Types of Night Vision Devices: 6 Categories of Night Vision Devices!

Last Updated on March 9, 2021

Night Vision Devices were first introduced in the Second World War and largely used in the Vietnam War. Since then, the night vision technology aka generations, as well as types of night vision devices, has evolved greatly. At first, these devices were mostly used by soldiers and not so available for general people. But with time the scenario has changed a lot. Now you don’t have to be a soldier necessarily to get access to night optical devices.

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You can get most of the upgraded devices in the market. But before spending your valuable money, why not have some basic ideas on those devices, their types, and usage?

Types of Night Vision Devices for Night Lovers

Night Vision Applications

Types-of-Night-Vision-DevicesActually, the use of night vision technology is limitless. Yet we are mentioning some aspects of use to give you an idea of main fields where night sight optics play a vital role.


Now you know that the amazing history of night vision started in war. So in the very beginning night, vision devices were used mainly by the military to find out the enemies at night, to survey the surroundings, supervise tactical operations, etc. These devices greatly help snippers to turn down enemies from a safe distance.


After that, with the improvement of night vision technology, the use of those devices and availability increased a lot. Wildlife observers started using them as their night vision eyes for watching nighttime wildlife. Thus they gathered amazing experiences about night vision.


Hunting is a great hobby and to find out some specific animals you may have to go out for the night. In that case, without a perfect device, you will not be able to see clearly at night let alone hunt down the desired animal. Also, daytime hunting is awesome too.

Search and Rescue

Rescue operations have gained much more success with night vision technology. During calamities or searching in a destroyed area, these devices help a lot to find out alive people and rescue them.

Law Enforcement, Surveillance, and Security

With the ease of access to night vision, now CC tv cameras and other surveillance devices can easily monitor the areas clearly even at night. This helps law enforcement agencies to prevent mishaps and take necessary steps to find out the guilty ones.


Kids and youngsters are kind of addicted to night vision. Whenever they hear night vision, they think of famous games or movies mostly. Parents can gift them affordable yet handy NV devices to play on the outside, observe night vision, and so on.

Types of Night Vision Devices

There are various types of night vision gears. They are different in their appliance as well as in their handling ways. Some are solely for tactical operations; some are perfect for normal use while some are built to face the toughest environment.

The main categories of night vision equipment are:

  • Scopes
  • Goggles
  • Binoculars
  • Monocular
  • Cameras
  • Glasses



Scopes are the common name of the telescopic sights. They are one eyepiece. Though you can use them handheld, mostly they are used mounted on firearms, particularly rifles. So basically, scopes are used by snipers, hunters, and soldiers.

Scopes have different versions according to night vision generations. Some are affordable while OK and others are pricey but from the latest generation.

Quality night vision scopes enable snippers to run a successful hunt on prime shooting targets. In warfare, scopes play vital roles. Besides, hunters can take down almost any animal at night with the help of a thermal scope too.

Telescopic sights are differentiated and classified on optical magnification and objective lens diameter, e.g. 10×50 meaning 10 times magnification with a 50 mm objective lens. The larger the objective lenses are, the more light will be gathered. Therefore, you will get a brighter image. For fixed magnification scopes, you have to choose one according to your needs.

Optical Parameters

Scopes are designed for a dedicated purpose with specific parameters. Those parameters are:


This means the linear magnifying power of the scopes is calculated by dividing the focal length of the eyepiece by the focal length of the objective. For example, magnification factor 10 means that it will produce an image as if one were 10 times closer to the object. Larger magnification comes with a smaller field of view and lower magnification leads to less vulnerability to shaking.

Objective Lens Diameter

It is measured in millimeters and defines the diameter of the lens. It defines how much light will gather to form an image. A larger diameter gathers more light.

Field of View

The amount of area through which viewers will see the surroundings can be measured in the linear value of angular value.

Exit Pupil

Exit pupil is referred to as the virtual aperture of an optical system. And aperture means a hole or an opening through which light passes. Sometimes the exit pupil is also referred to as the diameter of the virtual aperture. Viewers can see only if light passes through this aperture.

Eye Relief

Eye relief denotes the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece through which the viewer’s eye can obtain the complete viewing angle. Viewers will have a reduced field of view if their eyes are outside of that distance. Eye relief decreases with the increase of magnification and field of view.

There are some other important factors of scope like the main tube, reticles, parallax compensation, adjustment controls, etc. We will not jump into details here. But you can check telescopic sight.

Before buying any night vision scope you must consider the following,

  • Magnification range
  • Zoom level
  • Battery duration
  • Eye relief
  • Day-night mode
  • Generation
  • Built-in IR or not
  • Waterproof or weatherproof
  • Types of reticles or crosshairs

If you are not a hunter or sniper, yet still very eager to experience the night vision through the scope you can make a night vision scope yourself. Yes, that’s possible! Check this amazing video

Generations of night vision devices defer from each other largely. Normally, you will get many more features with the higher generation. But the price goes higher too. So before jumping into a decision, know your requirements, do as much research as you can. Hopefully, you will get the best device for your money.



In general, protective eyewear that is used in chemistry laboratories, woodworking to prevent eyes from being harmed by water, chemical, or other things are referred to as goggles or safety glasses. They are also widely used in swimming, snow sports, drill works, etc. But when you refer to goggles as NV devices, they are taken as a pair of a single piece which is mostly used as helmet-mounted night vision devices.

