are seeing through the lens. In this way more people know where to look for that special bird or mammal. This might be a handy feature for naturalist guides!

 

In the app you can also make a picture or video and you can download the files from your Lahoux Spotter to your mobile phone in just a few clicks.

 

Service

A great advantage of a Lahoux heat scope for us is that they are based in Europe and have a lab in The Netherlands. If you pay a lot of money for such a device, you never hope something happens to it while traveling. But bad luck is just around the corner, and then it is really nice to know they are based in Europe. This will make any service or repairs way quicker than with competing brands which are mostly based in the USA and these can take many months to get it repaired (we’ve heard of 7 months for somebody!).

Conclusion

Overall, we are really happy with the Lahoux Spotter Elite 35V. It’s a great small, lightweight and crisp sharp heat scope. The design is great in appearance and in using it. It really helped us finding difficult species which we wouldn’t have seen without the Spotter. Because we find the birds and mammals sooner, it allows us a quicker response and more time to photograph the subject.

 

 

Are you convinced as well?

Are you thinking of buying a heat scope for yourself? In the Netherlands you can buy a Lahoux Spotted at dagjevogelen.nl. Don’t forget to mention “RobJansenphotography” in the comments while ordering. In that way we are able to continue doing this work.

For more information about Lahoux Birding go to their website: www.lahouxbirding.com