The Duovox Ultra is a monocular night vision camera that sees in full colour

Apr 6, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The Duovox Ultra is a monocular night vision camera that sees in full colour

Apr 6, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Duovox Ultra

Duovox has launched the new Duovox Ultra (Kickstarter here). They say it’s a military-grade monocular and an upgrade from their popular Duovox Mate Pro camera, announced last year. Again, the company is taking to Kickstarter to release the camera, with some massive early bird deals for fast backers.

The Duovox Ultra shoots 1080p HD resolution footage in full colour down to an almost non-existent level of light (0.001 Lux) in full colour. And when there really is no light at all, you can fall back to the more traditional 850nm infrared (monochrome) night vision. It features a Starvis CMOS sensor, specifically designed for shooting in low light, and offers up to 10 hours of use to keep you shooting all night long.

YouTube video

Duovox says that the Duovox Ultra features “cutting-edge optical, sensor, and image processing technologies” to let you see in extremely dark environments. How dark? Well, the company says it shoots full colour all the way down to 0.001 lux. The samples shown in the video above are very impressive in ultra-low-light conditions. And while they’re not quite as clear as shooting in the daytime, they’re much better than traditional infrared monochrome night vision cameras.

As well as 1080p HD video, the Duovox Ultra also shoots 5-megapixel stills. Sure, on paper, this doesn’t sound like a massive resolution when compared to most mirrorless cameras available today. But then, most mirrorless cameras can’t see down to this level of darkness. And the Duovox Ultra can actually see in even darker conditions, where it does fall back to a more familiar 850nm infrared night vision.

Duovox Ultra - Tent

At the front of the Duovox Ultra is a 7-element glass lens, with a wide and bright f/1.2 aperture. Duovox hasn’t published the full-frame field of view equivalency that I can see, but they do say that it offers a 5x optical zoom. It also has a 10x digital zoom, but you’re probably better shooting 5x optical and then scaling in post using some kind of AI-powered upsampler if you need to crop closer.

It has a minimum focus distance of around 500mm (~20 inches), going all the way out to infinity, with a 500-metre night vision range. Also contained inside the Duovox Ultra is a 4,000mAh battery that provides up to 10 hours of use (5 hours if you’re using infrared) and charges from flat to full in only two hours. This means you can keep it going pretty much indefinitely via the use of external power banks.

Duovox Ultra - App

On the read of the Duovox Ultra is a screen to let you see what you’re shooting, but you can also monitor and control the camera via a smartphone app. This is ideal if you want to set the camera up somewhere at night to, for example, monitor wildlife. You can just set the camera up where you know the animals will be and then park yourself at a distance. You’ll be able to see what the camera sees, as well as start and stop recording or shoot a photo right from your touchscreen display.

Interestingly, on the Kickstarter page, there are obviously some fake images to illustrate its night vision capabilities. I’m not sure why, though, because the genuine footage actually looks pretty good. For example, the infrared light for when you need to go full-on night vision offers 7 stages of brightness, depending on the intensity of light that you need. The company posted a set of images showing what this looks like, except… If these images were real, why is the sky at different brightness levels in each one?

I’m not opposed to companies using images to illustrate features, in theory. However, they really should declare that these images were not shot with the camera and that they’re merely simulations to illustrate the point. I showed these images to a couple of non-photography friends and they had no idea that these were all the same image. A light on your camera is not going to change the brightness level of the sky.

As I said, the real examples from the Duovox Ultra shown in the video are already impressive. If I were in the market for a camera that could see in the dark, this is definitely one I’d be taking a good look at. In fact, now that the weather’s starting to perk up and camping trips are in the planning stages, it might be the type of thing I’ll be looking into a little deeper for the summer. When you’re out in the Scottish wilderness at night, sometimes you need all the visual help you can get!

Duovox Ultra on tripod

Sure, it doesn’t shoot 4K, and it’s not going to give you ridiculously large 50-megapixel images, but cameras like this are still a few years off from being able to do that. It’s only a matter of time until we get those, but for now, this looks like one of the better ones I’ve seen – at least on paper.

If you want to find out more about the Duovox Ultra and back the project for yourself, be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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