Night Vision Guide

This night Vision Guide provides lots of easy-to-follow, practical information on how to select the right night vision device. Selecting one is easy when you understand not only how they work, but more importantly the best way to use one.

Understanding how they work is fairly easy. The basic principals behind all of these devices are the same. They all use optics on one end to collect the little bit of light remaining in a dark place. On the other end they produce a useful image that can be viewed on a monitor connected to a video/DVR system or through the ocular on a hand held device in the field.

The Information You Will Find Here

Night CritterIf you are looking into buying a night vision device (NVD) then chances are you have run into some of tech-speak presented in online sales pages or across the counter at your local sporting goods store.

What does all of that technical information mean and how significant is it? Will the night vision device perform in the field?  Protect your home or business? Will it meet your expectations?  How do you pick the right one?

There are three basic types of Night vision equipment: Image Intensifier Tubes (IIT), Digital Night Vision and Infra Red. Each basic type has advantages depending on how and where you use it. They all allow you to see in low to no light conditions, some better than others.

 Image Intensifier Night Vision (IIT) – Starlight Night Vision

There are the generations of image intensifier night vision- 1, 2, 3 and even 4. These are the night vision devices that where and are currently used in the field by militaries around the world and by savvy hunters in places were it is allowed-in the field.  The night vision generation defines the devices state of development. As the numbers increase so does performance and price of the devices.

                         -gen 1 night vision

                         -gen 2 night vision 

                         -gen 3 night vision

Unlike the day light optics you may be familiar with, what you see using the now classic night vision of military movie fame, is light that has been transformed intensified and presented on a flat screen in brilliant green. Processed and transformed before your very eyes.

This is not the same as looking through your usual daylight optics. Binoculars, telescopes and microscopes collect, bend and magnify the light your eye is sensitive to. They simply make objects larger and bring out the detail you would not see without them.

 Night vision devices on the other hand, take a small amount of light in near dark places, much of it your eyes cannot see, and photon by photon convert them to light your eyes can see. They do not magnify the light; they convert the light and present a usable image.

Digital Night Vision (CCD/CMOS)

Digital night vision equipment has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years.  Digital night vision devices are readily available and very affordable for both field and fixed location use. They may be mounted on tripods for animal observation, rifle mounted for hunting or installed permanently for home, farm and business security.

CCD/CMOS sensors like the ones available in digital cameras and camcorders are very sensitive to near infrared light (IR). The daylight versions of these devices use special filters to remove the IR. Used without the filters, these devices are matched with IR friendly optics and almost invisible light illuminators to produce usable images in even the darkest conditions. 

How and where you will use it is the first thing to consider when selecting a night vision device. Beyond war, law enforcement and search and rescue, keeping an eye on things around the house or homestead is the next big use of night vision.

There is also professional surveillance, wildlife viewing, hunting camping and boating. There is unfortunately, no one night vision device that will fill all the requirements for what ever you do.

IR illuminator (the invisible flashlight)

An IR illuminator works with image intensifiers and digital devices much like a flashlight. In very low or no light conditions you can pack your own light source, invisible to the naked eye of man or beast.


night vision guide home

night vision generation
   gen 1 night vision
   gen 2 night vision
   gen 3 night vision

digital night vision

ir illuminator

ATN Night Vision
Yukon Optics
Bushnell Night Vision
Night Owl Night Vision