Being diurnal and created to be active during the day and asleep at night, our eyes aren’t naturally equipped to see clearly in the dark. Thankfully, we have night vision technology to overcome this limitation. Out of the nighttime viewing devices available such as monoculars and goggles, night binoculars provide the best experience. They offer a wide field of view, superior depth perception, and deliver clear images enabling us to pick up finer details. They boost our night vision enabling us to clearly and covertly observe targets even at a distance.
Whether you want one for your hobbies such as hunting, wildlife watching, camping, hiking, boating, bird watching, stargazing, or sailing, need one for work in security or search and rescue or want one for surveillance, navigation, or exploring the world at night, a good night vision binocular will be a great investment. It will enhance your effectiveness, safety, and fun at work or play and make your favorite pastimes even better. All you have to do is ensure you get the best for your needs so you can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful technology.
Now that you’re here, finding the perfect nighttime binocular for yourself or as a gift for an outdoor or nature enthusiast will be easy and quick. We’ve reviewed ten outstanding binoculars with night vision we believe are some of the best currently available in terms of features and capabilities, reliability as they are highly rated for their performance, and value for money. Our list includes the best infrared binoculars with true night vision and some daylight binoculars with low nightlight vision. If you’re not sure which one to choose, our buying guide explains the specifications you will come across and what you need to consider to make the right choice. Our FAQ section answers the questions you may have about how night vision binoculars work.
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Night Vision Binocular Reviews
How To Choose The Best Night Vision Binocular – Buying Guide
There are all kinds of low light vision and night vision binoculars available. Even though they have the same design, they have different features and capabilities. Plus they are not cheap pieces of technology. Careful consideration is crucial to ensure you choose a pair that best suits your intended application, spend your hard-earned money well, and feel satisfied with your purchase for years to come. Below are the factors to consider when evaluating and choosing night vision binoculars:
Before you even start looking at night vision binoculars, the first thing to do is to identify what purpose you want a pair for. This one is easy, as there is something that drove you to realize the need for one in the first place. You could want it for your hobby such as birdwatching, wildlife observation, hunting, or stargazing, fishing, need it for work in security, or just want a simple pair for general night observation and exploration.
Making the right choice will be easier when you know exactly what you want. Identifying the main purpose your binoculars will serve will help you choose a pair that will serve you best in its application, as you will know the most important quality the pair should have. For example, if you want a pair for wildlife viewing or hunting, you need binoculars with a wide field of view.
With your intended purpose in mind, it is important to understand the different generations of night vision devices so you can decide which one will suit your needs best. Night vision technology has evolved over the years. Currently, there are four generations of night vision binoculars. The higher the generation the better the image quality, longevity, battery life, and field of view but the higher the price tag attached. Here is an overview of the different generations:
Generation 1 night vision binoculars feature the earliest technology invented in the early 1960s and are the simplest in terms of features and functionality. They have a low detection and recognition range and are larger and heavier than newer generations but are the most affordable. Most lower priced consumer options are in this generation.
Their light gain is less than a thousand and they usually feature a built-in infrared illuminator for night observations when there is little ambient light and in total darkness. Their maximum range is around 75 yards. If you just want a simple pair for casual and general use or are just curious about how night vision technology works and want to experience it for yourself, this is the generation for you.
The recognition range, detection range, resolution, image brightness and sharpness, life expectancy, and battery life are better those of gen 1 but the prices are higher as well. This is because gen 2 uses a micro-channel plate (MCP) behind the photocathode as the electron amplifier to produce brighter and sharper images.
Gen 2s have a light amplification of about 20,000 – 30,000 times. Most of them don’t need IR illuminators and can automatically control image distortion. Their maximum range is about 200 yards. They are capable of more serious observations by professionals in law enforcement and security and avid hunting and wildlife observation.
