Do you know what mantra enthusiasts of night videography live by? “Lights off, camera, action!” However, the only way you can follow through on this mantra is if you have the best night vision video camera of 2021.
Ordinary cameras are bound to fail in producing decent results (or any visible footage) when you try to record a subject in a pitch dark room or environment. This is why you will need a specialized camera to help bring out the most specific actions and interesting details in those low-light conditions.
For this reason, we researched for and compiled a list of the 4 best night vision cameras on the market. You can use this list to search for the most reliable and trustworthy gadgets for all of your pitch-black expeditions. We have also ranked all of these cameras on the basis of key considerations and performance against these considerations so you can find the ideal camera.
But before we can start reviewing these star products, let’s first teach you what to look for in the best night vision video cameras of 2021.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look For in the Best Night Vision Video Cameras?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Night Vision Video Cameras of 2021
- #1: SiOnyx Aurora Full-Color Night Vision Video Camera (Best Overall Features)
- #2: Bestguarder Infrared HD Night Vision Video Camera (Best for Budget)
- #3: Bestguarder HD Night Vision Video Camera (Best 720p Video)
- #4: ZOHULU Night Vision Video Recorder (Best Wide Lens)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Verdict: Your Best Night Vision Video Cameras
What Should You Look For in the Best Night Vision Video Cameras?
When you’re looking for the perfect night vision camera, you probably have a few questions. You see, hundreds of features and specifications are mentioned in advertisements and you may not really understand why all of these features matter or even what they mean. For example, you can use motion detection, built-in Wi-Fi, live streaming capabilities, and a lot more.
The problem here is that there isn’t any night vision video camera out there that offers you all of these features. Therefore, it is up to the users to decide which of these features will be perfect for them. There is never a wrong answer and the best method of deciding what you really want from all the options out there.
Lucky for you, this guide will break down some of the various features and options that can allow you to get a better understanding of what you should opt for. However, if you are looking for a night vision video camera that has tons of other features you have no use for, chances are that you may be overpaying for a camera you don’t really need.
More options aren’t always a good idea. Only buy what you are going to use and choose quality from the get-go. Here are the critical criteria:
Criteria #1: Digital vs Optical Zoom
When you look at various zoom options, two words often get used a lot more than others: digital and optical zoom. However, there is a massive difference between these two and it is very critical that you have a good understanding of what these mean. Digital zoom doesn’t actually mean zooming into your subject. This kind of zoom only makes the picture you shoot seem bigger, meaning you aren’t going to be getting a lot more megapixels in these images.
Therefore, while you may be able to produce a larger image, you will just end up losing the image quality whenever you digitally zoom the picture. Moreover, if you ever plan on editing videos, it is usually a good idea to avoid digital zoom because you will be able to zoom through editing to achieve very similar results anyways.
However, you should know that optical zoom is a whole other ball game. Also known as true zoom, you will be able to get 24-megapixel images whether you’re using 1 x magnification or toggling all the way up to 10 x magnification. A camera with optical zoom utilizes its lenses to actually magnify the picture you’re taking. It decreases the field of view, which allows you to view distant objects with the same quality.
This is why optical zoom is a lot better than digitally zooming into pictures and also why it tends to be a lot more expensive.
Criteria #2: Motion Detection
Whether you expect to record some paranormal activity or need help setting up a trail cam with some high-tech features, the best method of doing so will be with the help of a motion detection camera. These cameras are going to allow you to record activities over long periods of time, which will save you from the hassle of recording hours on end of nothing actually happening.
When you are recording something at night, a huge portion of this is going to be recording nothing at all. On the other hand, motion detection is going to save you from having to skim through hours of footage just to record a few moments of activity.
Motion detection will also alert you when something may be lurking for the situation you are using your night vision video camera for. Therefore, if you are searching for paranormal activity, there is no better way than setting up an IR video camera that will only turn on when something starts moving, if at all.
