How to Choose the Right Laser Distance Measure for Your Needs
Choosing a Laser Distance Measure
There is quite a range of laser distance measures to choose from. With some pretty inexpensive base models up to full Point to Point indirect measuring systems. In this post we are going to look at how to determine which model is the right one for you.
Inside or Outside
The first thing to determine is if you are planning to use you laser distance measure for mainly indoor, or mainly outdoor applications.
Before moving on with this question its useful to understand how laser distance measures (LDM’s) work. Very basically they work buy producing a laser dot that emits from the LDM. This then strikes the surface you are aiming at and some of the laser light is reflected back to the unit. Though calculations the LDM measures the time taken for the laser to leave and the reflection to return and so returns a distance measurement.
So its is clear that where the laser is pointing at is crucial to determining an accurate measurement. For example if you want to measure to a fence post, you need to see the laser dot on that fence post, otherwise you cannot be sure that the measurement you receiver is the one you are after.
If you are inside a room it should be pretty easy to see exactly where the laser dot is, even if the room is well lit and reasonably big. Outside is very different, it may not be possible for you to see that laser dot in bright sunlight over more than a dozen or so meters. The brightness of laser dot is pretty much the same for all LDM’s due to the limitations placed on the laser output (class II <1mW).
Some models of LDM have a video targeting system. This works by the LDM having a video camera aiming in the same direction as the laser dot. The video image is displayed on the screen with a cross line, this cross shows where the laser dot is even if you cannot physically see it.
So back to the initial question. If you are primarily planning to use your LDM for internal measurements then you do not necessarily need a model with video targeting, if you are going to use the LDM outside particularly over a longer distance, say 20m or more, then you will need to purchase a model which does have video targeting.
In the Leica Disto range the D1, D2 & X3 models are primarily used indoors. The X4, D510, D810 & S910 include the video targeting feature and so are ideal for outdoor operation as well.
With any brand of Laser Distance Measure the stated range is an “up to” figure, the maximum range with conditions being perfect. The main thing than can determine actual range achieved is the reflective nature of the surface you are aiming the LDM at. For example you will be more likely to get the maximum range when shooting the laser onto a laser target or white painted wall compared to wood or tree back which have poor reflective properties. So if you are wanting to regularly measure 100m outside, first you will need video targeting, but, also you you may want a unit that is rated beyond 100m e.g. 150m or 200m to be well within the working range.
Next thing to look at is the features provided by each of the models and make sure that the features you need are included. For example if you are wanting to measure the height of trees without having to target something stuck on the top of the tree. Then you need to have indirect height using tilt of the inclinometer, something only found on the Leica Disto D510 and higher.
This is fairly self explanatory, to buy the device that is in the price range you want to pay, but, also providing the features you need.
Accessories / Package
There are a number of accessories you can buy with your Leica Disto. There are also some Leica Disto’s that can be purchased in a kit package including some accessories. Here I shall talk about some of the options.
Tripods become more important the longer the distance you want to measure and or how precisely you need to aim. For example trying to target a fence post at 100m with a hand held LDM is next to impossible due to hand shake, you will need at minimum a tripod. Tripods can be found HERE.
Base / Holders
The Leica Disto TRI100 tripod includes a disto holder which operates the same as a pan and tilt camera tripod. This holder provides quite good targeting precision but for maximum precision you require one of the fine tune adjustment bases or holders such as the Leica FTA360 together with the TRI70 tripod. If you want fine precise targeting outside then its well worth considering. Bases can be found HERE.
Targets are available in a number of shapes and sizes depending on the sort of things you are measuring. As mentioned before a target is the best way of getting to as close the maximum operating range as possible. Targets can be found HERE.
Leica produce three of its models as a package which includes the LDM, Tripod and Base all in one carry case. This is well worth considering if you are considering buying either the Leica D510, D810 or S910. You can find the Packages HERE.
DST360 for X3 or X4
There is an accessory pack that is designed especially for the Disto X3 or Disto X4. This pack (DST360) includes a tripod and special base that allows both the X3 and X4 to produce Point to Point indirect measurements similar to that of the S910. To be honest I would only buy it if you were getting the X4 as the X3 does not have video targeting and to get the best out of the DST360 you really need this feature. DST360 can be found HERE.
So hopefully with the information above you will be in a much better position to buy the Leica Disto Laser Distance Meter that best meets your needs. Remember all The Leica Disto’s and Accessories on this site are genuine Australian stock which have full warranty support through the Official Australian importer and service agent.
Check out the table on the first page of this site to compare the different models and there features. HERE.