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How to make the most of your night vision

April 11, 2015

Night vision is the ability to see in very low light conditions, for example at night time or whilst in a cave or tunnel. Good night vision is important for driving safely at night and for when you have to negate somewhere after dark but, compared to some other animals, humans have quite poor night vision and it can diminish with age.

Although you will never have the night vision of a fox, there are certain items that you can use to improve and make the most of your night vision when you are out after dark or in an extremely dark place.

When one thinks of night vision equipment, the most obvious choice that springs to mind is night vision goggles which can be worn on the head using a head mount, so your hands are free and you are able to see in the dark. They utilise image enhancement technology to collect all the light that is available, including infrared light that isn’t visible to the naked eye and then amplifies it so that the user can easily see what is happening.

When looking for night vision goggles, look out for models that are waterproof so you can still see clearly even in rainy or foggy weather. Even when your night vision is amplified, you don’t want your vision to be obscured by the elements, much like when you’re driving. Night vision goggles are available in various different generations of tubing and these generations will determine the photosensitivity, system light gain and system resolution of the model. For this reason, it is important to know the environment you will be in so you know what generation of tubing to go for.

As a general rule, generation 2 is better than generation 1; generation 2 can amplify light up to 20,000 to 30,000 times as opposed to generation 1 which can amplify between 300-900 times. Likewise generation 2 models give crisper, clearer images as they have far higher photosensitivity. This being said, if you are going to be in an environment that is dark, but not completely pitch black, you can afford to spend slightly less and get a generation 1 model of night vision googles as you won’t need that much amplification.

You can also purchase thermal imagers and cameras which allow you to see a ‘heat picture’ by picking up the infrared radiation produced by objects. All objects have a certain temperature and the hotter the object, the more waves of infrared radiation they will emit so a thermal imager uses a spectrum scale to indicate various temperatures. Some people find that these do not provide as much definition as night vision devices but they can be used both night and day and some people prefer to use this method when hunting. They also have the advantage of working in dusty conditions and can be handheld.

Make sure you thoroughly research the credentials of the night vision equipment you are considering to make sure that it suits your needs and the environment in which you will be using them.

You will be amazed at the clarity that the top models provide, even in extremely dark conditions.

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