Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular Review: Do Positives Outweigh Negatives?

Bushnell Equinox Z night vision monocular
Bushnell Equinox Z night vision monocular

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The Bushnell Equinox Z line of night vision monoculars includes 3 different sizes of instruments. There’s probably one here for your needs.

If you already know which one you want, click the corresponding link just below.

If you would rather read more before possibly making a purchase, just scroll and peruse. You can also click a link in the box to jump to a section of particular interest.

Let’s take a look at what Bushnell has to offer in these models.

What Are the Specifications of Each Equinox Z Monocular?

You identify each Bushnell monocular by its magnification and objective lens size. The models are the 6×50, the 4.5×40, and the 3×30.

Let’s start with the largest monocular are work our way down from there. All 3 models have several features in common, so I’ll cover the different specifications first.

6×50

Here is the short list of specs for each model.

  • Viewing Range: 984 feet / 300 meters
  • Field of View: 20 feet at 100 yards / 6m at 100m
  • Weight: 27 ounces / 765 grams
  • Size: 7.85 x 3.9 x 2.5 inches / 191 x 98 x 64 millimeters

4.5×40

  • Viewing Range: 738 feet / 225 meters
  • Field of View: 28 feet at 100 yards / 8m at 100m
  • Weight: 22 ounces / 623 grams
  • Size: 6.5 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches / 164 x 98 x 62 millimeters

3×30

  • Viewing Range: 656 feet / 200 meters
  • Field of View: 30 feet at 100 yards / 9m at 100m
  • Weight: 15 ounces / 425 grams
  • Size: 6.5 x 3.2 x 2.1 inches / 164 x 82 x 53 millimeters

What’s a little confusing about the viewing range is that Bushnell reports two different distances for each model on its website.

For the 6×50, they say both 984 feet and 1000 feet. For the 4,5×40, they say 738 feet and 750 feet. For the 3×30, they show both 656 feet and 500 feet.

I would say that the 1000, 750, and 500 figures are roundings of the other numbers, but that doesn’t seem to hold for the smallest model. If I had to pick one of the two numbers, I’d take the one that looks more specific. In other words, the 984, 738, and 656.

As you would expect, as the size of the objective lens changes from 60 to 40 to 30, all of the other specs are going to change accordingly.

The most significant of these is probably the field of view (FOV). As the monocular becomes less powerful, the FOV increases from 20 feet to 28 feet to 30 feet at 100 yards.

If you have looked at other optical equipment, those numbers might seem really small at first. But you have to remember that something like binoculars normally takes this measurement at 1000 yards, not just 100. Now you can see why there is such a difference.

One other difference that’s really a feature, as opposed to a specification, is that the two largest models let you capture images (that is, take pictures) and record video and audio (that is, make short movies). The 3×30 model doesn’t let you do either of these things.

The specs that are the same across all three models are that they each require 4 AA (alkaline or lithium) batteries, have a tripod mount, and an infrared (IR) illuminator.

The good thing about the AA batteries is that you don’t have to hunt for some strange sizes. The bad thing is that you can quickly run through lots of power cells. But more on that later.

There may not be many occasions for you to use your monocular on a tripod. After all, it doesn’t weigh very much (no matter which model you choose), and you’re probably not going to be holding it aloft for very long at a stretch. Still, you may have cause to mount it on a tripod, so it’s good to know that the ability is there.

Having an IR illuminator almost goes without saying. You will find many times that there just isn’t enough ambient light at night to spot your target. You will need to “light it up” with infrared light “shining” out from your Bushnell monocular.

What Features Are Common throughout the Equinox Z Line?

These Bushnell monoculars aren’t just for night vision. They work equally well during the daytime and give you full color pictures and video when doing so. You could probably find uses for it much like those you would have for a pair of binoculars. The obvious differences would be that there is only one tube and the monocular isn’t as powerful.

Speaking of power, in addition to the real, optical 3x to 6x magnification built into these monoculars, you also get up to a 3x digital zoom on top of that. I wouldn’t expect that your target would look as clear at 3x, but it may give you just the picture you need for identification.

Part of the reason you see such clear pictures is that the objective lens is made of glass, not plastic as many other monoculars use.

You can adjust the brightness of the infrared beam. There are times when all you need is a little more light, and there are times when you need the maximum available to see anything in the dark. If the object you’re watching is fairly close, you can turn down the IR so you don’t “wash out” the picture.

