I have a sony HDR-CX12 which is not on the list. I bought it for the night vision use and I have purchased an IR Light and I am only getting decent night video at aprox. 30 feet in total darkness. My questions are these, (1) Is this all I can expect to see? (2) Is this camera comparable to any generation of night vision? I am willing to buy better night vision equipment but I need some experianced input before I spend more money. Thank you in advance for any help.
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The night vision capability of the camcorder is unlikely to be anywhere near as sensitive as a dedicated night-vision scope. Most good night-vision scopes will allow the user to see in near-complete darkness on a moonless night, as the sensor of good quality scope would be able to work with just the faint light from stars. As they rely on weak light, this also lets them see well into the distance, as they don’t rely on artifical illumination.
Most camcorders are designed to operate in daylight under similar conditions the human eye can see. Unlike the human eye, CCD arrays can also pick up near-infrared light, which is why the LED from remote controls is visible on the camcorder when operated. Unlike the night-vision scope that amplifies weak light, the night vision capablity of the camcorder relies on this near-infrared spectrum to see in the dark with its built-in IR emitter. Without a suitable infrared emitter, the camcorder will not see much more than any other camcorder.
Unfortunately, like an ordinary light source, the infrared emitter will only shine up to a certain distance. If you need to film in the dark (e.g. to capture wild life or for surveillance), probably your best option besides a proper night-vision scope would be to get a good infrared emitter. They are usually used to allow CCTV cameras to operate in the dark, so they are easily available, but then can be quite expensive to buy.