Criteria #3: Frames Per Second (FPS)
Even the lowest quality of night vision video cameras offer at least 30 fps, while some of the highest quality cameras will give you as much as 200 fps. If you know your night vision cameras, you will also know that this is quite a jump. However, if you don’t know what we’re talking about, you’ll be wondering what difference it makes and how much you should settle for.
The truth of the matter is that 30 fps is fast enough for most photographers out there, but you’re going to notice very small changes as the frame rate bounces up to 60 fps. From here on out, you will only notice small differences when you watch your recordings in slow motion.
According to various experts in the field, the human eye only has the ability to see as much as 60 fps. This simply means that any camera that offers more than this will work a lot faster than your eyes can process. In fact, even 30 fps is so fast that most human beings have trouble telling the difference past this frame rate. You can go ahead and spend as much as you want to buy a camera that could record faster fps, but it may not be worth it.
Criteria #4: Megapixels
Let’s be very clear about one thing. Every megapixel totals up to tons of pixels – one million, to be very precise. Therefore, a camera that has 30 megapixels will, in reality, have 30 million pixels in each of its frames, which is quite a lot.
The fact that a top-notch camera has nearly 3 megapixels at an affordable price shouldn’t come as a surprise since there have been plenty of technological advancements throughout the years.
We’re saying all of this to highlight the fact that even some of the lowest quality cameras out there may have 5-megapixels, and this won’t even be its primary feature. However, if you know what you are doing, it is still a lot more than enough for taking high-quality video and pictures. Of course, keeping in mind the agenda of this post, you will now be able to do so in night vision.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Night Vision Video Cameras of 2021
To find the best night vision video cameras, we weighed in all of the best specifications of the most popular products in the market. Also, we compared the specs of these products based on the list of considerations we mentioned above to see how well they did and whether they were worth buying.
After double-checking our research, we also checked out blog posts, customer reviews, and other reviewers’ posts about the best of the best products in the industry. Now that you know where we got our information from, it’s finally time to jump into our list of products
#1: SiOnyx Aurora Full-Color Night Vision Video Camera (Best Overall Features)
Someone who frequently loves to photograph nocturnal landscapes or the night sky, we were quite intrigued by the SiOnyx Aurora IR Night Vision Camera. This compact camera has been manufactured to capture video and stills in very low light conditions, as well as the ability to provide night vision capabilities.
This particular camera is marketed to outdoor enthusiasts (which include hikers, hunters, fishermen, boaters, etc). All you outdoor enthusiasts need to be able to see in pitch black environments and may desire to capture a variety of nocturnal activities.
Since this camera has a retail price of less than $1000, you already know that it is a lot more than an impulsive purchase; however, it does promise various impressive capabilities.
For instance, if you were an Aurora photographer, you would be interested in seeing its performance while capturing the Northern Lights. However, since you’re here for the night vision feature of these cameras, let’s be more specific.
The SiOnyx Aurora comes with a one-inch long low-light CMOS sensor, which is sensitive against both infrared and visible light. It is capable of capturing video and photos in both color and monochrome; however, it is going to be limited to capturing both at a resolution of 1280 x 720.
This particular resolution may seem a little low as compared to the standards of the industry nowadays, however, it is still high quality for a night vision video camera. In daily photography, pixel size tends to have a very small effect on your image quality, other than the fact that small pixels tend to produce a lot more detail.
This tiny advantage of large pixels becomes quite significant when you find yourself in extreme kinds of low-light situations. This also means that this night vision video camera is just among the few instances where a bigger pixel will have recognizable benefits.
#2: Bestguarder Infrared HD Night Vision Video Camera (Best for Budget)
The Bestguarder Infrared Night Vision Video Camera can be described as a monocular camcorder with a digital night vision video mode. This mode is powered by its 50mm objective lens as well as the 5x digital zoom and 6x optical zoom.
