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night vision devices for seeing wildlife

see also:

  • do not look into IR illuminators at close range it may damage your eyes
  • do not aim IR illuminators at combustible materials at close range
  • IR cameras detect reflected IR light in wavelengths shorter than 1µm (eg. 850 or 940nm IR lamps)
  • thermal imaging cameras detect subject radiated heat with IR wavelengths of 7-14µm which is VERY DIFFERENT technology and these have MUCH lower resolution but can measure temperature

Introduction to near IR night vision cameras (not thermal imaging cameras)

  • these require a near IR light source illuminating the subject which may be either:
    • daylight (digital only - daylight may destroy analog II devices)
    • moonlight
    • 850nm IR illuminator
    • 940nm IR illuminator (digital only)
  • near IR night vision devices may use one of the two different technologies:
    • digital camera sensor sensitive to IR light and no IR blocking filter
      • these can usually also record camera images and/or video to a memory card (usually 1080 or 720p)
      • most have a digital zoom option
      • some can be remotely controlled by WiFi
      • can generally use 940nm IR illuminators as well as 850nm
      • most are monochrome (usually green or gray scale) but some give colour imagery at night
    • analog image intensifier (II) tube technologies
      • much less power consumption than digital
      • newer ones still generally have higher resolution than current digital ones
      • II tube has less life span and efficiency falls over time - perhaps 5-10yrs
      • II tube will be destroyed if exposed to daylight
      • generally cannot use IR illuminators above 850nm (ie animals will see it)
      • lower end models are more sensitive to rifle recoil than digital
      • cannot record stills or videos
      • give monochrome green images (except for those with White Phosphor Technology (2QS and 3G) which give gray scale images)
      • Gen 0 - those developed prior to end of WWII
      • Gen 1 - those developed by US army for the Vietnam war and used a S-20 photocathode, their image intensifiers produced a light amplification of around 1000 but still require at least moonlight or IR illuminator (usually around 790nm)
      • Gen 2 - developed in the 1970's with improved image-intensifier tube using micro-channel plate (MCP) with an S-25 photocathode, which gave light amplification of around 20000, improving resolution and reliability; Useful range is generally up to 200m; Life expectancy is about 5,000 hours of use;
      • Gen 3 - developed in the late 1980's used MCP but now with used a photocathode made with gallium arsenide, light amplification is also improved to around 30000–50000, but required more power and had large halo effect; Sufficiently efficient not not require an IR illuminator or moonlight; Useful range is generally up to 300m; Life expectancy is over 10,000 hours of use;
      • Gen 3+ “3AG” “Gen IV” - developed in the 2000s with autogated tubes
  • most have an IR illuminator which can be turned on to vastly improve the image quality up to a reasonable distance - usually several hundred metres - depending upon IR wavelength which will also determine how discrete and invisible this illuminator is to the wildlife with the 940nm ones being the most discrete but least powerful in terms of distance and generally need a sensor with high sensitivity in the range of 900-950nm
  • some have a Picatinny Rail Mount to mount other devices such as an additional IR illuminator
  • these IR night vision devices are NOT designed as photographic tools - they generally have limited manual photographic controls and have relatively poor focus supports, no image stabilisation and relatively low level of image detail
    • if you want a photographic tool you will be better off using a large sensor mirrorless camera with IR blocking filter removed, but these are much bigger, heavier and more expensive
  • they are designed to visualise an animal in the dark and if it is close enough ascertain what type of animal it is and how it is behaving
  • at further distances, you may only see the animal's eyes
  • they are also very useful for detecting IR light sources
  • for the paranoid community, users will NOT be able to see into a dark room through a window from a distance even with a reasonably powerful IR lamp but they could do from a close distance of less than 10-20m

digital near IR devices

Colour monocular image devices

  • SiOnyx Aurora
    • for colour need some moonlight level of lighting
    • various models:
      • “Sport” 720p video, 0.9mp stills, IP67, 1“ CMOS sensor; IS; 16mm f/1.4 no optical zoom; up to 32Gb microSD; WiFi, tripod mount, USB-B charging, download, 2hr Li battery $AU639
      • ”“Black” as for “Sport” but 0.74mp stills and adds Picatinny Rail Mount, Full Color down to 2 millilux; $AU1179
      • “Classic” as for “Black” but 0.9mp stills adds GPS, Accelerometer & Compass $AU1429
      • “Pro” as for “Classic” more saturated colour; sharper more contrasty mono images, up to 256Gb microSD $A1699

Monochrome binocular goggles with IR illuminators

    • 840nm infrared LEDs for illumination - giving a quoted maximum range of 70m
    • 320×240 pixel screen; 10° angle of view
  • Nyte Vu NV60 night vision goggles
    • 800x225pixel view; 12V rechargeable battery;

