Call us at: 877-542-5299

Free shipping on orders over $59! Shop now and get Free Value Shipping on most orders over $59 to the contiguous 48 states, DC and to all U.S. Military APO/FPO/DPO addresses.

Product filters

Night Vision FAQ’s

The first successful infrared Night Vision device was invented in 1939 during World War II, but came into wide use during the Vietnam War. Ever since, night vision technology has improved greatly and now you can enjoy the quality of high-performance night vision devices at affordable prices. From observation and hunting to surveillance and military purposes, night vision devices are a real tactical advantage used on a large scale nowadays.

There are three main technologies used for Night Vision devices today:

  • Image Enhancement technology

  • Digital Night Vision

  • Thermal Imaging

How Night Vision Works

When most people think about night vision, they actually think about Image Enhancement systems, also known as Night Vision Devices or NVD’s. Starlight Night Vision works by gathering existing low amount of ambient light (e.g. Starlight, Moonlight and infrared light) and amplifies it until dark images become visible to the human eye.

Night Vision Devices are constructed of four main parts that help collecting and amplifying existing light, and those are the objective lens, an eyepiece, a power supply and an image intensifier tube or Photocathode Tube. You don’t really look through a NV product, you are actually looking at the amplified electronic image on a phosphor screen. Night Vision Devices can’t be used during the day, otherwise the powerful daylight sun would instantly burn the image intensifier tube.

NV products have different magnifications, which means that the distance at which you can properly identify shapes or figures depends on both the magnifying power of the objective lens and the strength of the image intensifier. If you want to be able to see at a greater distance, you will need a product that offers a higher magnification (that means a higher generation), but remember: the higher the generation, the higher the price!

How Digital Night Vision Works

Digital Night Vision devices allow the user to see in almost complete darkness by amplifying low levels of ambient light which is processed in a charged coupling device before projecting it onto an LCD display. Just like optical night vision, digital night vision devices cannot work in total darkness, but most units are equipped with small infrared illuminators that provide the necessary light to properly function even in these conditions. Many digital night vision devices also offer the possibility to record what you see, unlike optical night vision units that need additional equipment to do that.

Most digital night vision devices offer the possibility to select your preferred viewing mode, from classic green or red to the revolutionary B&W mode. Even though digital night vision units have significantly reduced range, they exceed the capabilities of some Generation 1 or 2 starlight night vision products, because they lack the distortions we may find in earlier NV generation models.

What’s the difference between Night Vision and Digital Night Vision?

Unlike Night Vision, Digital Night Vision uses digital technology and can also be used during the day, due to the fact that it doesn't have an Image Intensifier Tube ( or IIT). Because they lack an IIT, Digital Night Vision products are more affordable and more user friendly, and even exceed the quality of some Generation 1 or 2 units.

While Digital Night Vision delivers brighter images, the gain is changing constantly thus limiting the view, Night Vision offers darker images but with a higher resolution and a much larger field of view.

How Thermal Imaging Works

Thermal Imaging technology uses heat recognition and does that with the help of a thermal core which makes small temperature differences visible to the human eye.Thermal Imaging units offer users the possibility to see even in complete darkness or extreme weather conditions. One of the most important features of a thermal imaging device is the frame rate and it refers to the number of images displayed per second. The higher the frame rate, the smoother and faster motion you see. Depending to the motion precision they offer, there are four main frame rate devices:

Slow-Rate Imaging Standard Imaging (SI) Fast Imaging (FI) Enhanced Imaging (EI)
Frame Rate 7.5Hz 9Hz 30Hz 60Hz
Suited for Observation purposes Commercial exportable version Standard professional thermal system Professional thermal system

There are two types of thermal imaging devices:

  • cooled systems - more expensive but not very durable. These systems offer an incredible resolution and sensitivity, are able to observe even the smallest temperature differences at more than 1000 feet away.

  • uncooled systems - much more common, cheaper and durable than the cooled systems. These systems are completely quiet and have built-in batteries. Do not require cryocoolers like their counterparts and have great thermal isolation.

Differences between Night Vision and Thermal Imaging

The most obvious difference between Night Vision and Thermal Imaging technologies is that the first one needs ambient light to function, while the other can be used even in complete darkness. NVD's are better suited for observational purposes, while thermal imaging devices are perfect for detection.

The view you have with thermal imaging and the one you have with night vision are also very different. The fact that thermal imaging technology is not based on light amplification, means things like shadows and reflections that we are used to seeing with classic night vision devices, do not appear while using thermal imaging units.

Even though Thermal Imaging is ideal for detecting people or working even in complete darkness, if used for hunting purposes you might encounter situations where you won't be able to distinguish which animal you are looking at. This is why Image Enhancement systems are better suited for this type of activity.

Choose the right Night Vision Device

Before purchasing a night vision product, you have to know exactly what type of device best suits your needs, something you can easily discover by answering 3 simple questions:

  • What am I going to be using it for?

  • How far do I need to see?

  • What’s my budget?

After you’ve answered these questions, browse our wide collection of high-performance units and should you need additional information, do not hesitate to contact the NightVisionPlanet team.