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Jul 27, 2023 | 12:39 pm 1030 0

Night vision or thermal scope – what do you need?


Night vision or thermal scope – what do you need?

Night vision or thermal scope? This question is one of the most popular when buying the best optics. To correctly answer it, you need to study in detail the features of each type of device, its strengths and weaknesses, and priority applications. This information will form the basis for making an informed and thoughtful decision.

Night scope

Sights that support NV technology are the most popular type of optics. All models produced today are perfect for dozens of jobs and have become essential in achieving your goals.

NV scopes have a relatively simple principle of operation. It uses all available light with subsequent amplification and transformation into a picture visible to a person. The first important step in this process is the collection of light rays reflected from living and non-living objects. The scope lens is responsible for this operation. The collected light beams are focused and transmitted to the critical design element of any NVDs - the image intensifier tube. In it, photons of light are converted into a stream of electrons in fractions of a second. 

Further, in the photomultiplier, this flux is multiplied by an increase in these particles. Many electrons are redirected to the luminescent anode with a minimum electrical charge. This action results in photons being knocked out of the stream. Their number becomes much larger than it was initially, due to which the image turns into a brighter and more contrasting one. This information is transmitted to the display built into the eyepiece of the sight.

The simple operation principle and the process's comfort make NV scopes popular devices. Most often, they are exploited in the military sphere. Thanks to their ability to create a clear image in low light conditions (for example, only in the light of celestial bodies), it is possible to perform numerous combat missions and train soldiers and prepare them for their duties at night. NV scopes are often integrated into the aiming system of various military equipment. This enables the military to accurately determine the location of the enemy and make accurate shots.

In addition to the military, NV scopes are used by police and special services. With their help, these people neutralize dangerous criminals, protect high-ranking officials, and maintain law and order during mass events of various kinds. NV scopes are no less helpful for representatives of other civilian professions. Most often, they are used by security guards and nurses. The former protects essential infrastructure facilities, warehouses with expensive goods, and closed private territories. Scientists need NV scopes to study and save some species of large wild animals. With the help of sights, they accurately shoot a tranquilizer dart at wounded individuals that need human resources and temporarily euthanize fauna that they want to study or transport to a particular territory (for example, to a nature reserve).

Another widespread use of NV scopes is night hunting. This exciting event attracts the attention of many hunters who want a valuable and prestigious trophy. When hunting, night sights help avoid direct contact with various living creatures and increase the safety of their participants. In addition, this optics reduces the percentage of inaccurate shots and saves ammunition.

To get a complete understanding of NV scopes, it is recommended to study the list of benefits in detail. There are a lot of them, so this optics is famous all over the world. They have drawbacks. It is essential to learn about each of them before buying a device. Otherwise, you can expect a few unpleasant surprises.

Key benefits of NV scopes:

  • wide scope;
  • ease of use;
  • small size and weight (for most areas);
  • good image quality even in low light (for example, only in the light of the moon and stars);
  • economical energy consumption (typical for most modern models);
  • relatively low cost;
  • large working resource;
  • lack of care problems.

The main disadvantages of NV scopes:

  • zero efficiency in the absence of lighting;
  • inability to see in various obstacles (plants, smoke, heavy snow, fog).

Thermal scope

Thermal imaging is often described as a young development quickly integrated into our daily lives. Based on this technology, many optics models have been created, including the thermal scope.

The principle of operation of such a sight is quite simple. It consists of forming a thermal image from the available infrared radiation. The latter makes it possible to see all heated objects located in the optics' scope and determine each of them' temperature. This process begins with the collection of infrared radiation. The lens of the sight performs this work. The captured radiation is focused, after which it enters the IR detectors. These structural details often have increased sensitivity, so they do not let through a single infrared beam. After that, a thermogram shows the temperature of each point of the observed territory. Through various transformations, it turns into electrical impulses. The latter fall into the electronic system of sight, where dozens of complex actions are carried out. The output is a thermal image displayed in the eyepiece of the optics. It allows the user to see the outlines of objects and their temperature, which are shown as separate sections painted in a specific color. By comparing the shade with the provided scale, it is possible to determine the approximate temperature indicators of each living or inanimate object.

Different thermal scopes were integrated into other areas of human activity as quickly as possible. This became possible due to the efficiency of each manufactured device and the convenience of its operation. The most active users of such optics are naturally military personnel of various units. They take the thermal scope with them when more than the functionality of classic NV scopes is needed. This happens in the absence of lighting or various obstacles (in foggy weather, places with dense vegetation, etc.). Most often, such sights are used in complex military operations. These devices enable snipers to do their job effectively and also provide military units with important information about the location and amount of equipment or manpower of the enemy. No less often, military personnel use thermal imaging sights during large-scale exercises, where combat skills are practiced at night.

Sights with thermal imaging will become indispensable assistants to police and intelligence officers. They will help them cope with complex tasks after sunset. Thermal scopes will significantly simplify the protection of important government officials, help prevent various attacks on secret objects and ensure security during public events. In addition, these optics, just like NV scopes, will prove to be an excellent assistant in the work of veterinarians, environmentalists, and scientists.

Thermal scopes are an essential piece of equipment for hunters. In the forest, they become indispensable helpers, thanks to which it is possible to find even well-camouflaged animals hidden in dense vegetation quickly. These optics will allow you to identify representatives of the fauna promptly. This will minimize the likelihood of killing animals under the protection of nature conservation organizations or species that have not yet opened the hunting season.

Most of the thermal scopes produced today are handy devices. They have many positive aspects compared with other types of optics. Thanks to them, the popularity of such sights is growing every day.

Key benefits:

  • simple management;
  • universality;
  • efficiency in conditions of complete lack of illumination;
  • good quality image;
  • the possibility of determining the approximate temperature;
  • the ability to "see" through numerous obstacles;
  • reliability;
  • long service life.