Generation 3 also uses an MCP amplifier but their photo-cathode tubes have gallium arsenide, which amplifies their resolution enabling them to deliver clear and intricately detailed images even in the darkest conditions. Some have White Phosphor Technology (WPT) that enables them to produce images in black and white not just black or green. Its range is 300 yards. However, gen 3 binoculars are very expensive and are primarily used by the military.
This is the most advanced and powerful night vision technology in the world. Its target detection, resolution, image quality, and overall capabilities surpass even those of gen 3. However, it is also the most expensive. It is the best of the best in night vision offered by top brands such as ATN, Yukon, and Bushnell and used by elite militants.
Weight is an important consideration when choosing a pair of night vision binoculars. Due to the sophisticated technology on the inside, nighttime binoculars tend to be heavier than regular ones. More advanced generations tend to be lighter but more capable than earlier generations. The ideal pair is not only well built to serve the purpose and last, but it is also lightweight for ease and comfort carrying it and using it on the move.
Again, nightlight binoculars are usually larger than daylight sets because of the complicated engineering on the inside. The more current the generation, the smaller the size without losing clarity. A smaller model is ideal for ease of use and storage but it is important to assess its features, capabilities, and read user reviews to ensure it doesn’t sacrifice quality and clarity to stay compact.
This is an electronic tool with fragile components and you will be using it outdoors and at night. The likelihood that it will be exposed to water is high. This is especially if you will be using your set while fishing, boating or sailing or when it is raining. It is essential that it has an adequate measure of water resistance to enable it to withstand light splashes, exposure to dew, mist, sweat, and rain showers without it failing.
Water-resistant binoculars have a seal that prevents moisture from penetrating. This seal also prevents small debris or dust from entering and damaging the fragile internal components. Keep in mind that water resistance does not mean fully waterproof and you shouldn’t immerse your pair in water or use it for underwater observation.
The design of a set of night vision binoculars plays an important role in its ease of comfort of use. The best night vision binoculars have an ergonomic design that is comfortable to hold and use. Another most important aspect of design to assess is the shape of the binoculars bridge. An M-shaped bridge flexes to fit comfortably while the fit of an H-shaped bridge can be hard.
The inside components of night vision binoculars are quite fragile. For long lasting performance, a shock, water, and weather resistant housing are essential to protect the sensitive technology from exposure to the elements. Pay attention to the material used in the construction of the set you’re considering and how resistant they are to the elements. Multi-coated lenses with scratch resistant and water repellent coatings are also more durable.
Image quality is one of the most important features to consider since it affects how well a set will perform. The better the image quality night binoculars produce, the easier it is to spot and observe objects through it. For night vision binoculars, a lower magnification power is the best for image quality and clarity. Always check the reviews about the image clarity of the model you want. However, high image quality usually comes at a higher cost.
Range Of Detection
Depending on whether you will be using your set of night vision binoculars for short distance or long distance observation, the range of detection is an important feature to consider. The maximum distance for generation one devices is around 75 yards while that of generation two devices is about 200 yards.
Gain refers to the relative amount of light coming through the lens. This light is then amplified making it possible to see clearly in the dark. Binoculars with wide diameter and multicoated lenses have a high light gain level for better image quality and clarity. A low gain means the images will be blurry as you zoom in.
However, the gain goes down as the magnification power goes up so it is important to decide the best balance for your intended application. Some of the best night vision binoculars will feature a manual gain control so you can maximize or minimize light gain depending on the amount of ambient light available and the range.
Digital night vision binoculars offer you the ability to record images or videos of what you’re observing for later viewing or for making a film or documentary. They feature a removable micro SD card and USB cable so that you can transfer the recording to your computer or personal device for easier viewing. Some even allow you to play the recording on TV. If you require a recording function, ensure you choose a digital set with a built-in recording system and other essential accessories for this purpose.
