The AstroScope, from night vision manufacturer Electrophysics, is a modular adapter that adds night-vision capability to DSLR cameras and camcorders. Designed for use by the military, law enforcement, news agencies, and well-heeled enthusiasts, the AstroScope night vision adapter fits between the camera body and the lens to capture high-resolution images at night and in low-light situations that are otherwise too dark for standard digital cameras.
The AstroScope makes it simple to switch your camera between daytime and nighttime shooting. The manufacturer says installing the AstroScope is as simple as changing lenses on your DSLR. Simply remove the lens from your camera, mount the AstroScope in its place, and then reinstall your lens on the end of the AstroScope.
The AstroScope draws its power from the camera’s internal battery while maintaining electronic connectivity between the camera body and the lens. Once the AstroScope is attached to the camera, you can use any lens in your kit including wide-angle or zoom lenses. You can even use lens teleconverters. The normal functions of the lens are preserved, including image stabilization.
The AstroScope is made up of a central intensifier unit (CIU) plus adapters for mounting to your camera and lens. The CIU features a 64 line-pair/mm resolution sensor (the same sensor used in military night vision scopes) to amplify existing light such as moonlight, street lights, and so on into bright, high-resolution images that can be recorded by the camera. The manufacturer says the light amplification is equivalent to an improvement of 8 to 10 F-stops.
To save battery power and to protect the sensor from bright lights, the image intensifier is only energized when the shutter button is pressed. When shooting, the AstroScope delivers full-frame images with little or no vignetting (vignetting is a reduction of an image’s brightness and saturation at the edges compared to the center of the image).
The AstroScope can even be used as a standalone pocket nightscope, by attaching an eyepiece module to the camera end and using your camera lens on the other end.
Like most night vision equipment, AstroScope images have a green color to them. If you plan to enhance your photos, Electrophysics recommends shooting in black-and-white mode if you camera has one, or converting the images to black-and-white in post production. The company also recommends shooting at the slowest shutter speed you can, with 1/30th or 1/60th of a second being the fastest shutter speeds recommended.
The AstroScope is available directly from Electrophysics and from resellers. Pricing is variable, but falls generally in the US$6500 neighborhood.
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