Day-Night Vision Binoculars: Night Vision vs Thermal Imaging

As part of our series of photography guides, we first introduced all the best tricks for taking awesome pictures with a telephoto lens

This time we will dig deeper into one of the best photography types for telephoto lens lovers: wildlife photography. In particular, we will share all the main differences between night vision and thermal imaging. Read this post through to discover if and why you might need the help of day-night vision binoculars.

Without further ado, let’s jump straight into a throughout introduction about these two types of photography.

About Night Vision 

The latest generation night vision optics allow us to perfectly see the subject in the distance during daylight or night.

What is the principle behind night vision? Is it really effective? First of all, let’s disclaim a common myth. Night vision binoculars do not generate light. As a matter of fact, night vision devices amplify existing light and intensify it to create a clear image. The light source can be even the moon, stars, or infrared light support. The final result is a gray or greenish picture.

You may wonder, at this point, how does night vision work? The process is quite fascinating and a bit technical. In a nutshell, a form of light enters the front lens of the night vision binocular. The photons present in the light passing through the lens reach first something called a photocathode and then a photomultiplier. At first, the photons are converted into electrons and then multiplied exponentially. 

So at this point, what happens to all these electrons? Well, they are thrown at a phosphor screen located inside the device. In the end, the collision generates flashes of light, generating an image.

Here, you have it. This was a simple explanation of what happens inside night optical devices. The most amazing thing is that the whole process happens instantly. Turn on the equipment, and voilà! The world starts glowing green (or gray depending on your device). 

Have you ever wondered why the iconic “green” color? We have seen it many times in movies, the green light of night vision. At the very beginning, the green color was picked due the manufacturers` choice of a specific phosphor. In fact, the coloration was chosen because the human eye is more sensitive to green, which makes it the best solution for optimal contrast.

About Thermal Vision

After looking at night vision, now it is time to move on to thermal vision. If you are a fan of warfare movies, you certainly know something about this topic. Thermal imaging utilizes a special lens that focuses on infrared light to create a thermogram from which the image is generated. 

Simply put, thermal vision works based on the detection of the heat emitted by an object. This includes heat sources produced by people, animals, engines, and much more. The visualization of the image can vary based on the equipment. Usually, the vision can be black and white, green, or even rainbow colors. 

With a thermal vision it is extremely easy to identify an object. This technology can be used both at night and during the day. However, you will not be able to distinguish the subject’s detailed profile.  

Night Vision Pro and Cons

After introducing these two technologies, let us analyze the respective pros and cons, starting with night vision devices.

Pros: 

Details matter, or so they say! The image generated by night vision binoculars looks  more natural. What we mean is that you can have a better definition and see the details of each object. 

Not to mention that night vision devices have a wider field of view (FOV), which can help generate a high-quality image in a larger area of vision. Night vision is also not affected by cold weather and is more reliable. 

  • Better quality and image details
  • Wider field of view
  • Longer battery life
  • More affordable pricing

Cons:

The main drawback of night vision binoculars is that you cannot use them in total darkness. As mentioned before, this tool needs a source of light. If you are in a dark room, you will not be able to see much.

This disadvantage, though, can be overcome by using an infrared illuminator. Another aspect to consider is that night vision optics cannot see through any fog, smoke, and dust that obscure the scene.

Last point, camouflage is still effective. With this, we mean that sometimes you might not be able to distinguish well-hidden subjects.

  • Useless in the absolute dark
  • Fog, smoke, and dust obscure its vision
  • Not easy to identify camouflage

Thermal Vision Pro and Cons

Now is the turn to introduce the main advantages and disadvantages of thermal vision.

Pros: 

The top quality of thermal imaging is its versatility. Thermal devices can be utilized both in the day and during night time (without infrared light). They can also let users see through dust, smoke, and fog.

That being said, keep in mind not to play hide and seek with thermal vision. You will be easily spotted no matter where you hide. 

  • Day and night vision
  • Ability to see through fog, dust, and smoke
  • Unparalleled camouflage results

Cons: 

Extremely cold temperatures can easily throw off thermal equipment. Ultimately, thermal devices are less resistant, heavier, and bulkier than night vision binoculars.

In terms of price, be aware that they are considerably more expensive. The biggest downside is that the image is not clear, and if you are not used to them, you will not be able to interpret the image.

  • Larger and heavier
  • Hard to interpret images
  • Thrown off by cold temperatures
  • Less resistant and more expensive

Which One Is The Right Choice for You

Let us sum up the main differences between night vision and thermal imaging. Night vision has a better visual definition. This device works by reflecting the existing light, while thermal optics detect the object’s differences in temperatures. In terms of price and reliability, night vision devices are the winners. Both solutions, though, are a good choice depending on your needs.

Night vision binoculars are the perfect tool for exploration, camping, search, and rescue. Above all, if you are a lover of wildlife observation, we have developed the right equipment for you: the Apexel Infrared Night Vision Binoculars for Complete Darkness.

Enjoy any adventurous hiking, night observation, bird watching, and many more outdoor activities. Our infrared night vision binoculars work both during daylight and nighttime. Thanks to their infrared illumination, you will be able to see a high-quality definition image even in complete darkness.

The equipped optical FMC blue lens provides sharp and crystal clear images. The night vision binocular adopts a 2x telephoto lens and 4x digital zoom. The magnification can be up to 8x. On top of that, the device offers a larger field of vision than its competitors. When considering long-distance vision, our solution stands as one of the top options in this industry. 

Specs:

  • With high-definition coating
  • With an up to 8x magnification (2x for telephoto and 4x for digital zoom)
  • Daytime and low-light full-color vision
  • Easy to use, powered by battery/DC or power bank
  • High sensitivity and large-pixel CMOS night vision effect
  • Lighter-weight (560g), compact, and easy to carry   

Conclusion

We hope this article helped you learning something new about the differences between night vision and thermal imaging.

At Apexel, we have over 11 years of experience designing worldwide recognizable camera lens and photography equipment such as day-night vision binoculars. We have accompanied for years photographers around the world to take the most amazing shots.

With our night vision binoculars, we wish you to make your journey memorable. Check out our product selection to discover how our equipment can help making your life as a photographer much easier!