Night Vision Goggles: The Comprehensive Educational Guide

Night Vision Goggles: The Comprehensive Educational Guide

Understanding night vision goggles will improve your performance and results when out in the woods. Today, we will teach you the history behind night vision goggles, how they work, and certain things you need to look out for when buying one.

By the end of this article, you'll have a greater knowledge about night vision goggles. This will make you a more informed buyer and you'll be ready for our buying guide. After reading this, we suggest that you read it to find the best night vision goggles available.

What Are Night Vision Binoculars

Night vision binoculars are optical devices that are powered by electricity. It enables the user to look into the complete darkness. Also, it allows images to be shown fully; which makes it easier for hunters to track their targets during the evening.

Man Looking Through Night Vision Googles

As its name suggests, night vision binoculars have two eyepieces that have a magnification feature. Most binoculars are too heavy to mount on the head because of their large magnification lens or lenses. Night vision binoculars are specialized to magnify long distance images while standing in one location.

Night Vision Monoculars

Night vision monoculars are single eye devices that use no magnification. Due to their compact size and their bright lighting, they are good for head mounting. Most of the modern monoculars can be mounted onto spotting scopes, sniper rifles, and other firearms.

With night vision monoculars, you can switch between your eyes when you are tired. The unaided eye will maintain your peripheral vision and adapts during the night. Military officials like night vision monoculars because they give the user more situational awareness and is a versatile piece of equipment to use when camping after dark.

Normal Vs. Night Vision

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

During the night time, the light that's needed to see clear images goes away. Because of this, night vision equipment allows the user to see those images that are obstructed by the lack of light. It uses infrared lighting to provide clear images and is used.

Night Vision Binocular Uses

Because of their versatile usage, night vision binoculars can be used in almost any application. Here are some of the common uses:

  • Entertainment
  • Security
  • Navigation
  • Military
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Observation

The main purpose of night vision binoculars was primarily to find and track enemies during the night. Today, it's used by law enforcement and the military for that reason as well as targeting, navigation, and surveillance.

Police officers tend to use image enhancement technology and thermal imaging for surveillance purposes. Nature enthusiasts and hunters use night vision equipment to maneuver through the night.

Man Observing With Night Vision Monoculars

Private investigators and detectives use night vision binoculars to scout people they are assigned and authorized to track. Most businesses use permanently mounted surveillance cameras with night vision features to protect their property.

One great ability with thermal imaging is its accuracy. It can show whether the area has been used previously. For instance, it can show if a ground has been previously dug to bury an object. Law enforcement used this tactic to track criminals who have hidden money, drugs, and weapons from the police.

A lot of people are starting to find the unique and interesting world that occurs when the darkness falls. If you find yourself hunting and camping frequently, then you'll need to invest in a pair of night vision equipment. It will allow you to travel through the night more safely and spend less time tracking and hunting your game.

How Does Night Vision Work?

Night vision devices are optio-electronic tools that help you see in the dark. It does this by amplifying the light that's available. This results in clear images that would be impossible to see through your natural eye vision.

What Is Night Vision Device's GAIN

The gain refers to the brightness of the object when amplified by the night vision goggles. Objects with a low gain will be harder to see. High gain objects are brighter and can be easily found in the dark.

Your night vision binocular's gain is measured by the system gain and the tube gain. Your tube gain can be calculated by the light output (Fl) divided by its light input (in Fc). You'll usually see this in the high thousands in value.

You don't want a pair of goggles that have a low tube gain. This will make more noise and will have a lower signal to noise ratio. Most U.S. military Gen II and Gen III image tubes had a value of 20,000 to 37,000 making them very powerful at detecting unseen objects in the dark.

System gain is measured by the light output (Fl) divided by the light input (Fl). The main difference between system gain and tube gain is that tube gain uses a different unit. System gain uses the same Fl unit to calculate and measure correctly.

NVG With Single Gain Control

System gain is seen in a lot of U.S. military tactics. Military personnel tends to keep their system gain settings at a range from 2,000 to 3,000. In every night vision system, your tube gain will be reduced by its system's lenses and is dependent on the quality of the fibers. Thus, system gain is a more important measurement for the user to understand.

Gain Control

Gain control refers to your night vision device's ability to adjust its brightness. When out hunting, we suggest getting some night vision binoculars that has an adjustable gain control.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is one of the main components of night vision. It captures the upper section of the infrared light spectrum. Heat is emitted from objects instead of it being used just for light.

Hot objects, such as human bodies provide more light. Cooler objects such as building and trees tend to give off less heat. Due to this, night vision goggles are used to track living, moving objects in a precise manner.

Image Enhancement

Image Enhancement is when a tiny amount of light is collected. This includes the lower portion of the device's infrared light that spectrum. It works by amplifying the dark areas to the point that our eyes can see the image.

