Pulsar Core FXQ55 vs Dipol TFA1000

 

Introduction

In this review, we have a totally new type of comparison, something we didn’t do before. We have tested one of the currently most popular thermal clip-on’s on the market, the Pulsar Core FXQ55 against a fairly new competitor, the Dipol TFA1000.

Pulsar is introducing constantly new products to the market already since 2006, but their biggest success was with their new thermal and night vision devices a couple of years ago. In the thermal imaging sector, Pulsar got a big popularity with their hand-held monoculars and later on with the clip-on devices and thermal rifle scopes. These devices are especially so popular because of the attractive price point, and the very good price/performance ratio.

Dipol is also a very well-known company and was established already in the year 1990. They are known especially because of their affordable night vision devices and other optical products, and a couple of years ago, they started to produce also a big variety of thermal imaging products. With their new Dipol TFA 1000, they made a huge step in thermal vision, and are now the nearest competitor to the Pulsar Core.

Size, weight, and additional equipment:

 

A: Dipol TFA 1000

B: Pulsar Core FXQ55

Weight:

580 g

400 g

Length:

165 mm

190 mm

Width:

84 mm

65 mm

Height:

71 mm

60 mm

Objective lens diameter

58 mm

55 mm

Diopter adjustment range:

+/- 4

+/- 5

Energy supply

2x CR123A batteries

2x CR123A batteries

Number of Colors:

1

1

As we can see, the Pulsar core is much lighter in weight than his competitor, even if it is for 25 millimeters longer. In the width and height, whatsoever, the Dipol TFA 1000 is wider and bigger.

The Pulsar comes in a big cardboard box, and inside this box is a nice carrying bag with all the additional equipment. What I really like, is that you get a lot of additional equipment like an eyepiece attachment for observing with an additional magnification of 4.1 times, a carrying strap, a hand strap, batteries, also an external power adapter, USB cable, wireless remote control, a cleaning cloth and a user manual including the warranty card. This is really a lot of equipment for a very low priced thermal device!

The Dipol TFA 1000, on the other hand, comes also in a nice carrying bag, which includes the device with the users manual, and two clip-on mounts for the mounting on a daytime rifle scope. Included is also an eyepiece adapter for observing, which doesn’t have any magnification like the Pulsar for comparison. Personally, I thought that for this extra price more additional equipment is included, but maybe the extra price is just noticeable in the quality. 

When we come to the build quality, I have to say that I like the Dipol much more than the Pulsar, simple because the entire housing is made of a solid metal and also all the small adjustment knobs are made of metal, so it has a real quality design and feeling. Only 2 knobs are made of rubber, which are for saving the adjustments and to invert the picture colors. On the side of the screen, is a big but fine thread for clip-on attachments of various dimensions. Included is also a small ring with a bigger thread, so you can mount also aftermarket clip-on mounts from other manufacturers.

The Pulsar is made of some kind of hard plastic, and on the top are rubberized buttons to make adjustments. Also the parallax ring in the front is made of plastic, what doesn’t has a solid feel. On the side of the screen is a bayonet-style attachment where you can change from the eyepiece to the clip-on mount in just seconds, what is very handy if you have the one device for both – spotting, and later on shooting. What I also didn’t like was the clip-on attachment design, because it is made of 3 pieces, but more of it later.

As you can see, both rifle scopes have the same energy supply with 2x CR123A batteries. So if you would use those devices very often, this would be very expensive. Thankfully both thermal clip-on devices can be supplied with electrical energy also with an external power supply over a cable, for a much longer observation time than with 2 normal CR123A batteries.

TL;DR

The Pulsar Core comes with much additional equipment, what is unbeatable for that price. For comparison, Dipol doesn’t have many things what the Pulsar has despite the higher price. The build quality of the Dipol is on a much higher standard because it is made completely out of metal, even the adjustment knobs on the device. Pulsar, on the other hand, is much lighter in weight, but is made of some kind of hard plastic, what I personally don’t like. Both can be equipped with an outer power supply for a much longer time in use. 

Pulsar Core FXQ55 (on the left) vs Dipol TFA 1000 (on the right)

 

Pulsar Core FXQ55 vs Dipol TFA 1000

 

 

Optical properties:

 

 

A: Dipol TFA 1000

B: Pulsar Core FXQ55

Minimal magnification:

1x

1x

Maximal magnification:

1x

8.2x (with the included eyepiece)

Digital magnification:

No

Yes – 2x

Sensor resolution

384×288

384×288

Spectral response, µm

8-12

7.5 – 13.5

Field of View:

12.2 – 16.2 m / 100 m –

9.8 – 13.1 m / 100 m

Field of View (deg):

9.3° – 7°

5.6° – 7.5°

Eye relief:

 

19 mm (with the included eyepiece)

Diopter adjustment range:

 

+/- 5

Display resolution:

1024×768

640×480

Display type

OLED

AMOLED

Pixel pitch

17µm

17µm

Max range of detection:

1000 m

1800 m

Frame Rate, Hz

50

50

Closest focus distance

 

5 meters

Calibration mode:

Automatic (not noticeable)

Automatic, Manual, Semiautomatic (clicks)

The most important in a thermal device is the combination of a few parts. The sensor resolution and the display resolution are one of the most important ones, but a device wouldn’t be good with a bad software and other features as well.

