SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision Camera Review, by Noctu-Venandi

Over the years, there have been numerous well-written articles published on SurvivalBlog about the advantages of night vision devices for tactical use. If you haven’t read any of those articles, then I would encourage you to dig into the archives, and study. As a former Marine infantryman it is my opinion that after the requisite beans, bullets and Band-Aids, a quality night vision device should be considered essential kit. In a TEOTWAWKI situation you will want every tactical advantage that you can get and the ability to see in the dark is a game changer.

The most common current military issue night vision monocular, the AN/PVS-14, is the gold standard for individual night vision, unfortunately, it has a price tag to match. (From $2,400 and up to $4,300 depending on the Generation and options.) I was recently at a trade show for shooting enthusiasts and came across the SiOnyx booth. SiOnyx has come up with a revolutionary color night vision monocular camera (two versions, the AURORA I with optional compass and GPS and the AURORA SPORT), the SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision cameras start at only $399. So for those on a budget, they are an affordable alternative to the PVS-14. It gives you the ability to discriminate colors in the dark, which is a huge advantage over green monochrome for noticing and identifying specific objects or targets.

The Aurora Color Night Vision cameras use a Black Silicon CMOS sensor which is tuned to maximize light sensitivity in 850nm and 950nm IR spectrums to produce a color image in low light. This technology is completely different from either the light amplification imaging tubes or the FLIR technology cused in military night vision devices.

Specifications
  • Sensor: Ultra Low-Light CMOS
  • Night Vision: Near Moonless Starlight
  • Display: Color or Monochrome
  • Lens: f/1.4 (Night), f/2 (Twilight), f/5.6 (Day) – 16mm
  • Video: 720p .MOV
  • FPS: 7.5, 15, 24, 30, 60
  • Photo Shutter Speeds: .9MP images (1.5”, 1”, ½”, ¼”, 1/7.5”, 1/15”, 1/30”, 1/60”, 1/120”, 1/240”, 1/480”, 1/1000”, 1/2000”, 1/4000”, 1/8000”)
  • Connectivity: WiFi USB 2.0
  • Storage: MicroSD 4-32GB
  • Viewfinder: Micro OLED Display
  • Water Resistant: IP67
  • Battery: Rechargeable 2h continuous
  • Phone OS: iOS, Android
  • Apps: Remote live view, Record, Download, and Share

I already own a PVS-14, but I was greatly impressed by the light gain and the color image produced by the Aurora camera. It is sturdy and has an IP67 rating which means that it can be entirely submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes, and is resistant to dust. I doubt that I would put my Aurora (or my PVS-14 for that matter) to the test, but nice to know that it can be used in the rain without concern.

In comparing the AN/PVS-14 with the Aurora Color Night Vision camera, I will tell you that these devices are not created equal. The AN/PVS-14 without the aid of an IR light source has superior light gain and a sharper (albeit green) image in extreme low light conditions, so if you are doing sweeps of the interiors inside dark buildings during the dead of night, then you probably should spend the money for a state of the art mil-spec device. The SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision cameras work best with some ambient light whether it be moonlight in the wild or street lamps or the odd porch lights in a neighborhood.

The Aurora particularly stands out because it produces a color image. In pitch darkness an IR light like the EVOLVA T20 or even a simple IR filter on a non-LED flashlight gives incredible illumination and range for any NVD (keep tactical considerations in mind as you will be illuminating yourself for anyone else who is using night vision equipment).

The biggest consideration for me was that I could afford to provide multiple quality night vision monoculars for other members of my family in case of a TEOTWAWKI scenario at a fraction of the cost of a single PVS-14.

Check out the video links below to see actual performance of the Aurora Sport Color Night Vision camera.

  •  YouTube AURORA SPORT COLOR NIGHT VISION CAMERA vs. AN/PVS-14
  • YouTube AURORA SPORT demo and review
  • YouTube AURORA SPORT night shooting on the range

I should also mention that the PVS-14 and the Aurora share the same ¼-20 thread size for mounts and accessories, though the offsets are different. The PVS-14 J-arm rhino mount for Kevlar helmets and skull crusher/halo does work. The PVS-14 weapon mount will not work at all with the Aurora because of the offset.

SiOnyx does make a weapon mount for the Aurora, if needed. Personally, I think a weapon mount NVD is okay for stationary positions, but not so good for anything else. A more effective use, in my opinion, is to have the NVD on a head mount and use an IR laser, PEQ, or DBAL mounted on your weapon. But hey, to each his own.

Note:  I have no financial interest in this company.  I paid cash at the retail price for my SiOnyx Aurora Color Night Vision Camera unit.




