Review: InfiRay Cabin Series thermal monoculars

Right price, great features, a bonus LED light but awkward controls

InfiRay Cabin CBL review

The InfiRay Cabin CBL19 and CBL25 thermal monoculars cost $2300 and $2600 respectively, with image quality to fit the price as well as a few features to make them stand out in an increasingly busy market.

The market for thermal monoculars in the $2000-$3000 range is growing rapidly and the image quality you get for the money is now very decent in the better units — which includes the Cabins — so the functionality and features are becoming a more important aspect in deciding what to spend your money on.

With the Cabins, some of the highlights are the built-in LED torch, the inclusion of two removable, rechargeable batteries and the use of a lever to adjust focus instead of a lens ring. We’ll come to all that in a moment.

The key difference between the CBL19 and CBL25 is the lens size of 19mm and 25mm respectively. It makes the view through them noticeable different.

The all-important base magnification of the CBL19 is 2.0x with a reasonably wide field of view of 13.8 degrees.

In the CBL25, its base magnification is greater at 2.5x and the field of view is smaller at 10.5 degrees.

Normally I’d say the wider field of view would make the CBL19 the winner for practical spotting because you can see so much more in the frame.

But with these two units, the CBL25 seemed to provide a clearer image with better definition of hot targets, particularly in the red-hot colour pallette. This is despite them having identical 384×288 pixel sensors and other internal specs.

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
These two shots show the base magnification and field of view of the CBL19 (left) and CBL25 (right). The wider CBL19 is better for spotting but the 25 has the clarity

I’d suggest the larger lens is what gives the CBL25 the edge. 

The CBL25 is worth the extra few hundred dollars as a result. 

They’re both equipped with digital zoom increments of 1x, 2x, 3x and 4x, effectively making the CBL19 a 2-8x scope and the CBL25 a 2.5-10x. 

The bigger Cabin has the longer detection range at a claimed 1300 metres versus the 19’s 980 metres. In ideal conditions those ranges are about right, too, though you need a moving, deer-size target or larger to make it out. 

Both Cabins have a full menu of features and functions, including a laser pointer, brightness and contrast adjustments, picture in picture, compass and so on and so on. No criticisms there. 

The array of colour palettes are black hot (nice and clear), white hot (also clear), hot target (white hot with greater contrast), red hot (my pick for scanning) and fusion (useful in certain conditions). 

In poor weather conditions you can sharpen up the image with the Ultra-Clear mode, which also works well.  

The Cabin’s built-in LED light is a good little added bonus. It can be focussed to be a floodlight or a beam that stretches comfortably to about 50m.

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
The LED torchlight on the Cabin thermal monoculars is a very handy addition that sets it apart

The light is very useful for everything you’d expect: walking around without tripping over, illuminating the area around you, finding things, etc. When searching for something you’ve shot, having the thermal image and the light, both pointed in the same direction at the same time, makes it much easier. 

The light is activated with a simple press of two buttons at the same time. It turns on at full brightness. Press again to dim it and again to turn it off. 

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
The sliding knob underneath the body is a simple and effective way to adjust focus

Underneath the body, a sliding knob adjusts focus for distance. It’s a good setup — not necessarily better than turning a focal ring on the lens but it is intuitive and easy.

I like the fact that InfiRay fits a removable and rechargeable battery, and it provides a spare one. They’re decent 3.6V, 3100mAh batteries, too, which claim a life of 7.5 hours but in practical use it’s more like four hours, give or take. 

Between the two you should get a full night’s work, anyway. 

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
The Cabin unit use a proprietary battery that can be removed and recharged. Two are supplied

They’re proprietary batteries, though, and while they look a lot like standard 18650 batteries encased in a special body, you won’t be able to replace them with any old 18650s.    

The Cabins fit nicely in your hand. The overall size and shape are excellent, pretty much the same as a typical handheld rangefinder with a strap that wraps around your hand so the unit is easier to hold.

However, the ergonomics of the control buttons are not great. They’re small, close together and not as easy to feel as they could be. Even with bare fingers on a warm night I found it difficult to consistently operate them correctly, often pressing the wrong one or none at all. I didn’t like it but the fact is I could live with it — and I reckon I would if, on balance, the Cabin worked out as the best buy for me.

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
The control buttons on the Cabin thermal units are uncomfortably small

Keep in mind that it’d be even harder with big fingers and impossible with gloves on, not that I’ve ever found a unit that’s easy with gloves. 

The other thing is that this is a strictly right-handed design. While the shaped and effective rubber eye cup can be reversed, the hand strap only goes on the right side.

InfiRay Cabin CBL review
The design of the InfiRay Cabins is suited to right-handed use. Its size and shape are just right

It’s a shame about those things because the rest is all good, and both Cabins offer appealing value. 

Despite the controls being difficult to manipulate, the Cabins give you the features and functions to make them good value, along with the image quality. The torch is a very handy addition.

I’d spend the extra money asked by the CBL25 for its improved image clarity. 


NB: Two figures indicate CBL19 / CBL25 respectively

Sensor: 384x288p
Pixel size: 12um
NETD: 40mK or less
Frame rate: 50Hz
Objective lens: 19mm / 25mm
Field of view: 13.8deg / 10.5deg
Display: 1280x960p
Optical magnification: 2.0x / 2.5x
Digital zoom: 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x
Claimed detection range: 980m / 1300m
Claimed battery life: 7.5 hours
Dimensions: 165x50x85mm / 202x65x64mm
Weight: 422g / 432g (with battery and strap)
Warranty: 3 years
Price (2021): $2300 / $2600


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