The Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars are often found on 'best of' night vision goggles/binoculars lists, largely because they sit at a reasonable price point that won't break the bank.
IR Range: 230 ft / 70m
Display: 640x360 TFT LCD
Battery: Built-in Lithium battery
Battery life: 3 hours with mixed IR use
Memory card: None
Weight: 12.7 oz / 360g inc battery
Warranty: 18 months
Nightfox prides itself on having 'online prices, for an in-store attitude' and originally started making night vision products to replace poor quality or overpriced models on the market. So far they seem to be winning — the Nightfox Swift binoculars have sat in our best night vision binoculars buying guide for a while so it's only right we published our first-hand experiences of using them.
Though often referred to as binoculars with a maximum viewing distance of around 75 yards (70m), Nightfox doesn't pretend that these binos are for anything other than close-quarters use, and using the word 'goggles' would be more appropriate, so we will use the terms interchangeably throughout this review.
Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars review
Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars: Design
- The focus wheel is underneath the front of the goggles
- Five button operation
- Various mounting methods
The Nightfox Swift night vision goggles are lightweight and can easily fit comfortably in one hand. When we first unboxed them we were surprised just how lightweight they felt, even to the point of feeling a little toyish, and personally, we would prefer to feel a little more weight in the hand. That said, we understand that being lightweight is important for extended viewing sessions. The battery lasts around three hours; you want to carry as little weight on your head (using the head mount) as possible.
There are five buttons on the top to operate the zoom, your backlight selection (out of seven) and enhance or reduce the infrared levels. Again, we'd like a little more tactile feedback from the buttons as they also feel a little on the toyish side. We think you'd feel the same if you held them, but it is hard to describe!
The button labels are fine to see in daylight but impossible in the dark, so you need to learn what button does what quickly. There are only five, and it's fairly intuitive, but some may prefer a model with glow-in-the-dark or illuminated button descriptions.
One thing that took more getting used to is the focus wheel — sited underneath and at the front of the binoculars. We test hundreds of binoculars and the focus wheel is typically at the top where you adjust it using your middle finger. With these goggles, you need to use your thumb. This isn't a problem, although with the wheel being at the front of the device, the wheel isn't positioned where your thumb would comfortably sit. We asked a few people to test them and they all agreed. All these points aren't deal breakers but just 'niggles' we found.
You'll see from the photo that the device could do with some little rubber feet, or some extra protection on the bottom, as even when only used lightly and carefully in our review, the top layer of coating started to peel away. This doesn't do anything other than affect the aesthetics of the device and even though it's an affordable pair of night vision goggles, we'd expect better protection than this; this pair will look old and worn much quicker than they should.
The battery-charging micro-USB port is hidden neatly above the rubber eye guard. Overall, the Nightfox Swift look and feel acceptable but we'd prefer it if they felt just a touch more premium.
Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars: Performance
- Peripheral vision dramatically hindered
- Battery seems to last a long time
- Great at seeing in the dark
When looking through the display screen, the view can be likened to looking through a video camcorder from the year 2005. The screen resolution is 320 x 240. This is fine for the purposes we need these goggles for — for finding our way around in the dark or for watching something that's no further than 70 feet away.
Our first test of these goggles was indoors, turning all the lights and light sources off, drawing the curtains and so on so everything was as near to pitch black as we could get it. On pressing the power button on the Nightfox Swift and waiting for a second or so for them to turn on, we brought them up to our eyes. Wow — we could see in the dark! Turning the focus wheel makes the image nice and sharp. The infrared control buttons enhance or reduce the intensity of the infrared beams (resulting in a darker or brighter image). The seven backlight options let you alter the light that is emitted from the illuminator to further brighten or dim the image for comfortable viewing.
Next came walking around the house to test them in a familiar environment — here is where we first noted the limiting effect of the Nightfox Swift, specifically the eye guard, on your peripheral vision. Though we could see straight ahead, the narrow viewing angle was disconcerting. You can't boldly stride around with these things on, as it's impossible to see steps or curbs right in front of you. I'm sure after we've worn these out and about more, we'll get used to the constant head bobbing that's required to make sure nothing will trip us up. Alternatively, after doing some research, we've found you could attach a budget fisheye lens to the front lens to enhance the angle of view — a cost-effective clever solution!
When we tried them out in the local park, we were impressed with what we could see, even though 'in real life' it was pitch black. When selected, the infrared level one is bright enough to make out objects, trees, people, etc. Increasing it to level seven means you get a clear view of everything in front of you, up to 70 feet away.
If you're looking for a stealthy pair of binos, the infrared on these, on a high infrared level selection is highly visible to anyone looking in your direction and anyone up close. This may be a reason to avoid them if you're doing covert surveillance of your home, for example.
Comfort-wise, as we've mentioned, the lightweight design means you can wear them for reasonable amounts of time fairly happily. Depending on your face shape, you might want to carefully trim the rubber eye shield down to make it more comfortable for your own individual face contours. The head strap is comfortable and the goggles 'move' as you do. Wherever you look, they look, hands-free.
Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars: Functionality
- Micro-USB charging
- 2x digital zoom
- No waterproof rating
The Nightfox Swift features an inbuilt 3000 mAh lithium rechargeable battery. The specified run time is three hours. We think, after review, you could get much longer use out of them if you use the minimum level of backlight and infrared you could comfortably 'get away with.' There is a battery indicator in the bottom right of the screen which stays there constantly. There is no percentage indicator, just a small icon of a battery with various levels of charge, kind of what you'd see on an old Nokia phone. We'd like to have seen an automatic switch-off timer, in case we forget to power down manually.
Like most products we are reviewing in 2023, we always say we'd prefer to see USB-C charging ports, not the now more dated micro-USB we have here. This is just for convenience and minimizes the number of cables you need lying around.
The Nightfox Swift does not have a waterproof rating, however, Nightfox claims they are water resistant. Because of the pretty well-sealed body and cover across the Micro-USB port, we'd feel confident using them in light rain, but nothing beyond that.
As well as the fixed 1x optical magnification, there is also an adjustable 2x digital magnification to get a slightly closer view of your subject. Turn the infrared off and this is potentially useful for hands-free working with fiddly components.
Should you buy the Nightfox Swift Vision binoculars?
These are definitely a budget pair of night-vision binoculars. However, you'll still be paying between $150 and $180 for them which may still be a tad too expensive for some with tighter purse strings but are pretty reasonable for night vision binoculars or goggles.
They are great for going to a small local park and watching the local wildlife after dark or as a means of scanning your land at home as surveillance at night. For functionality beyond that, such as recording, higher magnification, waterproofing or a longer infrared range, you'll need a superior model which will likely cost quite a bit more.
If the Nightfox Swift night vision binoculars aren't for you
The Creative XP Night Vision Goggles Elite sits at the top of our best night vision binoculars guide for several reasons. They feature everything the Nightfox Swift has but with much more useful functionality. They have a huge viewing range of 1640 ft/ 546 yards, recording capabilities (to the included 128GB memory card), tripod compatibility and 8x digital zoom. For some reason, their price is extortionate in the UK but more reasonable in the US.
The Bresser Night Vision Binocular 1x are perhaps the most similar to the Nightfox Swift in terms of specs — they are similar in size and weight, head-mountable, rechargeable and have the same optical and digital zoom. They have a longer warranty than the Nightfox Swift, which might be enough reason to purchase one over the other.