Night Vision Devices enable night time or ‘after dark’ viewing; and were initially developed by the US Government for US Military personnel. Eventually these devices also proved extremely useful within other industries: US Law Enforcement, Security, Private Investigation, Photography, and Hunting. Technology advances and the development of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation technologies have made those original devices (1st Generation) affordable for general outdoor enthusiasts. Hence, these 1st generation devices have become more and more popular amongst the general consumer community. This article reviews Night Owl Optics’ NOB5X Night Vision Binoculars, a 1st Generation Night Vision Instrument.
Specifications-Night Owl Optics is a leading manufacturer of affordable, high quality, night vision binoculars, monoculars, and goggles. The NOB5X provides 5X magnification, a 50mm objective diameter, a 53 ft. field of view at 100 yards, and weighs 39 oz. The NOB5X is an ‘image enhancement’ device that is powered by a 3 volt lithium battery. Image enhancement works by amplifying small amounts of light, via an infrared illuminator (IR), and then reproducing it so that it displays on a green phosphorous screen. The IR is invisible to both human and animal eyes.
The NOB5X is easy to focus. With the help of the instruction manual, it probably takes about 30 seconds to set the focus for any user. Once set, the binocular becomes in essence a fixed focus (FF) binocular; meaning you don’t have to re-set it unless you are changing users. Be sure to always focus the instrument indoors, and with the lens caps ON.
The performance of the NOBX5, like all other 1st generation instruments, varies depending on lighting conditions. One misconception people have around night vision is that they work in complete darkness. Without the IR, you would not be able to view anything in complete darkness. I tested the NOB5X under a clear New Jersey sky with a half-moon above, and was able to view a deer from over 100 yards away without the IR. I found the IR button to be very accessible, and was able to recognize the deer in much more detail from the same distance when employing the IR. Later on I was able to clearly site a raccoon in a wooded area from about 80 yards away with the IR turned on.
The image quality of the NOB5X is excellent. Having already used other 1st generation devices by Yukon and Bushnell, I would rank the NOB5X higher than both from an image quality perspective. Another misconception people have about Night Vision Binoculars is that they function very similarly to day time binoculars. This is NOT TRUE. The image seen on the phosphorus screen is reproduced, and therefore not as clear as the image seen through day time binoculars. Image sharpness is also not consistent across the entire field of view of night vision binoculars. However, the amount of distortion I found around the edges of the NOB5X image was pretty reasonable, and not at all distracting from a user’s perspective.
The NOB5X comes with a comfortably fitting neck strap that made me forget I had nearly 40 oz around my neck; and also fits nicely into a durable canvas carrying case. The NOB5X costs less than $500 at most on-line stores, and about $20 more at your local sporting goods store . For that very reasonable price, you get a durable, high performing, night vision binocular that hunters and outdoorsmen will certainly enjoy.