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Serving the Western and Southeastern U.S.    Licensed, Bonded & Insured

          Shannon Detective Service, Inc.

May 2013, Volume 2
(2nd quarter 2013)


Does your vendor have night vision equipment?

Ask yourself if your current investigation vendor offers night vision equipment to enhance your chances of securing night video? If not, why are you limiting yourself to just daytime evidence? In some situations individuals under surveillance may venture out at night, especially if they were formerly employed at night. Others may have been warned by their attorneys that they could be a target of surveillance during the day and thus choose to limit their activity to just night time. And some subjects under surveillance prefer to do their holiday and other types of shopping at night when their spouses and or children can join them. If your vendors are not equipped to secure video at night, all of these situations will limit their (and your) ability to secure potentially valuable video evidence. 

The history of night vision and how it works

Night vision capabilities can be broken down into four generations of improvements and the most recent developments, i.e. generation four, have given private detectives working in the insurance claim industry many options for effectively securing night video. Night vision works by transferring photons into electrons through phosphorous coated tubes which is what gives it the green appearance when viewed in generations 1 thru 3. Night vision cameras use two sources of light, starlight or artificial light which is called Infrared light (IR).  IR light is measured in nanometer wavelengths that can be detected by the naked eye (as a red light) when one stares straight into the light source. However, higher nanometer ranges are less detectable or non detectable (near 1000nm range). 

While night vision was actually invented in 1939 and used during WWII (now considered generation 0 by industry professionals), generation 1 came into existence during the early 1960's.  During the Vietnam War era (late 1960's) generation II became available for military use which had better resolution. It evolved again in the mid 1970's with generation III. The tubes improved in size, weight and light sensitivity thus allowing for better resolution at further distances with only ambient lighting. Generation 4 was invented in the late 1990's but because it didn't meet military specifications it was not recognized by them as generation 4. However private industry refers to it as generation 4 WPT (white phosphor technology) which shows images in black & white as opposed to green (see below samples) having better depth perception and resolution than generation III. Military suppliers like ITT, Litton, Northrop and Raytheon all have contributed to the advancement of night vision technology.


Generation 1

Generation 4 WPT 

What types of night vision equipment are used?

The night vision binoculars & monoculars shown below deliver the pictures show above and were designed for the military and law enforcement observation (border patrol). They were not intended to record images like cameras and camcorders. They are hand held and allow the user to see in low light conditions known as starlight. They also have IR (infrared) illuminators attached to them which allows vision in total darkness.


These binoculars can be purchased in generation 1 for about $520 and in generation 4 WPT for $3,100. The monocular sells for about $320 in generation 1 and $3,100 in generation 4 WPT (same price as binoculars). They both have IR illuminators attached to them and are both 5X powered in magnification. They have recently become popular with consumers for hunting and boating at night.

Pocket scopes (monocular) and night vision binoculars do not offer any attached recording devices or wiring connections to transfer images. Their ability to have long distance viewing is limited by the weight and size of both the optics and the IR illuminator. Additionally the phosphorus tubes have an average life expectancy of 10,000 hours (excluding their external batteries needed to operate them).
The security industry uses CCD (charge coupled device) image sensor technology to create affordable night vision video cameras which are less expensive to manufacture since they don't use phosphorus coated tubes. CCD technology was originally invented in 1969 by AT&T Labs for the astronomy field. Night vision binocular and monocular manufacturers took advantage of this CCD sensor technology and made lower cost products of their own (see photo below) that offer picture quality compatibility with generation 4 WPT.  
CCD sensor video cameras are the only other option for night vision since DSLR cameras and camcorders using CMOS sensors (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor) are not capable of capturing night vision images with only starlight. 
All cameras can be categorized by what's known as a lux rating (luminous flux) which refers to the light needed for the camera's iris to see an image. The smaller the lux number rating the lower the light requirements. Night vision CCD imaging cameras deploy the best lux rating (i.e. lowest) and also have IR capabilities with a cut filter that allows vision in complete darkness.

This mini CCD box camera can connect to any type of recording device           in standard definition and has a lux rating of .00001. It needs only star- light and is IR sensitive allowing viewing in total darkness. It sells for         about  $170 without the lens.

This digital pocket scope uses a CCD sensor and sells for about $330, shown here in 6X magnification. There are no intensifier tubes to wear out since it uses starlight and has an IR illuminator for viewing in total darkness.

Above is an IR illuminator used for rifles and box video cameras.
It can mount on either the top or bottom of cameras and sells for
about $230.

Above is a high powered IR illuminator used in the security industry that offers longer range viewing for IR sensitive cameras and costs about $150.

Night vision technology for DSLR & camcorders

After market adapters make DSLR cameras, compact video cameras and camcorders night vision ready when needed. However the adapters create unbalanced weight and are an expensive alternative compared to purchasing a night vision video camera like the CCD mini camera (shown above).



This adapter and night vision kit   mounts to compact video cameras.       In generation 3, it sellsfor about       $4,100.



These night vision adapter kits come in a variety       of camcorder mounts to fit several makes and  models that sell for about $6,160 in generation 3.


These night vision adapter kits are made for DSLR cameras and fit between the camera body andlens. They come in generation 3 lens and sell for about $6,160 as well. 

What does all of this mean for you?  

To minimize claim losses, you should utilize the best surveillance technology you can afford to combat and detect fraud. Serious detective agencies constantly research ever evolving equipment and can give you with the competitive advantage you need. 
For examples of how our agency uses this technology, go to the "About US" page of our website (, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click onto the YouTube night video samples.

Serving the Western United States
Specializing in Insurance Fraud, Surveillance, Locates,
Missing Persons, Background / Assets 

Gregg Shannon

Available 24/7


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