28 Comments

  1. Here is an example of what might be needed to make the outfit work. Can’t say if the bracket for the PVS-14 is the correct one, but we can estimate the cost of putting the AURORA SPORT COLOR NIGHT VISION CAMERA in use as a rifle sight. I would also want to come up with a “winker”, or rubber piece to block the light from this camera from lighting up my face. Unfortunately the cost of the Photon 4.5 weapons mounted scope was all I could manage. The quick release scope rings can allow it to be quickly removed, and held to one eye as one would a telescope.

    A weapons mounted NV scope does limit one to a static position, however a well developed defense that channelizes attackers would hopefully put them where we need them to be, and eventually in a box where the scope could be useful. Defending a barricade from a far would be an ideal situation for this scope. We gotta do the best we can with what we got. Knowing your limitations is necessary, so that we can develop the best tactics for our situation and abilities, and set the stage accordingly.

    IR laser, $259
    https://www.opticsplanet.com/holosun-compact-laser-sight.html

    Helmet with mount, $91
    https://www.opticsplanet.com/us-night-vision-pt-helmet-a-bravo.html

    Mounting bracket for PVS-14, $260
    https://www.opticsplanet.com/wilcox-pvs-14-arm-for-g24-mount.html

      1. I would need hours of research before I purchased the unit, and then the rest of it. Looks like they have got the mounting figured out, now it needs an eye piece as the light from inside the scope will light up the face. The LED lights on the exterior could be eliminated with several coats of black nail polish. Without at least these modifications mentioned, and possibly others, it is not ‘good to go’. The purchase price of this NVD, plus the accessories, and necessary laser if you want to shoot in the dark, may equal 2, or more Sightmark rifle scopes that are ready to go as is.

        https://www.sightmark.com/category.php?cat=358

        These Sightmark scopes continue to be popular with some hog hunters because they work. Clarity may be an issue for some people, and there are other units that are in color, and have a better crisper image, yet they are not as user friendly. I spent countless hours viewing videos and reading. Look before you leap. I did not pay the MSRP, but I did pay for the hard to find 940nm illuminator that is invisible to the naked eye. At the very least I could hunt with it out to 200 yards, or protect a barrier from that range. Making the first, and perhaps only shot count, is the best way. Most preppers are probably not up to maneuvering effectively anyway. Make them play your game.

        1. Take solar powered garden lights and change out the LED for an IR one. Position them to light everything except your shooting positions. Then you don’t give yourself away.

          1. Great idea. Howabout reusing expended IR chem lights hulls over garden lights, or any low powered and cool burning light bulb run off a small solar system that lasts all night, or lights on trip wire run on 3 to 12vdc. We could then passively follow their progress. And an IR lens’ intended for the old Mag Lights can be affixed to a battery powered motion detector that operates LED’s. Any combination and types of low and high intensity IR lighting can also be used along side, or over channelized path ways.

            A MURS Dakota Alert alarm could be used to give the LPOP a heads up. Some times passive alarms are best. Given the lack of training and top notch NV, one may only have one solid opportunity in their attempt to defend themselves.

  2. Several other online reviews mention that the unit has LEDs that are illuminated while in use, marking the user.

    Did you find a way to negate this shortcoming?

    No point in being stealthy while your NV device makes you an obvious target!

      1. Buddy you are not going on a security detail with me if nothing more than a bit of adhesive backed electrician’s tape is between our having the advantage and our being marked as if we had a target designator on us.

        If you experiment with a very small powered LED in a dark situation even your bare eyes can see it a long ways. If you’re NV equipped it is impressive what distance the LED will show.

        Without handling the SiOnyx Aurora it is hard to tell if the Aurora’s functions can be managed with the LEDs blanked out, whether temporarily (and risky) with a covering or cutting them out.

        While the SiOnyx Aurora maybe great to search for the coyotes marauding the chickens, without the light leakage issue definitively resolved it doesn’t appear ready for a tête-à-tête situation against someone who could do you harm.

  3. LPOP, cover with shroud nvg eye piece, or sit tight with a blanket or something only allowing the lens out. either way this is inexpensive solution for night capable viewing for the budget preppers I love the enterprising nature of preppers and even airsofters on mounting and using tactically, consider also sight mark ghost hunter bino and mono,
    or their weapon mounted night optics

    https://sightmark.com/product.php?item=247

    https://sightmark.com/product.php?item=1172

    these are priced much less on amazon and optics planet etc..

  4. Presently my family has ;
    1 pvs14. $3k
    1 Leupold tracker thermo 699.00
    1 FLIR Scout 599.00
    All work excellent but each has its +/-
    PCs 14. – Price
    Leupold tracker -lights up your face ( use a dark towel over your head helps)
    FLIR – clarity /sharpness ok

    The thermo capability is the advantage as you cannot hide no matter how well camouflaged you are
    Or in a statuary position.
    Having this night capability is critical in defense
    Or on patrol.
    IMO for the cost the thermo monocular will do what you need

  5. I understand that the AN/PVS 14 is the gold standard. One thought that occurs to me with the unit is that, if the Rule of 3s is applied, just how many readers can afford to apply it here?

