September 28, 2021

Things You Need To Know About Night Vision

Low light vision technology has advanced immensely in the past century. WWII saw some genius military inventions, which carried forward to the modern generation. Today, military tools have crept into the civilian realm for efficient surveillance and management. Also, people who enjoy hunting also find themselves in need of night vision technologies. Here are a few things you need to know about night vision.

The naming conundrum

One of the popular confusions associated with night vision optics is with regard to the name. There are two types of night vision technology available in the market. One is image intensifier tube devices, and the other is infrared or thermal devices.

People new to optics do not consider thermal devices as night vision. But actually, both these technologies fall under the ambit of night vision.

The difference between the two technologies 

The given night vision technologies work on completely different principles, which also affects the image outcome. The image intensifier technology makes use of the minimal light in the pitch darkness and intensifies it a thousand times to produce a bright image of the subject.

Nowadays, we can also find this technology in the night mode feature of smartphones. However, the night mode feature is also complemented by the strong processor and efficient software. On the other hand, thermal devices map the heat signatures of the subject and produce a thermal map. This thermal map looks like the subject image.

The working mechanism of image intensifier devices

Image intensifier devices receive photons through the light emitted from the moon and the stars. The photons strike the photocathode plate, where they are magnified. The magnified photons then go through a vacuum tube to strike a microchannel plate.

After the process completes, the image is displayed in the same manner as the initial striking of photons. For the purpose of buying an image intensifier device, you should know that their resolution is measured in pairs/millimeters.

The working mechanism of thermal devices 

Thermal devices do not work on the principle of light optics. These devices use a sensor called a microbolometer to map the temperature difference between the subject and its environment.

This temperature difference helps in creating an image of the object. The information from the sensor is then sent to the display for the user to see it.

Image intensifier generations 

Just like smartphones, night vision technology also improves with each generation. Today, we know four generations of image intensifier devices. Generation 0 and 1 are archaic now, and you will hardly find them in the market.

Generation 2 devices are most popular because they have an improved image intensification system. Additionally, generation 2 devices are smaller too because of the advanced microchannel plate and photocathode technology.

Currently, these devices are used actively by the US military and NATO allies. However, the Soviets had copied the design and improved upon it even further to create Generation 2+. Today, the US military has also advanced to the Generation 3 devices, which have 15000 hours of standby time.

Additionally, these devices are better than the Generation 2 and 2+ devices too. However, Generation 3 devices are restricted to the US military and cannot be exported without the prior permission of the US department of defense.

Pros and cons of both the technologies 

Image intensifier devices perform brilliantly in extremely low light or pitch darkness and produce a real-time image of the object. If you love low-light sightings, you can find night vision binoculars for sale online. However, if the device receives extra light from the houses in the urban areas, it will produce a white image and blind the operator.

Also, image intensifiers cannot see through fog and smoke, which restricts its applicability. Thermal devices can produce images without an ounce of light. They can perform excellently in case of chases and house searches. However, thermal device imaging is restricted by windows and other such shields.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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