Thermal Camera vs. Night Vision: What’s The Difference?

Thermal Camera vs. Night Vision

Thermal cameras and night vision devices are often confused for one another. Both are very capable – and do share some common uses – but are ultimately different. In order to understand how beneficial these two types of devices can be, it’s critical to understand how they differ, so let’s look now. 

What Does A Thermal Camera Do Exactly? 

Put simply, a thermal camera uses infrared light to create an image, which thereafter will allow for the viewer to detect where heat is emitting from nearby, based on what the camera is showing on its display. Commonly, the usefulness of thermal cameras is illustrated by their capacity to locate hikers who’ve gotten lost while in the bush, as human beings will emit more heat than trees. So, when search and rescue officials make use of a thermal camera, it can be easier to locate a missing person with this device in comparison to using the naked eye, or a regular pair of binoculars. 

What Does A Night Vision Device Do Precisely? 

Fitting for its name, a night vision device can provide its user(s) with an image that dramatically increases vision at night. 

What Is A Thermal Camera Made Of?

It’s no revelation to say each manufacturer can bring their own specific design to their thermal camera range. Nonetheless, there are indeed components of a thermal camera which essentially always features from one design to the next, which facilitate the operation of the thermal camera in terms of its core process.  Accordingly, when it comes to knowing how a thermal camera works, it’s essential to understand each one will have a sensor, a lens, electronics which process the imagery, and then housing. 

What Is A Night Vision Device Made Of?

Three key components commonly form part of night vision technology, the photocathode, photomultiplier, and phosphor screen. As distinct from thermal cameras, night vision devices won’t display an image by providing a contrasting image between sources of heat and the surroundings, but instead by taking visible light, magnifying it substantially, and then sending that to the display for the viewer to see through the aforementioned components. 

How Are Thermal Cameras Regularly Used?

As aforementioned, thermal cameras routinely find use in extreme situations and remote environments. They can also help detect animals in the wild. This notwithstanding, there’s also a huge range of ways in which cameras can be used in more routine domestic and business settings. For instance, thermal cameras can be utilised for medical purposes, to pick up moisture within buildings, and also within autonomous vehicles. 

In What Ways Are Night Vision Cameras Routinely Used? 

Night vision cameras can be put to work in similar ways that thermal cameras can. For example, they can be used in search and rescue operations of people, for the detection of animals, and – just as thermal cameras can feature in autonomous vehicles – night vision cameras can also be used for road safety applications, such as by police patrolling areas of low light at night. 

Understanding & Taking Action With The Differences

Now that the many differences are clear between thermal cameras and night vision devices, it’s easy to understand why having both these tools in an inventory can be so beneficial. While there can be some overlap in the tasks each of these tools can do, undoubtedly having both in-hand offers the greatest amount of resources for pursuing a wide variety of tasks. That’s why every toolkit can benefit immensely from having both a thermal camera and night vision device in it. 

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