Elcan Digital Hunter Scope
Scope Offers Selectable Reticles, Ballistics Compensation, and Records Video
Elcan ushers in the age of digitally-enhanced scopes with its amazing Digital Hunter. It’s about time digital features were added to consumer rifle scopes. In many respects a $150.00 point and shoot camera is much more sophisticated than a $2600.00 Schmidt & Bender. Adding a digital image sensor and digital “crosshairs” to a telescopic lens system unlocks an amazing realm of possibilities. First, you can eliminate moving parts, including the reticle itself, avoiding the possibility of reticle movement that could alter your zero. With digital crosshairs “informed” by a ballistics calculator, the reticle’s aimpoint can automatically display the correct hold-over at any target distance. For low-light shooting, you can boost the brightness and contrast of the image. You can even hook up the scope to a remote monitor so an instructor or spotter can see exactly what the shooter is seeing. Last but not least, everything viewed through the scope can be digitally recorded for later playback and analysis. This way a hunter can record, for posterity, the moment he bagged a trophy buck. Or, a military sniper can record a complete target engagement, for later review by his commander and fellow marksmen.
The $1199.00 Elcan Digital Hunter offers a 2.5-16.5X digital zoom, four field-selectable reticles, and built-in video capture. Reticles can be changed ‘on the fly’ and you can output the video to an external monitor, or simply pop out the SD flash memory card to play back video files on your computer.
Electronic Zoom with No Moving Parts
There are no moving parts in the Digital Hunter except for the diopter adjustment. Magnification is accomplished electronically, and the aiming point does not change at all during magnification. The electronic magnification is parallax-free and the exit pupil remains constant, allowing easy target acquisition, even at high power. Elcan claims that resolution does not change significantly from wide field of view to narrow field of view.
Electronic Ballistic Compensation
One of the most useful features of the Digital Hunter is electronic ballistic compensation. Here’s how that works. The scope has a USB port to connect with a computer. Using Elcan-provided PC ballistics software, you input Bullet BC, Muzzle Velocity, and even wind speed and angle. The scope’s processor automatically calculates drift and drop for various distances and then positions the digital aim point for the correct holdover, based on the target distance you select. All the critical calculations are handled automatically. Watch the video below to see how this all works.
Day-Night Digital Hunter
In addition to the standard Elcan Digital Hunter, Elcan offers a version for low-light shooting. The Day/Night Digital Hunter, priced at $1399.00, can be combined with IR (infrared) “flash-lights” to provide full night-hunting capability. Low Light mode displays all the available visible light and the near infrared light (that can be “seen” by the scope’s image sensor, but not by the human eye). Utilizing the near infrared means more light energy is available to the scope for better, brighter imaging. After dark, active night vision enables covert surveillance and varmint hunting (where legal). The effective range of the active night vision depends on the power of the IR Flashlight(s).
Remote Viewing Capability Helps Disabled Shooters
When the Elcan Digital Hunter was first introduced a couple years ago, Outdoors writer Ray Sasser of the Dallas Morning News field-tested it with Ray Mauldin, Elcan Products Manager. Sasser wrote: “There’s a new rifle scope technology on the horizon, a spin-off from military developments made by the Raytheon Company [parent company of Elcan]. The software calculated bullet drop… and the information was stored in a computer chip inside the scope. The only two drawbacks I could find were price and weight. The digital scope weighs 26 ounces, nearly seven ounces heavier than Leupold’s LPS 3.5-14x50mm, my personal favorite traditional scope. Mauldin said physically challenged hunters are particularly excited about the Digital Hunter. It can be used with a video monitoring screen so the rifle can be sighted without your eye to the scope. That’s a huge advantage for a quadriplegic, one-armed or no-armed shooter.”
Digital Enhancements for Target Scopes?
Traditionalists may scoff at digital scope technology, thinking the something like the Elcan’s scope could never be used in a match because it is too big and heavy. But consider this — all you really need on top of the rifle is the lens system with light sensor. All the other controls and the display could be moved off the rifle and built into a benchtop display/control/processing unit. In fact, the control functions and display could even performed by an iPod or smartphone. With the iPod you could select the reticle, input ballistics data (Velocity, Bullet BC, Wind direction), and select the magnification level. (Fitting longer focal-length lenses would allow higher magnification than the Digital Hunters’ 2.5-16.5X.) And with a finger-tap on the screen you can record the entire match you are shooting. When mass-produced, such a unit could be sold for considerably less than the $1199.00 price of the Elcan Digital Hunter, as the iPod does the processing and replaces most of the hardware.