Another factor you must check is how a set of nighttime binoculars is powered. You want to choose one whose source of power is convenient for you and the battery life is long enough for your expeditions. A set that uses separate batteries means you can swap batteries if the current battery is depleted and continue with your observation but an onboard rechargeable battery is cost efficient in the long run.
The resolution defines how sharp and clear the images you will see through your nighttime binoculars are. The higher the resolution, the better the image produced. It is a good idea to go for the highest resolution within your budget so you will be able to see even the tiniest details clearly and identify targets easily.
The ambient light available in the dark will be coming through the lens of your night vision binoculars. It is important that the lenses are of high-quality construction. Multi-coated lens where the lenses have layers of coating to make them anti-reflective, scratch resistant, and water repellent increase light transmission to ensure maximum light gain for the best quality images and ensure long-lasting performance. Lenses are a fragile component and lens covers are important accessories to protect them when not in use.
Ease of Use
Comfort and ease of use are also important considerations. The best night vision binoculars are comfortable to hold and have intuitive controls. The controls and switches should be well positioned for ease of use so you don’t have to fumble in the dark to be able to operate your observation device.
The focus should be easy to adjust and focus both eyepieces. A long eye relief allows you to hold the set away from your face for comfort especially if you wear glasses. Models that come with a head mount so you can wear them as googles free up your hands while still allowing to use your binoculars.
If you will be on the move, a set that is compact and lightweight will be comfortable to hold and use. If you will be in a fixed place, you can comfortably handle a larger model with more features. Check night vision binoculars reviews of the pair you are considering to get an idea of how easy it is to focus and use.
If you want your set of binoculars to be able to help you see even when it is completely dark with little or no ambient light available, you need a set of nighttime binoculars that utilizes not only night vision technology but also infrared light technology.
Binoculars with built-in infrared illuminators (IRI) or ones that allow you to attach one allow you to see in total darkness. You just activate the infrared illuminator at the press of a button. The IRI emits a beam of infrared light which the binoculars collect, magnify and use to produce a visible image.
Most generation one binocular IR illuminators use an 850nm frequency. The downside is that it emits a light that is visible to the naked eye making it impossible to remain undetected. More expensive Gen 2 night vision gear utilize a 940nm frequency, which produces no visible light to the eye and is more expensive.
One specification you must not forget to check is the magnification power. It will determine how clearly you can see and identify objects in the dark. Magnification power tells you the device’s ability to make targets appear closer and bigger. When it comes to night vision, the highest magnification power is not the best, as it reduces gain and field of view and reduces image clarity.
5x power is the go-to magnification power for hunters and security professionals. It offers optimal magnification without reducing clarity. A 6x and higher power will reduce gain and amplify your hand’s movement, making it difficult to have a steady viewing and the image produced will be fuzzy and grainy. A 1x power is ideal for walking in the dark or viewing targets at close range.
Eye relief refers to the distance between your eyes and each eyepiece when the entire field of view is visible. It determines how close to your eyes you will need to hold your binoculars for the best viewing experience. A long eye relief of at least 11mm offers comfort especially if you wear glasses as you can hold the instrument away from your face.
The kind of focus nighttime binoculars offer will determine the viewing experience they offer. Choose binoculars with easy to adjust focus. They should come with instructions on how to adjust the focus for each and both eyepieces. Most night vision binoculars allow you to adjust the focus for both barrels using a central focusing wheel. Some also feature a diopter adjustment ring that enables you to focus each barrel on its own.
The field of view is also an important consideration here. It refers to the width of the area that you can focus on and see through your binoculars without turning your head. The wider the field of view, the bigger the area you can see and focus your observation on.
The environment and weather in which you will be using your nighttime binoculars can affect their performance and durability. To be able to use your night vision binoculars in foggy weather, you need to choose a set that is fog proof so that it won’t develop condensation and fog up the lenses. Such a set can work efficiently even when it is foggy or misty.
Q: How Night Vision Binoculars Work?
