Friday Night Lights: Night Vision Magnifier

    Friday Night is here once again. Last week we talked about Weltool Weaponlights. So let’s go back and talk more about night vision. This time we will look at an accessory that is often overlooked. The Night Vision Magnifier is a great way to augment your night vision device’s capabilities. The Friday Night Lights series is brought to you by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies.

    Night Vision @ TFB:

    Augment Your NODs With A Night Vision Magnifier

    night vision magnifier line up

    There are a number of magnifiers out there but we only see them for use with red dots. While red dot magnifiers work great with your naked eye, they do not work that well with night vision goggles. The problem is the eye relief the magnifiers have and you might have to adjust the focus of your night vision objective lens. There must be a better way. Sure if you want to spend several thousands of dollars getting a clip-on night vision device like a PVS-27 then a simple slip-on night vision magnifier might be a handy accessory to have.

    The most common night vision magnifier is the mil-spec 3x magnifier. It was made by a number of night vision companies. The one I have is made in Singapore by QiOptiq. These were issued to the Marines.

    The 3x night vision magnifier was designed for use on PVS-14 style objectives. The PVS-7 objective lens shares similar exterior dimensions as the PVS-14. However, if you look at the image above and the one below you might notice that the 3X magnifier is attached to the lenses differently.

    The 3x night vision magnifier comes with a slip-on adapter. This allows you to quickly slide the night vision magnifier onto your PVS-14 objective lens when you need it, then just pull it off when you want to go back to 1x.

    The slip-on adapter is held in place with rectangular protrusions that match the notches on the side of the objective lens. There is also an o-ring inside the slip-on adapter to add some more friction and tension. You can unscrew the slip-on adapter from the 3x magnifier.

    The slip-on adapter has the same female threads as your objective lens. So by unscrewing the magnifier from the adapter, you can thread it directly onto the PVS-14 style objective lens.

    You can see the magnifier directly mounted to the objective lens.

    Here is a control photo without a night vision magnifier. 3/4 moon is out. The white speck is a utility shed that is 530 yards away. The power line tower is 950 yards away.

    The 3X magnifier does reduce some light coming in but not as bad as other magnifiers.

    The photo above is the 3X magnifier installed. Below is the same image digitally zoomed in on my iPhone before I took the photo.

    There is quite a great deal of scintillation in the image but you can see the power line towers and utility shed.

    These magnifiers retail for over $200 but you can find them used for around $160. I remember getting my first one off eBay for under $100. They come with a flip cover and an OD green pouch with ALICE clips.

    Here is a video by Nitewalker about the 3dx magnifier

    Here are some more practical pictures using the mil-spec 3X magnifier. This side of the building is in shadow. There is a considerate amount of ambient light but these act as a photonics barrier to some degree. Trying to see what is in the shadow is a bit challenging with a 1x night vision device. In this case a PVS-14 with Elbit white phosphor.

    Adding the 3x magnifier helps see more into the shadows.

    The next photos were zoomed in on the iPhone when taking these photos.

    Here is an empty lot. About 100 yards to the junk pile.

    With the 3x magnifier it is easier to see more detail.

    Looking into this building or at the ground in front you can see quite a bit. But add the 3x magnifier and you can see more.

    Alternate 3X Magnifier By Black Optex

    I recently discovered these little 3X night vision magnifiers. They come with the Black Optex Zero Lens which converts a PVS-14 into a clip-on night device. The small 3x magnifier is mounted directly to the PVS-14 objective lens, This corrects for the Zero Lens rear lens assembly.

    But how is it as a 3x Magnifier? They are small and you can fit two of them on a bino.

    Due to the smaller lens, it lets in less light and the image is not that great.

    When I zoom in with my iPhone I get this image. Not great at all.

    ITT 3-In-1 Magnifier

    The ITT 5x night vision magnifier is a modular system. It consists of three lens segments that you stack and combine to build a 5x magnifier. The lens on the left, in the photo below, is what is attached to the objective lens. Then you can add the 2x lens to that. Then add the larger 3x lens for a total of 5x magnification. You can flip the middle lens around and get 0.42x. The smaller adapter lens is already a 2x magnifier on its own. Adding the 2x doubles the magnification but when you flip the middle lens around and attach it to the adapter it negates the adapter’s 2x magnification. Then the larger 3x magnifier can be attached and appears to be only 1.5x magnification.

    The ITT 3-in-1 magnifier is made of plastic whereas the 3x magnifiers have a metal housing.

    The image is not as good as the mil-spec 3x magnifier. And the iPhone does not accurately reflect the image. It is a lot grainier than what I see when I look through these with my naked eye. Below is the complete 5x magnifier.

