Onboard Cameras Aid Navigation, Offer Security

Add an extra pair of eyes to your fishing machine.

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Onboard Cameras — Thermal and Low-Light

A hands-down leader in this space, FLIR Systems designs a wide breadth of products for recreational fishing and boating while also dominating military, scientific, and commercial fields. Marine offerings include fixed mount — MD- and M-Series cameras, including the brand-new M400 — and handheld units in the recently reorganized Ocean Scout line. With its partner, Raymarine, FLIR also offers the T-Series fixed-mounts. “Thermal is as easy to watch as TV,” says Jim McGowan, Raymarine/FLIR marketing manager. “Our goal is we’d like to see boaters pick up a thermal camera before they add radar to the boat. Radar takes more practice and skill. As the prices for thermal products fall, we anticipate that will be the trend.”
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Onboard Cameras — Thermal and Low-Light

Thermal and low-light -cameras find their way aboard boats of all sizes, McGowan says, but their acceptance has yet to become mainstream. “Interest in thermal imaging is increasing all the time. Early adopters were gadget guys, but many fishermen now recognize the advantages in terms of safety and increased time on the water,” he says. MD-series cameras are fixed, and start at about $3,500. M-series units can pan and tilt, and start at about $9,000. As resolution increases, prices rise. Higher-end M-series -cameras come with both a thermal imager and a low-light camera. Thermal cameras can see buoys in the dark, but captains can’t read the numbers on them. The low-light payload adds that additional detail. Anglers can record video footage with these cameras, but with most units mounted on a hardtop facing forward, that’s not always practical. The camera must also be connected to a central DVR recording device or a multifunction device capable of recording.
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Onboard Cameras — Thermal and Low-Light

Iris Innovations, with an office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, also offers fixed thermal-imaging, visible-light and through-hull cameras, as well as handhelds. FLIR's revamped Ocean Scout (pictured) handheld line and Iris' new NightSpotter offer anglers a lower-cost, waterproof thermal-imaging alternative. Both can be connected via analog cable to a multifunction display to view images on the larger screen. An adapter on the underside of the cameras also allows you to fix-mount them. Ocean Scouts start at $1,999; NightSpotters start at $2,795. Price differences center on image resolution and video-refresh rates. NightSpotters also have greater zoom capability. For instance, the Ocean Scout line features a 9 Hz update rate — meaning it refreshes nine times a second. “A good example is a bridge with traffic coming across it. If you follow a car going across (at 9 Hz), it will have some stop-motion to it,” McGowan says. An update rate of 30 to 60 Hz -displays smooth continuous motion.
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Onboard Cameras — Through-Hull Underwater

Iris, OceanLED and Aqualuma — among others — make through-hull cameras similar to underwater lighting. Aqualuma's Luma-Vu (pictured) uses a Sony processor for its camera, which features a 92-degree viewing angle that fans out like a cone from the downward or aft-facing lens, depending on where in the hull you mount it. The camera connects to any analog-video input on a monitor or multifunction display. “[Fishermen] place it on the transom facing out — in the V portion of the hull, but up higher. As fish approach from the transom, they’ll capture that,” says Alexandra Bader, Aqualuma vice president. Luma-Vu is about the size of a half dollar, Bader says. Its housing measures 23⁄8 inches across.
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Onboard Cameras — Through-Hull Underwater

OceanLED's Eyes Ocean Camera (pictured) is about the same size; it features a 3.6 mm lens offering an 82- to 90-degree field of view. Like Luma-Vu, it connects via analog-video input to any compatible display for viewing. To record, the signal must direct to a DVR or other device. These 12-volt through-hulls cost $800 to $1,100.
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Onboard Cameras — Visible Light

Like portable point-of-view cameras, visible-light cameras simply function as normal video cameras. They differ from POV units because they’re usually mounted in a fixed location such as along a hardtop edge, on an outrigger, in the wheelhouse or in an engine room. A few models — such as Raymarine's new $700 CAM 200IP (pictured) — can be used during the day or at night. The full-color Sony HD camera comes with infrared LED illumination. When darkness falls, the infrared light turns on and can brighten an area 40 to 45 feet in front of the lens. Because it’s an IP camera, it plugs into the boat’s navigation network. On newer Raymarine networked multifunction displays, the camera provides a 720p high-definition video stream that can be recorded to the display’s internal memory or to a memory card.
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Onboard Cameras — Visible Light

Raymarine also makes CAM 50 ($200) and 100 ($600) units — both are analog and can tie into a display's analog input. Garmin makes the GC 10 Marine Camera (pictured) to provide captains with an extra pair of eyes either above or below deck.
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Onboard Cameras — Visible Light

Iris’ 1080p, high-definition 402 camera ($950, pictured) also features infrared illumination with dual video outputs (IP and analog composite). It can be purchased separately or as part of Iris’ new Fish-On Sportfishing Camera Package, which also includes a 740 Barracuda through-hull camera, a four-channel network video recorder, and a wireless, waterproof key-fob remote. With the remote, the captain can start and stop recording to mirror the fishing action. “The main advantage these [fixed cameras] have over action cameras is that they’re hard-wired; they’re ready to go at any time. You don’t have to make sure the battery is charged or the memory card is empty. You can just go to your multifunction display; the user-interface is very convenient,” says McGowan. “But there are great uses for the action cameras.”