Nightfox Corsac Night Vision Binoculars Review

By Richard J. Bartlett , on 6 April 2023 , updated on 14 April 2023 - 15 minutes to read
5/5 - (1 vote)

The chances are, you’ve used binoculars at some time or another. Regardless of whether you’re into hiking, hunting or birding, binoculars are the ultimate grab ‘n go accessory that can show you the world in greater detail. However, unless you’re into astronomy, they have one major drawback: they have a rather limited functionality at night.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. To some extent, night vision binoculars act a little like regular binoculars, but they have one specific purpose: they allow you to see targets that would otherwise remain hidden in the dark.

Here’s how they work: instead of needing a flashlight to illuminate your surroundings, the binoculars feature a special LED that emits infra-red (IR) light. While your eyes won’t notice any difference and will only see darkness, the binoculars’ built-in sensor can detect the light, enabling you to see your surroundings. However, whereas you see things in color with regular light, with infra-red everything appears grayscale.

This makes them a great option for night-time hunters, or campers who might be a little wary of the wildlife that may be lurking in the dark. But is that all? And is night vision effective, or is it only a gimmick?

About the Nightfox Corsac Night Vision Binoculars

On the face of it, Nightfox certainly seems like a good choice. A British company, their goal is to produce a range of quality, affordable night vision devices that almost anyone can use. Besides binoculars, they also manufacture monoculars and flashlights (known as torches in the UK.)

Generally speaking, you’ll find it’s a very capable unit for the price. It’s very reasonably priced and well within the budgets of most consumers.

What’s in the Box?

Packaging is always important with optical equipment; you don’t know how carefully your order will be handled while it’s in transit, and the last thing you need is for your binoculars to be damaged or for the optics to be knocked out of alignment.

Fortunately, whereas many manufacturers will ship their products in a single container, Nightfox goes the extra mile. The binoculars are shipped in a plain, white, sturdy outer box, with a thick, retail box within. As if that wasn’t enough, within this box you’ll find a semi-hard carrying case containing the binoculars themselves.

Most manufacturers will only provide a soft, canvas bag for their binoculars, which do little to protect them against knocks and drops. While the Nightfox case isn’t rock solid (there’s a little flexibility there) it should be enough to provide a reasonable amount of protection – and certainly far more than a canvas bag could.

The case itself is of decent quality; there’s an open pocket in the lid where you can place the provided instructions and accessories. Unfortunately, there’s no zipper here, and there’s a chance that smaller items could become loose if the case is dropped or otherwise turned upside down.

Similarly, there are two card inserts that hold the binoculars in place during travel, but if removed the binoculars will move around a little in the case.

Besides the binoculars themselves, the case also includes the following accessories:

  • A strap
  • USB cable
  • Instruction booklet
  • 32GB micro SD card (already inserted into the binoculars.)

There’s only one strap provided and this is meant for use with the binoculars, rather than the case. It’s foam, instead of canvas, and reasonably wide, so it should be comfortable around your neck or shoulder. The carry case has a handle, so if you want to wear it over your shoulder, you’ll need to buy a separate strap and clip it to the handle itself (there are no loops on the case specifically for straps.)

Design & Getting Started

If you want to jump right in, there’s a Quick Start Guide on the back of the retail box. Otherwise, instructions are provided in five languages (English, German, French, Italian and Spanish) and you’ll find these to be pretty easy to follow.

Just as with regular binoculars, there are two objective lenses that are pointed toward your target, but beyond that, there are a couple of key differences. For starters, the objective lenses are compartively small as they serve a slightly different function.

More specifically, the right lens is used to gather regular light, whereas the left acts as an infra-red sensor. This lens has a cover that filters infra-red during the day (when it’s not required) and that must be removed at night. There’s also a focus wheel on the lens that allows you to sharpen the image.

Additionally, whereas you’d look through eyepieces on regular binoculars, with night vision binoculars you can enjoy the view on a digital screen. This screen has a rubber shield to help prevent light from escaping during the night (or to prevent light from getting in during the day.)

Since night vision binoculars use infra-red and a display screen, rather than eyepieces, they require a power source, and the first thing you’ll need to do is insert 6 AA batteries into the unit. Make sure you have these on hand as, unfortunately, they aren’t supplied.

The batteries fit into a removable compartment on the underside of the unit, but it’s a little tricky to pull the compartment out. There are two catches on either side of the cover, and you’ll need to push them both in simultaneously and then move the compartment by gently jiggling it from side to side – it won’t cleanly lift out.

