Night Binoculars

Binoculars have become very popular in recent years. They have moved beyond military, police and surveillance use and become a common piece of equipment for recreational purposes. Beyond bird watching, they are increasingly being bought for use in hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, in fact they can add to the pleasure of most outdoor pursuits.

You can do most of these activities, in poor light or even in darkness. This makes night vision binoculars an attractive proposition. But they vary widely in price and function and you could easily make a costly mistake.

Firstly, there is a difference between binoculars designed to make the best use of very low light conditions and a true night binocular. If you will be operating at dawn or dusk, low light binoculars could suit your purpose. You can get an idea of how well a pair of binoculars will perform in low light from its Exit Pupil.

This refers to the diameter of the beam of light that leaves the eyepieces. Hold the binoculars at arms length and you will see the small circles of light on each eyepiece. To find their size, divide lens diameter by magnification. If the binoculars are 12×50, 50/12 equals just over 4mm. A higher figure means more light, but there are other factors.

For true nighttime performance, you need an infrared light source to be able to see when there is no natural light. The effective range of these varies, so buy what you need. For hunting, a range of 10 yards is useless.

Different optical devices have different uses. A monocular, sometimes known as a spotting scope, does just that. Do a quick sweep of the terrain or the sea. Spot movements in the trees.

A binocular feels more natural with two eyepieces, but still only has a single front lens.  It is a compromise. A true night vision binocular, with two front lenses, allows the adjustment of each eye to the night vision viewfinder. This is more comfortable for long periods of use.

Before deciding to purchase night vision binoculars, consider what your needs are. What lighting conditions will you mainly be dealing with. Will they be used often and for long periods. A true night vision binocular is an expensive item, maybe more than you really need to pay.

*About Carlo Bland

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