The night has never looked so good. Emerging night-vision goggles and optics are pulling back the covers on nocturnal wildlife behavior, and with prices on these products dropping like a meteorite, and outdoor enthusiasts are beating the door down to land a moderately priced set of goggles. There’s a lot these optics can do, but other things they can’t. Here are three things to know when you’re focusing on night vision goggles.

Great Value

This model can illuminate objects almost 1,000 feet away. Amazon

When buying night vision optics, read the product description carefully to understand what a pair can do and what it can’t do. By amplifying existing light and focusing it on an image intensifying screen, night vision optics will present a real-time image of what you’re seeing. But they typically won’t allow a great deal of zoom capability, so don’t think you’re going to pick out a deer from a darkened treeline at 500 yards. However, at close ranges, it’s astonishing what you can see.

Top Pick

A fully multi-coated 31mm objective lens on this pair keeps images sharp and bright. Amazon

One aspect of night optics you’ll read about relates a device’s built-in technology generation. There are Generation 1, Generation 2, and Generation 3 generation categories assigned to night vision goggles and binoculars. Generation 1 goggles used the most basic and affordable components, whereas Generation 3 is the top of the line. Generation 2 falls somewhere in between, both in overall quality and price. For price-points that relate to general outdoor use, it’s almost a moot point. Generation 2 and 3 technologies are two to three times more expensive than Generation 1, so most general users opt for Generation 1 technology.

Also Consider

This product is waterproof for outdoor use in tough conditions. Amazon

Some night vision goggles offer image and video capture options. Look for units that come with large memory cards that allow you to download photographs and video footage of what you see for later viewing on a personal computer.