Your night vision equipment is used to enhance the dark images you can't see during the night. By creating enough light for your eyes to see, the night vision equipment displays the previously dark images in a neon green lighting.

Night Vision History

Night vision binoculars obtained its origins in 1929. A Hungarian physicist by the name of Kálmán Tihanyi created the first infrared electronic television camera. It was used as an anti aircraft defense in the UK. Night vision binoculars were great at finding enemy aircrafts and help military teams effectively defend their territories.

Old Photograph Of Kalman Tihanyi

Today, night vision binoculars are used by outdoorsman and snipers. They allow the user to see during the night and have a multitude of tactical features. Because of this, they are an important piece of equipment in everyone's inventory.

Night Vision Generations

Night Vision's history is also referred to as generations. As time progressed, over 4 generations of night vision devices have been manufactured. Read below to understand further how night vision tools and equipment has developed throughout each generation.


Night vision began as early as World War II. During this time, soldiers did not fight at night because of the communication difficulty, inability to see, and the confusion.

Fighting at night was a very risky and dangerous strategy that only a few advanced armies could do. Only the highest trained soldiers and well-researched battle plans could fight during the night with a clear chance of succeeding.

The first-night vision technology was developed in Germany during early 1939. We would see the first-night vision devices being utilized during 1935 by a company called AEG.

During the late 1940s, Germany's army used over 50 Panther tanks. They were used in combat on both Western and Eastern fronts. Night vision scopes were used on some of the soldier's Sturmgewehr 44 rifles.

Also, the United Stated began to develop their own version of night vision during this time period. The M1 and M3 devices were invented. They were known as a "sniper scope" and were used by the US Army during WW II.

When used by the U.S. military, night vision scopes were designed for snipers during the Korean War. They would use infrared light to mark targets that were from long range. The targets would be illuminated; making it an easy shot for snipers during nighttime battles.

Night Vision Goggles GEN 0

GEN 0 night vision had intensifier tubes that would work using an S-1 photocathode and anode. Also, these scopes are made of oxygen, caesium, and silver to generate electrons. This made it easier for the scope to pick up human targets for U.S. army soldiers to neutralize.


First generation night vision devices were introduced during the Vietnam War. They were an iteration of previous GEN 0 devices and used ambient light. This was different than traditional devices that used infrared sources of light.

These devices used S-20 photocathode. This made the images easier to see than GEN 0 night vision scopes. The image intensifiers could amplify light up to 1000x, but the scopes were very heavy. Most of them required a certain amount of moonlight to work correctly.


In the second generation, the devices have a better image-intensifier tube. This means that military snipers could have a clearer shot on their assigned target. Since it used an S-25 photocathode, the images were brighter around the edge of the lens.

This means that there is a higher level illumination in dark environments. The light amplification is at around 20,000X. Also, the reliability and the image resolution of the devices were increased.

GEN II was then surpassed by the GEN II+ Era. Night vision equipment had better resolution, optics, and Supergen tubes. Most of these ideas and designs would carry onto GEN III night vision equipment.


The third generation devices used the same micro channel plate from GEN II. But the photocathode is made of gallium arsenide. This resulted in a better image resolution. Also, the light amplification settings are at 30,000-50,000X.

Thermal Optics Vs. Night Vision

Thermal optics is used to detect the radiation of an area. The higher the temperature, the higher the chance of radiation. Because they only detect radiation, thermal optics doesn't need visible light to find an image of your target.

Illustration Of Night And Thermal Vision

Your thermal optic device is great at finding small animals that are hidden. But, the thermal image isn't detailed. You'll have to practice with a looking at infrared images and finding the correct shot placement to use it properly.

You will also need to use weapons with thermal scopes often. They are heavier and sturdier than night vision scopes.

Night vision goggles need a satisfactory light source in to make a quality image. Some of the recent vision optics come with an IR Illuminator.

One advantage of night vision images is its quality. The images look more natural and have higher detail than thermal optics. Night vision is usually mounted on rifles and absorbs more recoil. We suggest only using night vision scopes at night. Using them during the day will result in ineffective image results.


Here that are the top manufacturers that sell the best night vision equipment. All of them are known for providing the night vision goggles, monoculars, and binoculars for consumers. Make sure you check each of the manufacturers to see which equipment works the best for you.


Rolriss are known for their compact and portable design. Their night vision goggles have been around since 1976. As time progressed, the small company grew internationally and made high-end night vision tools. We suggest shoppers look at Rolriss if they want a small, yet efficient night vision goggles to use while out hunting.


Bushnell is an American company that specializes in creating optics and hunting equipment. Their products consist of monoculars, binoculars, GPS devices, game cameras, and electronic rangefinders. It was founded in 1948 and has built a strong reputation ever since.


