Night vision is one of the most important advancements we’ve ever made in the field of optics, giving us a chance to see things clearly in the darkest conditions. This technology has been used for so many things including law enforcement and military operations, but it’s also been popular for those who like to hunt and explore the great outdoors.
When it comes to night vision, there are two different ways that we’re able to achieve this sight in the darkness.
The night vision comparison involves a digital method and traditional method, each operating quite differently and having both pros and cons to offer the user, and so the digital vs traditional night vision debate tends to appear quite a bit.
If you’re new to the technology of night vision or just want to know a little more about how to use it to your advantage, understanding these distinct differences between digital night vision and traditional is important.
The ability to see in the dark is no doubt a technological wonder, and something that can add a whole new level of thrill and excitement to your outdoor adventures.
How Does Digital Night Vision Work?
The digital style of night vision has only been released in the last 10 years and is still relatively new, but due to the affordability to make the technology it’s a very popular method used today. These use a digital signal to process and convert the image you’re looking at into an electric signal.
This signal is then sent through device image sensor that can be found on your rifle scope or goggles and then sends the signal to a screen. So, when you are looking through your scope or digital night vision goggles, you aren’t actually looking at the image itself but rather a screen that displays it.
The Pros And Cons Of Digital Night Vision
One of the best things about digital night vision is that it works during all times of day and night, so you can just the one device whenever you need.
Compared to traditional night vision which can suffer damage from daylight conditions, you can have just the one scope or goggles when you’re out hunting and it will always work for both a day and night vision scope.
Another huge benefit to digital is the ability to record, however it might not be available on all devices. This means you can take your rifle scope out hunting with you and record your best shots, and then watch them back later and relive the action.
This is something that hunters have been dreaming of for years, and the digital night vision devices make it a reality.
Although there are some positives, we also have to look at their negatives. One problem comes with the IR illuminator and how it can reflect off shrubbery and plants while hunting, which has the potential to obscure your view. Some of the IR illuminators on these scopes can have a faint light which has the potential to give your position away.
How Does Traditional Intensifier Tube Night Vision Work?
When compared to the digital night vision, traditional methods rely on amplifying the light that is there in order to give you a picture. This means that it collects any light surrounding through the front lens and it goes through a night vision tube to change the photons to electrons.
These electrons are amplified with the device and then placed against a screen which causes the visible light, which is then seen through the eyepiece of your scope or goggles. What you are seeing is a green and amplified recreation of what you’re actually looking at, rather than starting directly at the image.
The Pros And Cons Of Intensifier Tubes
The biggest benefit to using intensifier tubes is how clear the image is as it gives a more natural view of things. This means you might find it easier to spot targets when you’re out hunting without having to squint or strain too much.
Another bonus to using the more traditional method of night vision is that you can usually get a longer range, and especially when looking at Gen 3 image intensifier tube models and above. For those who like a lot of space between them and their targets who have no need to get up close and personal, traditional technology might be best.
However, there are some downfalls as well, mainly that they aren’t really suitable for hunting and personal use. These devices are usually more expensive, heavier to carry, and they can be easily obscured with fog, smoke, and dust, which are common when you’re out hunting.
When Does Each System Perform Best?
In terms of hunting for a hobby, it’s probably best to take a digital night vision device with you. The benefits it holds over traditional styles makes it perfect for hunting, like the ability to record and its affordability. However, if you do own a traditional device then there’s nothing stopping you from using it for a successful hunting trip.
If you don’t want to carry around any extra equipment then it might be best to go with a traditional night vision device. The third and fourth generation might be able to benefit from having an IR light but usually, they can make do without, so if you only want to take one thing with you when you head out then this can work.
Another point to make is that traditional night vision with intensifier tubes doesn't work in the daylight, and so if you’re using it for something like a rifle scope this can be a bother unless you plan on only hunting at night.
For versatility and adaptability, the digital approach will be a better option, and you don’t risk damaging the device like you do when using the tube devices.
The weapons that you plan on using can also impact which technology you end up using for night vision.
Generally speaking, traditional night vision is better left for small weapons as it can’t handle high caliber weapons the way that digital products can. Therefore, it’s best to base your decision on what you plan on hunting with and other personal preferences you have for comfort.
How Do They Compare In Image Quality?
The image quality of digital and intensifier tube night vision can be quite similar, but it depends on a lot of factors. There are varying degrees of image quality which can be categorized by their generation, with first being the most basic but affordable and fourth generation being costly and usually reserved for military use.
Usually, a digital night vision device has a lower quality image when compared to intensifier tube powered ones, with their Gen 2 usually looking like a Gen 1 in the traditional style.
However, you can expect to pay more for traditional types so if you end up buying digital you should have some more money to spend and upgrade.
One key technology that both are often compared to is thermal imaging, offering a completely different way to spot things in the night.
Thermal imaging can show thermal radiation from various sources and some might find it useful to seek out their prey in the night, however, because it can’t offer a clear picture like night vision it’s generally not recommended.
The Wonders Of Night Vision
Regardless of which type you prefer, there’s no denying that this amazing technology is one of the biggest things we’ve ever seen in the world of optics. What used to be reserved for serious military operations and law enforcement can now be enjoyed for things like hunting and paintball, giving us a chance to try something new and exciting.
Deciding which one might suit your next outdoor adventure is a matter of looking at your preferences.
Do you want to carry more equipment? How much range do you need to meet your targets? How much money do you have to spend if it means getting a clearer picture? These are all things to consider when you’re in the market for a new night vision device.
Both traditional and digital night vision devices are capable of delivering something that wouldn’t be possible with our own eyesight, and although they may perform better than the other in some areas it’s still a wonder to witness.
There are many affordable and easy to use devices that let you try the night vision experience for yourself, and it has the ability to open up so many doors for your next hunting adventure.