In principle, the 2nd generation works in the same way as the 1st generation. The difference is that the light is amplified up to 20.000 times. As a result, you can see over a considerably greater distance with this generation. This is achieved by a microchannel plate, which is placed behind the photocathode and has countless tiny glass tubes. The electrons generated are thus even further amplified. As well as a much brighter picture, the picture is noticeably sharper.
With the 1st generation there is a certain blurring at the edges which is almost unnoticeable with the 2nd generation. Also, the 2nd generation is equipped with an infrared illuminator.
Most night vision devices have a magnification of around 2 or 2.5 times. However, there are also special versions that have magnifications of up to 10 times.
Almost all devices are very compact and are monocular in design, however there are - especially in the 2nd generation - also night vision devices that are binocular in design and look like spectacles. There is also a head mount with which the device can be used hands-free. As a rule, 2nd generation devices offer 4,000 hours of operation.
In the meantime, some devices work with an image intensifier, which does not produce a green-and-white image, but instead a black-and-white image. The image has more contrast and is more comfortable, especially when observing for longer periods.