How big is the difference between ECHO and Gen3?

Before you continue … If you haven’t read our Monocular Night-vision Buying Guide, then please do so before continuing.

All of us night-vision-fans, have read multiple comments about Gen2 vs Gen3. There is a lot of opinions that are controversial. Let me share you a secret – Difference between low-end and high-end Gen2 unit is much larger than difference between high-end Gen2 and high-end Gen3. Let me prove it! 🙂

Before we compare high spec Gen2 (like ECHO) to exceptional Gen3 (FOM 2100+), lets compare two Gen2s.

Wide Quality Spectrum of Gen2

Gen2 Image Intensifier Tubes (IIT) may be different as day and night. Let’s compare FLIR MNVD to Photonis ECHO – both IIT are Gen2’s.



As you can see, the difference between two devices that are based on Gen2 technology can be huge. This example here is the main reason why a lot of night-vision users say that Gen2 is not comparable with Gen3. They simply have tested the low-end Gen2s.

Photonis ECHO FOM 1500+ vs Harder Gen3 FOM 2100+

Testing conditions: Pretty low-light conditions. Without night-vision you could not see anything. Sky was almost fully clouded.

Testing method: a nice game with IR sticks.


Housing PVS-14LTE
Tube Photonis ECHO WP
Tube min/max FOM 1 600 – 2000
Autogated Fast autogating
Price 3 390€
TubeHarder Digital Gen3 WP
Tube min/max FOM2100+
AutogatedStandard autogating
Price5 500€+

Pros and cos for ECHO when compared to high-end devices (Gen3 FOM 2100+, 4G etc)




One might say that ECHO was filmed from closer range (guys moved around when I changed devices). Still, we can say that both devices have pretty similar performance – both devices had noise due to low-light, but the noise on ECHO wasn’t worse compared to high-end / mil-grade Gen3.

When buying commercial grade night-vision like ECHO, you shouldn’t expect clean tubes. There will be black-spots. Otherwise, it would not be so cheap compared to mil-grade tubes. 

If your life does not literally depend on it, buying ECHO will definitely save you some money while giving similar level of performance. 

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Krister Lukka
Nightvision fan, just like You