Pros: Nice large viewfinder, works and handles like a digital camera!
Cons: Has no special features, viewfinder gets tiring to look into after time!
Well now I have this Bushnell NightHawk night vision unit! It was given to be as a present by some very well intentioned person! The next and most logical question is, what does one do with a night vision device? Well other than getting the "peeping tom" reference out of the way, what else is left? I suppose hunters in a darkened forest might find it useful, or campers, or anyone else stuck outside late at night who needs some sort of "vision" in darkness to see where they are going!
Well, what is this thing, what does it look like and how does it work are the next questions, and that is a logical progression I might add! Well, as far as what the unit looks like, you can see from the picture above, it appears to be a digital camera. It is a rectangular unit about 3" high x 5" wide and 2" thick. It has a small lens on the front of the unit surrounded by LED's, which give off invisible infrared light to make the dark areas visible to the night vision device. The lens can pivot on a swivel mount up or down, and the rear of the unit has a fixed B&W viewfinder to see the image, just like a digital camera. If you want to know how it all works, here's a great explanation from the Bushnell web site, who explain it much better than I ever could:
How Does It Work?
Available light (energy) is collected by the objective lens and focused on the image intensifier.
Inside the intensifier a photocathode is "excited" by the light and converts the energy into electrons.
The electrons accelerate across an electrostatic field inside the intensifier and strike a phosphor screen (like a monochrome TV screen) which emits an image that you can see. This acceleration of electrons provides gain and enhances the image.
Well now, we are all experts in night vision technology! The next thing I'd want to know is how does it work and what does it look like?
Good question! When using it outside with no sunlight at all in total darkness, the picture on the viewfinder is B&W. It does not really look like a negative, but it does look a little strange in that your whole world now has no color! Due to the amplification of the image, there is quite a lot of grain in the picture and the picture itself in video terms is quite noisy! The funny thing is there is an RCA video output jack on the back of the camera under a flap to take the video output of the camera and feed it into another video input, either a monitor or a recording device I guess. Not sure why you'd want to, but you have that option if needed!
The back of the NightHawk also has buttons to control the contrast in the viewfinder, which makes it much easier to view images to suit your own taste.
I think it is interesting that these are the reasons Bushnell gives for owning a NightHawk or any night vision device:
NIGHT VISION USES :
Security and surveillance
Camping fun / Exploring caves
Night fishing and boating
Search and rescue
Look, no matter what you use it for, you know how useful it will be to you. That is why you are reading this review. If you have a use for these things and will find them helpful, well, that is why we are here. All in all, it is a neat little gadget that will work fine, providing you really can use it for something not too demanding. If you want to use them for photography or other demanding uses, I suggest you check out the Bushnell web site at:
They will give you a listing of much more expensive more professional units. If you plan on just using this device for fun, camping or something not professional, have fun. That is why it was designed this way, and be careful about looking into any windows!