ATN is the lead developer and manufacturer Thermal Imaging and Night Vision optics. The company was made for innovation and value to their customers. They make the largest selection of optical devices that are useful for military and law enforcement purposes.

ATN NVG7-3A Gen 3 Night Vision Goggles


Nikon is known for creating photographic and optical devices. Nikon binoculars are made to maximize your performance and can zoom in further than competing devices. Check them out if you want some night vision equipment made out of the best materials and has the most features.

How To Care For Night Vision Binoculars

Your night vision devices are very expensive. Most of them range from $80-$2000 and can cost even more if it needs to be repaired. Because of this, you'll want to take advantage of your binoculars as long as possible.

To do this, you need to know how to take care of them. In this section, we'll give you a few tips on how to extend the performance and life span of your binoculars.

Bright Lights

The main thing that destroys your night vision equipment is a bright light. While the best shoppers know not to use night vision equipment such as binoculars during the day. Make sure you don't expose it to any extreme light sources because it will damage the device.

We suggest getting a pair of night vision goggles that have an automatic turn-off circuit. Alternatively, they can have different light sensing mechanisms which protect your device against damage. Even if you're your device has light resistant features, you don't want to place it in front of direct light.

Humidity And Fog Exposure

Electronic devices aren't great with fog or humidity but not like night vision devices. High-quality devices are more resistant to humidity. But you should make sure that the device is not exposed to a constant amount of humidity to increase its overall lifespan.

You can opt for some waterproof night vision devices. While they may be more expensive, they are extremely sturdy and can withstand a high amount of humidity.

Battery Removal

If you're not planning on using your night vision equipment for more than a few days, you should remove the batteries. After that, store the batteries in a dry and cool place. This prevents damage to your device's internal systems and avoids the chance of battery leakage.

NVG Battery Replacement

Also, when you keep your device on for long periods, you run the risk of decreasing its tube life. The coating of your night vision's image intensifier has similar technology to photographic paper. Additionally, it can burn images based on the device's visual optics field.

We highly recommend that you store the batteries in a dry, and cool place. This is because areas that have high humidity have a higher chance of destroying your equipment.


Do you typically use strong and abrasive cloths to maintain your eyewear? Don't use tough cloths because you'll run the risk of scratching the lens. You need to treat your night vision device as if it was a camera.

Factors To Consider When Buying

There are a few factors you first need to consider before buying night vision binoculars.


The resolution measures how high quality the images are shown on the night vision device. It also defines the night vision system or the ability of your image intensifier. This is used to distinguish and determine two objects that are close together

Your image intensifier will continue to stay in contact. But, the system resolution can be directly affected by this.


Our natural vision is confined and connected to a small part of the electromagnetic system. Night vision devices allow the user to have a higher spectral range. This gives them the ability to see images that have an ultraviolet or infrared radiation.

On average, the ultraviolet region expands from 100 to 400 nm. Near ultraviolet radiation has a value of 300 to 400 nm. The visible spectrum is about 400 to 750 nm. Lastly, infrared radiation is at 750 to 2xlO5 nm while near infrared is at 750 to 2,500 nm.


Night vision devices are powered by batteries to operate correctly. They come in either alkaline or lithium. Alkaline batteries are easier to obtain and inexpensive. Lithium batteries have a longer lifespan and can be bought at your local camera shop.

Five AAA Batteries

Weather Resistance

Your night vision device should come with a considerable amount of weather resistance. Most of the time, our devices can lose their quality when exposed to high humidity. You night vision equipment that's been made to U.S. mil specifications can withstand up to 95% of the existing weather conditions.

Weight, Ease Of Use, And Size

These are the three most important factors when looking for a night vision device. This means that if a night vision unit doesn't feel comfortable, then it won't be able to be used effectively. It will be of no benefit to the user and will make it harder for them to detect objects in the dark.

What does this mean when referring to night vision devices? Users who have to be mobile while using their device should look at smaller models. They are compact enough to fit in one hand and is light enough to be mounted onto your weapons and certain tactical head gear.

But, if you plan on being stationary, then a larger model is recommended. You should opt in for a pair of night vision binoculars to see targets from long range. Most devices allow the user to see dark objects from up to 1,000 feet and are very useful when tracking your targets from far away.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading out educational guide. We wanted to help you by teaching you the right way to shop for night vision equipment. However, there is one thing that's missing. You need to know the right type of night vision devices that are worth your money.

After reading this, we suggest that you look at our buying guide. In the guide, we'll show you the top five-night vision devices that are out on today's market. Give it a look if you want to find quality night vision equipment for a price that's affordable to anyone's budget.

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