    Being able to provide others in the group with low cost night vision would be a definite force multiplier. Yet, the best price for the SiOnyx I have found using the links is $598. Am I wrong? That’s a rather steep difference.

    1. I saw the same price when I put it in my basket on Amazon….
      But even at the $598, it’s still way more reasonable than $3k, which I Cannot afford.
      Also noticed that the link says “starting at $399”, I’m grateful to the author for posting the article.
      Will be discussing this item with hubby this evening to see if we both agree on this purchase.

      Have a Rockin great day!!

  6. Does anyone know how this SiOnyx Aurora compares with the Bushnell Equinox Z on clarity, range,etc? The SiOnyx has some bells and whistles I don’t need.

    Re mounting on a rifle, I have seen some info that the Bushnell Equinox Z can handle the recoil of an AR-15 rifle but might not be able to handle stronger rounds ( 7.62 x 39, NATO 7.62, 308 , 3006,etc)

    In a fixed position, one could use a night vision device to spot intruders and then turn on a visible floodlight to confront them. Re sustainability, some of the visible floodlights can be recharged by a 12 v marine or auto battery. Which beats firing a limited supply of marine flares.

    For night patrolling, a helmet mounted night vision with laser on the rifle may work better but my impression from YouTube videos is that cheaper Gen 1 goggles like Ghosthunter have limited range/visibility because they have to be smaller/have smaller objective lense to be carried that way. Also, would night patrolling be a good tactic? Maybe for bugout escape/evasion evacuations?

    1. First off, a 6 man team would all need PVS-14, so it is already expensive. Then we would have to learn how to move in the dark. It is a high bar for preppers. Trails are the best ambush sites. Stay off them if you can, and in the dark it would be too noisy. Yes, a NVD would be very useful for bugging out as you can move while others cannot.

      Here is one You Tube channel that can help us understand how our attackers may operate.
      https://youtu.be/8h8EMbzIzvs

      1. The saying in the Vietnam era about using trails at night was, “Walk on the trail, die on the trail.” The ambush possibilities on the trails were endless.

        In Vietnam, the saying was that “Charlie ruled the night.” Given the advent of NVG by the time the Afghan and Iraq War occurred, “Americans ruled the night.” (From memory, I believe that my son told me that he and his unit had to stand inspection at least two times a day during certain operations in Iraq in order to make sure that no man had lost his NVG, a precious item that provided a serious tactical advantage, and one that we wanted to keep out of Haji’s hands.)

        In a high threat environment, if I were forced to make a stark, binary choice, I would have to think more than a little bit about whether I would rather defend “me and mine” with bolt-action rifles and decent night vision, or to defend the same with semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles without night vision.

        I expect that I might say, “I need more information.”

        1. A Sightmark Photon 4.5, or Wriath model on a budget PSA AR, with 20 mags, rings, batteries and everything, might run $1,400. And it is day time scope as well. These scopes unfortunately have a narrow field of view, and are no good for up close and fast. A bolt action with NV at night could work well in certain situations, but during the day, a bolt gun is no match against a semi auto inside of 200 yards, for most preppers. A semi auto at night without NV is good for spray and pray, or grazing fire, if one knows what that is. If the fire arm must be a dedicated for night use, put the NV on the bolt action, and run the semi auto during the day. The semi auto without NV can then be used for suppressive fire at night to support the bolt action with NV. One can also try quick detachable scope rings on the NVD, and see if it holds a zero good enough for your maximum usable range. This way your semi auto can be used day or night. I have the removable carry handle that has A2 iron sights in case the scope has to come off.

          If the budget is real tight for some, a pump action shotgun with front and rear sights with slugs and buck inside of 100 yards, would be better than a bolt action IMHO, and that is where it will end up if one only defends at the mailbox. Yet as they say, it is more about the Indian than the arrows. Of course lots of arrows is a good thing if you can get them. With a shotgun, it is all about ammo management. There the Mossberg 550 is superior to the Remington 870. But because I have several decades of muscle memory with the 870, as I can reload at a very fast rate. This is a case where training overcomes a less user friendly design.

          Although inferior, whatever you got can be much more effective and win the day, if one practices with it, even if it is only a single shot break open shotgun. You’ll have the ‘home advantage’ as well. A combination of a bolt gun with NV, and a shotgun for the day time, might be the most cost effective combination. However if the field of fire is very limited in range, perhaps high intensity lighting could be used making everything kind of arrow you got, work at night.

          Perhaps someone with combat experience can chime in and help us all. But that is what I got…. hope it helps.

