Society Night vision: choice, characteristics and differences

Sep 9, 2020
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Vision systems without daylight, known as night vision devices, are very sophisticated devices and are available on the market in various versions and categories. To choose the one that’s right for you, it is necessary to take into account several factors, from the most important ones such as the generation of the device to the smallest details, to be sure that you have identified an excellent quality night vision system, which knows how to meet the the correct way to your needs, in compliance with the budget you have set.

Night vision tools

Night vision instruments saw the light during the Second World War, used for military purposes. Always with a view to guaranteeing the best results in combat, over the years they have undergone a dizzying evolution and then entered the civilian world with night vision goggles, which today constitute a vision tool with great potential, therefore increasingly widespread. and also required outside the military sector. Thanks to technological evolution, from the first very heavy and bulky models, we have moved on to modern ones, ever lighter, portable and precise.

In fact, its operation consists of intensifying the light present in a certain environment or in a certain condition, thus allowing you to have a rather clear vision even in conditions of insufficient lighting for the human eye, or even completely absent.

The night vision device has gone through four evolutionary stages that have given rise to four models. Of these models, only the first two are currently on the market, while the last two are currently being tested, and in any case accessible only to military and police authorities, also given the very high price.

The first thing to take into account with regard to this instrument, in fact, is that a night viewer does not have the function of enlarging and approaching the scene like any binoculars, but is exclusively designed for viewing in poor lighting conditions, for example in the hours nocturnal.

How night vision work

There are two distinct models of night vision devices, which operate on different technologies: there are in fact night vision devices that intensify the images and night vision devices that allow you to see at night by working on infrared rays.

Image intensification night vision

This model of night vision device works only in the presence of a minimal light source, such as that given by the stars or the moon. A particularly sensitive sensor, in fact, takes care of capturing the little light present and increasing it exponentially, thus allowing you to view images.

Infrared night vision

Infrared technology is the one used in most of the latest generation night vision systems, in which the vision of the dark is obtained from a beam of infrared light which, projected by a special illuminator diode, is reflected on the object that is being framed by the viewer, to then be captured again by a sensor present in the device, the photocathode.

This sensor, which is hit by a beam of photons, returns electrons that are passed through a special phosphor screen: the phosphor will allow you to view the image, which will have the classic green color.

The number of electrons that is produced is directly proportional to the sharpness of the image and depends in a binding manner on the amount of light that is present on the scene, but also on the quality of the sensor used.

In the case of the so-called “first generation” viewers, which are still today the cheapest and also the most common on the market, the images produced are evidently blurred on the edges; moreover, the light is amplified, but to a very limited extent. Obviously the quality of the night images improves significantly in the next generation viewers, the high resolution ones, but also the price is proportional to the advantage offered.

Generally, the “first generation” viewers still allow a good yield in terms of visibility of at least in the first fifty meters from the observer. The “second generation” ones, on the other hand, are fitted with additional light amplifiers that allow for clearer and more detailed views, expanding the field of vision up to even 500-600 meters of distance. Finally, the third and fourth generation devices are technologically very advanced viewers, which offer excellent performance and allow you to “see” in the night even from miles away.

Types of night vision

There are four main types of night vision devices currently available.

Monocular viewers

They represent the most widespread category of viewer, and have the shape of small telescopes, perfect for any situation, easily transportable and very flexible. They can zoom up to 12x and also allow you to take photo and video shots.

Binocular viewers

The binocular viewers are basically two coupled monocular viewers, which allow greater comfort and detail of vision. They usually cost much more than monocular viewers, as they are made up of at least double the elements.

Modular viewers

This type of viewer, decidedly more complex from a technological point of view than the two previous models, consists of a basic monocular viewer to which different types of accessories can be applied that are used to use the viewer for the most diverse purposes: it can in fact become a binocular viewer, a goggle or a real aiming tool.


They are night vision models that increase the ambient brightness and that are worn as if they were glasses, thus leaving the hands free and offering maximum agility and freedom of movement.

How to choose night vision

There are many factors that must be taken into consideration when choosing the most suitable night vision system for our needs. Surely the staff of stores specializing in this type of item will know how to correctly guide you in choosing, based on the use you have to make of it. In fact, night vision goggles are used for exploration, for hiking, for hunting, for navigation, for observing nocturnal animals and much more.

Surely one of the fundamental factors on which the choice of model will depend is the budget you have available. In fact, we move from basic and economical viewers, which can cost something like two hundred or three hundred dollars, to more technological and elaborate models, such as the second generation ones, which can reach substantial figures, for example a thousand euros.

The choice of the model, on the other hand, is strictly linked to the need, during its use, to have freedom of movement or not: if the activity for which you want it occupies both hands, in fact, then perhaps it is better to orient your choice towards a model that can be applied on the head.

Surely, between the monocular and the binocular model, the binocular one is preferable, which offers a more detailed view and a more comfortable use, even if the price is much higher than the monocular model.

Most of the models currently on the market offer a standard 3x magnification power, which is normally considered ideal for most situations. Obviously, if you will use the viewer for long-distance observation, for example for sightings of certain types of animals, you will necessarily have to orient yourself towards a model that offers you a magnification power of at least 4x or 5x. If, on the other hand, you need a viewer to use on the go, for example if you dabble in caving, a zoom of 1 or 1.5x will suffice.

If you need the night vision device for navigation or on a boat, however, your choice must be a water-resistant, floating model with a lively and bright color, which will allow you to easily identify it in the event of a fall. accidental at sea.

Finally, we advise you to be careful if you decide to equip yourself with a first generation viewer: these models, in fact, if they are not equipped with the appropriate safety systems, can cause you to dazzle if you inadvertently use them in the presence of light. very strong.

Other factors that you must take into consideration when purchasing night vision systems can be, for example:

– convenience and speed of the focusing system;
– practicality of the tool;
– not excessive weight;
– possibility to use it comfortably even when wearing eyeglasses;
– possibility to adjust the diopter of the viewer;
– possibility to apply accessories such as lenses, video cameras and cameras;
– infrared light sensor power;
– any gaskets that serve to cancel the light emitted by the same viewer during its operation;
– presence of systems that allow you to turn on the viewer and operate the infrared even from a distance (especially if connected to a camera or video camera, for remote night shooting).

Source: Consumer guide


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