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It's dark, Blue or Red?

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I decided to do some research on this. Just out of interest. The main theme that came out of my reading was that everyone seems to have a different opinion. Not much different to here really. After m

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I'm still of the opinion that red light does not affect night vision as much as light of other wavelengths.  As I understand it, the chemical in the rods in our eyes (which are used for vision in low light conditions) is insensitive to red light, and therefore does not "reset" our night vision as does light of higher wavelengths.


I'd be doing a fair bit of research before departing from the norm of red lighting for night vision.



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Red is a tricky colour and one that disappears fast in 1/2 light so that could be right WB.


I'll find a friendly optometrist and see what they say. I'll wire a few up tonight and put them head to head and see what we see ..... or don't.

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Had a play and it was interesting.


NOTE: We noticed that what our eyes saw isn't what the camera (Sony Z1 with 20.something megapixls) saw.


Got 2 lights, NEWT's they have on them. 30 milliamp. One red and one blue. Wired them up the same and connected to the same battery. 12V


Set in cockpit like this, the photo used a flash. The white square in the middle is a pad of paper. The lights are 2mt apart.


No flash. The group call was the photo shows more output from both lights than our eyes saw. The call was also both seems to put out about the same amount of light.



Just the blue



Just the red. Note here the blue light has a hint of output going on. That was Otto holding the end of the blue wire in one hand while holding the wire for the red on the battery with the other, so he is conductive and it shows how low the power can be with these things.



Inside the cabin just lying face up on the bunks the same distance of centerline. There are no gloss surfaces and most have a layer of dust on them so there is bugger all 'reflection'. Again the photo shows more than our eyes saw but the consensus was both put out about the same, the red a bit more if anything yet the photo suggests the opposite.



Just the blue.



Just the red. Total agreement that this photo shows WAY more light then all our eyes saw, and I mean WAY as it a hell of a lot. Same with the blue to a point but nothing like as much as the red.



Conclusion - A bit 50/50 really. The team thought the blue was cool but a little harder (intense?) on the eyes than the red, the blue also 'lit up' things more visibly. The red was more softer on the eyes and it's coverage went further even though it didn't 'lit up' things as much as the blue. Neither could be used for reading unless real close. Both were a lot brighter than expected for 30 milliamps and they both were too bright for night lighting if your eyes could see the fitting itself. The output was fine though.


So at the end 1 preferred the blue and 2 the red. There wasn't any clear conclusion either way from the assembled mob. The only one was no matter what we we go we can not have the light fitting in a sight line, we must have that positioned where it can't be seen from the steering stick. Even though these lights are tiny when talking power the pinpoint at the source is harsh and would bugger your night vision fast. That can be seen in the cockpit photos verse the cabin photos where the lights are behind the 2 black squares a.k.a the bulkhead.


Personally I'm leaning toward the red as it is softer so over 8 hours has to be (????) nicer on the eyes, or so my totally uneducated theory goes. But if I was going for 'cool' it would have to be Blue all the way, no question... or maybe a combo of both, that was very sexy.

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Red doesn't affect night vision as much as blue/white. This is the reason special forces ops run at night use red lights inside planes heading to drop zones - guys with guns need to be able to see stuff to shoot it up.  There was a great write up on this on Quora (I think?) I'll see if I can find it. 

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Brilliant stuff Km... err pun intended.... ..


There is one additional thing to test IMHO. Which one Blue or Red affects your night vision the least. I don't know how you test that. Maybe sit in the dark looking a page of text you can only just read, then turn on each light and off again. can you see the text in the dark again, or how long does it take before you can see it.


I agree what the camera "sees" is quite different from what our eyes see and I know my eyes see much better in the dark than my wife's do for example so it is also very individual.


Cheers tb

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Good call Tim.


I'll set them both up then sit in darkness for 5 mins then turn one on and see what I can see using a book. Turn it off and repeat with the other colour.


I know from just last night alone if your eyes can see the source they start doing unwanted stuff, or at least mine did but I do have a small photophobia (light sensitivity) issue which wouldn't help.


Yeap red has been the usual night light but I've seen stuff that suggests Blue is now an option as it is now an option where until recently blue wasn't.



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IIRC from my days in the Army, it takes 30 minutes or more to get your full night vision, so KM your test may take some time!! Oh and you can lose your night vision in less than 1 sec. They used to teach you to close one eye when you heard the sound of a flare, so as to preserve at least some night vision. All the military night lighting was red. That was 30 odd years ago though, so could be different now....although peoples eyes are the same!

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