Night Vision 101- The Definitive Guide

Understanding of night vision goggles will enhance your performance and results when you are out in the woods.

Now, we will tell you the history behind night vision goggles, how they work, and some important considerations that you will look out for when you want to buy one.

At the end of this article, you would have greater knowledge about night vision goggles.

What Are Night Vision Binoculars?

They are optical devices powered by electricity. It allows the user to look into darkness and also makes images to be fully seen which is easier for hunters to track their targets.

The night goggles binoculars have two eyepieces as its name suggest, it also has a magnification lens. They are made in a way to be able to magnify long distance images while you stand in one location.

Night Vision Monocular

They are single eye devices that make use of no magnification. Due to their size and bright lighting attribute, they are mostly good for head mounting. Many of the modern ones can be placed on spotting scopes, snipers rifles, and any other firearms.

With these, you can switch between your eyes when you get tired.

Normal vs. Night Vision

In a normal vision, your eye is exposed to images constantly. The cornea focuses in on them, and it displays the result as objects. Your eye is able to see and capture images only when there is light.

At night, the light you needed to see clear images would go away. For this reason, night vision device allows the user to see images that are blocked by the lack of light using infrared lighting to provide a clear image.

Night Vision Binocular Uses

Because of their wide usage, they can be used in almost every application. Below are some common uses:

  • Security
  • Navigation
  • Entertainment
  • Military
  • Wildlife observation
  • Hunting

The primary purpose of the night vision binoculars was to find and track enemies at night. But today, it can be seen being used by law enforcement and military agencies for targeting, surveillance and navigation.

How Does Night Vision Work?

They are optic-electronic tools which help you to see in the dark. This is done by amplifying the light that is available which results in clear images that can’t be seen through your natural eye vision.

What is a Night Vision Device’s GAIN?

The night vision device gain refers to the brightness of an object when it’s been amplified by the night vision goggles. An object that has a low gain would be harder to see while the high gain objects are brighter and can easily be seen in the dark.

Gain Control

This refers to your night vision device’s ability to adjust its brightness. When you are out hunting, it’s better you get a night vision binoculars which acts as an adjustable gain control.

Thermal Imaging

This is one of the main components of night vision binoculars because it captures the higher section of the infrared light. Heat is emitted from objects instead of making use for just for light.

A human body which is an example of hot objects provides more light. Objects like trees and building – which is an example of a cool object – tend to give off less heat. Therefore, night vision goggles are mostly used for tracking living and moving objects.

Image Enhancement

This is the little amount of light that has been collected. It includes the lower side of the infrared light spectrum. Its working mechanism is by amplifying dark areas to the point that we can see the image through our eyes.

Thermal Optics vs. Night Vision

Thermal optics are used for detecting the radiation of an area. The higher the temperature of an area, the higher the radiation is. They don’t need visible light to find the image of their target because they only detect by radiation.

Night vision goggles need a good light source to come and make a good image. Most of the recent vision optics come with an IR illuminator. The advantage is the quality of the image, it looks more natural and has a higher detail compared to the thermal optics.

Brief History of Night Vision

It got is origin obtained in 1929 by a Hungarian physicist by the name Kálmán Tihanyi. It has been used as an anti-aircraft defense in the UK. It was good at finding enemy aircraft and helping the military to defend their territories effectively.

As time went on, four generations of night vision devices have been manufactured which are:

  • GEN 0: This night vision began as early as the World War II.
  • GEN I: These were introduced during the Vietnam War. They are a new version of GEN 0 devices, and they have been used for ambient light.
  • GEN II: In this second generation, the devices was enhanced with a better image intensifier tube, making military snipers have a clear shot on their target.
  • GEN III: They are the new version of GEN II. Their photocathode is made of gallium arsenide, which resulted in a better image resolution.


As said, think about why you want to have a night vision device. Ask yourself why you want to get one, and if your answer is more than one purpose, you should try and find out the best device to get.

Whether you want to make use of it for watching wildlife at night or surveillance from home, all you might need is a pair of night vision binoculars.

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