Most of the time whenever goggles are mentioned as night vision devices, famous game scenes or movie clips come into our mind where targets or enemies are taken down heroically in the pitch-black night just because of perfect NV goggles. All these scenes have created great enthusiast among general people to experience night vision.


Goggles are perfect for military or wildlife observer, a nighttime watcher. In easy terms, for night-time observation or secret operation. Keeping that requirement in mind, most of the goggles are designed in such a way that, they can be used handheld, head mount, or helmet mount. But one thing that should be kept in mind that, all the goggles do not permit all three options above mentioned. Some are to be only used as a head mount and not a handheld, some can be used both head mount and helmet mount.

Most of the devices from the latest generation come with head mount gear with the package. So you don’t have to bear the additional cost for a head mount. To avail of this opportunity, you should check about the package including before buy. Also, try to choose the device with a handsome amount of battery backup and with the most available battery type. You will hate to look for batteries in dire necessity.

You will be astonished by so much variety of top-notch night time goggles. There are military standard NV goggles as well as normal purpose goggles. And there are night vision and infrared goggles as well. That means, buying a perfect one can be a real challenge. To pass that challenge easily you can check our review on NV goggles with an outstanding buying guide.

Goggles are to be your perfect match if you want to move while observing at night or are on a mission. The hikers and backpackers love monocular when they go outside. Not only that, hunters and bird watchers always prefer monoculars to other optics although some will prefer other devices like binoculars for hunting. So, you can get some high-end night vision monocular or quality night vision binoculars that can serve you greatly in the day time and even in low light to some extent.

Unlike monocular or binocular, most of the goggles are with 1x magnification. Magnification of more than 1x causes serious problems while moving at night. Besides, you can use goggles while using a rifle or bow. So you can use goggles as your ultimate night vision device.

Night Vision Monocular and Night Vision Binoculars

A monocular is a single eyepiece while a binocular is a double or dual eyepiece. Each of them has a specific application and is best in their places.

The discussion about the difference between night vision monocular and binocular, and which one is better in what type of condition, all demands a separate article.


Generally, cameras are used for capturing or recording images. But cameras play a vital role in security and surveillance. And, night vision cameras have made a great role in the security sectors. Like other NV devices, night vision cameras use infrared light to show the dark areas.

Night vision cameras can be classified into two major types. One is an indoor night vision camera and the other is an outdoor night vision camera. From their name, it is clear where they are used.

With time, night vision cameras have improved greatly. We will write a detailed guide on top quality night vision cameras along with buying instructions.

The important factors of night vision cameras are

Infrared Sensors

Cameras with more infrared sensors produce a better image. And, it also defines how far the camera can cover.

Image Quality

It is well known that image quality depends on the resolution. The better the resolution, the higher quality image, or footage you will get. It is suggested to have at least 720p or higher resolution.

Field of View

Surveillance or night vision cameras should have a wide field of view. Otherwise, you can miss important targets, and criminals can use the blind spots of the camera.

There are enough night vision cameras to make it challenging for almost anyone to buy a perfect night vision camera. If you are clear about your requirement whether you need an indoor or outdoor camera, resolution, field of view, etc. then the purchase is a piece of cake for you. Otherwise, you will face some challenges. Good luck.

Night Vision Glasses

HD Night Vision Driving Glasses for for Men Women - Polarized Safety Glasses for Outdoor Activities

Everybody is familiar with sunglasses. In terms of night vision glasses, you can imagine tinted sunglasses. Most commonly the tinted color is yellow. There is a good reason for using a yellow color. Though yellow causes color distortion, during night time all the colors get dimmed gradually. But yellow is more effective in low light conditions. Besides, night vision glasses are made for driving and yellow tint protects eyes from light glare.

The important factors of night vision glasses are

  • Polarized Lens
  • UV Protection
  • Lens Material
  • Lens Tint

Safety Measures for Night Vision Devices

Your NV devices are not only very expensive but also complicated and sensitive. To make sure your favorite device can have a long life you must know the risk factors for NV devices and always avoid those situations. You can also follow forums on night vision to have in-depth knowledge about night vision information. Here, we will talk about the basic safety measures for night observation devices.

Bright Light

The main thing of a night vision instrument is the tube through which the magic is done to generate a perfect image. In short, the magic is, photos from material hits photocathode and electrons released, then the electrons pass through microchannel plate, gets amplified and passed to a phosphor screen. Then they become photons again and viewers get the night vision version finally.

The tube is actually very much sensitive to bright light. Even too much bright light can eventually destroy the tube system.


To protect your device from sudden exposure to bright light, you should buy the devices that come with an auto cut-off feature. These features completely shut down your device whenever it is exposed to bright light. Also keep in mind that, not all devices have this feature.

Rough Weather

Since you will use NVD during the night, it is quite evident that you will fall in rough weather like fog, rain, desert storm, etc. You will definitely not like to spend money on such a device that is vulnerable to this type of situation. The good news is that most of the devices from the latest generation are made to face rough weather easily.


Buy weatherproof devices. You can get waterproof and other situation proof devices very easily with a little bit of extra money. Not only that, but devices also come with IPX rating. You should also check that before buying any device.

To have a better understanding of your devices, check our article on how night vision works.


So far this was our primary discussion on different types of night vision devices. We hope experts will find something new or interesting in our article, while beginners will be overwhelmed with the depth of night vision technology and devices. These may not solve all problems of night vision but, it will ease your way out. You can also pick from our top-rated device list of night vision.

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  1. The rising number of terrorist attacks worldwide is further fuelling the need for night vision devices by the military and defense sector.

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