What’s more, this camera comes with a superior quality infrared illuminator that is built-in since it allows users to view up to a distance of 1150 ft or 350 meters.
The Bestguarder is among one of the best cameras of its kind since it has a very rugged design. This camera is known to comply with IPX4 standards, which also means it is water-resistant and quite weatherproof as well. Since this camera is preferred for hunting trips, you will most definitely wish it could handle tough weather conditions. We believe that this video camera does a great job of that.
Since this camera can be mounted on top of a tripod, you will have the option of leaving it on while you’re recording your subject. If you plan on using it for hunting, doing so will help you to record the galloping patterns of the creature or how much it visits particular areas.
Also, since the camera has a great option of allowing you to use 4 different levels of infrared, it can be quite beneficial for so many different degrees of low light conditions or perhaps even pitch-black darkness.
#3: Bestguarder HD Night Vision Video Camera (Best 720p Video)
Unlike most of its competing modes, the Bestguarder Night Vision Video Camera (similar to the one above) has a camcorder and camera feature that seems to be perfect if you’re in it for documentation. The video and images have supreme HD quality so you have a crystal clear view of whatever you are capturing. You will also have the option to view your camera’s output in real-time or perhaps you want to record your creations onto a micro SD card to view your handiwork later.
This night vision video camera isn’t your good ol’ cheap monocular. Instead, it’s a very high-quality camera with its 5MP CMOS sensor camera despite its low price. This camera can produce superior HD images with a resolution of up to 2592 x 1944 pixels and HD videos with a resolution of 1280 x 720.
This video recorder also has the ability to record audio. This is quite an impressive feature for people who are trying to search for an innovative and modern monocular that can be used for animal watching, hunting, surveillance, and many other uses. Of course, the fact that it comes at the dream price for hobbyists and still manages to deliver professional-grade video and image quality is enough to make you do a double-take.
The Bestguarder Monocular HD Camera’s specialty is night vision recording. Therefore, if you aren’t (for some reason) impressed by its daytime features, you will find that it performs spectacularly at night.
This camera has the ability to record images of subjects that may be about 1150 ft away and this includes its brilliant 6x optical zoom. However, the only problem with this feature is that you can’t adjust the 6x optical zoom to capture nearby objects. This is why it will be difficult for you to shoot videos of your close-range subjects with your distant subjects in just one video.
However, if you’re sure that you will be shooting distant subjects, as you would with nature photography or bird watching, this camera will be a great choice for 720p video footage.
#4: ZOHULU Night Vision Video Recorder (Best Wide Lens)
ZOHULU’s hidden camera is so compact that it weighs about 10g and can easily be used for most kinds of occasions. It is so light that you can choose to attach it to a couple of balloons so you could get a drone shot of a special occasion without worrying about missing a couple of details.
Here’s another great detail about this video camera. Its battery is so powerful that it allows its users to record footage of up to 100 minutes. However, you should try to avoid using any brute force while handling this camera or any of its accessories. Doing so could cause it to malfunction or damage your camera permanently.
Now that we’re past all the basic details, it’s finally time to arrive at its main features. Filming footage in the dark of night can be quite challenging, and this is especially true if you don’t own a phone that can capture very clear videos or images in the presence of insufficient lighting. Well, this particular camera has the perfect solution for your needs.
The ZOHULU night vision video camera is among the best night vision cameras you can buy on a budget. Although, besides being affordable, you can also be sure that this camera is quite efficient. It is the ideal gift for anyone that you love since its specifications are literally perfect for night and day filming.
It is safe to say that this 4K FHD video recording camcorder is the perfect tool for your paranormal investigations or ghost hunting. Of course, you could always choose to use it as a normal camcorder on any other occasion.
You’ll find that it can be mounted onto tripods, which is perfect on all occasions and its wide-angle lens is perfect for recordings that need a more significant field of view.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Far Can One See Using Night Vision?
