Optically Speaking

Pulsar Merger LRF XQ35, when art meets science.

The new Merger LRF XQ35 is simply the best viewing experience available in a compact thermal binocular in its price range. It is also made in Europe.

Though its higher-end stablemates, the Merger XP50 and XL50 offer a significantly higher image resolution and zooming capability, the Merger LRF XQ35 is lighter, more compact and offers an attractive alternative to a thermal monocular.

It is fitted with the same 35mm f1.0 lens, Lynred 384×288 <25mK NETD sensor and 1024×768 HD AMOLED display as the excellent Pulsar Axion 2 LRF XQ35, but what really sets the Merger LRF XQ35 apart is its more natural, immersive viewing experience and better image rendition, due to its binocular arrangement. Let me explain.

It is natural to view the world with both eyes open, in fact our brain expects this. The Merger’s bi-ocular eyepiece system enables our brain to analyse the image from two sources, or both eyes, which provides more information than can be achieved with only one eye. Not only does the overall image look bigger, it is also more comfortable, especially during extended observation times. This is achieved by the Merger’s precision, fully multicoated optical prism system, with two eyepieces that are width adjustable and have independent ocular correction adjustment to suit each eye exactly.

To enhance detail rendition and viewing comfort, like all Pulsar thermals, the Merger LRF XQ35 has a wide range of image contrast and brightness settings, as well as multiple colour palettes to aid object detection and viewing comfort. For instance, my favourite settings for prolonged observation at night is either Red Monochrome or Sepia, which when the brightness is reduced, prevents eye fatigue and ‘night blindness’.

Once an object of interest is spotted, it is easy to change the colour setting to White or Black Hot to take a more detailed look.

Another unique Merger feature is the Proximity Sensor that automatically puts the device into power save mode when moved away from the eyes, and automatically turns the display back on when viewing. This not only saves battery life but prevents light spill from the eyepieces alerting animals of your presence. This feature can be overridden when used on a tripod while viewing and recording with a smartphone or tablet.

The Merger LRF has both a removable battery and an internal battery that allows seamless battery swapping without powering down the device and extends viewing time up to 11 hours on a single charge, though this depends on temperature, display brightness, laser rangefinder use and battery age.

Daytime viewing is optimised by increasing display brightness, especially in bright conditions. A highperformance HD AMOLED display produces a bright image without loss of contrast and detail. Its <25mK NETD sensor can see deep into rain, mist and foliage due to its exceptional sensitivity. Again, viewing with both eyes helps to pick out the smallest details in challenging conditions.

Price wise, at $6999 the Pulsar Merger LRF XQ35 is the same price as the old bestselling Pulsar Accolade LRF XQ38. However, the Merger beats the Accolade hands-down in every department as well as offering a host of new features unavailable in the Accolade. Comparing both models side-by-side is like chalk and cheese, with the Merger standing head and shoulders over its predecessor. The Merger is also gifted with a sleek, classical appearance and better ergonomics. I guess that is just progress.

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