These two devices are very similar in the internals, the difference is that Dipol has a much wider field of view and a much higher display resolution. Pulsar, on the other hand, can detect warm objects to an incredible distance of 1800 meters, even if they both have the same sensor resolution. The pixel size of the display on both devices is 17µm. What is important to say, is that the Dipol has a shutterless or non-noticeable calibration, so the picture doesn’t freeze at calibration like in the Pulsar.

 

TL;DR

Very similar products with very similar internal specifications. The Dipol, whatsoever, has a much better display than the Pulsar, but both have the same pixel size of 17µm. The Dipol has a wider field of view, and a much better calibration, because it is not noticeable to the user and the picture doesn’t freeze like in the Pulsar. The pulsar can see warm objects up to 1800 meters and Dipol to 1000 meters.

 

Outdoor test:

I have tested both thermal clip-on devices also outdoors in the evening when the sun started to go down. I was looking through a Vortex Viper PST rifle scope with a magnification range; 4-16×50. The test was done on different distances and different magnifications of the daytime rifle scope, to see what both devices are capable of. I was aiming at Fallow Deer that a friend of mine has in a ranch, so thankfully I had the same animals on all distances for best possible results. I was looking at the deer from around 50 meters, 100 meters, 150 meters, and 200 meters. In the beginning, I adjusted the devices for the best possible picture and recognition of the animals, and on every distance, I adjusted the parallax on both devices for a sharp image.

The first photo is for comparison without any device, in the evening when it was still bright enough to see the animals normally. The second photo, whatsoever, is made at 50 meters with both devices, but at such a close distance the camera just didn’t want to focus on the animals, so the images are not as clear like they were in reality. The photos were made at 4 times magnification because at such a distance this is more than enough for a detailed view and also a perfect shot placement. On 50 meters, it is really easy to see even the smallest details on the deer with both devices.

Fallow deer at 50 meters with 4x magnification through a Vortex Viper PST 4-16×50

Fallow deer at 50 meters through the Dipol DFA 1000 (Black Hot)

Fallow deer at 50 meters through the Pulsar Core FXQ 55 (White Hot)

At 100 meters, I have to say that the picture clarity is still very good on both devices, but small details are not any more noticeable like on 50 meters. Luckily the antlers of the male fallow deer were still growing, so they were covered with vascular skin and that’s why you can see them now with the thermal. If the antlers wouldn’t be covered with skin, we were not anymore able to see them because they would be cold like the other environment.  What I noticed on 100 meters was the difference of background details like the grass and small bushes, that was barely noticeable through the Dipol. Here the Pulsar definitely scored better, but somehow the details of the fallow deer were still better on the Dipol. Unfortunately, this is not possible to see in the photos and videos I’ve made because the camera worsens the quality. What is also a need to mention, is that disturbing calibration in the Pulsar. The picture freezes every time then when you need it the most, so it is really annoying and disturbing. And also the click sound of the calibration is not really great, because if you are near some animals, I am sure they can hear this sound and can run away.   

At longer distances, at 150 and 200 meters, the Pulsar starts more and more to stay behind the Dipol in terms of optical clarity and details recognition, especially if you go with the magnification up, to see more details and to be more precise for the perfect shot placement. With the Dipol, you can easily go with the magnification up to 8 times and still have a nice and pretty crisp image. Even after 8x magnification, you can see the animals nicely, but with further zooming, it starts with zooming in the pixels, so the image gets worse. So 8x magnification is still usable, everything further, I wouldn’t recommend. 

 

As I said, the Pulsar wasn’t soo good at longer distances, and I think this is because of the smaller display. For such distances, it is much more comfortable to use bigger magnifications, but with the Pulsar you very quickly start to zoom in the pixels, so the image gets worse every time you crank the magnification up. In the video, you can see that I had the magnification at 8 times, and the pixels are very noticeable. With such a picture it is still possible to make a correct shot placement, but it is far from optimal conditions. Also on the big distance, you can see that the environment is still better noticeable with the Pulsar, what is also sometimes important because you can see if there is some small obstacle in the way between you and the animal you are aiming at. 

 

TL;DR

At short distances, the devices are very similar, and both give great target recognition. The Pulsar, whatsoever, shows better details also on the surroundings like grass and bushes. Dipol, on the other hand, scores at longer ranges, because even if you zoom the daytime rifle scope in, it doesn’t show pixels as quickly as Pulsar.

 

Handling

Like previously mentioned, the Pulsar is made from some kind of a hard plastic, what does not have a very quality feeling. The buttons are made of rubber, so when you use the device, it is very hard to know which button you have to push for each setting. The parallax adjustment is also made of plastic, but it is very nice and precisely adjustable. What I didn’t like, compared to Dipol, are those adjustment buttons on the top of the device, because you can easily push the wrong button, especially at night when you don’t see them. If you wear gloves, it is even worse, because the buttons don’t stand out and are flat with the housing. The bayonet-style eyepiece and clip-on adapter are very useful because you don’t need to unscrew some long threads to change it from a spotting device to a clip-on device. But this bayonet style has also some disadvantage because it is not as fix when you mount it on a daytime rifle scope as the Dipol is. If you look very carefully, even when you push the buttons on top, you can see how the device moves in the direction to the barrel. So actually you don’t need much force to move it. Another question is, if you sit on a raised hide and you spot an animal, if you have then the time to change the eyepiece with the mounting, so that the animals won’t hear the click sound from this bayonet mounting?

