The action camera has changed the way we document our outdoor adventures in recent years and can be secured to everything from safety helmets to chest straps to shotgun barrels to fishing rods.
Not to mention the handle bars on an ATV or the hull of a kayak.
During the 2019 SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show in January, I came across a new digital action camera with capabilities that make the filming of outdoor adventures a 24-hour possibility. It’s called the SiOnyx Aurora.
“Your traditional action camera is a daytime device. You go out in the daytime, you capture some video, you come home. Except that the world doesn’t stop at 5 o’clock when the sun goes down,” said Martin Pralle, vice president of business development for SiOnyx, LLC. “You guys still go out. You’re out on your boat. It gets dark. You still want to be able to capture imagery at those times, and the Aurora lets you do that. The Aurora is a day and night action camera.”
To prove this point, Pralle pointed to a full-color video that was shot in a marina after dark. The images were sharp, and the colors of the boats easily identified. Obviously, the camera was using the marina’s ambient lighting to capture those images, but I was impressed, nonetheless.
The key to the camera’s imaging capability is its large sensor “that allows you to image even in the darkest conditions at moonless, clear starlight,” said Pralle. The camera can capture full-color images because that sensor is digital. Moreover, the camera’s pixels include a color filter “that allows us to reproduce color imagery even at extreme darkness.”
Naturally, the darker the night, the less color the camera can see. Therefore, images captured in the darkest conditions are going to appear black white, but their clarity will surprise you.
To help us understand how the Aurora can capture such quality imagery in low-light conditions, Pralle referred to the ISO number associated with film photography. The number refers to the film’s sensitivity to light. Typical ISO ratings ranged from 100 to 3200 in intervals of 100. The higher the ISO number, the better it functioned in low-light conditions, but only to a point.
The Aurora has an ISO of 820,000.
In addition to capturing digital video and still images, the Aurora also can be used as a night vision optic. What the camera sees is “displayed in real time through the eyepiece. We have an OLED display that allows you to look through it, and then you can use that to navigate. You can use that to see. You can use that to observe wildlife,” said Pralle.
The Aurora sells for about $800, and for $200 more it comes in a kit that includes a Picatinny rail mount and can be used in conjunction with your firearms optics. It also comes with extra batteries, an infrared illuminator and a few other items. The camera has a traditional ¼”-20 tripod thread, which will allow you to use some of the mounting systems currently available for action cameras.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org