Light is the natural medium we use to orient ourselves in our environment. It enables humans to see spatially, to estimate distances, and to detect movements. Light is the energy of our most highly-developed sense: vision. It gives us control over the motor function of our muscles and enables delicate movements. Light enables us to perceive information, impressions, feelings. Light lets us read and absorb immense amounts of data and knowledge. Light makes us human. Only darkness can limit our human dominance. With our inability to see in the dark, we also lose our confidence and our fine motor skills. Perception becomes essentially limited to sound. Stimuli from our remaining sensory organs are questioned by the brain because they can no longer be verified and checked by sight. We feel insecure. Deep inside us, a primal fear of the dark makes itself known.

Outside the visible spectrum, humanity has recently developed the ability to analyze infrared light, which is undetectable by our eyes, and “translate” it into visible light using technical tools. We’re talking about thermal imaging devices and residual light amplifiers. In complete darkness, the latter always need artificial light sources, so-called IR emitters, and show the radiation reflected from bodies. Thermal imaging devices, on the other hand, detect the body heat radiated by living beings and convert it into an extremely high-contrast image. The heat radiation is collected in a lens made of silicon, germanium, or zinc selenide, and focused onto a sensor (as in a digital camera). This thermal image sensor, also called a microbolometer, can distinguish thermal differences of 0.1 °C. This information is digitally transferred to a screen and thus becomes visible as an image. Even ice emits heat, so modern thermal imaging devices can depict environmental details even in the Arctic.

Especially when hunting, thermal imaging devices help us to regain our strongest sense to the fullest degree. Only if the eye can analyze hunting situations with sufficient precision can we make informed decisions about species, habits, sex, behavior, and environment. Hunters need all of this important information to make a safe shot with a clear conscience, and fulfill their responsibility towards the game. Thus, the optical image quality of the thermal camera cannot be too high. The equipment must also be able to cope with the rough demands of everyday hunting and rifle recoil. Operation, on the other hand, must be very intuitive, allowing full focus on the game being observed, not on the hunting optics manual. For good reason, hunters have always placed the highest demands on their optical devices. The feel of the stock, the report of the gun, the smell of the powder cloud, and the dry taste in your mouth are all exciting – but what counts at the moment you pull the trigger is a clear view of the target, and the associated control over the situation. Optics and our eye are the connection that allows us to proceed with proper care and take responsibility for the hunted animal.

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