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Home » Thermal Imaging » Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars Review | Optics Trade Reviews

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars Review | Optics Trade Reviews

If you're in the market for thermal imaging binoculars, the Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 should be at the top of your list. This device offers excellent value for the price, with features that rival more expensive models.

Interested in this thermal LRF bino?

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars

Pulsar Optics

Pulsar is a market leader in thermal imaging, at least in Europe. They're based in Lithuania. Pulsar was one of the first companies to enter the market of thermal optics for civilian use. The main customer base are hunters, even though Pulsar devices can be used also for security, search and rescue, and many other applications.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 | IWA 2022 Report by Optics Trade

This particular device was presented at IWA OutdoorClassics 2022. Like always, optics Trade was on the scene for the grand unveil. Check our IWA report about this product. (Watch out for a tiny mistake in the clip, when Teodor and Andraž talk about Merger's resoution!)

NEW Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 | IWA 2022 Report by Optics Trade

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 vs. Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro

How does Merger compare to Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro Thermal Imaging Binocular? The Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is the successor to Accolade, which was a very successful thermal binocular. They have identical functions, but the Merger has been improved in many ways. The first big difference is the lens aperture. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 has a 50-millimeter lens with a fast aperture of 1.0. To compare, Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro has the same lens diameter but the aperture speed is F 1.2.

Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

The second upgrade pertains to the form factor. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 has magnesium housing while Accolade is made from plastic. That is not to say that Accolade wasn't an incredibly rugged and durable device. But there's no denying that magnesium alloy is one step further. The Merger is bigger and heavier than Accolade but the numerous improvements well justify the added bulk. 

The display is much bigger on the new Merger than it was on the previous model.  Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro display had a screen resolution of 640x480 pixels. Merger has a much bigger 102x768px AMOLED display, giving the viewing experience a rather luxurious feel.

Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

What was also improved is the battery. Not only does Merger use smaller batteries than Accolade, the slim APS3 battery now lasts longer than the blocky IPS7. Pulsar APS 3 will have you covered for about 10 hours. Let's remember that the standard  IPS battery pack lasted for 7 hours of uninterrupted use. In addition to the regular, removable APS3 pack, Merger has an internal battery that allows hot swap. A hot swap battery is a power source that can be swapped out without interrupting the normal operation of a device.

There are also some additional tweaks like the motion detection sensor. The device automatically slips into sleep mode when there is no movement detected. But more on the Merger LRF proximity sensor later.

Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Accolade 2 LRF XP50 Pro vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

Physical Properties

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 has IPX7-rated waterproofing, so it can be submerged in one meter of water depth for 30 minutes. The working temperature range is from -20 to +40° Celsius.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is roughly 20 centimeters long and roughly 14 centimeters wide, and 7 centimeters tall. The weight is 800 grams. Underneath the unit, you'll find a threaded screw as this bino is tripod-adaptable. The plastic tripod adapter is supplied in the box with the product.

  • Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Tripod Adapter
  • Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Underside View

The start-up time of Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is around five seconds. We highly recommend that you check our real startup time video.

There's no LED light or power indicator on the device like there is on the Axion monoculars, so you can't tell if it's powered on at a glance. However, you can hear the automatic calibration clicking, so it's not a total design flaw--we've just become accustomed to having that LED indicator. It's handy.

What is a big improvement is that Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 looks and feels like conventional binoculars. So even though Merger is bigger than the Accolade, it's less alien looking than the previous device.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

LRF - Laser Range Finder

There's a laser rangefinding system built into the left barrel of the bino. The LRF works up to 1000 meters. There is not a lot of competition at the moment that can compare to such a long LRF measuring range. You can measure it closely and the accuracy is +/- 1 m up to 300 meters.

Now you also have a dedicated button for the laser rangefinding, and that's good. The buttons operation makes Merger economically even better than other Pulsar devices.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Control Buttons
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Control Buttons

Button Operation

On top of the device, you'll find the blue ON/OFF button that also works the image calibration, a REC button for taking photos or videos, and an indented LRF button. On the other side of the bridge, there are soft-touch UP and DOWN buttons with +/- marks and the indented MENU button.

The MENU button shows both the quick and the advanced menus. Like with all Pulsar devices, a short press of the menu button gives you the basic menu where you can set contrast, brightness, and similar stuff. With a long press, you enter the advanced menu where you can finetune the device operation to your preferences.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars

Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor detects when you're using the device and when you move your eyes from the oculars or put the binoculars down. After a second, the device deactivates but not entirely. The AMOLED display is turned off so it preserves energy.

When you put Pulsar Merger close to your eyes, the screen immediately powers back on. The transition from sleep mode and activation is seamless. This is where most manufacturers need to improve. We were skeptical about the proximity sensor on Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 but it's really good. Pulsar doesn't have to tweak this feature in the future because it's already polished.

Want extra APS3 batteries?

Pulsar Battery Pack APS 3

APS3 Battery

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 uses an removable APS3 battery pack. The battery run time is around 10 hours. Batteries are affordable. We do recommend you buy a couple of them. You're getting an APS3 charger with 2 charging docks for APS3 batteries in the product box. (For more on the packaging contents, scroll down to the Scope of Delivery section.)

