What Is Night Vision Camera? How Does It Work?

What Is Night Vision Camera? How Does It Work?

What Is Night Vision Camera? How Does It Work?

Gone are the days when cameras were as huge as a shoe box. Today, they are now smaller, lightweight, and more versatile. Some models even allow recording videos in the night and other low light conditions. These are generally referred to as a night vision camera. What is night vision camera and how does it work?

What Is Night Vision Camera?

Night vision cameras are the generic term used for cameras that capture images and videos in low-light conditions. It is made with distinct kinds of lenses that permit infrared radiation to go through the object and reach the CMOS chip inside.

Most of them rely on infrared lights, which are visible to the camera but are utterly invisible to the human eye. These lights turn on at night and automatically take out the filter on the image sensor. As a result, the device captures clear images even in pitch darkness.

Night vision cameras are equipped with night vision technology that can be broadly categorized into three: active illumination, image intensification, and thermal imaging. Each of them is too technical to understand, so allow us to explain them all to you.

Night Vision Technology

Night vision technology was initially introduced as night vision devices (NVD) for military purposes. They came as night glasses that were very significant during World War II. They enabled the US military forces to find enemies in limited light situations. These night glasses were also popularly used for navigating the seas.

How did these night vision devices work?

Night vision devices consist of an image intensifier tube in a rigid housing. When the user switches the infrared (IR) light on, the IR fills the camcorder’s field of view with light. This enables the camcorder to see the images in the dark that the human eye cannot see.

When the camera goes into the monochromatic view, it is the time when the human eyes can see the image in the dark. These images appear in either black and white or black and green colors because the eyes can see and interpret them more quickly than they can with bright colors.

Today, night vision technology is widely utilized in many areas beyond military purposes. They are now available for civilian and commercial use including aviation, automotive, public safety, commercial security, spy games, and filmmaking. It also paved the way to the night vision cameras.

Brief History of Night Vision Cameras

Nighttime photography first appeared in 1871 and was done using a form of a photographic plate. Photographers during those times captured images on wet plates or panes of glass covered in chemicals. The procedure was cumbrous and required some exposure times that led to the impracticality of nighttime photography, but Richard Maddox’s photographic plate changed all of that.

This led to a growing interest in nighttime photography, inspiring other legendary photographers to create better cameras with even more improved films. Moreover, special development techniques were also discovered.

Fast forward to the present times, and we now have night vision cameras.

Night Vision Tech Today

Two of the most popular night vision cameras are security cameras and the night vision camcorders.

  • Security Camera

Night vision cameras are popularly used as security cameras. As a day-and-night camera, it can capture images during the day when there is enough sunlight, as well as during the night when there is minimal light or total darkness.

Some security cameras function only in the night. On the other hand, some models switch modes depending on the user’s input of ambient light.

Aside from the night glasses, security cameras have also been used by the US military since World War II. When the war was over, it found its way to civilian use to monitor security for private territories.

  • Night Vision Camcorder

A night vision camcorder is another type of camera that is capable of recording objects in low-light conditions. It can capture crystal clear images and videos in total darkness. What makes it possible to have such capabilities is the use of infrared light.

Night vision camcorders have a dedicated mechanism to capture high-quality images and videos in low light conditions. This special mechanism makes it the best device for capturing night scenes.

Night vision cameras are best used by directors and film enthusiasts, or by individuals who are interested in paranormal activities. These devices also allow users to see in the dark when fishing or hunting.

Buyer’s Guide

Night vision cameras come in hundreds of models with various features and capabilities. This section is a simple buyer’s guide for purchasing a night vision camera. It provides a general list of factors to consider when choosing a security camera for surveillance or a camcorder for recording in low-light conditions.

  • Image Quality

Basic security cameras can capture images in black and white, while the more expensive models can record colored footages.

On the other hand, night vision camcorders can record a full HD resolution with finer details. When recording videos that are meant to be presented in larger screens, a camcorder with an ultra-high definition or 4K resolution is the better choice.

  • Storage

High-resolution cameras occupy more storage pace than lower resolution cameras do. If the storage is a major concern, either you need to consider the cameras with more storage space or cameras with lower resolution.

Camcorders can occupy up to 32Gb depending on the external SD card input.

  • Price

Night vision cameras with more advanced technologies are reasonably expensive. These are recommended for activities that require the finest details and more flexible capabilities.

For leisure use, avoid getting bankrupt for buying a night vision camera with functions that you don’t really need. Consider the camera’s minimum specifications that could meet your surveillance needs or recording preferences.


What is night vision camera? With the general information above, it is no longer a mystery as to how these devices work. Whether for property surveillance or recording memorable moments, night vision cameras can get it all done. They might cost a bit, but they are good investments for long-term use.

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