To answer the question directly, there have to be a lot of variables taken into consideration – mainly depending on the object you are looking for, is it a person, building, animal? The average detection of a person is give or take 300 yards away, however recognition if that person is a male/female and additional details start at 150 yards away – the same principle goes for animals.
But it can’t be as simple as that can it? There are numerous factors affecting the detection distance from the natural brightness of the night to a simple thing like a street lamp post. Stick around to find out about the effects on those different factors and how they influence detection and compare the detection with recognition range while comparing different night vision detection techniques and devices.
Detection and Recognition Range
Two compared variables for the clear detection of the specific object looking for play the biggest role in its recognition – is it simply a cloudier night or a bright clear night. The clearer and brighter the night, the easier the detection will be and in consequence – the shorter the recognition range.
Night vision photos – can you experience how it is to see through a night vision device through the internet?
Shortly answered – no you cannot. The problem with the so called ‘’real’’ night vision photos almost every user of the internet has seen at one point is that when taking that night vision photo at night, it loses more than half of its resolution and brightness compared to how you actually see it.w
The actual photos, taken through different night vision devices do not realistically show what the real eye would actually see. The specific type of camera that the picture was taken with along with its settings and how the picture was taken all affect the night vision picture for better or worse – but nothing can be compared to how you perceive it through your eyes.
Many of the photos seen on the web are mainly just daylight photos recreated with different programs to make a night vision illusion.
Night Vision Binoculars (NVB)
A night vision binoculars are a two-eyepiece device that has a built in magnification. Typically, the device is very heavy and isn’t practical to head mount due to its single or multiple magnification lenses, depending on the model. In addition, the magnifier zooms in quite too much, so a head mounting method wouldn’t be practical at this point. For this task there are other different magnifier-built in devices that can be used while standing stationary, If the main task requires to be stationary long-distance night vision than the night vision binocular will be the perfect choice. The main problem with those binoculars is that the more geared with magnification the optic is, the dimmer and unclear the image will be due to light loss. The other big drawback from night vision binocular is that most models have a fixed magnifier which practically means they are always ‘’zoomed in’’, This could become a problem if the task is navigation or viewing of close areas as the field-of-view will be very limited and close objects will appear much larger than they actually are. As a summarization, binoculars will be the right choice and clear winner if the task is maximum distance detection while the close-in viewing will have to be covered by an additional device, if necessary.
Night vision goggles (NVG)
The main definition of night vision goggles is a device that offers the possibility of both clear eye-viewing without a built-in magnifier and is very practical, not bulky at all and can be easily head mounted.
A big advantage about night vision goggles over other devices is that they feel very natural when worn and there is very little to no learning curve to get used to wearing them. There are two main types of goggles – two-eyed piece that allows for a view through a single tube and a two-eyed piece that allows for a view through a dual image tube also known as stereo-vision. Like a monocular for example, the goggles are a great navigational device which can be freely used even while driving slowly or walking – which isn’t recommended but not impossible if necessary. The dual tube-type goggles offer ‘’stereo vision’’ which means that each eye has its own slightly different image rather than the same image being synchronized and shared with both eyes. This stereo-vision gives the dual-tube type goggles an even better in-depth perception that allows for much more improved navigational ability. The con of the goggle is more weight and is much less versatile than a monocular. Goggles tend to give a bit of a better in-depth perception than a monocular while comparing the two types of goggles – the dual tube goggles will be the best choice for performance and a shorter detection/recognition time. A big disadvantage for goggles is the increased size, weight and lesser versatility. When head mounted the extra weight will tend to cause the unit to sometime fall down below the eyes when walking as well as that the person will tend to get more fatigued with the added extra weight when head mounted because they don’t have the option to be mounted on rifles or adapted to rifle scopes whilst camera adaptation is very limited also.
Night Vision Monocular (NVC)
The main definition of a monocular is a single-eyed piece unit that has no magnification. These are the also called the pocket knives of the Night Vision Device equipment. A quality night vision monocular device is the most versatile of all the night vision devices.
Their extremely compact size and lightweight makes them the ideal tool for head mounting while completely removing the fatigue that the goggles bring. Many of the higher-gen monocular are also attachable to riles, rifle and spotting scopes and can be easily directly-mounted to almost any weapon. Many of those monocular can also be attached in front of a red dot sight, if it meets the requirements of a night vision compatibility. Monoculars are extremely versatile, because they can also be adapted to a camera for night vision photography with the use of an add-on – a camera adapter. Those optics are compact enough to even fit in a pant or shirt pocket. The other advantages of the monoculars are that the user has the ability to switch from one eye to another if necessary or fatigued and the unaided eye will maintain its night vision adaptivity and some of the peripheral vision. The main disadvantage of those tiny wonders are that it doesn’t feel as natural as the goggles and will take much more time to get used to. For optimal performance, the user will have to keep both of its eyes open in order to have the best experience and the most efficient detection/recognition reaction.
Night Vision Scopes (NVS)
There are two main types of night vision scopes, resembling a regular rifle scope only larger and heavier and the other one is just a scope that only attaches or mounts in front of a regular rifle scope.
The night vision scopes fall to the category of Day/Night systems because the user can freely remove then if there is the necessity of using a regular scope in the day time. A versatile alternative to those scopes will be the attachment of specific monocular directly to the regular rifle scope. This allows for the user to be able to freely remove it and use it for scouting, navigating and other tasks.
Night Vision Systems
Last but not least the D/N systems. Those systems refer to a device that either attaches to an object of a regular daylight scope. This device plays a role in amplifying light and uses the daytime scope’s magnifier and reticle for aiming. This kind of specific optic is very useful mainly in warfare and tactical settings. It is a very adaptive system because the user can swiftly attach it when the sun is going down turning it from a day to a night system in minutes. Due to their very compact size resembling a monocular or a goggle, they smaller lens does not gather as much light as a dedicated night scope and thus would be a second-best choice to a dedicated model of similar style. If the user is required to cover both the night and day compatibility and does not have the possibility of carrying two rifles, then a day/night system device can’t be beaten. For this system, a very high-quality daytime scope is a necessity so that as much light can be gathered as possible.