Infrared night vision binoculars can make a great addition to a birdwatcher’s collection of field gear to view nocturnal birds in addition to a variety of recreational and professional uses such as:
- Nocturnal Wildlife Observation
- Boating/Marine Use
- Police/Law Enforcement
- Search and Rescue
- Security and Surveillance
- Property Management
How Do Infrared Night Vision Binoculars Work?
Infrared night vision binoculars gather as well as intensify existing light, such as moonlight, starlight, or infra-red light, through the objective lens, which is after that concentrated on the photo intensifier.
Inside the intensifier, a photocathode is “delighted” by the light and converts the photon power into electrons.
These electrons accelerate across an electrostatic field inside the intensifier as well as strike a phosphor display (like a green monochrome TV screen) which sends out a picture that you can see.
It is the acceleration of electrons, which offers gain and improves the picture. The picture will be a clear green-hued intensified re-creation of the scene you are observing. All night vision binoculars require some light to amplify.
Those binoculars with built-in infrared illuminators (IRI), like the Bushnell’s listed below, allows you to see in total darkness where no ambient source of light, such as moonlight, is readily available.
If the subject is to be viewed in an entirely dark location, you just turn on the infrared illuminator by pressing the IRI switch. The IRI emits a light beam of infrared light that is virtually invisible to the nude eye but will be bright when watched through the binoculars.
How Far Can I See With Infrared Binoculars?
That depends upon how much ambient light is present.
For example, on a full-moon night, you should be able to see with no problem out to the maximum distance of the binoculars’ range which could be more than 500 yards.
In a completely dark area with virtually no ambient light present, you will need to use the IR illuminator. The IRI will typically allow you to see out to 100 yards or so.
Gen 1, 2, 3 & 4 Night Vision Binocular Types
You will see the generation type listed in the specifications of your binoculars or night optics. They range from 1st Generation thru 4th Generation night vision with varying levels of each in between.
Gen 1 is currently the most popular type of night vision in the world.
A 1st Generation unit will amplify the existing light several thousand times letting you clearly see in the dark.
These units provide a bright and sharp image at a low cost, which is perfect, whether you are boating, observing wildlife, or providing security for your home.
Gen 2 night vision goggles and above (Generation 3 night vision & Generation 4) is primarily used by law enforcement, military, or for other professional applications.
This is because the cost of a Gen 2 night vision unit is approximately $500.00 to $1000.00 more than a Gen 1.
Gen 2 vs Gen 3 Night Vision
The main difference between a 1st and a 2nd Generation unit is the addition of a micro-channel plate, commonly referred to as an MCP.
The MCP works as an electron amplifier and is placed directly behind the photocathode. The MCP consists of millions of short parallel glass tubes.
When the electrons pass through these short tubes, thousands of more electrons are released. This extra process allows 2nd Generation units to amplify the light many more times than the 1st generation giving you a brighter and sharper image.
Here are some well-reviewed infrared binoculars that are at a really low price compared to other sites.
Infrared Night Vision Binoculars Review
Bushnell Infrared Night Vision Binoculars
- Built-In Infrared Illuminator for long-distance viewing
- HD Optics, AR coated glass
- 1st Generation Style provides bright, clear images, 2.5x 40mm
This product can be used in the most extreme of temperature conditions,-22 to 104F for those who push the limits, in the outdoors…
Quality lenses and electronic components, durability, in the field, and overall versatility, to change extreme darkness into bright daylight visibility.
The Bushnell Lynx Gen 1 Night Vision Binoculars are lightweight, have an extra-wide field of view and the built-in infrared illuminator lights up the darkness like no other.
The Bestguarder NV-800 night vision binoculars is another model from Bestguarder that is created with better functionality in mind. The model comes with an in-built 2″ TFT screen with a 320X240 resolution. The screen can be converted to a 4-inch large viewing screen for comfortable viewing.
Just like the Digital Night Vision Binoculars 7×31, the Bestguarder NV-800 has a 7X magnification, a 2x digital zoom, and a 31mm objective lens for a wide field of view and better image clarity.
Moreover, Bestguarder NV-800 has a built-in 850NM 3W infrared illuminator with a long viewing distance range of up to 1300ff/400m in pitch darkness. It uses 8AA batteries that have a runtime of up to 6 hours when the IR illuminator is on.
The lenses are also fully multicoated to decrease glare and enhance light transmission. You also get the added advantage to record videos with this device and save them on an SD card for future reference.
ATN PS15-4 GEN 4 Night Vision Goggle
- Compact, lightweight dual Night Vision Goggle System
- High-Performance Image Intensifier Tubes (filmless GaAs photocathode type) for crisp, clear images, and increased depth perception
- Built-In IR illuminator (up to 20 m) allows user to read a map in total darkness
- Waterproof down to 20 m for 1 hour
- Auto brightness control
- Operating temp.: -40° F to +122° F
- Comfortable flip-up headgear
- Tube Life: 10,000 hours
If you have a bigger budget (8K+), you may want to consider the ATN Gen 4 Night Vision Goggles (PS15-4), typically recommended for military and law enforcement use.
ATN Nightvision PS15-3P
Providing a clear night vision image and a wide field of view, the binocular style Nightvision PS15-3P is worth the splurge. When you’re out scoping the scene at night, you’re backed up by a lengthy 60 hours of battery life. And the built-in illuminator helps you see images clearly at close range. They are an expensive headset, but worth it for the extra performance.
CooLife Hunting Binoculars
At the budget plan end of the range, we have these night vision binoculars from CooLife. If you want to be able to see during the night, with respectable high quality, and without spending your life savings, these deserve your investment.
These binoculars feature a three-watt infrared LED night vision system, with selectable intensity levels. Operating in a full power setting, customers can see up to 300 meters away in optimal conditions. The pictures are shown on a sharp 2.31 inch TFT display screen.
Each set of binoculars ships with an SD card that can be used to fire images and video clips, allowing you to catch what you see when you’re out during the night.
These goggles do not come outfitted with a headband, however, they do include attachment points that can fit aftermarket bands.
How We Have Used Our Night Vision Binoculars
There have been several occasions while camping or just in my own backyard where we had our infrared binoculars out just for fun and caught some great up-close glimpses of nocturnal avian life such as owls, nighthawks, nightjars and even roosting birds like hawks and even songbirds.
Of course, there are kinds of nocturnal animals you can spot too without scaring them away with flashlights.
I’ve also used them on dark nights to walk down paths or for finding items in my campsite without having to disturb others by using a bright flashlight.
I also enjoy looking at the stars and planets with them – I know a telescope is better, but night vision binoculars are more portable and I usually have them with me.
I’ve also used to them when I heard noises outside my tent to see it’s only a raccoon and not a bear without waking up everyone by using a flashlight.
The technology behind the night vision world is endlessly complex and comes with a historic background that is fun to learn about. Knowing that these devices are still so prominent in hunting today is fascinating, but their capabilities clearly show why.
The right pair of infrared binoculars really can take your night hunting experience from average to exceptional; both in success and enjoyment! We hope that our review of the best infrared night vision binoculars was helpful and you will be getting a set to join the fun.
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