    Next, I removed the lenses and only used the 2x adapter.

    1x magnification no night vision magnifier used.

    2x magnifier adapter installed. The bush casting the shadow is 200 yards away. The building is 530 yards away.

    Next is the 2x magnifier mounted onto the adapter.

    Morovision 10x Magnifier

    Morovision was a night vision company that closed down a couple years ago. They did make this 10x magnifier. As you can see from the photos above, it is actually a Barska Blueline 10×40 monocular.

    Photo by Amazon

    Morovision simply added an adapter to the Barska monocular so it can be attached to night vision objective lenses. The adapter fits over the adjustable focus ring and has holes in the adapter so you can adjust the focus ring.

    The adapter is threaded to mount directly to PVS-14 style objective lenses.

    This Morovision 10x Magnifier Lens is capable of converting select 1.0x night vision monoculars into long-range viewing systems. While it was designed for distant night time target identification and tactical laser placement, it can also be used as a 10x daytime spotting scope. This powerful optic features manual focusing and a 40mm objective lens.

    Increasing the magnification of your night vision device significantly enhances your ability to detect and recognize your target at great distances.

    10x lens threads onto existing lens
    Compatible with the following NVDs:
    NightQuest 6010, 6015, PVS-14. MV/PVS-7 Ultra, MV/PVS-7B
    MV-14 Ultra requires 3x/5x/10x adapter

    I noticed a significant drop in light entering the tube. The images are darker and the image resolution is not great. While it does allow you to see farther, the image is so poor that I think you will have difficulty positively identifying your target.

    Unified Optics 10x Objective Lens

    The Unified Optics 10x lens is not a typical night vision magnifier. The previous afocal Galilean magnifiers are added onto the objective lens. This Unified Optics lens replaces the objective lens. It was designed for use on a PVS-7.

    PVS-7 with 10x objective lens and another with 3x magnifier.

    The other night vision magnifiers are based off Galilean telescope designs. The 10x lens is a catadioptric mirror lens. It has a focus ring just behind the lens.

    This 10x lens is very large and heavy. When installed on a PVS-7, it is not really suited for handheld use or helmet mounting. So Unified Optics made an accessory ring that clamps around the body of the 10x lens. It has four threaded holes at all the cardinal directions. The threaded holes are 1/4×20 and are compatible with camera tripods.

    Unified optics also has Picatinny rails that you can bolt to the threaded holes for adding accessories.

    I mounted my SilencerCo Radius laser range finder and Steiner SPIR infrared illuminator.

    While the 10x lens is not designed for it, it can mount directly to certain PVS-14 housings. However, this is not recommended since the lens will block the battery cap and prevent you from being able to change batteries.

    Just to see if it is possible, I mounted the 10x lens onto a PVS-14 and mounted that onto the Zero Lens.

     

    How does it compare to a PVS-27 and spotting scope? The 10x lens is not as fast and reduces some light coming in but you see a decent amount of detail that other magnifiers lack.

    PVS-27 photographed through Bushnell LMSS

    Here are some sample photos looking through the PVS-7. It also has an Elbit white phosphor tube. It only has 1550 FOM but you can see a lot of detail with the 10x lens. The moon was 3/4 full.

    The building is 530 yards away with no illuminator.

    530 yards with Steiner SPIR illuminator turned on. You can see the fence a lot easier.

    950 yards to the power line tower.

    Night Vision Magnifier Wrap Up

    While the images look a bit grainy, some more than others, looking through night vision with a quality magnifier is transformative. You just see more. With good quality glass and coatings, you are able to see a lot more. The 3X mil-spec magnifier is the best bang for the buck. You can find them for around $150. I got my first one for under $100 a couple years ago, used off eBay. The ITT 3-in-1 is an oddity and not that common. There are 5x magnifiers like the mil-spec but they are really expensive.

    The Morovision 10x magnifier is not that great. It is an interesting take on a budget-level night vision magnifier but it does not work well. Especially compared to the Unified Optics 10x lens. The giant catadioptric lens allows a lot of light gathering. I wish it was just as bright as my PVS-27. While it is not as bright, it is smaller and a bit more compact than a PVS-27 with Bushnell LMSS. The Unified Optics 10x lens will retail for around $1200. It will come with the accessory rails as well as the adapter to mount this directly to your PVS-7 housing and replaces your objective lens. I think for static observation like spotting, the Unified Optics 10x lens vastly augments and improves the performance of your night vision device.

    Hope you enjoyed this week’s Friday Night Lights.

    TFB’s Friday Night Lights series is brought to you by ATN

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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