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What is the Difference Between Digital Night Vision and Night Vision?

Digital night vision is a newer consumer technology even though the core technology has actually been around for quite some time.

How Does Digital Night Vision Work?

The technology for Digital Night Vision is quite different from standard night vision. Available light is collected through the objective lens and then processes and converts this optical image into an electric signal through a highly sensitive Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) image sensor instead of focusing the light on an intensifier and converting the energy into electrons.

Next, the electrical signal is transferred onto a micro-display, which is a type of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) flat-panel display screen. Each pixel is controlled by between one to four transistors in the LCD. As with standard night vision devices, you are not looking directly at an amplified image but rather a processed and recreated image.

If you are trying to remain undetected by whom or what you are viewing to keep yourself as inconspicuous as possible, look for a micro-display that takes the form of an eyepiece which you look into to view the image rather than on an LCD screen as you find on most digital cameras

Armasight Drone
**Pictured: Armasight Drone Pro 10X Digital Night Vision Scope

Main Advantages

Digital Night Vision offers a number of advantages over the more conventional intensifier tube night vision devices.

  • Price
    It can give results that are comparable to Gen 1 Night Vision Devices at less cost and without many of the distortions that you find in Generation 1 Night Vision Devices.
  • Image Quality
    You will not get the image distortion from the photocathode or phosphorescent screen blemishes with a Digital Night Vision Device.
  • Sunlight
    Regular Night Vision operates with fragile vacuum tubes. This puts these devices at risk of damage from bright light exposure. This i not the case with Digital Night Vision Devices. One You can look through Digital NVDs in the daylight without the concerns of damaging it.
  • Multiple Filters
    NVD’s many times include multiple filters. This is nice, because images can be viewed in shades of red, gray or green.
  • Photo & Video Recording
    The optical image is converted into a digital signal on an NVD. This makes it very easy to take that digital signal and record what you are seeing as either an image or as a video.


  • Reduced Range
    Unfortunately Digital NVDs have a significantly reduced range. You may even find that many of the Generation 1 NVDs will outperform the digital ones when viewing long distances.
  • Require Available Light
    They only amplify available light and require an IR illuminator to see in dark areas similar to Gen 1 night vision devices. 
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