  7. “Walk on the trail, die on the trail.”

    by Survivormann99

    I am going to have this made into a sign to take to my future cabin.
    I never heard that before…

    My uncle went to Vietnam three times, each time to the most lethal tours. He survived and returned home physically uninjured, only to die here in a car crash, leaving his widow with a toddler and newborn. The Lord’s ways are mysterious. He giveth and taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  8. Whatever NVD one chooses it can always be enhanced by the use of an infrared light. One option is to use a military truck mounted infrared headlight. there’s one for sale now on Ebay for $155. I rode with a guy in his deuce and a half in the dead of night on a deserted country road and we both were using his AN-PVS14 monoculars to see our way ahead. The night was medium dark and we could see pretty good. But then he flipped on his two front bumper mounted infrared lights and WOW! It was unbelievable how everything in front of us was lit up. The deuce operates on 24 volts just like everything else in the military world but it wouldn’t be hard to take two car batteries to power one or more of these lights at your bug out location. If you’re using a night vision device for property surveillance coupled with one or two of these military lights you can turn a dark scary night in to day. Mount the lights at least ten feet from where you will be setting with your rifle so if the bad guy happens to have a NVD and decides to shoot at your infrared light you will be away from his aim. I would bet anything that there are no other infrared lights on the market that could compare to the military lights. Something to think about anyway.

    1. Perhaps three or four years ago, Sportsman’s Guide was selling infrared lights that came off military vehicles, Humvees, I think. I bought four of them.

      I took one of the housings apart and removed the headlight inside. It was a Sylvania headlight. I took it to an auto parts store and found that what appeared to be an identical Sylvania 12v headlight was available.

      I haven’t done anything with the headlights yet. I am hoping that simply replacing the headlight will be all that is required, and that I will not be surprised by an issue I haven’t anticipated.

  9. Low cost 12vdc LED IR lighting. These are 850nm lights that create a dull deep red glown that can be seen. I would prefer 940nm lights that cannot be easily seen, but the output isn’t as bright when viewed with NV. It might be possible to put more light out at range and avoid using an illuminator. It does not take much IR light to overwhelm and wash out PVS-14. This means you can see in the dark, and they cannot.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01D73XM24/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/slredirect/picassoRedirect.html/ref=sspa_dk_detail_4?ie=UTF8&adId=A01101843N6R7LKDAL92G&qualifier=1587175484&id=4058403012269561&widgetName=sp_detail&url=%2Fdp%2FB075F7NV56%2Fref%3Dsspa_dk_detail_4%3Fpsc%3D1%26pd_rd_i%3DB075F7NV56%26pd_rd_w%3DGHnwF%26pf_rd_p%3D48d372c1-f7e1-4b8b-9d02-4bd86f5158c5%26pd_rd_wg%3D2bMsL%26pf_rd_r%3D2BB7RVFM22M5ZQQAAMZE%26pd_rd_r%3Dd10203fb-d9e9-47e3-980a-9e33f32b871f

  10. 1) If one is just defending a fixed position — versus patrolling at night — then why not partner the NV with one or more conventional floodlights that run off 12 auto or deep cycle batteries?
    E.g, the Home Depot Stanley Fatmax — or even auto headlights pulled from cars and rigged up to a car battery with a switch.

    2) That is, use a larger handheld —not helmet mounted — night vision device to get the most range/clarity for the buck but switch on the conventional light for firing any weapon if a hostile force is seen. That removes the need to have the night vision device mounted on a helmet or on a rifle (Recoil damage) in order to free up the hands.

    3) I am not very knowledgable on this subject but my initial look suggests helmet-mounted lights have less range/clarity than handheld monoculars in the same rough price range (because of smaller objective lenses — 30 mm vs 50 mm.

    By divorcing the night vision from targeting and using it only for surveillance, it seems to me that you can get more capable NV for the same cost. I’m looking at the Bushnell Equinox Z or Night Owl IGen, for example.

    Rifle mounted scopes of comparable performance (clarity/ range) appear to be significantly more expensive because of the need to make them resistant to rifle recoil and the additional cost of mounting gear. A partial exception is scopes that only have to handle the mild recoil of 5.56 rounds on AR15s — although mounting gear seems to add around $100.

    Am I missing something?

    1. Any of what is discuss can work, more or less. Thinking it though and make the first purchase, and using it is a part of the process, especially if one must innovate. We can certain light up an area with regular lighting, but they can move into the darkness. If we can keep them in the dark, they are always at a disadvantage. The reason I would use IR lighting is to avoid using the illuminator, and IR lights on trip wire or motion detectors can help me track them. I got the Sightmark Photon 4.5. It weighs 2.2 pounds. It can also be used as monocular and a weapons sight. You might prefer the Sightmark Wraith that is in color, and has a crisper image. I prefer the Photon because it is more sensitive and does not require as much IR, or no IR, and is user friendly for this kind of work.

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