The USB Type-C port is hidden under the bridge. The user can connect the device to a computer or a power bank. Of course, thanks to the chargeable APS3 battery and the long battery life (10 hours), you will hardly ever need them.

Battery Accessories in the Box:

  1. Pulsar APS3 battery pack
  2. APS battery cap
  3. APS battery charger
  4. power adapter
  5. USB Type-C cable with USB Type-A adapter
  6. USB Type-С - Micro USB Type-B cable
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - APS3 Battery and Accessories
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - APS3 Battery and Accessories

Optical Performance

Thermal binoculars use thermal imaging to detect heat signatures, which makes them perfect for hunting, tracking game, and security purposes. That's all good in theory but many thermal imagers on the civilian market don't justify the price. Not with Pulsar devices. The optical performance of Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is just incredible. 

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Sensor

The sensor stayed the same as it was in the Accolade PRO models or it's close. Pulsar often upgrades software algorithms with little fanfare. So you can get vastly better image just thanks to firmware of software upgrade. The sensor resolution is 640x480 pixels behind the 50-millimeter germanium lens with a fast aperture of 1.0. The sensor has 1800 meters of detection with good detail recognition.

The pixel pitch on this is 17 microns, so it's a little bit bigger than the coveted 12-micron pitch. The refresh rate of this Lynred sensor is 50HZ, the most that the law will allow for the hunting optics. This is a highly sensitive sensor - the NETD factor is only 25mK. It means that the temperature difference between two dots can be only 25 millikelvins, and the device will show them separately

You get great resolution and great details recognition. The sensor has 3 different calibration modes (automatic, semiautomatic, manual), even though most people just use the automatic.  

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Rubber Wingcups
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Rubber Wingcups

Magnification

The base magnification is 2.5x. It goes all the way to up to 20x. The maximum field of view shows 216 meters at 1000 meters. This is a wide field of view. 

Eyepiece Design and Diopter

The interpupillary distance can be adjusted behind the oculars. It's between 56 and 71 millimeters. The eyepiece design is eyewear-friendly. You'll have no problem using Merger with glasses. 

You can set the diopter compensation on each of your eyes. The diopter range is -5.0/+5.0 diopter points. It's easy to get a perfect image. 

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Objective Focus
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Objective Focus

Close Focus

The close focus can be adjusted with a rotating wheel on the front lens. Let's remind yourselves that Accolade models had a rotating button between the eyepieces like most conventional optics. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 solution of focus adjustment is both easier for Pulsar to manufacture and the hunter to use. The close focus goes down to 3 meters. 

Display

The AMOLED screen behind the lens has a high resolution of 1024x768 pixels. Compare that to Accolade which only enabled 640x480px image resolution. Both devices have 8 display color palettes.

Image Amplification Modes

Now, what's new with Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is that there are amplification modes. How much is the image improved?

In the past manufacturers like Infiray would push the image contrast to maximum values. This gave the user a great first impression. You could immediately see the animals, brighter than anything else. But when you used the device for a couple of minutes, you could see that the details are not that good. With Pulsar Accolade, the details were preserved but the animals didn't pop out as much from the background. 

Now Pulsar combined the best of both worlds. Users can select between 3 amplification modes - Normal, High, and Ultra. With the ultra image amplification, the image details are just incredible but the setting is harsh on the eyes. For a prolonged period of viewing, it's best to go with the medium amplification. You can also turn on the Image Boost filter which improves the image's smoothness.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - F1.0 Fast Aperture, 50mm Lens
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - F1.0 Fast Aperture, 50mm Lens

Stream Vision 2

The Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 comes equipped with WiFi connectivity so that you can easily connect to it and control it remotely using the Stream Vision 2 mobile app. The mobile app works great and has been improved, resulting in a more intuitive workflow and a more stable connection.

There's also an internal memory of 16 gigabytes. You're able to take a lot of videos and photos, which the majority of users will do. The video quality is just amazing with the resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

Pros

By 2022, the thermal vision devices progressed to where we all wanted them to be when this technology first became available for personal use.

The Accolade was a device with great optical prowess but we missed the build quality and the design of super-ergonomic Axions and similar devices. Merger ticked off all the boxes. It has magnesium housing, IPX7 waterproofing, and a great form factor. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is shaped like conventional binos, eliminating hand fatigue even when holding the binos for a prolonged time. The 6 control buttons are nicely spaced out and easy to use without lifting your eye from the oculars. 

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

APS 3 batteries have been designed to be small and efficient. Pulsar has placed a lot of emphasis on algorithms and other work so that now the battery consumption is very low. Even with the internal battery, you can use this device for 10 hours without issue. The hot swap battery is just a bonus.

We like that Pulsar moved the focusing system. Positioning of eyepieces and the focusing wheel on Accolade was also good, but the functioning was not that great. Especially when you compare Accolade to premium, top-class classical optical binoculars. Merger is much more effortless. In addition to that, we also like that LRF function and thermal vision are incorporated into a single device. 

