Night Vision - Education wanted!

Looking for info on night vision gear. It seems like a neat thing to have around “just in case”. The ability to see in the dark without a flashlight (I have plenty of those)

So to that end, I’m looking for something like a monocular or binocular that can be carried around in a pocket or bag. It doesn’t need to attach to a Crye or Team Wendy helmet (because I don’t have one) but if it does that’s not a negative. I don’t think I need or want a rifle-mounted NV scope, but if I’m wrong I’m open to being convinced.

My preliminary shopping around shows some as low as $100 and reaching into the thousands of dollars at the high-end. Some seemed geared towards hunting, some have magnification, various power sources. I did some googling for “best cheap night vision” and I see choices all over the map, and many review sites seem pretty dubious.

So can anyone with some experience point to an inexpensive (not “cheap junk”) entry into this market? What is the lowest price point where you can get something that doesn’t suck? What are the pros/cons of the various common features and why might I want one feature vs another? What are good brands to look at, and which ones to stay away from?

Maybe a quick primer on night-vision for anyone who follows after this who might be looking for a similar but different option.

Thanks to anyone who sees this!

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This is what I use…good little device!
Carson MiniAura Digital Night Vision Monocular (NV-200) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008RZ47PE/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_0GH8EbXW9JPV6

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Night vision, where to start… I actually have an AN-PVS2 Starlight scope in my collection, someday I will find a battery adapter that will allow me to put 4 AA batteries in series the size of a D cell so I can get 6V and use it again.

I’ve run the above as well as AN-PVS 7, 8, 10 & 14 in far away places and the current civi generations which are about 3 steps behind the top shelf military stuff which means they are frickking outstanding.

Things to understand about night vision: It requires “some” ambient light to operate or an IR (Infra Red) illuminator. There is always “some” back lighting on your eye/eyes which can be seen clear as day by other night vision pointed at you. IR illuminators look like flash lights to other night vision pointed at you.

Monocular:
NO depth perception, it’s kind of like wearing bifocals while walking down stairs.
You only loose your natural night vision in one eye but even that will be screwed up as the other eye is whited/greened out and will fight with the “dark eye”
Field of View is often restricted below 90*, that may be improved now?

Binocular:
You loose all natural night vision in both eyes.
Much better depth perception and the newer stuff has better field of vision than previously.

Mounted Optics: rifle scopes or spotting scopes or whatever
Same as above for monocular but significant increases in power multiplication and generally has a reticle of some sort.

Night vision is cool and you can get in the game fairly cheaply with 15 y/o tech which is still really good, will you see a difference between an AN-PVS14 and a $200 knock off? Yup but it will still see at night.

The emerging technology when I got out was digital COLOR THERMAL vision wear. I was down at Ft. Bragg in 09 for a sniper conference / demo / toy show whatever and I want to say it was L3 that had it. I was amazed, a guy at 100 yards wearing a flannel shirt, not only could I do facial recognition but I could tell what COLORS his shirt was. That was in 09 and the gizmo was the size of a handy cam camcorder I understand things have gotten better and smaller. If I were to spend money on night vision I would rather spend it on thermal as it requires NO light and heat is harder than light to hide.

Cheers,

Craig6

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Interesting source on NVDs:

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If you are looking for NV that will fit in your pocket or in a bag then the Carson is the way to go, the one I have linked above. This is a very small package and it works great up to about 100ft. The IR is adjustable and you can zoom in and out. I carry this in my EDC bag and have used it alot. I was very impressed at this thing considering the price point.

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Harvey, what do you want to see with the NV? If you are trying to see if someone is there then I would suggest a thermal unit. I have a Leupold hand held thermal, I use it to find cattle that may have broken a fence, the only time this happens is on a moonless night and black cows. The Leupold can detect heat 300 yards out and can ID a human at 100 yards.
The unit is not very expensive when you consider it is a true thermal unit.

Good Luck

Larry

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How about hybrid…thermal to see through dust, fog, and light concealment and IR to be able to see your IR laser (at the same time)?

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I believe there is already a NV & Thermal combo or two on the market at about $30K per copy. Remember NV’s RECEIVE light input and IR illuminators TRANSMIT light on the non visible freq., opposite from each other. I understand light science as I worked in the eye ball and optics industry,. how the thermal thing works is still a bit of a mystery to me but then again I haven’t researched it either.

More pressing in my world is to discover how an automatic transmission works, more precisely a Ford AOD. Stall convertors, valve bodies, friction plates, bands and all that jazz. The more I delve into that topic the more inclined I am to throw money at someone who already has it figured out. I can build a motor, tune a carburetor, port, polish, design a cam shaft, but cracking a slush box? Not this kid.

Cheers,

Craig6

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I know. I debated between saying ambient or passive and and then went with ‘IR’ since most of the NV stuff includes an illuminator by default anyways.

First, thanks to all who have posted so far!

Thanks for this links, it actually helped clarify a lot.

Based on info at @Jeff-A1’s link above I am definitely looking at civilian monocular or binocular night vision. Anything approaching mil-spec is waaaaaaaay out of my budget range. The ability to mount on helmet or other headgear/equipment is nice, but not required. This is more of a “neat toy” that may come in handy a few times per year.

The model @Joseph_1970 linked is appealing because of cost, size, weight and it seems like it may do what I want. Is Carson a known good brand?

If it costs near $100 (like the Carson) its almost a no-brainer, for me. If it approaches $500, I’d have some pause but would likely still get it. If minimum cost rises much above that, then likely this will wait till next year and fall down the priority list :smiley:

As you mentioned, I just want to see if “someone is there”. Is that a person? Dog? Squirrel? Even better would be “who” that is, but I suspect at my pricepoint that level of detail isnt possible. I am not expecting to ID if that is a cell phone of Glock in their hand, just see its a person standing there next to the tree and not a cow :wink:

Which model Leupold do you have?

I am still a bit confused, what is the difference between IR and thermal? I thought those were the same? The ability to see through smoke (thermal? not IR?) is that only available at higher price points?

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Harvey, I have the leupold model LTO. Forgot the price, but for a small unit the performance is great.

Larry

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Have a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra? There is a REAL APP to utilize cameras for true night vision. Not like apps which turn your camera and photos green, it actually works in very low light, without illumination. The App is Night Vision / ToF Viewer by Lubos Vonasek Programmierung. It really works! Downside is very low resolution (like Thermal Imaging) and your phone screen will illuminate your face. This is the only app I have known to provide true night vision for a smartphone using its cameras.

BTW, only works with the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

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Night Vision Devices (without Thermal Imaging) require some light, either from stars, moon, or an infra red illuminator. They rely on reflected light, and actually multiply it on a screen so you can see an image. The light does not necessarily need to be in the infra red spectrum.

Thermal Imaging utilizes Infra Red Light 100%. Any object that emits heat emits infra red light, even though we cannot see it. Think of the burning embers in a fire, or an incandecent light filament. As long as the object is warmer thasn its surroundings, you can see it on screen. The CCD sensors are very expensive, and use rare earth elements to produce an image. So, you are actually seeing the thermal/infra red glow of an animal or human on screen.

The Leupold LTO is a true thermal Imaging device, just like Flir.

The Carson product mentioned Earlier is a night vision device.

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Thermal detects HEAT via radiation, how is still somewhat a mystery to me. IR is Infra Red which is LIGHT. Most illuminators for NV devices are in the IR spectrum which you can’t see with the naked eye but it really lights up the night with NV.

Yes with thermal you can see through smoke, dust and a fair good bit of structure. Fire Fighters use them to find people in buildings and to find hot spots.

Cheers,

Craig6

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