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1/22/2020 12:12:56 PM
Posted: 11/19/2012 5:57:15 AM EST
I idly channel-surfed last night and, God help me, morbid curiosity left me watching a pack of "Bigfoot hunters" for about 20 minutes. In addition to random stupid things, the show displayed the view from several handheld FLIR units and it made me wonder about their effectiveness over some older-technology night vision devices. My experiences with night vision, unfortunately, have been limited to grainy images from cheap Gen 1 units - adequate enough to identify human vs canine vs random junk fluttering in the trees out to 100 yards or so but not much better. The clarity of the temperate gradients I saw last night would definitely be a step up for identifying potential targets.

Not that I can afford either right now but pricing for commercial units looks more on par with Gen 2 night vision. Anyone have any first-hand experience and input on what might be more effective for "seeing what's what" in the dark?
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 6:58:56 AM EST
I would ask in the NV forum as you will generally get better answers there
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 7:06:53 AM EST
Considered that and will likely do it but I'm more interested in the practical application - "good enough" identification of a potential threat - than the technical aspect. If no one here knows then, hey, a new thread is born.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 7:25:56 AM EST
Well the gen 1 can be worse than your natural eyes under certain lighting conditions. You need to ask in the other forum but it depends on what you consider identification. FLIR will show you any heat under most conditions, but not through glass. Depending on range you can tell general size. Quality will determine how close it needs to be to tell its species. With NV you can tell what your looking at much further away and with my gen 2 scope I can ID specific people at 100 yards, such as my father or uncle. 1 top of the line FLIR will cost the same as several top of the line Pvs-14's.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 9:06:22 AM EST
They both have different pros and cons, really. Thermal is awesome, but it does have downsides. Generally speaking...thermal is better for detection, and night vision is better for identification.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 9:13:59 AM EST
I'll second the suggestion to try the NV forum, but seeing as how I own at least one of each generation of NV and
a FLIR unit, I'll chime in:

0) When something goes bump in the night I grab my PVS-14, and no other NV.

1) FLIR sucks. Those whizzy FLIR pics from Apaches are NOT what you get out of a handheld unit. My unit was $10K-ish,
and you get 320x240 pixels. You can't do anything with that resolution other than to know something is there or not;
also, the images you often see are carefully selected to emphasize contrast. In the real world, dark rocks heat up
during the day and at night though FLIR you have a very cluttered image. One guy against sand or snow would
stand out, same guy against a field of warm rocks, not so much. Given the cost I'd buy a couple PVS-14s and skip
the FLIR if I had to do it over again. FLIR is sexy the first time you look through it, once you really try using it
you see it's inferior to good NV gear.

2) You get what you pay for. I'll never buy anything less than a Gen 3 PVS-14 or better again. (You get what you
pay for on Gen 3 as well, garage-built PVS-14s are not that same as top-shelf milspec or better.)

3) Gen 2 is workable with a good illuminator, so you'll see in the dark OK, but anyone else with NVG will see
a giant screaming beacon of your location from the illuminator.

4) Gen 1 will let you test if your TV remote is working. That's all its good for. My eyes outperform a
Gen 1 unit without an illuminator.

Lastly, optics matter. The lenses on a PVS-14 are really good. The lenses on a Russian surplus Gen 1
unit are beyond crap and have as much to do with the unit not working well as the limited light
amplification Gen 1 offers does.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 9:46:40 AM EST
My experience is limited to the "professional" grade PAS13 and PVS14s, deployed together with a 1:3 ratio.

Limited to only one device I'd grab a PVS14 first, easily.

Link Posted: 11/19/2012 10:17:48 AM EST
Who needs the NV Forum? I've got you guys . Thanks for the replies and information. As I said at the start, it was idle curiosity since I'm not in a position to buy, well, anything that isn't a necessity these days but it's always good to have nuggets of information put aside.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 1:01:43 PM EST
Originally Posted By ShadowAngel:
They both have different pros and cons, really. Thermal is awesome, but it does have downsides. Generally speaking...thermal is better for detection, and night vision is better for identification.

