Night Vision Technology For Drones: A Complete Guide in 2023

There can be many different reasons why a drone company may want to have a special feature like a night vision drone. Night Vision is very special for those drone lovers who fly their drones at night. This special feature is also taken advantage of in many businesses. Night vision feature is special for all drone users in some way or the other, due to which people want to get this special feature in a drone.

In a single night vision drone, it can work on three different technologies. Due to which a drone can easily record pictures or videos in low light or dark places. It can do this in three different ways, first by using low light cameras, second by thermal cameras, and third by using IR light with an infrared (IR) camera on a drone.

Now we have to see what kind of night vision feature we need in a drone so that we can do our drone related work easily. We should know that the FAA has exempted flying drones at night for commercial purposes. All these things we as a drone pilot should already know.

What is Night Vision Technology for Drones?

The term night vision used for drones is not exactly a clear term, but we use it to refer to three different technologies in a single drone. Which makes a completely green drone self-sufficient to fly at night, due to which we use a drone for various tasks at night, including to record images in the dark of night. A night vision drone achieves a task in a variety of ways. Let us know all those techniques in detail.

Infrared (IR) Camera

Infrared light is attached to the infrared camera of a drone, which is difficult for a human to see because infrared light has a longer wavelength than visible light. As a drone pilot, we must have seen that a drone with infrared camera has an infrared LED light that emits infrared light to allow a drone camera to take pictures at night. n Captured images are usually taken to be presented in grayscale.

If you also have a drone with night vision technology, it may be that it does not have an infrared camera because we have already been told that it is one of the major technologies of night vision cameras. However, there are some drones available in the market equipped with infrared cameras. Those are advertised for a drone user with a night vision or infrared camera.

thermal camera

The thermal camera in a drone is in the second category of night vision technology, because a drone with a thermal cameras does not require any visible or infrared or light source to take pictures at night. Instead, a thermal camera-less drone uses the thermal emission of objects and a variety of materials to record photography or video. Drones with no thermal cameras are used for most commercial purposes over other night vision drone technology.

There are some drones in the market at the prosumer level that have a thermal camera along with the normal camera which we can use to have an interchangeable payload system that allows us to attach a dedicated flir thermal camera.

low light camera

Such drones use high quality cameras, a large CMOS chip and a large lens so that the camera makes the best possible use of the available light to produce the image. These images are then recorded in RAW to make post-processing easier. By doing this, we can record great pictures even in low light or dark places with a drone.

What drone camera settings can be adjusted as well as shutter speed from Viso to help make the best use of its camera sensor. With the good 4K camera we get from our drones, we can take good video and photography in low light conditions or dark places with the help of some additional specialised equipment.

Do Drones Have Night Vision?

The camera installed in most of the less expensive medium level used drones has good night vision even in low light. Which means we can pick up enough ambient light to capture a picture with their help which can then be post-processed to convert it into a readable picture.

Its level of detail that a standard drone camera can pick up in low light or at night, although we can say that it is much less at night than in the day, and when taking pictures in the dark, there is often a grain in the picture which is often This is due to a drone sensor not getting enough light as it needs to capture an image clearly.

We do not find night vision in most drones in the market in the sense of having thermal cameras or infrared. Thermal cameras and infrared cameras are more specialised than normal cameras that have to be added to another drone later, or we can buy them as part of the entire drone setup.

How far can drones see at night?

To remove the concern of those who work as privacy or a private detective, let me tell you that no normal drone can take a good picture from very far in low light conditions. Even though they may be able to pick up light over a mile, the drones don’t see anything very well in the dark at night.

Infrared LED light in any night vision drone, with the help of which we can record a good picture with the power of infrared light up to 5 yards or more. Also, the object we want to take a picture of should be under infrared light, only then we can take a good picture at night.

Thermal cameras for night vision have much better range of vision than infrared cameras, which can easily see objects several hundred feet away due to their amazing technology. And how well we can read an image taken by thermal cameras, rather than any other, depends entirely on thermal emission and not on some kind of light source.

