Night Vision Binoculars & Monoculars: Everything You Need To Know

Night Vision Binoculars & Monoculars

No action movie would be complete without a scene that has someone using night vision goggles. But is Hollywood giving you a good representation of the night vision goggles’ performance, and how people use them?

If you want to know when, where, and how to use night vision goggles, your questions will be answered right here. Certainly, having a better understanding of any tech is needed before looking to buy on the market. Being an informed buyer will help you get the best night vision goggles for your needs, whether you want to have better survival skills at night or simply for everyday use.

Night Vision Tech

Night vision tech always looks outstanding

They come in two styles: Night Vision Binoculars and Night Vision Monocular devices. You can find out more about these and other helpful, easy-to-read guide materials at Pointoptics.

Night Vision Binoculars (or NVBs) are optical devices that use electricity to power enhanced night time vision while magnifying the long-distance image. Night vision monocular (single eye) devices have no magnification capabilities.

The latest model NVMs can be mounted on to sniper rifles, spotting scopes, and other types of firearms to enhance night time features. You will be able to switch between eyes if one gets tired. This helps the unaided eye to maintain peripheral vision while adapting to the darkness. It gives better situational awareness to the user as well. Additionally, NVMs are highly versatile when used in survival and camping.

Your eyes can only see images when there is light. Sight is limited at night-time, except when there is considerable moonlight. Night vision tech allows you to see images that might otherwise be obscured by darkness by using infrared lighting.

The most common use of NVGs include:

  • Entertainment
  • Navigation
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife observation and conservation
  • Security & Surveillance
  • Military

But NV tech has virtually unlimited applications.

The greatest asset when using thermal imaging is accuracy. It is able to indicate if the area has been recently used, for example, previously disturbed soil and tracks. NV optics reveal an interesting and unique world to anyone who hunts or camps, however hunting with night vision technology is not all that you need, make sure you’ve got the correct set of gear and skills when venturing out. You will be able to travel at night in safety and less of your time will be spent tracking and stalking.

How Does Night Vision Work?

Night vision optics works by amplifying the available light using optio-electronics. A word that you will encounter with night vision is the device’s GAIN. This refers to how bright an object appears with a light amplification. High gain means the object is bright enough to be easily found in the dark.

How does night vision work

1-Light photons enter the front 2-strike the photocathode 3-amplified by the photomultiplier 4-hit the phosphor screen 5-enter the goggles


Your NVGs gain is measured by tube gain and system gain.

  • Tube Gain: Is calculated by the photon light output divided by the photon light input. It will be indicated in high-thousands value.
  • Systems Gain: Is measured by the same system using different units of measurement.

You don’t want a device that has low tube gain as it will make more noise and have a lower noise to signal ratio. The less noise your NVGs emit, the better it will be if you are buying them for hunting and tracking. As technology is always getting better and more powerful, military only use Gen II, Gen III, and Gen IV image tube gain between 20,000 and 37,000, with system gain settings ranging from 2,000 to 3,000.

Gain Control

If you are buying night vision googles for hunting, pay close attention to the device’s gain control features. It refers to the NVGs abilities to adjust to brightness levels.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is one of the most important components of night vision gear. The device captures a higher frequency on the infrared spectrum (not just the light, but the heat).

Thermal Imaging

This is what makes tracking living, moving objects much easier to do at night. Some animals, of course, have their own specialist night vision. They have developed this over the ages to enhance their natural, nocturnal activities. When used in unison with exceptional hearing and smell, some animals’ senses cannot be rivaled by modern-day technological advancements.

Image Enhancement Features

This feature refers to the tiny amount of light that is collected by the device, including the lower portion of the infrared spectrum. Image enhancement amplifies the darker areas so our eyes are able to see them. Objects displayed using this feature appear neon green.

Night Vision Generations

As previously mentioned, the better the technological advancements on NVGs are, the higher the generation category number will be.

Gen 0: Night vision scopes were designed and used during the WW2 and the American/Korean conflict.

Gen I: Used in the Vietnam war to make images clearer to see.

Gen II: Has light amplification of 20,000x.

Gen III: The third generation night vision devices has better image resolution.

Gen IV: Compact, lightweight, and uses 2 high-performance image-intensifier tubes.

The higher the Gen number, the more outstanding the features and tech will be.

The Difference Between Thermal Optics and Night Vision

Thermal optics don’t need light to find a target image. They only detect radiation (temperature). The image might not be seen in any great detail, but it will still be possible to work out a proper shot.

Night vision goggles, on the other hand, need a light source. The latest generation NVGs come with enhanced vision optics called an IR Illuminator. This makes the objects appear more natural and detailed. When NV is mounted on rifles, they absorb more recoil when used at night.

Night vs Thermal

Day vs. Night: Images Can be Even Better Thermal Optics

Price Range

With all of the optional tech and features, it comes as no surprise that NV devices range in price from a couple of hundred rand ($50) to nearly R300 000 (over $2000). If your NV goggles are for hunting, security, and surveillance, or wildlife watching, it’s best to go for the best model in your price range.

Care of Your Night Vision Goggles

Because of the cost, and the fact that updates and innovations in this tech don’t come around that often, you will want to look after your NVGs as long as possible. Things that will damage your night vision equipment are listed below:

  • Bright Lights: While many users know not to use NVGs during the day, it is worth mentioning that any extreme light source will damage your device. Buy ones with automatic turn-off or light-sensing mechanisms.
  • Exposure to Humidity and Fog: The higher the quality of your device, the more fog and humidity-resistant it will be. Waterproof NV devices are available.
  • Remove the Battery: Always remove the battery before storing your device and avoid running your NVG for extended periods.
  • Zero Abrasives: Don’t use any old cloth to clean the lens. Treat it as you would a high-end camera, no matter what the conditions are outside.

Night Vision Goggles Buying Guide Factors to Consider

Resolution: Defines the NV system’s ability to intensify the image. Also measures how high the image quality will be shown.

Spectrum: The NV feature that allows the user to have a wider spectrum range, for example, infrared or ultraviolet radiation.

Batteries: NV needs batteries to provide the electricity it needs to work. Both lithium and alkaline are acceptable, but lithium batteries have a longer lifespan which should be considered for hunting and survival users.

Weather Resistance: Don’t buy any model that comes with less than the ability to withstand up to 95% of all existing weather conditions, no matter where you live.

Weight, Size, and Easy to Use: These are the 3 most important factors to consider when buying NV goggles. If the unit doesn’t feel lightweight and comfortable when you are wearing them, you won’t be able to function efficiently. If you are using the device for hunting or survival practice, you have to think about mobility as well, so only look at smaller size models. They should be compact enough to fit into one hand, and light enough to be mounted onto the weapon or headgear you are using.

Tracker Night Vision

Tracker Night Vision Goggle Binoculars & Head Gear

If you plan on staying stationary, as in a wildlife or surveillance situation, you can go with a larger model. Most sizes allow you to see up to 1,000’/350 meters away.

As a final thought, if you have seen a movie when someone wearing NVGs is blinded after encountering a flashbang or bright light, it’s definitely not possible. Most Gen III models have an autogating feature that shuts the devices down if the light exceeds a certain limit. This is for the safety of the user and operates immediately a light surge is predicted.

1 Comment

  1. Peter


    Question, it is my understanding that Thermal units will not work through glass as they use IR light while NV will?

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