Even though at one point night vision technology was limited to military uses, nowadays it is fairly popular in the consumer market, too. You have devices from various generations, with various specs and features. Prices are not that out of reach either. Hunters who prefer the cover of nightfall will find devices like this very useful, and a very worthy investment. You can view more night vision monoculars on this list.
A good example of a night vision device that is very versatile, yet has a reasonable price for what it offers, is the Night Optics USA Ambia night vision monocular. When we say versatile, we refer to the capabilities of the monocular, as well as the fact that it can be used in a variety of configurations.
Before we begin with our review, we’d like to get one thing out of the way – the price. The current price of the Ambia is fairly high for a monocular. However, factor in that it’s a Gen 2+ night vision device. Then, add to that the features and quality it comes with, and the price is very well worth it. That being said, let’s take a closer look at it.
The Night Optics Ambia – what is it?
As its name suggests, the Ambia is a Gen 2+ night vision device. Even though that + in the name might be suggesting otherwise, it is a base quality Gen 2 device. However, when comparing this to Gen 1 devices, it is still miles ahead. Also, high-end Gen 1 devices sometimes cost more. Gen 2 devices have a useful range of around 200 yards, as well as a bright, clean image. They can operate passively and don’t need IR illumination. There is also no distortion on the image on the outer edge of your viewing area. A gen 2 device will last around three times more than a Gen 1 device, and is much more reliable. The only issue with Gen 2+ devices is that Gen 3 devices are much better, yet don’t cost a lot more. That’s not the case with the Ambia, though. Given its price, we can’t complain much.
In terms of the specs, the Ambia has a 1x magnification. This basically lets you see as you would see with your naked eye. Even though with regular monoculars you would expect some kind of magnification, things change when you look at night vision. This device is meant to complement your naked eye. It’s often used on a head mount or behind a rifle sight. Having your eyes look at two different magnification levels is an issue. Then there’s the problem of disorientation, which is very common with night vision devices that have magnification. All things considered, we would agree that a 1x is preferable to a zoom night vision monocular. If you prefer magnification, you can change the front lens to a 3.6x 80mm f/1.6 lens. But, that’s an additional purchase.
On the inside of the Ambia, you’ll find a few interesting things. For starters, there’s an IR illuminator. Even though the Gen 2 intensifier tube doesn’t require it, and can work unassisted, there actually is one. If you don’t mind being visible by emitting IR light, you can actually get a much brighter and cleaner image if you were to use the illuminator. It’s not necessary, but it’s a welcome addition.
Next, we have a multicoated 25mm f/1.2 lens system. This lets in plenty of light, and allows you to use the tube to its full potential. The angular field of view is 40 degrees, which translates to a linear field of view of 1099 feet at 1000 yards. This is plenty, and you also get a minimum focusing distance of 10 inches. While we’re discussing the internals, there’s a battery and IR indicator on the inside, so you always know what to expect.
Moving on to the outside, the Ambia is built really well. It has a grippy surface which is comfortable to hold, and is fairly lightweight. It is also completely weatherproof, too. You don’t have to rush and throw it in the backpack in case it starts drizzling rain. What is possibly one of the best features of the monocular is its versatility and ability to be used in various ways. For starters, you can mount it on a head mount, if you’d rather keep your hands free. There is also the option of attaching it to a rifle barrel, with an adapter. Last but not least, there is a connector for a camera, so you can record everything the Ambia sees. Unfortunately, all of the adapters and mounts are sold separately. Unless you pay a bit extra for them, you’re basically stuck using it handheld.
Wrapping things up – how does the Ambia perform?
Even though its price puts it in the “budget” Gen 2+ category, we have to say that the Night Optics Ambia performed admirably. The image quality is consistently good in varying light conditions, and the addition of an IR illuminator means that you can get an excellent image even when it’s pitch black outside. The performance is miles ahead of Gen 1 devices that, as we said, often end up costing just as much as the Ambia. You are also getting a night vision monocular that’s built like a tank and will withstand rough weather conditions.
However, you’ll still have to pay quite a bit for the pleasure. It’s a bummer that neither the head mount nor the rifle mount come in the box, so that’s even more money you’ll need to spend. At some point, this may become too much, but it’s up to you to decide when.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of whether or not you can afford the Ambia and all its mounts. If you can, you’re certainly getting a lot for your money, both in terms of performance and durability. It is absolutely worth it.