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Does night vision work underwater?

Does night vision work underwater? – Generally speaking yes it does, but not every single night vision device is suited for underwater operations. There are specific night vision device models that have different specifications that make them adequate for underwater use.

When talking night vision devices, there are a lot of options for different scenarios, but when talking night vision underwater, is it possible and are all devices suited for normal night vision capable of seeing underwater?

Underwater night vision models

An excellent night vision device that is mainly suited for divers and detecting objects at a closer range underwater are DVS-110.

They have a built in submersible monocular accompanied with a hand-held night vision viewer as well as a special tactical Illuminator that scans and illuminates’ areas with human-eye invisible infrared lights at closer ranger that allow for clearly seeing underwater after dusk. The tactical illuminator that is built into the device can be configured with different programs, giving the user the possibility of extending the viewing range but at a cost – the quality of the picture gets blurrier as the viewing range becomes greater. This device is a perfect solution not only for divers but for underwater operations that require an enhanced configurable vision. The interface allows the user to use the eye they are more comfortable with looking (because don’t forget that this device is MONOCULAR based and only one eye is used to look through). The system of the monocular is permanently fitted with lens at the end of it that aids in water immersion and helps seeing through muddier and dirtier waters. The users of this device can submerge themselves no more than 20 meters underwater because the lens are quite fragile and can crack under specific pressure. Let’s shortly list the features of this device:

  • A 40 degree FoV (Field-of-view)
  • Submersible to 20 meters underwater or 66 feet
  •  Can be used on land as well as underwater
  • Has a built-In adjustable eyepiece.
  • Standard rail interface with different configurations and options
  • A requirement of an AA or 3-volt Battery
  • Included weapon mount for warfare operations
  • Comfortable head mount to avoid fatigue when worn mounted.

Cyclops Night Vision Technology

Another underwater night vision device that is widely used but this time mainly by special forces are the Cyclops underwater Night Vision goggles.

They have a very tactical use and can be submerged to more than 50 meters. The system of this device is more complex and includes a 25mm Ocular lens with a zoom-in option for tactical field of view that is required in warfare operations as well as a high performance Image intensifier with a battery on/off switch with is used for not losing clarity and quality of the picture when using the zoom-in option. The users of this device are required to have a full-face mask which also has a mouth piece for a built-in oxygen tank connector. The cyclops night vision device, as expected, can also be used and above water as well as deep underwater exploration of ship’s hulls looking for contraband, narcotics and even still-functioning explosives. The lens of this device are extremely durable and are extremely hard to crack under water pressure, because of the importance of the mission that this device is used in.

Underwater night vision glasses

Another device for underwater operations are double-eye underwater night vision glasses which allow the user to use both of his eyes if seeking underwater night vision.

This type of device is typically fixed to normal underwater goggles to enable the diver to use both of his hands freely. A built-in IR-diode is integrated for additional illuminator of any and all surroundings and obstacles. For longer distances, the glasses also have an underwater IR-flashlight that works on a principle that uses invisible-to-the-human-eye infrared lights and cannot be detected for the water’s surface. The goggles can be used to no more than 10 meters of depth.

The main and most common specifications of those devices are:

  • A view area of 31 degrees
  • A resolution limit of 1,23 mrad/lp
  • Enforced with a 0,98X zoom lens
  • Binocular lens with a focus of 25,5 mm
  • Fairly lightweight – around 570 grams.

Marine Thermal Underwater Image Night vision cameras

When talking underwater night vision – mounted headpieces are not the exclusive devices that are available. While an underwater camera mainly used for fishing is something every angler can use on his boat to merely know what and what is not going on underwater, knowing what is out there in the dark is just as important – to simple fishermen and to special force marines as well. A thermographic camera or also called a digital infrared thermal image camera lets the user know about the near presence of any undetectable-with-the-simple-eye hazards even when moving through the water in complete darkness. The system used for this operation is called a Forward-Looking infrared or FLIR for short. It is used by the military and is built-in on smaller boats for sensing heat radiation. The FLIR thermal imaging cameras are useful because they immediately detect objects like other boats or watercraft of any size, debris or different obstacles on the water’s surface.

But can regular night vision goggles or infrared cameras be effective under water?

When talking about night time underwater operations, water mas a very small transmission rate of lights at 830nm wavelengths where the LED illuminators of normal night vision goggles cannot operate fluently. You can blurry see underwater mainly by the light produced by the LED from the device itself but everything would be very blurry and the user would lose an idea of his surroundings. The type B photo cathodes that are in standard night vision gear are sensitive around 500nm and will mainly amplify only clear or ambient light in that band range.

Related Questions

  • Does night vision work in pitch black? – Even in the darkest of conditions, there is always that tiniest bit of light present. Night vision goggles use this present light and enhance it greatly with infrared lights, while amplifying it and the user can easily see what is going on around him – the same case goes for the underwater night vision devices.
  • What is the difference between night vision and infrared? – Infrared is a technology that is employed into most of the night vision goggles. Rather than employing visible light and amplifying it, infrared night vision devices rely on waves that are emitted by objects that radiate heat. The difference in the temperature between those objects provides the contract that is used to identify the specific objects.

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