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Night Vision Buying Guide

night vision elephant

Shedding light on night vision

Night vision is not as complex as people make it seem. You really have 2 major technologies, night vision and thermal. We will not be covering thermal in this guide.

Night vision works by reflecting light down it's objective lens into a highly sensitive CCD chip that displays the image on a LCD viewfinder. This gives you the black and white or the green image you commonly expect.

I keep hearing about different "Generations", what's all that about?

The generations used to refer to technology used in the night vision device. However in consumer level products, there has been an increase in the quality that has kind of muddled the quality. It's quite possible to get a good quality image now for $700, something that would have been impossible a few years ago.

Many brands have stopped listing what generation of technology. We would suggest googling sample images from the night vision you are looking at buying, most good night visions like the Bushnell 6x50 Equinox have built in recording options.

Bushnell 6x50 night vision example

Example image taken from a Bushnell Equinox.

Can I mount my night vision device onto a tripod/gun?

Yes you can! Lots of night vision models out there now can be mounted onto a rifle rail or a tripod.

I need to use it outdoors, is it waterproof?

Yes, nearly all the night vision products are somewhat weatherproof or completely waterproof.

I'm looking for a very high quality unit, can you help?

We can! You will not find listings on our website but we are able to sell military level googles for all of your hunting needs. Please be aware that selling high-end night vision can be a lengthy process with legal paperwork and it may take several months for the appropriate permissions to be granted.

Night visions come in many styles:

Binoculars

Binoculars are a popular night vision option. They come with the ability to magnify the image. Binoculars are a smart choice for nature enthusiasts and sportsmen, although buyers should keep in mind that they require both hands to operate. Potential buyers should first consider at what ranges they want to use night vision, and that more magnification doesn't necessarily mean a better image.

Monoculars

Monoculars are another popular night vision choice, as they are more versatile than most other device options, while allowing image magnification. Monoculars can usually be adapted to accommodate cameras, lenses, or can be mounted to weapons depending on the needs of the individual buyer.

Goggles

Night vision goggles are an easy to use and a comfortable choice. Base level models of goggles do not have inherent magnification in them, so goggles are used more for exploring in the dark. Goggles also allow the user to have full use of their hands. Magnification and cameras can be attached to some models. Normally there is paperwork required to own these here in NZ. 

Scopes

Night vision scopes are generally purchased to be attached to rifles. They are designed to mount easily, and provide the user the ability to magnify an image and see their target in the dark. Night vision scopes also generally feature an electronic crosshair in the viewer.

Cameras

Night vision cameras can be individual units, or can be lenses added to other types of night vision devices. Both still image cameras and video recorders are available with night vision capabilities. Since most good monoculars have recording options, the selection of these is limited now.

The most important factors for picking the right product for you are as follows:

Clarity

Clarity is directly connected with the resolution. The relation is quite simple – since the resolution is measured with lines per millimeter, the higher the lines the greater the quality will be. This is becoming somewhat less important as even consumer grade products have improved their level of clarity in the last few years.

Range

When dealing with night vision scopes, it is important to know the necessary recognition range. Regardless of all the technological advances, night vision technology has still not reached the point where it can function as a rifle scope, i.e. having the ability to see over hundreds of yards. The total range is not nearly as important as the recognition range of a night vision scope. Most manufacturers release recognition ranges for different lighting conditions like full moon, quarter moon, starlight only, or overcast. Naturally the range decreases as the amount of light decreases, since night vision quality depends on the available light.

Ergonomics

With night vision devices, the higher the magnification the bigger and heavier the optics. For freedom of movement and comfort, use a lighter optic while heavy optics are meant for static observations.

Durability

If you are about to spend several hundred or even thousand dollars on a piece of night vision equipment, it needs to be a long term investment. So before deciding on the make and model, consider the quality of the weatherproofing and the known longevity of the electronics and optics.

Infrared Illuminators (IR

When buying a night vision device, check if it has an infrared illuminator or the option to mount one. Infrared illuminators emit infrared light which is reflected back by the surroundings into the night vision set, making the image brighter. This addition is especially useful in situations where there is a near-total lack of light. Notably, IRs have a limited range, depending on their size.

For help with picking a night vision product for you, please contact us.

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