The Dipol has surprised me because of the build quality and the easiness of usage. The housing is, like I mentioned, completely out of metal, and only two buttons on the device are made out of rubber. Other two rotatable buttons are also made of metal, and you can adjust every setting with the buttons that are outside the housing, so you don’t need to go in some menu in the display that is complicating to adjust. One of those two is the on-off switch, which is nice and big, so perfect even if you wear gloves. The parallax is located in front of the device, directly behind the objective on the upper side. It is made like a rotatable button with light and quiet clicks, and interestingly, the parallax I have adjusted on 50 meters was perfectly also until 200 meters. What i like about this device, is that with an additional adapter, you can mount every aftermarket clip-on mount directly on the device, because of the standard thread many other manufacturers are using. With this kind of mounting, the combination with the daytime rifle scope is completely fixed and stiff, so you won’t see any movement when you adjust something in the menu of the thermal device. A small disadvantage, whatsoever, is the weight of the device, because you instantly notice it when you have both devices in the hand at once.  

 

Pulsar Core FXQ55 mounted on a Premier Reticles 5-25×56 rifle scope

 

Dipol TFA 1000 mounted on a Premier Reticles 5-25×56 rifle scope

 

 

TL;DR

Handling the Pulsar Core is easy when everything is adjusted, but if you want to make some changes when the device is mounted on the weapon, it gets a little bit more difficult, because the interface is a little bit more complicated to adjust than on the Dipol. Because the buttons are flat with the housing, it is almost not possible to adjust something when you wear gloves. On the Dipol, the buttons are very easy to operate and everything is made of metal so it can’t be easily damaged. The mounting solution of the Pulsar has a nice design, but it isn’t as fixed as on the Dipol. You can even see the movement when mounted on the weapon when you push some buttons on the top of the device.

 

 

General properties:

 

A: Dipol TFA 1000

B: Pulsar Core FXQ55

Made in:

Belarus

Europe, China, CIS

Introduced in:

2018

2017

Available original accessories:

Yes

Yes

Warranty period:

1 year

3 years

MRSP Price:

4899€

3850€ 

Dipol TFA 1000 is made in Belarus in their own facility, and for Pulsar it is not exactly known, only that they produce in Europe, China, and CIS. For both manufacturers, these are their first thermal clip-on devices. The Pulsar Core FXQ55 was introduced already in 2017 on Shot Show in Las Vegas and in the same year also in Europe, on IWA Outdoors Classic in Nürnberg. For both devices are available additional accessories, but Dipol can’t beat the big range of original accessories that Pulsar offers. For the Dipol you can get just an eyepiece for observing, but for the Pulsar you can get almost everything you want. This is already noticeable when you open the box, where Dipol comes only with the device and two clip-on attachments, but Pulsar with many other things as well. 

What is very interesting for me is that Pulsar offers a longer warranty period than Dipol, even that Dipol is made of more durable materials. So Dipol offers only 1-year warranty and Pulsar 3, what is for me personally a big difference, and this tells for me that Pulsar is very sure that their products are made well and won’t break after many usages. The price difference is also pretty big with even a little bit over 1000 Euros, so also here Pulsar scores big. 

 

Conclusion

Both devices are very similar in the internals but quite different from the outside. For the durability and easiness of use, the Dipol is definitely the better device, because everything is made with normal or rotatable buttons, which makes the use of the device drastically easier. When you buy those devices, you get much more additional equipment with the Pulsar. At dipol, many of that additional equipment isn’t even available.

Optically on the short range, both devices have a very similar target recognition, but with the Pulsar you see also more details of the surroundings, which are not as warm like the animals itself. As I increased the distance from the animals, the Dipol was constantly better than the Pulsar, especially on 200 meters the difference was quite big when you crank the magnification up. But, the surroundings were still better noticeable with the Pulsar. Dipol, thanks for the bigger display, can be used with more magnification, but also the maximum of 8 times.

All in all, I think that Dipol is much better made and can withstand more torture than the Pulsar. The Pulsar, on the other hand, has a quite similar optical performance for more than 1000 Euros less and comes with much more equipment than the Dipol. 

 

Disclaimer

We would like to thank Optics-Trade for letting us use and test the above-mentioned products. We also thank them for letting us use their videos.

This featured test is impartial and we always try our best not to prejudice and favor one product over the other. Our team of enthusiasts who tests these products and writes these articles is doing it from dedication, as rifle scopes are our big passion. We also feel a great amount of joy and satisfaction when we know that we have contributed and shared with you our experiences. We try not to be biased and try to be as accurate as possible when interpreting our sightings. We will do our best to described things as they really are.

 

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