Can I Add Night Vision to My Drone?

We can easily make a drone equipped with night vision technology by adding night vision capabilities to a normal drone. We can easily connect them with any drone. We can do this by adding a special type of light and camera to the gimbal or frame of our drone. All these tools are easily available in the market for us.

If we are doing this especially for such night time photography, then the best way can be made by using lume cube light. Which acts as a spotlight for us in low light photography.

Apart from this, we can use this as an add-on infrared setup by adding a small infrared camera to the frame of our drone. But we can’t get these tiny infrared cameras with their own batteries, which requires us to plug them into a port on our drone.

One thing we should be aware of when plugging in an accessory or adding extra weight to our drone is that it will reduce the battery life of the drone due to the high cost of our drone and we will also have less flight time than before.


If we want to add a thermal camera instead of an infrared camera in our drone then it completely depends on our drone type as it is a thermal camera is quite a sophisticated piece of equipment as compared to a simple infrared camera, our It is difficult to find a thermal camera for a drone that we can fit on the frame of our drone, but for that it is necessary to be able to connect the thermal camera to our drone’s gimbal. If our gimbal setup is predetermined, we cannot pair it with our existing drone.

If we talk about some examples of this, DJI Zenmuse XT2, a visual sensor/a dual thermal which we can buy outside for our drone, but we can find this visual sensor compatible with only a few drone models including DJI’s enterprise Contains level matrix drone series.

We can easily find some good thermal cameras for our normal drone which we can easily install on our normal drone which does not already have special features like night vision. But they also have some drawbacks because by using them the weight of our drone increases a lot, as there is no battery in them, they take power from the battery in our drone, due to which the battery life of our drone also decreases.

What we need to know before flying a drone at night

Before using any drone with night vision, we must know some rules about it so that after that we do not have to face any problem related to flying the drone.

If we want to use a night vision drone only for purely recreational purposes. And if you want to use it in the dark of night, then we do not need any kind of drone licence, but for this our drone should have a light so that with its light, a drone can be easily seen even at a distance in the dark of night. So that we can easily tell the direction and orientation of the drone.

Conversely, for any night vision drone to be used at night for commercial purposes, we had to obtain an exemption from the FAA to fly the drone at night. But that’s in the process of changing, and we probably won’t need a waiver after some time, instead we will have all the potential for operating drones at night for knowledge training and testing on drones flying at night. learning will be required.

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What are night vision drones used for?

In today’s time, there are many such tasks for which we have to fly a drone at night, for which we need a drone equipped with night vision. We have described some of the main tasks for you below so that we can understand the usefulness of a drone at night. Get to know them well.

Photography – If we talk about the most important use of a night vision drone, then the most important of them is photography, maybe we are interested in doing photography at night or you can do party or wedding photography with the help of a drone at night. If you want, for all these tasks, we are going to need a drone equipped with night vision.With a good and sensitive sensor drone, we can do photography easily at night through low light settings. Also adding an external light source to your drone can be a big help in good photography.

Security – Drones equipped with night vision are also used for perimeter surveillance at night in some places. A low-light drone sensor can’t cut it for such tasks, and we can use a good infrared camera to see images in the dark or at night. Even better if we want to monitor without visible light. We have a thermal camera that can help take longer distance images than any other night vision technology.Which on the contrary is better than being illuminated using an infrared camera.

Search and Rescue – Thermal cameras can be used to locate a missing person in an unusually dark place during the night. As we have already said, a thermal drone camera can easily see a greater distance than any other, which covers more ground easily, so that the missing person can be easily traced.

Inspection – As we all know that in many places, industrial inspection and many types of construction are completed in the day as well as at night, in which night vision thermal cameras are used to accomplish this. With the help of a thermal camera, one can see through the fog or dust of a construction site on a hill, which is difficult to do with the help of any other night vision technology. To be honest, the use of a thermal camera for night vision of a drone is wonderful, which does not require any external light source and does all the work well.

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