This exactly what I was thinking, I have used both in the past, early hand held FLIRs are nice for detection, have used them for exactly that at very long distances,especially in open terrain, compared to NVGs. NVG's can use magnifaction as well. Just add your good binos to the NVG's in a pinch to get a boost in magnification. For me if its just detecting if there is a threat, FLIR, if you want to identify freind or foe, NVGs. Plus price wise NVG's would probably be a better option for the same money. My .02 cents.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 2:15:17 PM EST
The current generation small microbolometer units are 640x480 and run about $6k a piece. They do OK for basic situational awareness and for some science-type work (plant stress and such). However, based on what I've seen using them in UAS, they're not that great when you're trying to see details beyond about 250-300m or so. I'm not sure I would be trying to use them for "identification", depending on what your definition of identification is. You <might> be able to use them to determine whether they are armed with a rifle, assuming the temperatures are such that there is enough contrast between the person, the surroundings, and the gun. The really, stupid expensive cooled IR stuff does much better but I wouldn't want to trade my house for one. I haven't used NV goggles (have only looked thru one set of Gen3s once) so I can't say which would be better per se. I did see a report done by some folks doing some small UAS research that indicated using NVGs could help some in detection where the small UAS was but the tradeoff was that you pretty much lost the ability to really determine range and bearing well.

Both types of devices have their strengths and weaknesses and neither are particularly inexpensive at my level of discretionary spending.
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 4:06:14 PM EST
I've got a pvs, and a flir scout.

The pvs is awesome. You really have a huge advantage over someone with no Nv.

The flir is pretty cool, but I think the same things that keep your from seeing with night vision keep you from seeing with thermal to an extent. Trees,,leaves, etc. keep you from seeing your intended target. Like another poster mentioned, rocks heat up, and keep their heat much longer than you would expect. The resolution is also pretty low as said above.

Given the choice I'd save and get a good nv device.

Link Posted: 11/19/2012 5:23:53 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 5:28:58 PM EST
Having owned a top of the line PVS-14 (and a PVS-4 before that), NV is a lot more fun to use, and practical for defense.

Thermal, OTOH, seems like a much better choice for detection. Camo works better with night vision then visual observation since the NV is monochromatic. Thermal doesn't care about camo, it sees the heat, and the heat is black vs white (yes it shows hot rocks, but the hot rocks are in the same place as they were yesterday.) Thermal can see into pitch black. My PVS will not see into forrest understory from a distance (ie I have a ditch across from my house covered with mature loblolly pines. I can see right through the ditch, and see the road on the far side (usually unaided, allways with optics or NV), but with night vision, I can not see into the ditch if someone were to be wearing dark cloths. Now with a surefire M1, it lights the area up, but that has its own issues.

Thermal can also be used during the middle of the day. Not useful in alabama in the summer, but in the winter.... The huge white (or black) hot thermal signature overcomes the normalicy bias of not seeing the guy prone when glassing the area. Follow up on the observation with good optics to see what the target is. And we don't get hotrocks inside the treeline, at least looking south.

If the economy were not in such bad shape, I'd buy a FLIR right now
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 7:49:12 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/19/2012 7:49:42 PM EST by EXPY37]

Thermal will reveal 'bodies' in say, foliage, that you most likely couldn't detect any other practical way.

Link Posted: 11/20/2012 12:07:06 AM EST
Having used both in Iraq I like the thermal ! You can see a lot more with thermal then NVG! Yet I will say you can cover both and not be seen!
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 1:47:29 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/20/2012 1:55:17 AM EST by xmission]
Nice IR Paul. Much better than mine.

ETA: What model is it?
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 4:59:42 AM EST
I shouldn't have checked back in on this thread. Now I want both but can still afford neither. It seems like they make excellent complimentary technologies but are apples and oranges as far as end use - the "detect versus identify" that you guys have described. And Paul (no comments on the wifal unit), the image of your pooch is pretty instructional, especially given the close range.

Perhaps I need to start playing Powerball after all....
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 5:01:29 AM EST
I have Gen-3 and (cheap) Thermal.

I tried to make a (comparison) video at my gun club which failed horribly.

Each NVD is unique for its purpose. If I had to maneuver through city streets with NO lights (and no moon) , and most potential shots would be 75 yards or less.....THERMALS would be the ticket.

For open field, 26 days out of the month, with SOME moonlight....I'd opt for gen-3 PVS-14 or PVS-7s. It is much easier to move with green NVDs. Invest in a decent IR laser if you wish to engege hostile targets. (Keep in ming that cheap, night-time game cameras can detect your laser)

If you're scanning your neighborhood, from a second-floor window, while your family sleeps below,....USE BOTH!!!
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 3:09:59 PM EST
O hai. I heard u like NVG and Thermal:

Link Posted: 11/23/2012 4:35:17 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/23/2012 5:17:11 PM EST
Flukes are not cheap.
I bought one of These
for my department a year
or so ago. They are awesome,
but very pricey!

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