This is like asking a football fan who is most likely to win the Super Bowl in September. You see, there are countless variables you have to consider to answer this. One of these variables includes the size of the subject, whether it is a house, a person, or a mouse.
If you’re looking at a person or something as big as a person, then an efficient Gen 3 kind of equipment will easily be able to capture a person from around 300 yards away. Still, it wouldn’t be so simple to recognize this person and the only thing your camera will be useful for is detecting a person or telling if the person is a man or a woman at about 150 yards away.
The answer to your question may seem like semantics at first, but detection and recognition are quite different in photography terms. Another very important variable happens to be the amount of light that is available in the environment. For instance, is it a bright and clear night, a moonless night, or a dark and cloudy night?
The brighter the night is going to be, the farther you will be able to see, and the more recognition range and detection range you will have. The generation and the level within that generation you have will make loads of difference on how much viewability you will have, especially if we’re talking about quarter moons or low-light nights.
The recognition range of efficient Gen 3 devices could be a few times farther as compared to Gen 1 models. Of course, the specs of the device itself will have a huge impact on the longer distances it can capture.
Can Two Pictures Be Used to Explain the Difference Between Night Vision Cameras
Well, the answer to this question is a fine blur between yes and no. You see, the problem with attaining real night vision pictures is that you will lose brightness and resolution whenever you are taking photos at night.
Therefore, actual photos from night vision cameras will not be able to really capture what your eye can see. These types of cameras are used with various settings on the camera itself, as well as how the picture or video had been shot.
Some experts will tell you that night vision images are like diamonds in the sense that no two photos will ever be the same. Therefore, answering this question can be quite a nightmare.
Most of the photos you may have seen on the internet may have been photoshopped images of pictures taken in broad daylight and made to look as if they were captured using night vision.
Lighter conditions such as with a half-moon, cloud cover, or full moon will dramatically affect the differences in the photos. Unfortunately, there are just too many variables that affect the accurate representation of photos you could use for comparative purposes.
What Can I Do With Night Vision Video Cameras?
Video cameras with night vision can be used for several tasks, such as wildlife observation. You will be absolutely amazed at what activities animals get involved in when they know nobody is observing them.
Other than this, some common uses of these cameras include night photography, night birding, night boating, night fishing, home security, hunting, camping, spelunking, or caving, as well as numerous other activities.
However, among the most overlooked and awe-inspiring uses of these high-performance cameras is astronomy or night sky photography. If you have a Gen 3 piece of night vision equipment and plan on using it on clear nights, you will be mesmerized by what you will capture.
Spoiler alert: you are going to see ten times as many stars as you would have seen with your naked eye, as well as numerous ‘night sky objects’ such as satellites, airplanes, and comets.
Of course, you won’t get a stiff neck either because you were looking up for too long. All you need to do is get the best night vision video camera and a comfortable futon to lie on. After that, just let it work its magic.
Simply put, there are numerous other cool uses for night vision video and cameras and your imagination sets the limit to its purpose.
Verdict: Your Best Night Vision Video Cameras
These cameras are reliable and efficient pieces of equipment. For one, they are our best pals when it comes to the recording department and they help record all the significant moments of our lives.
Of course, these cameras aren’t always a jack-of-all-trades in the entertainment department, but they offer a lot of help in the security and monitoring side of things. Now that we’ve reviewed what we believe to be the 4 best night vision video cameras out there, it is finally time for you to make a decision.
If you’re working on a tight budget and need all those amazing features we mentioned in our buyers’ guide, go with the Bestguarder Infrared HD night vision video camera.
If you don’t have a tight budget and need the best wide lens night vision cameras, then don’t look past the ZOHULU night vision video recorder.
Of course, if you’re just starting out and don’t really know much about night vision, then the best overall product on our list is the SiOnyx Aurora Full-Color Night Vision Video Camera. This camera is a bit pricey, however, you pay for what you get.