Battery life is an estimated three hours, so you’ll want to use rechargeables and, if you intend to be away from home for awhile, have plenty to spare. Rechargeable batteries won’t last as long, but at least you won’t be paying an arm and a leg every time you need to change them!

Incidentally, there’s a USB port next to the micro SD card slot on the left side of the binoculars (see below.) You can power the unit using an external power bank, but this isn’t mentioned in the manual. According to Nightfox, the IR requires a lot of power and there may be some loss of functionality if you power the unit that way (and it’s not capable of recharging any batteries.)

Either way, having the unit attached to an external power source in this fashion, while potentially useful, could easily be a hindrance after a short period of time.

Once you’ve inserted the batteries, you only need to power the unit on and you’re in business.

Features of the Corsac Binoculars

Without batteries, the Corsac is pretty lightweight – just 18 ounces (510g) – but the batteries will add another 6.5 ounces (184g) for a total weight of 24.5 ounces (694g.) That’s still less than many binoculars, but it’s worth remembering that comparing night vision binoculars with regular binoculars is like comparing lemons and limes.

For example, regular binoculars will always specify magnification and aperture (eg, 10×50, respectively) and while there’s no aperture to speak of, you’ll find that night vision binoculars and goggles have a range instead. This indicates how far the infra-red will reach and the distance you’ll be able to see as a result. In the case of the Corsac, the range is estimated to be around 590 feet (180 meters or 200 yards.)

In terms of magnification, this can be adjusted from 1x to 3x with the press of a button and in 17 incremental increases. However, bear in mind that the zoom feature is digital, which means the image itself is magnified, rather than the view. In other words, you’ll see a larger image with a higher magnification, but you won’t necessarily see more detail.

(Imagine looking at a photograph with a magnifying glass. It makes it easier to see details in the image, but it doesn’t produce any more detail that wasn’t already there.)

All the control buttons are located on the top of the unit, and are as follows:

  • Zoom – incrementally cycles through the zoom settings. Once it reaches 3x, it goes back to 1x.
  • M (Mode) – cycles through the video, photo, playback and settings modes. By default, the unit is set to video mode.
  • Power – the power button is used to activate the unit and to adjust the brightness of the screen.
  • IR – there are two IR buttons that allow you to increase or decrease the strength of the infra-red.
  • Camera – the camera button will start recording video and will take a photo. It also acts as an ‘OK’ button when making selections while in Settings mode.

The unit can be used during the day to record color images and video, and is sensitive enough to pick up some color (without infra-red) at night. That said, you’ll see a lot more at night with infra-red, and any recordings made in that manner will be grayscale. The digital screen has a resolution of 640×360, but the digital sensor itself has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, which is equivalent to blu-ray movie quality.

You can easily transfer images and video to your computer by either removing the micro SD card and inserting it into your computer (most likely using an adapter) or by attaching the unit to your computer using the supplied USB cable.

It’s worth noting that you can’t change the resolution of the image or video, but the supplied 32GB micro SD card has the storage capacity for nearly 95,000 images or about 100 minutes of video, so you shouldn’t find yourself running out of space anytime soon! (Of course, you can always bring along a spare, but be aware that the manual states that a 32GB card is the largest capacity you can use.)

Lastly, the Settings mode provides access to the following:

  • Format TF – erase any micro SD card inserted.
  • Power Save – set the unit to automatically power off after a period of inactivity. The time periods are 10 mins, 30 mins and 60 mins.
  • Date – allows you to set the current date.
  • Time – allows you to set the current time.
  • Flicker – allows you to adjust the frequency of the screen. You can select either 50 Hz or 60 Hz, with 60Hz being the default and recommended value.
  • TV Standard – choose between PAL and NTSC, with NTSC being the default.
  • Screen Backlight – allows you to adjust the brightness of the display screen. There are 8 settings; the brighter the screen, the quicker the batteries will drain. You’ll most likely only need it on the highest setting during the day, and the lowest setting should be perfectly fine for nighttime use.
  • Date/Time Tag – applies a timestamp to your photos and video.
  • Version – shows the current firmware version.

Note that if you remove the batteries, any settings (eg, date and time) will be lost. Also, there’s no information on how to upgrade the firmware in the instruction booklet, or even how to check if your firmware is up-to-date.

The Nightfox Corsac in Use

As mentioned earlier, the Corsac is light enough to be hand-held, but it can also be attached to a tripod should you need the extra stability. For the purpose of this review, all images were taken without the use of a tripod and have not been altered in any way.

In general terms, the Corsac works well enough during daytime hours, but it’s worth remembering that this is really a secondary function of the Corsac, and the unit performs best under nighttime conditions.

