How to Choose the Best Night Vision Camera Option for Your Needs
Making smart choices about home security starts with being informed about what’s available. While it may be tempting to simply purchase the most popular item on the shelf for your home surveillance, there are many factors to consider when making this personal choice for your home or business. One often-overlooked concern is the lighting in the area where the camera will be placed. If you will be attempting to use surveillance in an outdoor area that isn’t always well-lit, it’s important to understand your night vision options.
Consider Your Security Needs
One major question that few people initially consider is what kind of night-time visibility will best suit their needs. Whether you want the most affordable set-up, clearest image capture and quality, or a system with a long-distance range, understanding the various technologies on the market is your best first step to selecting the right surveillance option for you. For security cameras, it’s especially important to understand how they will function at night when very little light is present. Finding a night vision camera that will suit your needs is an important element in securing the right safety measures for your home or business.
For outdoor security systems in which you are monitoring the outside or perimeter of your home or business, you may want to consider hidden cameras that are unobtrusive and difficult to spot and you definitely want to make sure the system has great night vision capabilities. You’ll also want to consider whether an entire night vision security camera system is necessary or if you feel comfortable simply adding a camera capable of recording at night into an existing surveillance setup.
Understanding Night Vision Capabilities
Several different technologies make nighttime visual imaging possible. The most commonly used in security devices are infrared light, but other technologies allow photo capture with very low light levels.
Infrared Night Vision
Infrared night vision is the most commonly used night vision technology applied in security imaging. With this set-up, small, infrared LED bulbs are integrated into the camera and turn on when light levels fall below a specified point, acting as a floodlight for the camera. Many infrared cameras are built with motion detection technology and the infrared lights are only activated if the device senses movement. Infrared cameras don’t rely on ambient light and therefore produce a consistent black and white image quality no matter how dark conditions are. Among technologies available on the market now, these cameras produce the clearest images.
Even at night—in natural outdoor conditions—there is always some light present, even if it doesn’t seem like it! Unlike infrared cameras, low-light imaging technology uses existing ambient light and intensifies it to produce an amplified image. While these cameras can produce excellent imaging and are typically very affordable, they do need some light to function properly and may not always return the best results, especially on very nights and in controlled (indoor) environments. If you have a situation where you control the lighting conditions during dark hours, these cameras may be suitable and work great in dawn and dusk conditions.
Thermal imaging is a very effective technology that uses infrared energy generated from heat. This type of camera requires very little light to capture an image and works over a long distance. However, the images are not pictures in the traditional sense, but rather hot (white) spots where warmer temperatures are detected, as would be produced by a human or animal. These cameras can be effectively used in concert with infrared technologies to set up a security system that works at a great distance, like the edge of a property (with thermal imaging) and then closer to the home (with infrared imaging).
1. Nightstar 1×20
The night-vision goggle game can be expensive to break into. Quality devices can be a thousand dollars or more. The Nighstar 1×20 costs less than half that, and though it’s not perfect, it’s a good introduction to night vision. The Nightstar 1×20 is a binocular set that comes with headgear, a flip-up mount, and a built-in infrared illuminator.
There are obvious areas where the manufacturer saved money to get night-vision goggles available at this price point. The lens caps are cheap, as is the headgear, though you can upgrade to a better headset or helmet mount later. Also, the goggles weigh more than others of the same size.
The controls are surprisingly easy to use, though. Adjusting the lenses is also easy, though there’s no eye-distance adjustment, so not everybody will be able to comfortably see through both sides. The IR illuminator is also pretty limited, though it’s still acceptable when used outdoors. Just don’t expect it to illuminate a full room when used indoors!
2. Sightmark Ghost Hunter 1×24
Sightmark’s Ghost Hunter series doesn’t just include the unmagnified version. You can also get the Ghost Hunter 2×24 and 4×50 versions. The latter is best for hunting, though you’ll only want to use it when stationary.
It can be difficult to walk around the woods when looking through a 15-degree field of view at 4x magnification! However, that magnification is great for when you’re scanning the environment for that tricky coyote you’re hunting.
The Ghost Hunter will work for up to 70 hours with two AAA batteries, though that drops down to 20 hours when you need to turn on the infrared illuminator. You shouldn’t need to turn that on except for when the night sky is overcast, though.
Note that while the two sets of two lenses provide a good field of view for the magnification, you have to adjust each lens separately. Also, you’ll have to buy the head mount separately from the goggles.
The Pard NV008 LRF Night Vision Scope – sets a new benchmark amongst dedicated night vision scope units, with 1080p color for daytime use and 1080p night time viewing, MP4 video recording, and fast change battery power and compact powerful illuminator gives amazing value and performance for the money. Supplied with a weaver rail mount to fit your rifle, the unit comes with a choice of reticles and is ideal for daytime vermin or stalking shots with the ability to switch to night mode with HD image quality when required.
It is powered by one rechargeable lithium-ion battery, giving up to four hours of usage, unlike other night vision units out there the battery is non-device specific, inexpensive, and can be replaced when you are out shooting. The device comes to a dual-purpose mount, fitting both 11 mm dovetail and 22 mm weave rail.
Pard NV008 LRF is an extremely versatile unit which is also rated to 308 cal, therefore, you will have no trouble using the Pard Night Vision Scope on higher caliber rifles. What sets this model apart from its counterpart, the Pard NV008 is that the Pard NV008 LRF comes with a laser range finder capable of viewing distances up to 600m.
Night vision scopes are a great benefit for any hunter that’s going to spend significant time in the darker hours of the day. Hopefully, you found a scope that’s ideal for your needs no matter what your pricing point is, but even if you haven’t you should now be well-equipped to browse all the available models and find one to your liking. Good hunting out there!
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