We’re coming up on the holidays, and you are wondering what to get that special someone, right? Well, as a gear head, I usually stay on top of what’s hot and what’s not, and night vision has always been in that category of top shelf toys. What’s not to like about night vision? I mean, only regular folks investigate what goes bump in the night with a flashlight. If you want to be James Bond of your house, you HAVE to own night vision. There is just one small minor problem with that. Most of the night vision worth owning will cost the equivalent of a small used car…in the $3k neighborhood. Well, for most people, that is just not in the budget, however, luckily there is now an alternative coming to the market, digital night vision. The first digital night vision I always felt was nothing more than a digital camera with an infrared illuminator, however, they have come a very long way since then. If you are needing to get that someone that has everything a gift, take a good look at the Firefield digital night vision monocular. For the money, it is a great value.
Lets start by looking at digital versus analog night vision. I won’t belabor it, but digital is essentially an extremely sensitive camera that gets processed and displayed on an LCD screen. Analog night vision has a special gas charged tube where photons trigger electrons to illuminate a phosphorus screen. They are completely different technologies, and both have their place. The one common factor, is both require ambient light to operate. If you operate either one in a completely dark room, you will not see anything (unless you use an infrared illuminator). Here is where we start to diverge, analog night vision was originally called “starlight” because the ambient light from the stars helped to illuminate enough you could see through the optic. With digital night vision, you almost have to have an infrared illuminator if you want to be able to see anything, where as analog night vision (especially the higher generations) will show a decent image with lower light such as starlight, moonlight, or ambient city light.
So, what make the Firefield digital night vision monocular so special? Well, to begin, it works. I know that sounds funny and I’ve said it before, but these days, having a device that does what it is supposed to do isn’t always something we can take for granted. Firefield has a 1-3x (model FF18065) version and a 3-9x (Model FF18066) version called the N-Vader. These are 1x optical 3x digital, and 3x optical 9x digital respectively. A nice feature is they have a color LCD that I feel offers a little more contrast than other digital night vision monoculars I have viewed. They both feature a 1W (1000mW) infrared illuminator that is in the near infrared spectrum which means it will look like a dull red to the human eye. For a completely infrared illuminator it has to be in the 900nm range, and not many of those are available, but you can’t see the light in that range with your eye, so it is undetectable when in use. Now here is where the Firefield scopes separate themselves from other night vision devices. The monoculars have digital zoom that you can incrementally increase (1x, 2x, 3x and 3x, 6x, 9x respectively). Given the low resolution of the LCD display in the device, you really don’t notice a quality difference at the higher zoom as you do with most digital zoom optics. Secondly, the digital night vision monocular features an adjustable frame rate. The higher the frame rate, the less light that is processed for each update, which translates into a darker picture, and just the opposite for lower frame rates which will enhance the image and show lower light conditions with more identifiable clarity. The Firefield also offers an adjustable IR illuminator setting, allowing you to turn down and even off the illuminator if you don’t need it (I should point out that the Firefield Digital Night Vision Monocular does have a day mode that you can use for spotting during daylight hours, with the color LCD this is a nice feature, but not something I’ll probably ever use because after all, this is a night vision device). The feature that blows my mind on this optic, is the TV out. This means you can hook it up to a large monitor or DVR (we’ll be doing this soon – stay tuned!) and get 640×480 resolution out of this device. If you are a night time animal watcher, being able to DVR and share your video without holding your camera to the ocular lens is HUGE (we’ll also be doing that some, it’s not the best way to do it, but sometimes you don’t have any options…)
So now that we’ve gone through the list of features, how much would you expect something like this to run, $200-$300? Here is the shocker, the Firefield Digital Night Vision starts at $143 for the 1-3x version, and $179 for the N-Vader 3-9x version. You can check our website for our sale price which might save you even more! The only negatives that come to mind after spending some time with these units is the LCD display leaves a little to be desired in the resolution department, and I haven’t run enough to know for sure, but most digital night vision devices with the IR illuminator are battery hogs, so keep a spare set on hand if you are going to be using it a lot, or get some quality rechargeable batteries.
To sum it up, when I started looking at the Firefield Digital Night Vision Monocular, I wasn’t expecting to be as impressed as I was. It packs a bunch of cool features that I really didn’t expect from such a reasonably priced optic. So for the person that has everything, digital night vision definitely has the cool factor that will make anyone feel like a doing covert ops, even if it is just in the backyard in the suburbs. Buy the 1-3x Firefield Digital Night Vision Monocular at ManVentureOutpost.com, or the 3-9x Firefield N-Vader Digital Night Vision Monocular at ManVentureOutpost.com.