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Elcan Digital Hunter Rifle Scope Product Review

       
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DigitalHunter™ DayNight Digital Riflescope by ELCAN Optical Technologies

ELCAN Optical Technologies has a rifle scope with a built in camera/video recorder that photographs or videos automatically when you pull the trigger – or can be used to take a picture or video of what you are looking through your scope without pulling the trigger.

CLICK HERE to watch VIDEO of whitetail doe harvest recorded by DigitalHunter

I have read about this scope and looked at it several times over the recent years. It is hard to express how excited I was to meet Alan Wilkerson, Product Manager of the DigitalHunter DayNight Riflescope, when he came through Austin to meet with retailers of their products.

Have you tried to video your own rifle hunt?

Have you tried to video your own rifle hunt? How many times I would have liked to have the shot on film to show guide, the client, the landowner, or post on the website. Maybe because I couldn’t find the animal, or maybe just to show how many hogs/coyotes/aoudad we eradicated without having to cut ears or other pieces of evidence. I find it very difficult to get the “kill” shot on video for several reasons:

  1. Having enough room to set up a tripod with the video camera, rifle, range finder, binoculars, GPS/Radio, hunting bag with water, snack, and safety equipment.
  2. The weight of carrying all of this equipment and trying not to make noise walking through the woods.
  3. If I am stalk hunting, it is impossible to take a shot and have the video set up.
  4. Even if I have the sun, wind and no rain working in my favor, plus plenty of room and time to set up, there is always Murphy’s Law when it comes to battery power, minutes of tape, clean lenses, and not forgetting to push the “record” button.

The reality is, if you want to consistently capture your kill shot on video, you need a friend with you who is doing nothing but running the camera. That is easier said than done of course! If you have a friend who is that wonderful then you are a lucky person.

Have you tried to photo/video an animal you chose not to shoot to show your friends?

Have you tried to photo/video an animal in the field that you choose not to shoot, but after putting down your gun and grabbing the camera, the animal has disappeared? How many times I would have liked to return to the camp house and shown a photo of an animal I saw to the other hunters. Maybe to discuss whether he is a “taker”; maybe to get a second opinion on age, size or health; maybe to identify a type of exotic; or maybe I have already shot my buck for the year but want to help someone else on the lease get their animal…

What if you could see what your shooter can see when they look through the scope?

What if you could see what your shooter can see when they look through the scope? Whether teaching someone at the range, or sitting with a client in a deer blind, this scope allows you to plug an external monitor into it so you can see exactly which animal and crosshair placement – before – during – and after the shot!

FIRST IMPRESSIONS...

The questions above, all of which I have asked myself at one point or another over the years, led to great anticipation when TexasHuntFish.com was given the opportunity to review the DigitalHunter Riflescope.

Alan Wilkerson, with ELCAN Optical Technologies, hand-delivered the DigitalHunter DayNight Riflescope to our office. He was passionate that we understood the product and took his time to open the box, review the general functionality of the scope, and make sure we were comfortable before he departed.

Let’s be blunt, this scope is for someone comfortable with techno-gadgets. LCD view screen, digital camera/recorder, USB cable, notebook computer, going to their website to “join” and then download the software that you use to create your ballistic table and select your favorite reticles, copying the ballistic table to a SD memory card, and finally, navigating the various screens and options on the scope require someone who is confident of their ability to “figure out” technology.

Since I consider myself to be one of those techno-gadget geeks, after reading the instruction manual to learn safety, care, maintenance, and how to install the batteries, I put away the manual to see if I could “figure it out.” There were times I had to give up and go back to the manual, specifically when trying to zero the scope at 50 yards, and then shooting at 100 and 200 yards.

THINGS TO REMEMBER...

The batteries are extremely hard to change. Because the scope is made to be shock and water proof, the battery compartment requires maximum figure pressure to get the batteries in place. Literally, I was concerned how hard I had to press on the batteries to force them into their proper slot.

When the scope is turned off – there is nothing to look through. You literally look at an LCD screen when you are looking through the scope. This is strange at first.

The shooter has to sacrifice clarity and sharpness of the target for the benefit of taking a photo or video of the target. I think the sacrifice is justified by the end result, but if you really like high-end optics with excellent clarity and sharpness, you have to remind yourself why you bought the scope when you are in the field. I often use my scope to “zoom” in on an animal and carefully look at it. This is not as feasible with this scope beyond 200 yards. At the same time, I don’t have any photos or videos of all of those animals I have zoomed in to look at that I can show my friends. With the DigitalHunter Riflescope, I can now show my friends what I saw in the field.

There is a very neat feature that allows the scope to automatically take a photo or video based on the recoil of the shot. Meaning, when you pull the trigger the scope can be set to record the previous 1-5 seconds from before you pulled the trigger, and then will record for a period of 10 seconds.

There are two settings for the “off” button, one is really off and one is like “standby” on your computer. You have to be careful to make sure you turn the scope “off” when you put it up after the morning hunt, or you might not have any battery power left for the afternoon hunt. Speaking of which, I highly recommend using the Energizer e2 Lithium batteries. They last significantly longer than normal AA batteries in this device – and in other cameras for that matter.

The User Manual is informative and helpful, but I think it could be better organized, more clearly written, with many more photos, screen shots, and illustrations for the typical hunter.

 

CONCLUSION...

