Are image intensifiers still used?

Image Intensifiers: Usage and Relevance

Image intensifiers, devices that amplify low-light-level scenes to levels that can be seen or detected by the human eye or other sensors, have been pivotal in various fields such as medical imaging, night vision, and industrial inspection. Despite the advent of digital imaging technologies, image intensifiers continue to hold significance in specific applications.

Medical Field Applications

One of the primary uses of image intensifiers has been in the medical field, particularly in fluoroscopy. Image intensifiers convert X-rays into visible light at higher brightness levels, enabling real-time imaging. This capability is crucial for various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, including cardiac catheterization, gastrointestinal studies, and orthopedic surgery.

Military and Security Applications

In military and security applications, image intensifiers play a vital role in night vision devices. These devices amplify available light (such as moonlight or starlight) to enable vision in near-total darkness, which is essential for surveillance, navigation, and combat operations.

Advancements and Alternatives

While image intensifiers have been indispensable, the evolution of digital imaging technologies, such as charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensors, has provided alternatives. These digital sensors can offer advantages in terms of sensitivity, dynamic range, and convenience. However, image intensifiers still outperform in scenarios requiring ultra-high-speed imaging and where immediate photon-to-photon conversion is necessary.

Despite the competition from digital sensors, image intensifiers are not obsolete. They continue to be used in applications where their unique capabilities—such as high-speed image capture and superior low-light performance—are critical. Moreover, ongoing research and development efforts aim to enhance their efficiency, resolution, and compactness, ensuring their relevance in both existing and potential new applications.


In conclusion, image intensifiers remain a vital technology in various fields, particularly where low-light imaging is crucial. Their ability to provide real-time, high-resolution images under challenging conditions ensures their continued use alongside and in combination with modern digital imaging technologies.

Back to blog

Leave a comment