With this in mind, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. Firstly, it has a digital zoom, so if you increase the magnification, you’re only zooming in on a specific portion of the image. As a result, you’ll find the zoomed-in image is of poorer quality, and you’ll find a camera (or even a cell phone) will produce better magnified images. (That said, the regular, unmagnified images were decent enough.)

Secondly, the shroud around the screen does a good job of blocking out light, but might be more of a hindrance if you wear glasses, as you may need to hold the Corsac a short distance away from your eyes. Unfortunately, this could mean you won’t be able to see the screen clearly, as the ambient light from your surroundings will make the screen difficult to see.

For example, I’m far-sighted, so removing my glasses and holding the Corsac up to my eyes only resulted in a blurry view, and no amount of focusing could sharpen the image. I focused the view as best I could for the image above.

Of course, you’re not going to buy the Corsac for daytime use alone; it’s designed to be used during the night, and this is where it comes into its element.

Fortunately, since there was no daylight, the screen was clearly visible and it’s easy enough to adjust the brightness to a comfortable level. The Corsac does its job well and without any major complaints – you can adjust the infra-red level to get the best view (there are seven levels), but while you’ll get a better quality image with the IR set to 7, you’ll find the batteries will run down quicker too.

Without the IR, it’s also fairly sensitive to ambient light (more so than your eyes, without dark adaption) and is even capable of detecting stars in the night sky. For example, this (cropped) image shows the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. (Again, it was hand-held, and attaching the binoculars to a tripod should easily produce a clearer view. For anyone interested in astronomy, the Hyades could fit within the field of view while it was sensitive enough to detect color in the Orion Nebula.)

From top left to bottom, the images below are frames from videos shot without IR (top left) and then with an IR setting of 1, 3 and 7 (bottom), respectively. The fence and gate are an estimated 175 feet (53 meters) away, as determined by Google Maps.

(Incidentally, the timestamp is incorrect – these images were taken three hours later than stamped and a little more than two hours after sunset.)

Unfortunately, while I live on the outskirts of town and coyotes are very common (not to mention rabbits, gophers and the occasional bear or mountain lion) there was no wildlife in the area that night, but I have no doubt the Corsac is more than capable of providing you with some outstanding views.

That said, it’s not without its (minor) drawbacks. For starters, the IR lens cap that covers the left lens is attached to the unit with string, and this string easily became detached from the unit. As a result, the cap was nearly lost on the first night out, as it fell on the ground, and was only found again by accident. While this may have simply been a fault with the unit I had, I made sure to remove the cap before stepping outside on other occasions.

Another minor issue was with the zoom function. Besides the graininess of the image (which is an unavoidable by-product of all devices with digital zoom) there was no way to decrease the magnification without cycling all the way through the 17 different increments until you reached your desired magnification again.

This seemed a little short-sighted; there are two buttons to increase and decrease the IR output, but only one button to cycle through the zoom settings.

Lastly, as mentioned above, a USB cable is provided that allows you to transfer photos and videos directly to your computer. However, although the binoculars detected it was connnected to the laptop, the laptop (running Windows 11 with all recent software updates installed) failed to detect the binoculars.

If you have a micro SD adapter, or your computer takes a micro SD card, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but be aware that the SD card can be a little fiddly to remove.

In Conclusion

Whatever drawbacks the Corsac has, you’ll find them to be relatively minor and shouldn’t stop you from making the most of it. It’s more than capable of providing fine views of your surroundings in the dark and should be a valuable asset to night hunters and bird watchers.

LightweightIR lens cap easily drops off
Easy to useMay be difficult to see screen if you wear glasses
Clearly shows surroundingsNo way to decrease zoom without cycling through all magnifications
Good quality images and videoUSB connection didn’t work

Video Review

If you’d like to learn a little more about the Corsac (and see some footage shot with the binoculars) check out my video review below!


Weight (without batteries):18 oz (510 g)
Maximum Magnification:3x
IR Wavelength:850nm
IR LED Output:1.8 watts
Nighttime Viewing Distance:590 ft (180 m / 200 yds)
Viewing Angle:10 degrees
Sensor Resolution:1920×1080 pixels
Recording Capabilities:Images and Video
Storage:Micro SD (32GB max, provided)
Power Source:6x AA batteries
Battery Life:3 hours

Richard J. Bartlett

Born and raised in England, Richard has had a passion for the stars since the age of six and has been writing about astronomy for 20 years. During that time, he’s had the opportunity to use a wide selection of binoculars, both for astronomy and daytime use, and owns more than ten binoculars himself. Richard now lives in southern California, and can often be found outside with his binoculars whenever the skies are clear.


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