Monochrome binocular cameras with IR illuminators

  • Solomark Night Vision Binocular
    • 720p; 4“ viewscreen; 31mm lens; 1/3-inch CMOS sensor; 4GB microSD card; 8xAA batteries;
  • Sightmark Ghost Hunter 2×24 Night Vision Binocular
    • 2xzoom 24mm lens; 2xAAA;

Monochrome monocular cameras with IR illuminators

  • Bushnell Equinox Z2 6×50 Night Vision Monocular
    • 1080P; WiFi, 6x opt. 50mm lens; IPX4; 1W 5-7deg 850nm illuminator; tripod mount;Picatinny Rail Mount 765g; 4xAA;
  • Bushnell Equinox Z 6×50 Night Vision Monocular
    • VGA; 6x opt. 50mm lens; IPX4; tripod mount;
    • $AU525
  • Bushnell 4.5×40 Equinox Z2 Digital Night Vision Monocular
    • 1080p; WiFi; 4.5xopt. 40mm lens; 1W 5-7deg 850nm illuminator; IPX4; 4xAA; tripod mount; Picatinny Rail Mount
    • 624g; $AU629
  • Bushnell Equinox Z2 3×30 Night Vision Monocular
    • 1080P; WiFi; IPX-4; 1W 5-7deg 850nm illuminator; 4xAA; 425g; $AU559
  • Hawke Nite-Eye 2000 5×40 Night Vision Monocular
    • VGA video; 40mm lens;
  • Yukon NVMT Spartan 4×50 Night Vision Monocular
    • 4x opt zoom 50mm lens; need to buy the 3v lithium battery as extra;
  • MINOX NVD 650 6X Optical Digital Night Vision Scope
    • 6x opt 50mm lens; 5mp stills; 720p; up to 32Gb microSD; 4xAA; 765g; mounting rail;
    • $AU869
  • Konus KONUSPY-10 1x-5x Zoom Digital Night Vision Monocular
    • 18mm lens no opt.zoom;
    • $AU845
    • 5W dual 850nm and 940nm IR illuminators (intensity adjusted each time you press IR button plus zoom by pulling out the front element) plus red laser pointer
    • 1-8x optical zoom 30mm lens; WiFi, USB charging high capacity removable 3.7V 21700A/18650 lithium battery giving 8-10hrs use; 353g w/o eyepiece and diopter lens; 430g; 1080 30P MP4; 214x103x58mm; can attach lens to rear optic of 35-48mm rifle scope; MF wheel; microHDMI out; up to 128Gb microSD; $AU496 excl. battery/SD card/rifle mount/adapter;
    • 7.7deg FOV; 28mm lens; VGA; WiFi streaming; up to 8Gb SD; 10deg 940nm IR illuminator up to 300m; 4xAA or microUSB ext. power;350g
    • $AU715
    • discontinued

Monochrome monocular rifle scopes

  • Pulsar Digex with 940nm IR Illuminator - N455 Digital Night Vision Scope
    • $AU2450
  • Pulsar Digex with 850nm IR Illuminator - N450 Digital Night Vision Scope
    • $AU2450
    • 940nm illuminator; 70mm f/1.2 lens; 1.15kg; HDMI out;

Monochrome monocular rifle scopes with video

  • Yukon Photon RT 6×50 Digital Night Vision Rifle Scope with WiFi and Recording
    • SVGA; 6x opt 50mm; 3 power level 940nm IR illuminator practically invisible with a naked eye and useful for 150-300mm; WiFi streaming and remote control; microUSB ext power; 930g; IPX5; 70mm eye relief;
    • $AU1199
  • PARD NV008P LRF Night Vision Scope
    • 5mp; 1080P; 800×600 EVF; WiFi; IPX7; requires ext battery charger NOT USB! 5W IR illuminator; Picatinny;
    • $A1445
  • Pulsar Forward FN455 Digital NV Scope Attachment
    • VGA video; detachable high power invisible IR illuminator (940 nm); 7hr battery;
    • $AU2450

IR illuminators

  • as with all light, the intensity of these lights decrease by a quarter (2 ISO stops in other words your will need an ISO 4 times higher) every time you double the distance from the lamp - the inverse square law
    • this also means foreground foliage will generally be very over-exposed and may cause your subject to be under-exposed significantly with automatic exposure digital devices - you can address this via:
      • using a digital camera with manual exposure controls, or,
      • using your IR lamp off-axis so it doesn't hit the foreground foliage
  • animals will easily see 850nm lamps and will generally be scared off
  • humans can still see 940nm lamps especially if they are zoomed in and aimed at the human
  • humans and animals cannot see the light on the scene from these IR lamps
  • Z-Vision - NV-303 - IR Illuminator (Red, 850nm IR, 940nm IR)
  • INFRARED STRIKER LED – Infrared Driving Lights
    • 60W each, 850nm;IP68; 600m beam length; 1kg; 10-30V input;
    • $AU970
australia/night_vision.txt · Last modified: 2021/07/31 18:46 by gary1