Ok, not the post you think it is.. All other things being equal, The Mod 3 with L3 filmless WP tubes shows more. (though things are not alway equal as you will see when you read this).
This is really a post about the devices themselves and the pros and cons of each. A night vision binocular is a very expensive propostion and if you think you want one, I am going to tell you that there is more to it than one would think at first blush.
Fisrt, the total cost of running this kind of rig is far more than the cost of the device. Consider that you need two of everything you use with your PVS-7. This means two filter adapters, two afocal lenses, two long pass filters, to H-a filters, two CCD hinder lenses, two eyepiece barrels, and well, two of whatever.
Then there is the mechanics of re configuring. Not only to you have to buy two of everything, but now you wind up having to manage all of these little parts, and worse than that, the act of re configuring from ENVIS/3x to the CCD finder or SLR lens (which is problematic for the binocular because of IPD limits. Now add to this the complication of doing this with all of the small parts in the dark.. Of course that is crazy, now you need to have a light source, and I do this in the hatch bay of the car. There are just to many little pieces and the treading and threading all of this stuff is tedious.
Then there is focus and gain.. While it is very nice to have gain control, when using the CCD lens, you have to refocus with filter changes and because the fitlers usualy want full gain but the long pass often like less gain, there is a lot of adjusting that has to be done.
By comparison, the PVS-7 is inexpensive both as a device, and in the fact that you don;t need so may duplicates. But more than that, the PVS-7 is just far easier to use and reconfigure.
The PVS-7 does not impose an IPD restcition on the use of SLR lenses, so you have a vast range of lenses you can use. While I can cpmpare how the PVS-7 and the Mod 3 look when using the 50mm CCD finders at f/3.8, what would happen if I used an f/2 200mm SLR lens on the PVS-7? For half the price of a Mod 3, I could buy a good PVS-7 and stuff a really fast 200mm Apo SLR lens on it and then what would be the outcome?
See, the PVS-7 gets the benefit of being able to use lenses that the Mod 3 simply can't exploit and we all know that NV likes a fast lens (all other things being equal) and this is an area where the Mod 3 falls painfully behind. When compared apples to apples, the Mod 3 will almost always win, but when compared apples to f/2 lenses, don't look for a convincing victory from the Mod 3.
And then there is telescope use. Lets face it if you love using both eyes, then taking a Mod 3 pod and sticking it in a telescope takes a big chunk of the value proportion of a binocular and throws it out of the window.
(A note here. Even a single pod used in the telescope will show more than the PVS-7 does in a telescope. These tubes are amazing.. But if you like using two eyes, then it is hard to get past the fact that you can't do it with the Mod 3 in any kind of normal telescope).
Now, don't get me wrong.. I love love love love love my Mod 3. When the dust settles though, the battle does not have a decisive winner to me. The PVS-7 simply has an ease of use and a broad range of flexibility that the Mod 3 simply cannot match, and it is difficult to put a price on that even when it comes to performance improvements.
I have a 200mm F/2.8 lens and it is my intention to compare the views using the Mod 3 with the CCD lenses but that is a different post for a different day. My bet though is that given the ability to put a really fast lens on the PVS-7, some of the performance advantage of the Mod 3 will be eroded. Sadly my f/2.8 lens is not the best and I wish I had something like Jay uses to do the comparison, but you get the idea. For less than the cost of a Mod 3, you might find that a feally high quality SLR lens would allow a PVS-7 to equal the nebula performance of the Mod 3 using its smaller, slower finder lenses.
I am lucky.. I can afford both a PVS-7 and Mod 3, so I can use my PVS-7 for telescope and higer power hand held viewing with faster lenses, but for those on a tight budget, a monocular and a goggle might be a better balance.
Just food for thought. I am sure that some might envy me for having a Mod 3, but until you really look at the compromises, you should not be so quick to do so. If your budget allows and you want the ultimate low power experience, then grab a NV binocular for sure, but don't feel all that bad if you don't and instead use a monocular and PVS-7. I still use my PVS-7 a great deal and I do that because I like using two eyes whenever possible and the Mod 3 is very limited in the way it can be employed while using both eyes.
Hope someone finds this interesting.