Sionyx Aurora Black NV action cam - test & review

PUBLISHED: 14:32 19 August 2020

Solid construct and features plus superb night time performance without any additional lighting - hand held or on the gun it's ideal

Solid construct and features plus superb night time performance without any additional lighting - hand held or on the gun it's ideal

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Do you want to film your night time hunting escapades? The Sionyx Aurora Black night vision action camera should do the job!

The perfect companion for a red dot shooter who want to see in the dark and record their adventuresThe perfect companion for a red dot shooter who want to see in the dark and record their adventures

BRIEF OVERVIEW - SiOnyx Aurora Black night vision action camera

PROS: Truly impressive performance after dark; Tough, compact and adaptable

CONS: Daytime image quality doesn’t match its abilities after dark

VERDICT: The SiOnyx really is an excellent and unique piece of kit. It’s definitely an action cam rather than a broadcast tool but the night time performance really is exceptional. The emphasis has clearly been on optimising its night time performance, perhaps at the expense of day time image quality. Having said that, there’s nothing to touch it after dark in terms of price, performance and flexibility.

[Alternate image for SiOnyx RedDot1.jpg][Alternate image for SiOnyx RedDot1.jpg]

IN DEPTH TEST & REVIEW - SiOnyx Aurora Black night vision action camera

Action cameras are nothing new, but the SiOnyx Aurora has a very unique trick up its sleeve. The big USP on the packaging, so it says, is that it is: “the world’s first full colour night vision action camera”. You may think that’s impossible and, to be honest, in a way it is. The camera actually interpolates colour based on the very limited amount of light reaching the sensor.

The end result is more of an image processed remake of a mono image. To be fair, it does a very good job of it, with a quarter moon being more than enough to pull off the effect. It isn’t what you’d call 100% accurate, with green tones often taking on a distinct purple tinge. False colour it may be, but it’s definitely colour.

For me, the full-colour night vision claim is more about marketing than anything else, providing a nice tag line for a product entering into an already crowded market. The real appeal of the SiOnyx is it’s a dedicated night vision performance, that can still pull double duty during the day.

For would-be YouTubers (or ‘influencers’ as they say on social media), it’s got some real appeal. The camera is essentially a digital version of an old-school analogue image intensifier, but as it’s digital there’s no risk of damaging the unit in daylight conditions.

One of the toughest assignments for any photographer/videographer is nighttime shooting. With traditional gear, it’s more or less impossible, without humping around a mountain of additional lights. The SiOnyx’s doesn’t need any additional lighting, as long as there’s a hint of ambient light in the scene, which can usually be provided by the moon – or pretty much any light source will do the job, street lights, the light spill from urban developments and interestingly from a shooter’s perspective, IR light can also provide the illumination if you really need to flood a scene.

The complete set-up for day and night on-gun videography, with an additional IR/red torch alongside for shooting and extra illumination if it's neededThe complete set-up for day and night on-gun videography, with an additional IR/red torch alongside for shooting and extra illumination if it's needed

With only 1280x720 video output, it isn’t exactly broadcast quality but for an action cam it’s fine. If you’re serious about nighttime photography/videography, a Sony A7S Mk II with an IR conversion will often be the pro’s choice but that’s not what the SiOnyx is about. It’s essentially a nighttime GoPro. For day shooting, the footage from a GoPro is superior but at a night the SiOnyx is in a different league.

It’s so good, in fact, that you could definitely use it as a night vision spotter when you’re not actually filming. A two-hour runtime sounds limiting, but I had no problems over several outings, and its USB charging port means a powerbank could always inject some additional runtime if required.

The unit actually offers three shooting modes for both stills and video: day, twilight and night mode. As a daytime camera, you’d probably be better off using your smartphone, but twilight shooting provides a very usable full-colour image that no phone could match.

It’s the night modes where it really comes into its own. There’s the full-colour night mode, which is fine but perhaps not quite as sexy as it sounds, a green mode and by far my favourite the standard black and white NV mode, which really does produce excellent results with ambient light alone. Remember all the pics shown have no additional lighting, other than the IR from the rifles.

[Alternate image for SiOnyxScopeMount1.jpg][Alternate image for SiOnyxScopeMount1.jpg]

Shooter’s perspective

For a shooter looking to document his/her nocturnal adventures, there’s nothing even remotely close in terms of flexibility and performance at this price point. You can use it hand held or tripod-mounted to do your ‘little piece to camera’ or you can mount it on the gun ready to document the action. It can even be mounted upside down courtesy of an interface-flipping function.

It may also appeal to the black rifle boys, as it can also be mounted in front of a red dot optic via the optional Picatinny mount, providing a close-range night vision shooting solution. The manufacturers recommend no more than a .223/Nato 5.56 – given the very limited eye relief I can fully understand why.

A fairly ordinary pic but this was taken lang past past legal light in the camera's Twilight modeA fairly ordinary pic but this was taken lang past past legal light in the camera's Twilight mode

Basic Specs

Build quality is good; it’s IP67-rated, so won’t wind getting wet. All the traditional handy cam features are included with image stabilization, HDR, focus peaking, timelapse, composition grids and all the other photo/videographic essentials you’d expect. In terms of overall nighttime performance, I’d say it equates to a traditional Gen 2 device but at half the price, while offering a lot more flexibility.

The camera features a 1” CMOS chip but only at 720p resolution, a design choice that actually aids night shooting performance – big pixels perform better in low light. Up to 32GB can be stored via a Micro-SD, but that’s plenty considering the relatively small file sizes of both stills and video. Connectivity is well taken care of via a well-implemented app for both iOS and Android which allows you to transfer all your files from the camera and well as control it remotely via a live stream.

A quater moon is more than enough to get reasonable image quality form th SiOnnyxA quater moon is more than enough to get reasonable image quality form th SiOnnyx

TECH SPECS

Sensor: 1” CMOS 1280 x 720 sensor

Display: Colour or Monochrome

Lens: 16mm f/1.4 Night, F/2.0 Twilight and F5.6 Day selectable

Battery: SX-50 Lithium-Ion

Video: 720P HD

FPS: 7.5, 15, 24, 30, 60

Shutter Speeds: 1.5 sec to 1/8000sec

Simon on ther gun once more getting ready for the red menace. As you can see the SiOnynxcan clearly see IR lightSimon on ther gun once more getting ready for the red menace. As you can see the SiOnynxcan clearly see IR light

IMU: GPS, Accelerator, Compass

Connectivity: Wifi & USB 2.0

Storage: Micro SD 4-32GB (not included)

Viewdinder: Micro OLED display

Water Resistance: IP67

Power Supply: Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery

App Compatibility: iOS & Android

Supplier: Thomas Jacks

RRP: £699.95

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