How The Night Owl Pro Nexgen Night Vision Binoculars (5x) Shapes Up
50mm Objective Lens
The biggest challeng when designing night vision binoculars is what size objective lenses to use. They have such an impact. Bigger lenses let in more ambient light or IR. But they are heavier affecting the overall balance, and more expensive. So you have to choose your payoff point. The Night Owl Pro Nexgen night vision binoculars (5x) has 50mm lenses.
I think Night Owl have got this about right. The weight of the lenses does produce a front heavy pair of NV Binos but not too much. Once you get used to this it’s second nature to adjust your grip position to compensate. I had this cracked pretty much by the end of the second night of testing. Plus I have to say the 50mm glass lenses combined with the tubes and magnification were pretty impressive with images bright and crisp
The lenses themselves also have an anti-reflective coating. This ensures as much light as possible gets gathered in and not reflected back out
Whilst the Night Owl 5x Nexgen bins are only Gen 1 technology you shoudn’t be put off by that. A lot of the time quality Gen 1 devices can out perform their much more expensive cousins. So that price leap may not even be worth it. This pair is equipped with Night Owl’s Gen 1 high quality image intensifier tube.
This focuses any reflected light onto a screens which then transforms this into electrons that hit the phosphorous screen and form the image you see with your eye. The whole group of technology required needs to marry up nicely and work well together to get a good image. Its a bit like getting the right balance in chip speed and power, hard drive speed and graphics card in a PC.
I am pleased to say that Night Owl have done a very good job here. The image produced by the screen in moonlight for example is really top quality for a Gen 1 device. This applies to both the brightness and sharpness right out to the edge of screen where you can typically get a lot of dullness and blurring.
The actual decent viewing range is around 200m for clear images. But you won’t see smaller creatures or objects at this effective range. For that you are going to have to come down to nearer 80-100m. This is pretty much on a par with Gen 1 night vision binoculars such as the Bushnell Nightvisions. Especially with the closest focal distance of 6.6ft
The 5x Magnification
Magnification is a funny thing in night vision circles. If you only ever used daylight binos before you might look at 5x and think it was pathetic. But during the daytime there is plenty of light available. Because greater magnification powers means you have to have a lot thicker lenses. This in turn makes your night vision binoculars heavier with little return in performance due to lack of light. So there is always a trade off.
The Night Owl Pro Nexgen Night Vision Binoculars seem to have it about right. 5x magnification with a good quality performing image intensifier tube and 50mm lenses. Its a good and top performing combination.
Using The Infra Red Illuminator
The infrared illuminator has now become pretty standard, especially on Gen 1 devices like this. It just allows the ‘painting’ of the area in question to provide some reflected light back in total darkness or low normal reflected light.
The Night Owl Nexgen IR illuminator is said to be effective up to around 80-100m. That is fairly accurate. When tested I was able to ‘paint’ and view a fence line about 90m away and also pick out couple of cattle sleeping alongside it at the time.
Manufacturers 1 Year Warranty
Always check with the retailer to see if he can offer even more
Manufacturers recommended price is around $800. But there is no way you should be paying more than £400 for a pair of Bushnell 2.5×42 Nightvisions Binoculars.
You could go on Amazon right now and find them at that price and often lower on offer or if you are happy with a used pair.
Overall Conclusion – Night Owl Pro Nexgen Night Vision Binoculars (5x)
Impressive 5x magnification, solid build, good price and great central focusing wheel makes them solid, superb performers and great value.
However they are slightly let down by fuzziness over weatherproofing details and placement and size of IR illuminator buttons. That means they just fall below the Bushnell 2.5×42 Nightvisions Binoculars
But don’t let that put you off as they are still a quality piece of kit with great performance – NVZ Recommended