Review: Luna Optics LN-PB3

These rugged aluminum peepers from Belarus were our favorites in adverse conditions. Like Ali in Zaire, they took a beating and still performed like champs, enduring both rough handling and rainy weather equally well.

Beneath the warrior’s exterior, however, is an artist’s vision. They rely on a combination of infrared illumination and first generation night vision technology — which works by gathering ambient light into a photo cathode light intensifier tube where the photons are converted into electrons. Electrons are then amplified and projected on a phosphorous screen that turns them back into visible light. It effectively amplifies the available light several thousand times, giving you a green-hued window into the night. If you need even more power,flip on the IR lamp, which acts like an invisible flashlight in the night (although it does produce a red light that’s visible from the front side in the pitch black dark).

The bottom line was unmatched light-magnifying power — we saw clearly outdoors, even on moonless midwinter nights. And the IR lamp revealed every detail of our pitch-black basement. They were impressively versatile, too: The 3X magnification snagged far-away scenes yet handled close-ups like Cecil B. DeMille. We also really dug the adjustable rubber eye cups, which rotated to fit a variety of faces and keep everyone comfortable.

The one downside to all that tech, however, is weight. In addition to being a bit bulky, they were heavy to lug around, and holding them up to our eyes for more than a few minutes at a time — the only option as there’s no headgear included — left our nerdy arms feeling a bit like noodles.

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