Guide to Night Vision Binoculars
If you’re looking into getting night vision binoculars but want to know more about them, then this helpful guide on night vision binoculars and the different types should prove to be helpful in making your decision to pick the best night vision binoculars.
WHAT ARE NIGHT VISION BINOCULARS
Night vision binoculars, also known as NVBs, are binoculars with night vision capabilities.
So, you’re getting the same observation benefits offered by regular binoculars with the added benefit of being able to see up close in the dark.
Understanding the science behind night vision is a bit complicated. It involves all sorts of technical jargon about electrons and photons and tubes.
But basically, night vision uses either artificial or natural light sources to enhance nighttime images.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NIGHT VISION
The best night vision binoculars use built-in infrared (IR) illuminators or thermal imaging technology to bring the nighttime landscape to life.
There are three types of night vision binoculars: image intensifier night vision, digital night vision devices (DNV), and thermal imagers.
Both image intensifier night vision and digital night vision use infrared illuminators.
And, the only difference between the two is that digital night vision usually has digital recording and storing options so that you can save your images forever.
THERMAL NIGHT VISION REIGNS KING
Night vision binoculars with thermal imaging are much more advanced. These devices don’t need IR illuminators to work and instead detect temperature differences of everything in view whether it’s living or non-living.
Living things emit infrared radiation or “heat” and the images picked up by thermal night vision devices appear anywhere from black (cold) to white (hot) and sometimes in a variety of other colors. Snakes, mosquitoes, and vampire bats are naturally equipped with infrared vision. So is Predator, from the movie with the same name.
But for us, simple humans, thermal imaging is an acquired technology that has a variety of applications. It’s used by the military, firefighters, medical personnel, and others including hunters and preppers.
However, thermal night vision is top-of-the-line with a top-of-the-line price tag to match.
But there is a vast array of night vision devices with IR illumination, so even the most budget-conscious consumer can see everything they want to in the dark.
Also, you can use the best night vision binoculars in both daytime and full-dark environments, giving you more bang for your buck.
LOW LIGHT OR WEAK LIGHT NIGHT VISION
For those even more budget-conscious, there are a variety of binoculars offering low or weak light capabilities.
These binoculars don’t have IR illuminators, and you can’t use them in complete darkness. They’ll let you see clearer during dusk or early dawn hours and in low light areas such as thick woods or heavily shaded forests.
Low or weak light night vision binoculars gather all existing light from sources like moonlight and starlight to intensify images. Some have an “exit pupil,” which enhances the available light and transmits it to the binocular lenses.
Enlarged pupils are one of the ways animals like cats and owls can see so well at night. And low or weak light night vision binoculars sort of work in the same way.
So, you might be wondering who gifted us with this technology and why? Well, let’s delve deeper into the tunnel.
Surprisingly, or maybe not considering their many war innovations, it was the Germans who developed night vision. Soldiers on either side didn’t like fighting at night because of obvious reasons, so the Germans got to work on something to give them an advantage.
By the beginning of World War II, Germany had already developed night vision devices that they equipped on many of their tanks. By the end of the war, they were equipping some of their infantrymen with portable many war innovations. Clever, right?
The United States started working on their own technology almost immediately after Germany introduced theirs. By the end of the war, U.S. Army soldiers were using “sniperscopes” or “snooperscopes” to enhance their nighttime fighting.
Most of these night vision devices used primitive infrared illuminators. After World War II, the U.S. Army continued working on the technology.
It eventually developed a device that didn’t need an infrared illuminator and could be used in low light conditions. These devices were especially helpful to soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Thermal imaging was developed in the 1970s, and the technology has advanced rapidly since then.
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