An introduction to night vision

We are writing this blog to help first-time buyers understand the basics of night vision. Our aim is to answer the most frequently asked questions for beginners and guide you to the most suitable product for your needs.

What is night vision?

Gen 1: They are not so useful without Infrared red light. They can capture IR light and turn it into visible light for us to see. But they cannot amplify light, since they do not have the Micro Channel plate that Gen2 & 3 have. 

Gen 2: This is a huge leap in technology. They work the same as Gen 1 but add a microchannel plate (MCP) to amplify light up to approximately 20,000-50,000 times more than what a human can see. It is when an IR flashlight is no longer needed in most situations, allowing you to navigate in the dark without any problem. Because of their effectiveness, many countries have regulations on them.

Gen 3: This is also an improvement, but the leap is not as huge as from Gen 1 to Gen 2. Gen 3 uses the same technology as Gen 2 but with a different material for the photocathode. Gallium arsenide is used instead of Multi-Alkaline due to higher light sensitivity.

Digital night vision: These are the ones that you usually find on eBay or Trademe priced around $400-500. They are basically a handheld version of CCTV cameras. Similar to Gen 1, they will let you see in the dark with IR floodlight that is not visible to the human eye. Not too useful without IR light and suffer from lagging. 

Is Gen 3 superior? 

he answer depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the user. Both Gen 2 and 3 have their pros and cons. In terms of high-end Gen 2 vs. Gen 3, Gen 2 typically excels in retaining image quality in highlight areas due to the material used. Thanks to superior auto-gating and bright light protection. Many law enforcement and military would prefer Gen 2 over Gen 3 in urban environment for the mix of light environment. Gen 2 is also excellent for airsoft due to the frequent use of flashlights in the game.

On the other hand, Gen 3 excels in low light conditions because it can amplify light more efficiently. When the moon is present, high-end Gen 2 and Gen 3 devices will perform equally. However, in areas with little light pollution such as deep woods or rural areas, Gen 3 is superior. Ultimately, the choice between Gen 2 and Gen 3 depends on the specific requirements and conditions of the user.

 White Phosphor or Green Phosphor?

Traditionally, green phosphor was the preferred choice for night vision because scientific research has shown that the human eye is more sensitive to green light than other colors in low-light conditions. This means that green phosphor can provide better visual acuity and detail in the dark compared to other colors. However, some individuals may experience temporary pink vision and headaches after prolonged use of green phosphor night vision devices.

To address this issue, white phosphor night vision was developed, particularly for pilots who needed to use night vision goggles for extended periods. White phosphor has been found to be more natural and easier on the eyes, reducing eye strain and fatigue. However, it is worth noting that genetic factors can also influence an individual's preference for green or white phosphor night vision, and some people may still find green to be better for their eyes.


Head Mounting

In order to mount the night vision on the head you will need 3 component for monocular 2 for binocular. 

1. shroud

 Shroud is a a bracket on your helmet/cap/skull crusher that let you put the mount on.

2. Dovetail/bayonet J arm 

They are the arm that let you slide the monocular into the mount and rotate side ways. 

3. Mount

It connect the dovetail/bayonet to the shroud. A mount can also flip up and down. Mount is usually 

Make sure you get the matching mount. A dovetail cannot use with bayonet stuff. However, we recommend to get dovetail only. Bayonet is an obsoleted 90s legacy. Most modern gear is made for dovetail. 

Gun Mounting

You will need a special mount. We can order in some for you. But we do not recommend to mount it on the rifle. PVS-14 does not like recoil. 

Monocular or Binoculars?

The major difference between a monocular and binoculars is the depth perception. There is a learning curve to using a monocular at first because it lacks depth perception. Your brain needs two eyes to calculate the distances between you and the object in front of you. You can simulate this by walking up or down stairs slowly with one eye covered and the other eye looking through a paper toilet roll to simulate tunnel vision. It will take some practice to get used to it, but the lack of depth perception is the only drawback of using a monocular. Otherwise, they are more affordable than binoculars and easier to carry around.\

If budget allows, we highly recommend using binoculars as they offer a better overall experience. Most binoculars are articulated, allowing you to rotate one pod to the side and use it as a monocular. This way, you can enjoy the advantages of both a binocular and a monocular. Additionally, some new binocular products weigh almost the same as a monocular with a J-arm, so weight concerns may not be an issue in 2023.

 Image Intensify tube

Image intensify tube is the core of the night vision. It dictates the performances of a night vision devices and generations. 

Basic knowledge for image intensifier

Blemish: Block dot on the screen. They are usually particles that are trapped in the tube during the manufacturing process. But can also cause by light damaged. They are cosmetic defect that don't affect performances. However, they can be distracting when they are in the zone 1 (center). 

Peppering: Smaller black dot that are scattered all over. 

Bright spot: A cosmetic defect that is like Blemish. Will only appear when the back ground is bright. You can test it by covering up the lens to see if it disappear. If it does, then it is a bright spot. 

Emission point: A bright spot that will not disappear even no light enters the image intensifier. Unlike bright spot, it can slowly grow bigger and bigger. Contact us if an emission spot developed. 

Resolution: like screen pixel. A good threshold is 64. higher resolution than 64 will not make much differences on 1x, unless you are a sniper and need to amplify it with 3x 5x scope. 

Signal to noise ratio (SNR): A measurement unit for the overall low light resolution. The less light the tube going into the tube, the more noise the image will get. Noise are like the noise you see in the TV when they have gone out of signal. The higher the SNR the less noise you will get. 

Figure of merit (FOM): The most common measurement unit to estimate the overall performance of a tube. Calculated by (Resolution x Signal to noise ratio)


The front lens and rear lens for night vision. the front one is usually named "objective lenses". Rear one "ocular lens". They are the second most important component. A great lens will exert more % of the tube performances, have less distortion and lens flare. 


 Housing is the shell that contains the image intensifier and the lenses. It will not affect the night vision performance. But it is critical to agility. A more ergonomic housing will be lighter and smaller. Allow you to turn your head faster and flip up your night vision more smoothly. 


 Night vision is a powerful tool that allows you to see in the dark, but choosing the right one can be overwhelming. We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions and provided you with a better understanding of the different generations, phosphor colors, and mounting options available. Remember to always consider your specific needs and use cases when choosing the right night vision for you.







Back to blog