Gear Review – Photon RT Digital Night Vision

*Uncensored tactical is not sponsored by Sightmark or Sellmark, we are participating in a no cost testing & evaluation program offered by the manufacturer, we are only doing this so that we can bring you this info, we are not being compensated*

 

This is an entry-level priced piece of equipment given the type of equipment it is. The features this optic brings to the table are surprising I polled several people by giving them a list of features and asking them how much they thought this piece of night vision probably cost I heard everything from $1,500 to $4,500. I have personally seen price tags on NV equipment in the $3,000 – $4,000 range and beyond. Therefore it should be no surprise that at the $600 – $700 price range I think that this piece of equipment is a great value. With a price tag equal to that of some hunting rifles this might be a hard pill to swallow for some folks. Let me assure you that this piece of equipment is worth the asking price. It’s very handy and very valuable to be able to use your rifle after the sun goes down when predators, varmints and pests come out. The Photon RT may not be the last word in night vision, but if you are working blind in the dark it’s a game changer.

 

I feel like it would be prudent for anyone considering purchasing night vision to familiarize yourself with the different types of night vision, as well as each type’s pros and cons. I have included a great video explaining the differences in types of night vision below. Please check it out.

 

 

Moving on to meat and potatoes 🙂

 

Feature rich:

Some of the key features of this piece of equipment in a nutshell, streaming to a mobile device, Onboard video / sound recording (resolution up to 640×480), onboard photo capabilities (resolution up to 1280×960), review and Playback photo and video files straight from the optic or from a connected device, full control of this scope with a mobile device, 8 gigs of memory, six different reticle options in four different colors, built in IR illuminator,  adjustable brightness for the display and infrared Illuminator. Oh did I mention built in wifi, yep it uses wifi to facilitate the connection with your mobile device. The Photon RT is IP55 water resistant so if you get caught in a sudden rain storm it won’t destroy the unit, that not to say its waterproof , just water resistant. Its also dust proof and shock proof, and can withstand a maximum recoil of a .375 H&H meaning most common calibers such as .338, .308, 7.62, .300 blk, .30-06, .270, .243 .223, 5.56 wont destroy the optic from recoil. Also a very awesome piece of info, risk of damage from direct light exposure is not a problem with this piece of equipment and in my book is a major plus.

 

The Stream Vision App:

While it did glitch a couple times, the Stream Vision app still offers amazing features that you wouldn’t expect, but were a pleasant surprise to me. The functionality of the Stream Vision App and Photon RT were definitely improved after I updated the firmware a couple times, after all it is basically a rifle mounted micro-computer with a lens and a screen. All in all, I found the Stream Vision app pretty easy to use. The Stream Vision app allows remote viewing on a mobile device of what you are seeing through the scope (this is the guest access mode). The Stream Vision app also gives the person with the mobile device access to several of the Photon RT controls (this is the owner access profile). When in the owner profile mode, the person with the connected mobile device can change The Photon RT settings such as adjust brightness of the IR Illuminator, adjust the brightness of the display, change the zoom, and even start / stop recording.

                 

You may be thinking “ Sure its cool, but why the hell would I need this”. I think this would be a great feature to have for instances where you may be shooting with a kids, or a novice shooter or someone not familiar with function or operation of this scope. Also I think this is a great option for someone who may be handicapped or otherwise impaired and can’t get into the proper position to sight and fire a rifle, and that in my book would be pretty damn awesome to give someone that experience when it otherwise would not be possible or would be unnecessarily difficult.

 

Functionality:

Out of the box scope looks and feels pretty cool, operation is done through the knob and buttons on top of the device, as well as the button on the rear of the IR Illuminator.  At first navigating the menu and options may seem complicated however it gets fairly intuitive pretty quickly. Once I found options and settings that I liked and didn’t have to mess with changing very much. As I said in the beginning this unit has an integrated infrared illuminator, as an experiment I added a secondary illuminator and was able to enhance the Imaging quality of the device. I was also able to test this scope with an infrared laser but I’ll cover options more later in this article.

 

               

 

Heres a pic of the Photon RT mounted so you can get an idea of the length, it is 16 1/2″ long, however its not as heavy as one would expect. In fact its lighter than some of the other night vision I have experience with.

(This photo is from the sightmark website )

 

So, what’s it like? Well it’s kind of like walking around with a black and white digital camera attached to the top of your rifle. This may be kind of a silly talking point but I found the image and video quality are both highest while my rifle was stabilized with a bipod. Without the use of a bipod is a very reliable device. The black and white display with the colored reticle option is pretty nice, I found that I prefer either the white or red reticle over the the black and white display.

Here are some photos captured from the app / scope.

 

I like what I like:

One of my favorite things, hands down, is the power supply. This scope operates on for AA batteries or an external power supply via usb, I tested the scope with AA batteries and it worked perfectly fine. I really really like being able to use cheap and plentiful batteries. I wonder why other companies have not gone this route. Disposable Cr123 batteries are expensive rechargeable cr123 batteries are really expensive so thank you sightmark for not using cr123 batteries in this design. I cannot say that enough, seriously, thank you. Even with the somewhat shortened battery life (as compared to other types of night vision) the trade off is worth it in my opinion.

Also, shout out to the R&D and Engineering / Design teams. I like the little battery cradle, it’s pretty handy and a rather slick touch of design consideration.

              

 

What would I add / change / take away:

Well honestly, not much I think that Sightmark is coming to the table with a really great product. I’m excited for the evolution of this product because I feel like it’s only going to get better from here. Honestly the only 3 things I would think about adding / changing are as follows and please understand I’m only talking about ways to enhance functionality.

  1. I would highly consider using an external infrared illuminator, the illuminator attached to this advice is completely adequate, I just got a better picture with more illumination.
  2. I would highly consider infrared laser. Why, well my major reason is that the laser can be sighted for a different distance than the scope reticle so you can have one sighted for close-range and one sighted for longer ranges. Honestly this is really not necessary but it makes life easier, especially if you opt for one of the higher magnification / longer range models in the Photon Line.
  3. I used the Photon RT with a set of scope rings that were designed for a smaller tactical scope and I found that the lower profile scope rings we’re too low profile. It didn’t take much away from the experience, this is simply a talking point on comfort.

 

If you are interested and want to know more about the Photon RT please visit the manufacturers site using the link below.

CLICK HERE

 

Closing thoughts:

I really like the Photon RT. When I was reviewing the product description before receiving item in the mail I honestly thought it was too good to be true. If you guys don’t know My Philosophy already it is this I try to find gear for y’all that does not cost your first born child, but it’s still good quality and is a reliable product. I think that the Photon RT is a great value I think that it is a very reliable piece of equipment. I fully intend to add one of these to my collection.

Quickly I would like to express very sincere thank you to Martina and Earle, and the rest of the team at Sightmark for making this possible. You guys that are fans of the Blog / Podcast ect. know how Pat and feel about customer service (especially if it sucks) and the folks at Sightmark have great customer service. Also if you guys have a question that I didn’t answer about the Photon RT and or cant find your answer on the manufacturers website please shoot us an email, I have a direct line and can get you an answer quickly.

If any of you guys have questions or comments feel free to shoot me or Pat an email we will either answer you with an email or address the question on the podcast. Please let us know how we’re doing by sending us an email dropping us a line, or reach out to us on any of our social media profiles and leave us a comment.

Until next time guys and gals, condition yellow and head on a swivel.

-TX Joe

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