€4690 is not a small amount of money. But in the world of thermal sports optics, this is a great price point. What you are getting is the whole package. Consider that this is the same price as the Pulsar Accolade but is improved in all aspects. It has magnesium housing, a better screen, reduced battery consumption, a bigger and better quality better lens and so much more.

Pros Summary:

  • great build quality
  • ergonomic design
  • 10hr runtime
  • made in Europe

Cons

The LRF function could offer more. There is no equivalent horizontal range (EHR measurement) in this device. There's no ballistic software. This device would be perfect if it would contain also ballistic software.

Not only that, we also think that for the LRF function the range could be a little bit better. 1000 meters is good, but let's look at Leica Geovid models, which go to 2000 and more without a problem. 

Cons Summary:

  • Pulsar is always low in stock
  • basic LRF function
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Scope of Delivery
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Scope of Delivery

Scope of Delivery

In the product box, you get plenty of accessories. You're getting an APS3 charger with 2 charging docks for APS3 batteries. Next, there's a plastic tripod adapter. You get a charger adapter and USB cable. Nice carrying bag with a long neck strap. Inside the soft carrying case, you'll find a blue Pulsar lens cleaning cloth. The quick start guide is written in 6 languages. Finally, theres also the Merger warranty card and Stream Vision 2 booklet.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Price

This all comes in the box for €4690. Note that the Merger costs the same as Accolade models did previously. So for the same price as the Accolade before. What is more, when you look at all other thermal binoculars, Pulsar undercut the competition with the Merger price. Compared to rival optics, Merger over-delivers with incredible image quality, magnesium housing, and more.  

Pulsar Warranty

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 comes with a 3-year warranty. This is a device made in European Union. Based on previous experience, we're confident that Pulsar will service it for a much longer period, than just for 3 years in warranty.

Pulsar service for old devices like Challenger GS or Pulsar Quantum, which are now almost 10 years old, is still splendid. Nobody can come near Pulsar customer care in the segment of thermal vision, especially not the Chinese manufacturers.  

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 is made in Lithuania.

See the VIDEO Review of Pulsar MERGER XP50 LRF!

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 and Similar Optics

The Merger is a great value for the price when compared to other thermal binoculars with a laser rangefinder. It offers improved image quality, magnesium housing, and more compared to other optics in its price range. Additionally, Pulsar offers a 3-year warranty with their products that are entirely manufactured in Europe, which is cannot be said for most competitor optics. Nonetheless, let's see what else is on the market.

Guide TN650 LRF Thermal Binocular vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 

At the moment, the only real competition is the Guide TN series of thermal binos with LRF function. They have 4 models: Guide TN430, Guide TN530, Guide TN630, and Guide TN650. So users get the advantage of choosing between different sensor capabilities and lens sizes. Guide TN form factor is also good. But those thermal binoculars are made out of plastic. The manufacturer is located in China.

The image quality is also not on the Merger level. Even the top model, Guide TN650 with 640x480 VOx uncooled sensor and F1.2 50-millimeter lens doesn't compare optically. This is large because Guide thermal binoculars have NETD sensitivity of 50mK compared to Merger with 25 mK. 

The price of Guide TN models starts at €3099 (TN 430 with 400x300px sensor and 35mm lens) and goes all the way up to €5499 (TN650). Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 gives you much more in all aspects.

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Comfortable Neck Strap
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 - Comfortable Neck Strap

ATN BinoX 4T 640 1-10x vs. Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 

ATN BinoX 4T Thermal Imaging LRF has a good form factor. Unfortunately, the build quality is severely lacking, The optical performance of ATN is no match for Pulsar Merger LRF XP50, not even close.

There are 6 models in the series, 3 with 640x480 sensor resolution. The most affordable of those is ATN BinoX 4T 640 1-10x which costs €4299.

Dipol TG1R Thermal Binoculars vs. Pulsar Merger XP50 LRF

Dipol is unlikely to compete with Pulsar Merger. While the Belarussian company offers 2 thermal binoculars with an LRF function. Dipol TG1R F75 and F50 thermal imaging LRF binoculars look like military devices. They also cost €5399 and €5799, respectively. The old-fashioned build and limited sensor capabilities are major downgrades.

There are some other companies like the Canadian GSCI, AGM or Hikmicro with their Hikmicro Thermal Binoculars 50W but don't stand a chance against Pulsar. This is because they're far more expensive but don't offer better image quality.  Again, Pulsar Merger is a European product made in Lithuania. It's going to be easier to service than the rest if anything goes wrong.

Final Thoughts on Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

All in all, if you can afford Pulsar Merger LRF XP50, don't hesitate. This is should now be the go-to device for hunting and outdoor activities in the segment of thermal binoculars. It undoubtedly offers the highest level of optical performance on the civilian market.

Interested in these LRF thermal binoculars?

Pulsar Merger LRF XP50

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Pulsar Merger XP50 LRF Photos

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50 Thermal Imaging Binoculars
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star
Product Name
Pulsar Merger LRF XP50
Price
EUR 4690
Product Availability
Available in Stock

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