Example Sentence:

The shutter clicked noisily, its ______ lens able to discern the shapes and structures of the ruin.

I'm looking for a word which means that the (camera) lens is able to see in the dark and the answer is not "Night vision" because it seems to imply that it works against night. I'm looking for a word which means that the lens is able to see in low light conditions and not just in the night time.

  • 2
    Unfortunately, it's not the lens that makes a camera work in low-light conditions. It's whatever detects the light/infrared/UV, either film or a CCD or some other detector. The lens merely directs the light to that.
    – Spencer
    Feb 18, 2017 at 14:38
  • @Spencer: I'm taking a bit of artistic liberty here. The lens in this case signifies the eye of a robot and I'm not looking to get in the technical aspect of it except to say that the eye could see in the dark.
    – user96551
    Feb 18, 2017 at 14:54
  • It is a fast lens as mentioned in Lawrence's answer. Also refer to: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/13619/what-is-a-fast-lens Feb 18, 2017 at 14:58
  • @Spencer, lens does have a role, and a big one in enabling low light performance of the camera; refer to my other comment about a fast lens. Feb 18, 2017 at 15:02
  • 1
    I actually like the deleted answer by @Pax, whom I would encourage to try again but with some documentation. Night vision lens. Feb 19, 2017 at 3:54

2 Answers 2


The term used in photography is a fast lens. It refers to lenses with apertures that open wide. The larger the aperture, the more light gets in.

All other things equal, the recording medium requires less time to achieve the same exposure with a wide aperture than with a narrow aperture. This is the reason for calling wide-aperture lenses fast.

Fast lenses can be advantageous over slower ones in certain shooting conditions and types of photography. They really come into their own where there is either low light (for example if you need to shoot indoors but can’t use a flash) or where you need to use a fast shutter speed (for example in sports or even wildlife photography). They are especially useful when you need both a fast shutter speed in low light (ie indoor sports). - DPS

Your sample sentence would then be worded this way:

  • The shutter clicked noisily, its fast lens able to discern the shapes and structures of the ruin.

Note that to discern the images and structures requires more than the lens. It requires the image (facilitated by the recording medium as @Spencer notes) as well as the interpretation of that image.

  • +1; You stole my answer before I could post it, @Lawrence :) Feb 18, 2017 at 14:55
  • @alwayslearning Sorry. :)
    – Lawrence
    Feb 18, 2017 at 14:58

Why don't you use your own phrase, low-light? As already noted, it is typically used to describe a sensor - but since you're not insisting on being technically correct, you could use it here.

Another term you may consider is starlight - often used to describe a super low-light imaging capability, for example:

While low-light surveillance capabilities have been around on the market for some time, starlight camera technology is redefining low-light surveillance to new levels.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.