Night Vision Drones

Owl night vision

Drones With Night Vision

Are you here because you want to know which drones have night vision?

No problem, I’ve put together a huge list below!

But before you take a look, have a read of this next section, because there are some misconceptions about what night vision actually is, and this could have an impact on what kind of drone you are looking for. So check it out….

Drone Night Vision

Exactly how night vision for a drone works, and what it will achieve for you, depends on what kind of light is available and what type of camera is being used.

There are three options/combinations:

  1. Low light camera – these use enlarged light sensors to make the most out of natural light.

Then you’ve got two technologies which are ultimately both based on infrared, they just use it a little differently:

  1. Active illumination – here, you have an infrared light directed at whatever it is you’re trying to view. You then use an IR camera to shoot your footage. Consequently, you get loads of detectable light bouncing back to the lens and this creates a fairly high definition image, albeit monochrome, as no other wavelengths of light are present.
Active illumination creates the classic ‘green’ image you probably know from various cop shows and The Silence of the Lambs
  1. Thermal imaging – this may sound like quite a different thing to the above, but it isn’t! The fact is, warm objects radiate infrared light, so if you’ve got an IR camera on your drone, you can view such objects in basically the same way that you can with with active illumination. The only technical difference is that with thermal imaging you’re relying solely on the radiation generated by heat sources, whilst with active illumination you’re actively supplying the source (which then bounces back to the camera).
Thermal imaging gives either grayscale images like this one, or it can be adjusted to show color gradients mapped to heat gradients

What are the main pros and cons of the 3 methods:

MethodMain prosMain cons
Low lightQuite cheap. Drones generally have a camera by default, so the upgrade isn’t a huge deal in terms of costLimited ability. Ambient light is still required so this is not an option for true night-time flying
IR (active illumination)Produces the most detailed images of the two true night vision optionsCost and weight. An IR light and a suitable camera are required
IR (thermal imaging)You avoid the cost and weight of the lamp. Also, because you’re not flooding the area with IR, you’ll be able to detect very small amounts of radiation (good for searching) Because the camera is working with tiny amounts of light/radiation the image will tend to be grainy
Police suspects are easily spotted using thermal imaging

Ok, that’s enough background, let’s get on with the list.

Which drones have what kind of night vision?

Just so you know, my aim here is not to cover every model of drone ever made; just the ones that people tend to stick into Google like – ‘model x night vision’ (Update – according to my research, it turns out that pretty much means DJI! With a single nod towards Autel).

If you want to know about a model that isn’t mentioned, leave a comment and I’ll add it as soon as possible.

Search phraseMakeModelType of Night Vision
DJI Mini 2 night visiondelete for mob? delete for mob?
DJI Phantom night vision
DJI Mavic Air 2 night vision
DJI Mavic Mini night vision
DJI Mavic Pro night vision
DJI Spark night vision
DJI Air 2S night vision
Autel EVO night vision

Leave a comment