Thermal Night Vision Colour Palettes

Graphic of thermal monocular and its colour palettes

Thermal night vision display images that highlight heat signatures of objects. It works through the use of an infrared sensor that identifies differences in temperature and heat signatures of targets which is then translated into a viewable image on an OLED screen. One of main components to consider when using these devices is the thermal night vision colour palettes. These palettes display the heat which is emitting from an object allowing users to better recognise them.

Thermal night vision colour palettes are an added bonus that comes included with thermal imaging devices. Yes, they do give users multiple preferences in order to choose their desired viewing mode. However, each specific palette serves a certain purpose in enhancing the details and features of a target or environment. Continue reading to find out what each colour palette does and which situations they are most suited for.

White Hot

The White Hot colour palette is the standard viewing mode which comes included with all thermal night vision devices. As the infrared sensor picks up heat, objects emitting the most amount of energy will be shown as white. Whereas cooler objects or environments will appear black. It will feel the most natural to the human brain. This palette allows users to coherently distinguish between hot and cold making it ideal for hunting, surveillance and search and rescue.

Graphic of a man in White Hot
Taken with the Hikmicro Thunder TE25

Black Hot 

Black Hot is the inverse of White Hot. It depicts warmer objects as black and colder ones as white and shows a strong contrast between heat signatures. Black Hot allows users to better track targets in high temperature conditions. This is because it picks up heat emitted from the ground from footprints or other matter left behind by animals. This palette also increases details recognition of targets in hot environments.

Graphic of a man in Black Hot
Taken with the Hikmicro Thunder TE25

Red Hot

With Red Hot, the strongest heat signatures will be depicted as red. It is essentially White Hot with the hottest body parts of an object appearing red. This can be the head, torso, underbelly and legs. Red Hot makes it easy for users to detect anything that is alive and shows a clear distinction between target and background. Red Hot is a great thermal night vision colour palette for hunters, law enforcement and wildlife spotters.

Graphic of a man in Red Hot
Taken with the Hikmicro Thunder TE25

Rainbow and Rainbow High Contrast

Rainbow uses a purple to yellow scale which allows the brain to form a better image of the objects it is looking at. This is useful in busy environments as it better differentiates between dense foliage from a live animal or object.  

Graphic of a man in Rainbow
Taken with the Hikmicro Thunder TE25

On the other hand, Rainbow Hight Contrast depicts images in layers of heat. Hottest parts of an object will appear red, then yellow to dark blue as it gets colder. In industrial situations, this palette is ideal for assessing mechanical equipment. In an outdoors setting, it will pin point live objects better and show a strong contrast between target and background.

Graphic of Rainbow HC colour palette by Pulsar NV
Seen through Pulsar NV Helion XP50 Pro


With the Sepia colour palette objects will appear as yellow and brown. The yellow indicates high levels of infrared energy. The soft colours of this palette are easy on the eyes, making it perfect for long observations at night.

Graphic of Sepia colour palette by Pulsar NV
Seen through Pulsar NV Helion XP50 Pro


The Violet colour palette shows high infrared heat signatures in yellow tones and colder signatures are shown as purple. Users will find that Violet shows a better contrast between yellow and purple. This makes it well suited for observing rough terrain and high temperature environments and provides greater detail.

Graphic of Violet colour palette by Pulsar NV
Seen through Pulsar NV Helion XP50 Pro


Just like Rainbow, Ultramarine uses different colours to show temperature differences of objects. Ultramarine uses a light blue tone to display colder signatures which makes it useful for night time observers. This is because it shows a lighter in the background which will highlight any occurrences around the subject.

Graphic of Ultramarine colour palette by Pulsar NV
Seen through Pulsar NV Helion XP50 Pro

Red Monochrome

With the Red Monochrome colour palette, objects emitting the most amount of heat will appear bright yellow. As for the background, it will be drowned out in dark red. This colour palette is ideal for night time detection and long observations.

Graphic of Red Monochrome colour palette by Pulsar NV
Seen through Pulsar NV Helion XP50 Pro


Thermal night vision colour palettes aren’t just a nice filter to make the infrared image viewing more interesting. Each different palette serves to enhance certain attributes of an object to enhance detection and detail recognition. This greatly benefits users as it gives them the versatility needed to adapt to any situation. Click here to find the thermal night vision device that suits you.

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