Bushnell assumes that some owners will attach the Equinox Z to a rifle because they tell you that it has been recoil tested to 350 g’s. You will have to decide if this will work on a given rifle, based on the specs of that gun. If it can produce more that 350 g’s, you shouldn’t attach it using the Picatinny rail mount that it comes with, because the force will eventually shake it apart.

You might find other uses for the Picatinny rail besides attaching it to a rifle. If you are using the Equinox Z for surveillance, you might need even more light than the onboard IR can provide. You can attach an additional light module or other accessory via the rail.

I could suggest that you could use the rail to help steady the device, but I think that would be more the task of the tripod mounting socket that you also get.

All of these monoculars have video out ports so you can display your movies on a larger screen. You can select NTSC or PAL format which will depend on the device at the other end.

All models come with a carrying case, tethered objective lens cap, and wrist strap. Keeping your device clean and safe will make it last longer.

How Does Bushnell Digital Night Vision Work?

Let me quote Bushnell to answer this question.

“Bushnell Digital Night Vision products collect existing light through the objective lens. The image is then processed through a digital CMOS sensor module and transferred to the micro liquid crystal display (LCD).”

Think of the “digital CMOS sensor module” as a computer. It does all the work behind (actually, inside) the scene so you can just point and shoot.

Take a look at the video below of a coyote and deer to see how this plays out in actual use.

Get the Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monocular at Amazon.

What Are the Negatives Related To the Equinox Z Monoculars?

One reviewer has found several negative items to point out about the Equinox Z but notes that these are all relatively minor items.

“On/Off switch too close to other buttons. It required 2 seconds to turn off, but that is how long it takes to realize you pushed the wrong button.”

The solution to this problem is knowing your equipment better. Learn where the buttons are so that you won’t hit the wrong one.

“Eyepiece only adjustable for people with perfect or nearsighted vision. Farsighted people will have to wear glasses/contacts. This is an ‘oversight’ by the designers.”

I couldn’t find the eye relief distance for the monoculars, but there must be at least a little. If you combine that with the adjustability of the eyepiece, this should only be a problem for a very few users.

“Does not fit well into included vinyl zip case when the oculars are adjusted for most people (distance focused and no Rx compensation). I have to turn the ocular/back lens completely into the scope (3 complete rotations) each time to fit it back into the case.”

This is a fair criticism, but a minor one as noted.

“If you use a tripod mounting plate, the TV/Video out cable and the photo/video switch may not be accessible due to it’s location near the tripod mount.”

If you use a plate that covers these items, then you may have a problem, it is true. If that is a deal breaker for you, then look for a different model.

“Unlike a real camera, there is no feature to review photos/video saved on the micro-sd card. You will need another device to see the 640×480 jpg files, usually around 200-300 kb in size.”

True again, but this isn’t a camera, so I wouldn’t expect to be able to see my pictures on the device itself.

“Battery cover is spring loaded, somewhat awkward to screw on.”

Once more, this is a very minor point.

Are There Any Surprises with the Equinox Z?

Happily, there is one pleasant surprise that at least one owner has discovered.

There is a battery auto-off feature that should help conserve your battery life, but if even this isn’t enough for you, consider trying something like this.

“Huge undocumented feature! I was eating through batteries and then discovered that it can be powered via the mini-USB port. I attached a Limefuel Blast L60X for $30 and it lasts for hours and hours at the highest settings. Any USB charger should work. Connect the charger to AC and you can run this all night without having to worry about batteries.”

What Is the Verdict on the Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monoculars?

Despite the few negatives that I specifically looked for and mentioned above, all three of these night vision monoculars, especially the two larger models, are excellent choices when you need this type of device.

If anything here turns you off to them though, check out this article about other night vision optics to see if something else turns you on.

Don’t wait! See the pricing and availability of Bushnell Equinox Z Night Vision Monoculars at Amazon today!


3 thoughts on “Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular Review: Do Positives Outweigh Negatives?”

  1. Thanks for the input regarding attaching a power pack.
    I noted some folk either mentioning or showing on media this idea.
    Hopefully this will not damage the unit.
    As I have just bought the Equinox 6×50 from Amazon here in the UK
    ihave also bought some rechargable 3000 mAh AA batteries but may well get a PowerPack .
    Thanks
    Graham

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