First impressions of the new Pulsar Axion XM30F thermal monocular

All Pulsar optics feature high capacity, quick-change batteries.

The ultra-compact Pulsar Axion XM30F thermal monocular is one of thirteen new products launched by Yukon Advanced Optics at the beginning of 2022. It is Pulsar’s entry level hand-held thermal spotter, which is unique in that it is a high quality European made thermal, priced to compete with the multitude of Chinese thermals. 

The new Axion XM30F shares the same price as Pulsar’s previous budget thermal, the popular Axion Key XM30 that was discontinued in 2021. So, how do these thermals compare to each other?

At first glance, both models are identical in appearance, though the new model has a more pleasing matt finish and the trademark blue onoff button. On the inside, they share the same optics and sensor size, though the new Axion has the latest Lynred 320×240 12µ 50Hz sensor. Both models share the same magnesium alloy body, control buttons and quick-change APS3 battery. The biggest difference between the two models is optical performance and features. Here is a breakdown of the new Axion

XM30F advantages:

New AMOLED display

The older Axion Key had a LCoS display, which was useable and kept the price down, but produced a noticeably poorer image than other Pulsar thermals. The new Axion XM30F is fitted with an AMOLED screen that produces a substantially more detailed image with excellent brightness and contrast.

Video and still recording

This feature was unavailable in the Axion Key but is now featured in the new Axion. I find this pleasing because one of the joys of thermal imaging is being able to record.

Stream Vision 2

The ability to stream to and control from a smartphone is a welcome addition to the new Axion. Other features include live streaming to the internet, a ballistic calculator, motion detection and file management. The new stream Vision 2 also has 16gb of free cloud storage for your videos and photographs. One of the most important features of Stream Vision 2 is the availability of firmware updates, that add features and performance enhancements to your Axion.

Sensitivity Intensification

Sensitivity Intensification is a three stage preset image control function, that is similar to the previous with the following settings: 

Normal has lower contrast and is less bright, which provides good detail and is easier on the eye, especially in darkness; 

High is more contrasty and brighter, providing better viewing later at night when there is less contrast because ambient temperatures have equalised;

Ultra is the brightest and most contrasty, ideal for poor viewing conditions with very little contrast, such as rain and fog.

The Sensitivity Intensification replaces the previous model’s Identification, Forest and Rock presets. In my opinion, the new Sensitivity Intensification settings make more sense and are complemented with full brightness and contrast settings.

Image Smoothing

This is a very interesting function that reduces noise in areas of low contrast while adding sharpness around objects and detailed areas. It is particularly effective at enhancing detail in low contrast scenes, and can be used in conjunction with the Sensitivity

Intensification or as a standalone function.


I made a side-by-side comparison between the Pulsar Axion Key XM30 and the new Pulsar Axion XM30F, optimising the brightness and contrast settings to obtain the best image from both. If I were to consider image quality alone, the new model leaves the old model in its wake. The new features further separate the two models making the new Pulsar Axion XM30F extremely good value. The two models are like chalk and cheese, so, kudos to Pulsar for providing such an excellent entry level thermal monocular.

Here is a quick run-down on the specifications of the new Axion XM30F:w

• Lynred 320×240 / 12µ / 50Hz sensor

• F30mm / f1.2 precision ground germanium lens

• 3x-12x magnification / F-o-V 7.8˚

• Fully waterproof (IPx7) magnesium alloy housing

• Detection range: 1300 metres

• Weight: 0.25 Kg

• Size: 144 x 40 x 69 mm

• Power: Quick-change battery delivers up to 5 hrs use

• Warranty: three years (one year battery)

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