Gears and Equipment

Which Night Vision Equipment Generation is Ideal for You?

Table of Content

Gen 3 Night Vision
Generation II+
Gen 2 Night Vision
Generation I+ 
Gen 1 Night Vision
Gen 4 Night Vision

Generations of Night Vision Equipment

This is not a complete list, but the most popular generations of night vision equipment.

Additionally Read: Best Night Visions Goggles

1st Generation –

This was the first generation of night vision equipment, and was a result of a collaboration between the US Military and the Perkin-Elmer Corporation. It consisted of bulky military binoculars, scopes, and goggles.

2nd Generation –

This generation saw the introduction of Individual night vision devices, such as monoculars, goggles, and sights. These were smaller and lighter than their predecessors.

Additionally Read: Best Night Vision Driving Glasses

3rd Generation –

Also known as “New Generation,” this generation saw the introduction of portable thermal imaging systems. 

Additionally Read: Best Night vision binoculars

4th Generation –

This generation began with the emergence of digital night vision technology and is still being developed today.

Additionally Read: Best Night Vision Rifle Scopes

Gen 3 Night Vision:

Gen 3 Night Vision is the newest form of night vision technology available on the consumer level. Compared to Gen 2+, Gen 3 Night Vision technology contains multiple improvements in image intensifier tube performance such as sensitivity and resolution. 

It also features improved picture clarity, more accurate color reproduction, and a wider field of view. Gen 3 Night Vision is currently the most advanced form of consumer night vision technology available in the market today. 

Generation II+

Generation II+ Night Vision is the second generation of high-performance night vision equipment for general use. It was developed by combining the characteristics of Generation I, II, and III image intensifiers. 

The resulting high quality image intensifier tubes are capable of producing better images than those found on any previous generation night vision devices. 

The resolution provided by these tubes are excellent, with enhanced details that provide maximum clarity and minimum noise levels. 

The new image intensifiers also feature a lower operating temperature for improved reliability in extreme environments. 

The units are also equipped with a new eyepiece optics system which provides wider fields of view to further maximize efficiency in low light conditions. 

These devices have been designed to be smaller and lighter than any previous models, while providing excellent lightweight performance at a reasonable price point. 

Gen 2 Night Vision

Generation 2 (Gen 2) Night Vision Equipment has been around since 1987, when it first appeared in handheld monoculars and image intensified binoculars for military applications around the world. 

Nonetheless, it did not become commercially available until 2004 with the release of Hunters Night Vision Monocular (HNVM). Since then it has been sold to civilians for recreational activities such as hunting and stargazing. 

Gen 2+ Night Vision equipment has been an improvement on previous generations by using higher quality components such as enhanced infrared illuminators, better image intensifiers, advanced microchannel plate (MCP) arrays in the image intensifier tube, improved focus mechanisms, as well as improvements in lens coatings to name a few.

All these enhancements have made Gen 2+ Night Vision equipment significantly more effective in low light conditions than previous generations of night vision equipment. 

Gen 2 equipment can be purchased in both Gen 2 non-digital as well as Gen 2 digital models at prices ranging from $700 to $2000 depending on model/capabilities/manufacturer.

Generation I+:

Generation I+ Night Vision Equipment is a recent addition to the latest high-performance night vision device family that includes both Gen 1+ as well as Gen 2+ models available to consumers today.

Generation I+ Night Vision Equipment offers its users significantly higher quality images than those produced by Gen 1 or Gen 2 devices. 

The improved image quality is owed mainly to three main reasons: superior infrared illuminators, improved image intensifiers tubes and better coatings on optics. 

These improvements produce a brighter clearer picture at greater distances than any other previous generation model. 

These advantages make it ideal for security personnel such as private investigators or police department patrols who need to be able to identify individuals from afar or for hunters looking for big game at longer ranges. 

Gen 1 Night Vision:

Generation 1 (Gen 1) Night Vision Equipment is the oldest form of night vision equipment available to consumers. It consists of an image intensifier tube that uses light entering the front lens of a monocular or scope to amplify low-light images for the user . These devices are typically used in law enforcement, military, and hunting activities. 

Gen 4 Night Vision?

In recent years manufacturers have been creating newer and more advanced models of night vision equipment which they have dubbed “Generation 4” (Gen 4). 

However, there is no consensus among manufacturers as to what constitutes Gen 4 equipment. 

While it is generally assumed that the term refers to night vision equipment with increased resolution and brightness, there are many other potential features that could be included under this umbrella term, such as Low Light Surveillance (LLS), Auto-Gating Systems, Infrared Illuminators, and Digital Image Intensifier Tubes . In addition, there are also conflicting opinions regarding the official “cut-off” date between Gen 3+ and Gen 4 Night Vision systems.