If you are about to buy a new Leupold VX7, a Nightforce NXS, or other top tier brand of scope, you are probably going to spend around $1500. If you intend to spend that much money, you might consider the DigitalHunter DayNight Riflescope. Unless you are shooting 200+ yard precision shots, it is a fascinating proposition to consider the unique ability to photograph and/or video the variety of wildlife you see in the field, whether or not you take the shot.

Finally, I have been very impressed with the responsiveness and desire to explain or answer any questions I have had while writing this review. As we all know, customer service is often as important as the quality of the products or services we buy. Allen Wilkerson and Joe Florence could not have made themselves more available. Thank you.

If you would like to compare Digital Scopes, CLICK HERE to read our Product Review of the Adirondack Optics SmartScope

 

MORE DETAILS OF OUR PRODUCT REVIEW...

Camera/Scope Zoom and Image Quality Test

For the purpose of testing the quality of the image and the digital zoom feature, I picked a tree at about 75 yards, and I took a series of photos at each magnification setting starting with 16.5x Digital Zoom and ending with 2.5x Digital Zoom.

LINK to the 1st of 11 photos demonstrating Zoom Image Quality

I then saw a dove land about 50 yards away and took three photos of the dove using 2.5x, 5.0x, and 16.5x magnification. Of course I am not shooting the dove, but rather I wanted to see the quality of the image when used to take a photo in the field. I took each photo by dry-firing my rifle, shooting off the harris bipod, sitting at a table in my back yard.

LINK to the 1st of 3 photos of a Dove sitting on a branch

Ballistic Table Compensation Test with Video & Photos of Shots

I set up on my land with a table and bench rest to take the following photos and videos while sighting the gun at 50 yards, and then taking shots at 100 and 200 yards.

50 Yard Result Photo
-
100 Yard Target Photo
100 Yard Result Photo
100 Yard Shot Video
-
200 Yard Target Photo
200 Yard Result Photo
200 Yard Shot Video

Action Videos of Animals in the Wild

I took the first six videos on my land. Each video was taken as though I was hunting, dry firing the gun to “trigger” the video activation.

Whitetail Doe Kill Shot Video
Texas Hill Country Whitetail Buck Video 1
Texas Hill Country Whitetail Buck Video 2
Texas Hill Country Whitetail Buck Video 3
Texas Hill Country Whitetail Buck Video 4
Texas Hill Country Dove Video 16.5x zoom
Bear Video
Elk Video (3 clips)
Bison Video

Software Screen Shots

The following are screen shots of the software that came with the DigitalHunter Riflescope. The software is very easy to use, easy to navigate, and the process of uploading the ballistic table to the SD Memory Card could not have been simpler.

LINK to the 1st of 12 screenshots of the software

Sample Ballistic Table

This is the Ballistic Table File that I put on the SD memory card and then uploaded to the scope.

LINK to Ballistic Table File

Elcansetup.exe Software

This is the .exe file I installed on my computer. I thought it might be nice to share with our members.

LINK to elcansetup.exe file


Shooting Scenarios Questions I didn’t have time to complete for myself:

Once the scope is sighted in and fully set up, what happens if your batteries die in the middle of a hunt. Of course, you should carry spare batteries, but when you put in the new batteries do you have to recheck zero? I wanted to zero the gun at 50 yards, shoot. Turn the scope off, back on, shoot again. Do this 10 times and see if all 10 shots group like they would if I had just shot 10 shots in a row (assuming taking the time to let the barrel cool down between shots).

What if I am shoot and miss or injure the animal. Then I take a 2nd shot within 10 seconds. Maybe even a 3rd shot. Do I get one continuous video clip from 5 seconds before my first shot to 5 seconds after my 3rd shot? Or do I get three clips all of different lengths, starting with 5 seconds before my first shot, cutting off and restarting to video 5 seconds before my 2nd shot, and then again cutting off and restarting 5 seconds before my 3rd shot that lasts 10 seconds until 5 seconds after the 3rd shot?

I hope Jim Florence, Chief Systems Engineer for Elcan might answer these question by commenting below.

For more information, you can visit the following websites:

The Digital Hunter Website

ELCAN's e-Lodge

ELCAN Corporate Site

Email Alan Wilkerson, Elcan Product Manager, with questions at a-wilkerson@raytheon.com

Comments:

Author:Wilkerson Comment Left:11/16/2007 13:31

Hi Jason; Thank you for the article. There is one thing that we must make very clear to your readers. The video capture is sequence is initiated by the hammer or firing pin striking the cap (primer) of the shell. This action creates a signature that the sensor inside the scope recognizes and begins recording sequence. This can be proven by dry firing the weapon. this process is patented by Patent # 7,292,262 on November 6th. 2007. There are other company's technologies who use the recoil of the weapon to start the recording sequence and that process is protected by a patent. We want and need to have clear definition that we are not using the same process/technology and there fore not infringing on others patents.

Regards & Thanks again!

Alan Wilkerson

ELCAN Optical Technologies

Author:jmflorence Comment Left:11/16/2007 15:18
When you sight in your DigitalHunter, the scope remembers the settings when the power is turned off, or when the batteries are removed.  There will be no need to sight-in the scope again after loading a fresh set of batteries.  If you take multiple shots in quick succession, you will get additional 10 second recordings rather than one long recording.  The recordings will cover the time from the 5 seconds before the first shot to five seconds after the last shot, but it will not be one continuous recording.
Author:rebBurst121 Comment Left:11/12/2013 01:40

The reason why I keep on reading reviews from all the users of this certain products because I want to make sure that I could really get something from it. - Lindsay Rosenwald