Final questions about image intensifiers and Night Vision us

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Final questions about image intensifiers and Night Vision us

Postby cj7hawk » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:36 pm

Hi All,
Thank you very much to everyone for the participation in this series of questions – this set is the final series of questions regarding night vision use and performance, and concludes the research I began last year. As with the other questions, I have also committed to providing users of this forum with an opportunity to respond.

To provide some information about what other technologies exist and are current being developed, there is an article here ( ) that identifies some background information on other technologies, and discusses how they compare to image intensifiers.

The article this time, however, is informational only as the technical details of how image intensifiers work and what their strengths and weaknesses are have already been covered in prior articles. So, for those who want to get straight onto the questions, the final questions are;

1. What is the biggest drawback of existing image intensifier tubes (technically)?

2. What is the biggest advantage of existing image intensifier tubes (technically)?

3. How important is Power consumption? How many hours do you use NVGs/per night/per day/per "which other criteria”?

Thank you all for participating – as I mentioned at the start, this is a valuable opportunity for forum members to influence the future development of image intensifiers and have the manufacturers listen – To date, many interesting concepts have come forward, some of which I'm fairly certain would not have been considered had they not been mentioned here.

I'll wrap up after this final set of questions is concluded with details of what was said, some of the better ideas ( at least in my opinion ) and if any direct feedback has come from the night vision manufacturers using this information to further the development of image intensifier tube technology.

Thank you for all, and as always, I'll offer my own perspective on the topic.

My answer to Q1 – What is the biggest drawback of existing image intensifier tubes? I'll go with it's ultra-simple operation. In a world where we expect digital functions in everything, it's extremely difficult to get these sort of services and functions through an image intensifier – no text, no feedback, no status information... Basically, it's like a set of non-electronic binoculars – it does what it does well, but outside of that, it's fairly limited. Outside of that though, the main issue I have with them is ultra-low-light imaging. Personally, I'd like to see improvements still in very low light situations, such as overcast starlight. As a second, I'd prefer a little better spectral response so I can get better contrast of dead vegetation, which doesn't reflect much IR light.

My answer to Q2 – What is the biggest advantage of existing image intensifier tubes? Again, their simple operation. What they do do, they do well. They are incredibly efficient at what they do, and they do it well. They work under all conditions that they are expected to and are very hardy. They don't have much to break and they can sit on a shelf for a decade, be pulled out and still be expected to be fully operational ! I work with digital stuff and often after that long, it's pretty hit and miss if the item still works – Also, I particularly like their low power. I hate replacing batteries and image intensifiers are many times more effective than flashlights. Finally, they let me see an image I'm familiar and comfortable with – that's something I really like. Also, the wide field of view – At least 40 degrees in most cases, feels good. Generally, a good image intensifier feels like it's just a part of an optical system, and that actually makes me feel pretty confident in it.

My answer to Q3. How important is power consumption? To me, very. I don't use my thermals as much, because I always have to keep recharging it – and it sucks batteries. Several times with all-night use it's failed before the outing is over, and sure I can fix that, but my IIT systems just keep on working, and I change the batteries about once a year and usually that's it. I only need carry a few spare and light batteries and I'm good to go. I'll use an NVG for a few hours a night when I do, and that depends on what I'm doing – but generally, I don't use it a lot, though when I do, I don't want to find out my battery is low. I have yet to have battery issues ruin my night.

Well, that's about it – What can I say? I love image intensifiers and that's pretty obvious, but I do think there are many more improvements that can be made to them.

What are your thoughts about them?

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