Night vision binoculars utilize night vision technology and infrared illumination to help us see in the dark. These technologies work as follows:
Night Vision Technology
Even when it is dark and our eyes can only see blackness, there is some level of ambient light available such as moonlight and starlight. Night vision technology enhances this available light that isn’t visible to our naked eyes to boost the visibility of dim and dark scenes.
The available light from a scene enters the binoculars through the objective lenses. This light is composed of photons in all colors. The photons hit a light-sensitive surface called photocathode and are converted into electrons. A photomultiplier amplifies these electrons. On their way out, the multiplied electrons hit a phosphor screen producing flashes of light and emitting a visible image. The protons emitted are more than the ones that entered through the lens and the scene in focus appears brighter and clearer.
The photons lose their colors during the conversion to electrons. The light that comes out is in black and white. Images produced by night vision binoculars have a green glow because the phosphor screens are designed to produce green images. The human eye is most sensitive to green light and it is easier and more comfortable to look at for prolonged durations.
In pitch dark conditions where there is very little to zero ambient light available, the best infrared binoculars with night vision rely on infrared illuminators to provide a beam of infrared light which is then enhanced by the night vision technology inside the binoculars. Hot objects such as our bodies emit heat in the form of infrared light. Infrared thermal imaging technology captures this infrared light and makes objects visible in the dark by seeking out the heat they generate.
Q: How Far Can You See With The Night Vision Binoculars?
There is no standard distance that applies to all models of binoculars with night vision. How far you can see with night vision binoculars is determined by the binocular’s maximum range of detection, which could be 75 yards or more than 500 yards, and field of view. It also depends on the amount of ambient light available.
The more ambient light there is, the greater the distance you will be able to see. With a full moon shining, you can see as far as the maximum range without a problem. On a new moon where you’re making your observations in total darkness, you will need to use the IR illuminator, which will enable you to see as far as 100 yards.
Q: How Durable Are Night Vision Binoculars?
Night vision binoculars feature delicate technology on the inside. Drops, bumps, or exposure to harsh elements can destroy them easily. The best night vision binoculars are made to stand the test of time and last. They have tough housings that can withstand bumps, bruises, and weather elements and protect the sensitive interior components. Durability also depends on how well they are taken care of. If you look after a binocular well, following the manufacturer’s care and maintenance recommendations, it is likely to last you even longer.
Q: Who Benefits The Most From Night Vision Binoculars?
Those who work in the military, law enforcement, security, search and rescue or astronomy and outdoor adventurers such as hunters, campers, hikers, skywatchers, stargazers, birdwatchers, nocturnal wildlife observers, backpackers, anglers, boaters, and sailers benefit the most from night vision binoculars. They can also be of benefit to everyone as safety, navigation, and surveillance tools in the dark. For example, you can use night binoculars to investigate intruders if you hear noises within your compound at night. You will be able to see who or what made the noise without being seen yourself.
Globo Surf Overview
Whether you need night vision binoculars for work or want them for your outdoor explorations under the night sky, a good pair of night vision binoculars is a great investment that will open up new possibilities. It is a vital tool that will help you stay safe and aware while enhancing your nighttime adventures or making you more effective at work.
The first step to finding the right set of night binoculars is to determine your requirements. Knowing exactly what you’re looking for makes it easier to find a set that will best suit your needs. After determining what you want from your new nightlight binoculars and what you are willing to spend, you can look at the best offerings in the market and choose one that meets your needs and budget.
We hope our night vision binoculars reviews and buying guide is helpful in helping you find the right tool for you. It is also important to make sure that the binoculars you order are actually designed for night vision. Read the descriptions and specifications carefully to ensure you don’t accidentally order regular binoculars equipped with visibility in low light when what you want is to be able to make observations in complete darkness.
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Which of the night vision binoculars on our list is your top choice? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the infrared binoculars we’ve reviewed! Feel free to share in the comment box below!
Globo Surf Night Vision Binoculars Reviews