Important disadvantages:

  • large size and weight (compared to other types of sights);
  • high price.

The difference between both types of optics

NV and thermal scopes are optics intended to achieve the same goals. Despite this circumstance, both devices are unique, and their differences are observed in most aspects. Therefore, to determine which option is optimal, you must carefully study the main distinguishing features.

Main differences:

  1. Design. Significant differences are observed in the creation of both devices. Models that support thermal imaging have more significant components, which is why the dimensions of such optics become more critical than those of the NV. Most often noticeable are the differences in the diameter of the lenses. It must be significantly larger to capture IR radiation than to collect light.
  2. Working principle. Owners of various types of night sights most often refer to this difference. As mentioned earlier, the operation of NV models focuses on collecting the light reflected by objects, amplifying it, and displaying an image adapted to the user's eyes. Thermal scopes work differently. They capture IR radiation, convert it, and turn it into a thermal image provided to the user.
  3. The need for light. NV scopes only work effectively when accessing light sources. They can be different celestial bodies, searchlights, lanterns, and other lighting devices. Thermal measurements can do without light. They can form a thermal image even in complete darkness.
  4. Efficiency under adverse conditions. Sights using NV technology are afraid of various weather anomalies, due to which lighting conditions deteriorate. Also, they will not be able to work as efficiently as possible in the presence of heavy clouds in the night sky. Thermal imaging models perfectly cope with the tasks set in good weather and heavy rain, snowfall, fog, and smoke. In addition, the thermal scope can capture infrared radiation without direct visual contact with the object. This means they will form a thermal image even of those animate or inanimate objects hidden behind the leaves of trees, hidden in the grass, and invisible due to artificially created camouflage.
  5. Formed image. NV models produce a single color image on the display. It often has a green tint, which is considered the least harmful to human vision. Some modern devices have other color variations, but only one shade remains unchanged. In thermal scope, the image is multi-colored. On it, specific temperature indicators are displayed in a particular shade. Due to this, on the display of such a device, you can simultaneously see areas of yellow, red, orange, blue, and green.
  6. Cost. Any thermal imaging devices are more complex optics, so their cost automatically becomes relatively high. Any exceptions are infrequent. At the same time, NV sights can have different prices. Even in our time, you can find budget devices and models of the middle-price segment on sale.

What to choose?

Any questions regarding the advisability of buying NV or thermal scope will always be debatable. Even specialists using both types of optics for many years cannot give an unambiguous answer. Based on this, we can conclude that under some circumstances, the use of NV models will be a good option, and in others - thermal imaging.

The optimal choice for each specific case:

  1. Limited financial opportunities. This situation is quite common, so it should be considered first. The lack of money dramatically limits buyers in choosing optics. In such a situation, purchasing NV scopes would be the best solution. They are much cheaper than thermal analogs; even very inexpensive devices can be sold. Naturally, they will not be as efficient as models that cost 3-4 times more, but they can cope with many tasks. With limited financial resources, you will most likely have to remember thermal scope. The only option would be to buy used devices previously used for a certain period.
  2. The need to use it in bad weather. If you plan to use the sight frequently, you need to choose models that can work effectively in good and bad weather. In this situation, purchasing thermal imaging optics would be the most appropriate solution. It will provide the user with a high-quality image even in conditions of heavy snowfall, heavy rain, fog, and sandstorms. In addition, it will be effective in heavy cloud cover, when access to any light is severely limited. At the same time, night vision scopes can only do their job well in good weather and in cases where there is access to natural or artificial lighting.
  3. Application in summer and winter. If you buy a scope exclusively in the warm season, then the only limitation in your choice will be the amount of money in your bank account. This is because night vision and thermal scope can work equally effectively at high air temperatures. Due to this, the purchase of a specific model must be carried out by your needs. The situation is different when the device must be operated in the winter. NV models work more efficiently in very severe frosts than thermal imaging ones. However, you can buy any optics if your region experiences relatively mild winters.
  4. Operation in open or wooded areas. To choose a specific type, it is essential to consider the nature of the terrain on which you plan to use the optics. Both devices are equally well suited for open areas. NV models should be selected if a thorough inspection of such an area is necessary. At the same time, thermal sights will be helpful if you need to detect the objects you are looking for quickly. In a wooded area, the NV will be practically useless. During its operation, the area of ​​visible space will be limited to the trees closest to you or other natural barriers. However, with the help of thermal scope, you can overcome existing obstacles (leaves and branches), thereby obtaining a full-fledged image limited only by the range of the device.
  5. Conditions of lack of light. Cloudy nights, highly dense vegetation, and other situations will cause the quality of the existing lighting to deteriorate. It will become zero in many cases (for example, in caves). In such a situation, the only compelling sight will be thermal imaging. It can create a thermal image even in complete darkness. At the same time, night vision scopes will be practically useless in these conditions. They will not be able to catch enough light to form a well-defined image of the observed area on its basis.
  6. Continuous operation for an extended period. In some situations, the user must operate the sight for three or more hours. For such cases, NV models will become a priority option. Firstly, they use battery power more economically, so the latter will last longer. Secondly, these devices are much lighter and more compact than thermal imaging sights. Thanks to this, the user's hands will be energized by extended continuous use of optics. Thermal scopes in such situations will only be an alternative option that can be used without more suitable optics.

Night vision and thermal scope can be called "relatives" among many types of optics. These devices are often used for the same purpose. However, they have many differences, thanks to which each option is ideal for performing a specific job. To accurately determine the optimal scope for your application, you need to study much-related information and understand the principle of operation of both devices. By doing this, you will not make a mistake and will be able to find the best option for yourself.


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