Monoculars have become a more popular alternative to binoculars in recent years. While binoculars will always have a loyal fan base and find their function in stargazing, bird watching and many other outdoor activities, monoculars are ideal in several fields for many reasons.

What is a night vision monocular and what is it used for?

Whereas binoculars have two primary lenses – one covering each eye – monoculars only have one primary eyepiece. They are essentially modified refracting telescopes (because like refracting telescopes monoculars make use of lenses and not mirrors.) Monoculars also make use of prisms which the light passes through.

One of the greatest advantages of choosing monoculars over binoculars and telescopes is that their design generally means they are compact, lightweight and portable. This makes them convenient to carry around and use for extended periods of time without becoming fatigued or uncomfortable.

Monoculars may be used by the visually impaired for viewing objects in the distance, be it a presentation in a boardroom or an event in a stadium. They are especially useful if vision between the eyes varies, as a way of ‘balancing’ your sight out.

Night vision monoculars in particular were originally used in military and marine operations. Other activities in which monoculars night vision monoculars are useful include:

  • Bird watching
  • Hunting
  • Scouting
  • Security
  • Night time navigation
  • Search and rescue operations
  • Boating/fishing
  • Surveillance
  • Camping
  • Wildlife observation
  • Exploring caves
  • Viewing at art museums
  • Viewing at large auditorium events

It is important to note that true night vision monoculars such as the ones originally used by the military are harder and more expensive to come by than the budget devices that are often misleadingly advertises as night vision monoculars or day/ night monoculars.

The easiest way to know that monoculars are truly night vision is that they will rely on a power source to effectively operate in Infrared. They are also bulkier and sturdier than normal compact monoculars.



To understand how night vision works we need to go back to Physics class and understand that ‘Light’ is made up particles known as ‘Photons’ and night vision devices basically work by manipulating these particles to produce a clearer and brighter image. The following diagram illustrates how night vision optics work:
Light (photons) enters through the front of the lens

  1. Photons are converted to Electrons by Photocathode
  2. Electrons are multiplied millions of times by Micro Channel Plate
  3. Electrons are accelerated and thrown into a Green Phosphor Screen to produce tiny flashes of light
  4. User sees an image that is brighter and clearer, but green in color



The key difference between each generation of night vision is the intensifier technology used, and the quality of images produced. As technology has evolved over time, these image intensifiers have seen gradual upgrades to their build:

  • Gen 1: Utilized S-20 Photocathode for Light Amplification of about 1000x. (About 1000hrs Life Expectancy)
  • Gen 2: Utilized S-25 Photocathode and Micro-Channel Plate (MCP) for Light Amplification of about 20,000x (About 2,500-5,000 hrs Life Expectancy)
  • Gen 3: Utilized Gallium Arsenide Photocathode and Micro-Channel Plate (MCP) for Light Amplification of about 30,000-50,000x (7,500-10,000hrs Life Expectancy)
  • Gen 3+: Utilizes Automatic Gated Power Supply System to regulate Photocathode Voltage and allow NVD to simultaneously adapt to changing light conditions, and/or removes ion barrier of MCP to reduce image noise and increase luminous Sensitivity to 2,800 K of only 700, compared 1,800 of Gen III Image intensifiers

    How To select the night vision monocular for your hunting&outdoors ?


    For starters, identify the tank for which you intend to use night vision binoculars. Are they intended for nature observation, security, and surveillance, security, or to playfully test out the perks of night vision?

    Doing so will allow you to select the ideal budget and generation for you. If you’re on the quest for entirely perfect videos and photos or are an avid hunter, then investing in pricier models is a no-brainer. Casual users can forgo a few high-end features to save extra bucks.

    The most important factors for picking the right product for you are as follows:


    Clarity is directly connected with the resolution. The relation is quite simple – since the resolution is measured with lines per millimeter, the higher the lines the greater the quality will be. This is becoming somewhat less important as even consumer grade products have improved their level of clarity in the last few years.


    When dealing with night vision scopes, it is important to know the necessary recognition range. Regardless of all the technological advances, night vision technology has still not reached the point where it can function as a rifle scope, i.e. having the ability to see over hundreds of yards. The total range is not nearly as important as the recognition range of a night vision scope. Most manufacturers release recognition ranges for different lighting conditions like full moon, quarter moon, starlight only, or overcast. Naturally the range decreases as the amount of light decreases, since night vision quality depends on the available light.


    With night vision devices, the higher the magnification the bigger and heavier the optics. For freedom of movement and comfort, use a lighter optic while heavy optics are meant for static observations.


    If you are about to spend several hundred or even thousand dollars on a piece of night vision equipment, it needs to be a long term investment. So before deciding on the make and model, consider the quality of the weatherproofing and the known longevity of the electronics and optics.

    Infrared Illuminators (IR

    When buying a night vision device, check if it has an infrared illuminator or the option to mount one. Infrared illuminators emit infrared light which is reflected back by the surroundings into the night vision set, making the image brighter. This addition is especially useful in situations where there is a near-total lack of light. Notably, IRs have a limited range, depending on their size.

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