Ten Infrared Thermal Camera Facts

In the paragraphs below we’re going to discuss some of the more common misconceptions regarding the product quality pricing, mapping performance to apps and capabilities of handheld IR thermal imaging cameras.

  1. A thermal IR camera is able to see below the target’s surface (not true).

The thermal image on the left of someone pouring hot water in a bowl is derived from IR radiation that’s detected only from the surface. As you can easily see in the picture, there is nothing deeper than that that the camera reveals.

  1. Any kind of material can be measured easily with thermal IR cameras (not true).

The information of the temperature is given in the emitted radiation, but the truth is that the imager can also see the transmitted and reflected components. The majority of materials are opaque to infrared, so this means that the energy transmitted can be ignored. On the other hand, it’s good to note that a lot of materials with a lot emission level do reflect IR radiation.

  1. Thermal measurements can be influenced by the target’s color (not true).

One thing you should know about emissivity is that it is not related to color. This means that the colored labels you can see below all have the same temperature.

  1. Never use thermal imaging cameras in daylight (not true).You should know that when it comes to IR imaging cameras, they aren’t able to detect visible light. Two thermal images of an object which are taken under both day and night illumination levels will be basically identical and the camera only responds to the object’s long wave IR signature.
  2.  An increased sensitivity of the thermal IR camera improves its overall function (not true).

One thing you need to know about thermal cameras that have a high thermal sensitivity is that they’re quite expensive, so that is why before you get one, you should determine your application’s requirements. For the majority of engineering and inspection applications, a thermal sensitivity of one degree Celsius is more than enough.

  1. Visible image capture or image fusion are must have features for a thermal IR camera (not true).

When it comes to image fusion, it’s usually required by the military for target identification. In certain low light conditions, the image displayed by digital or analog fusion of IR or visible images has better clarity compared to either the visible or IR images. The thing is that in this case, there’s no quantified thermal data in the images. Sure, no one says that this is not useful for the military, but thermal visible image fusion isn’t necessary for thermal analysis.

  1. If the camera is more expensive, it’s going to perform better in terms of sensitivity and temperature range (not true).

You’ll be surprised to find out that there are a lot of great fixed position and handheld thermal cameras that start below two thousand dollars.

  1. Thermal imaging cameras can only be used properly by scientists and engineers (not true).

It’s already very well known that non technical personnel can easily set up and use these types of cameras by taking 4 day classes. In fact, you should know that there are many beginner courses available worldwide and they’re also free of charge or very affordable to consider.

  1. Affordable thermal cameras can only be purchased from outside the United States (not true).

One thing you should know about this is that in the United States there are many thermal imaging cameras manufactured and that is because the costs are pretty low. There are also many inexpensive thermal sensors manufactured here, so you can expect that getting a thermal camera here will run you pretty cheap.

  1. The price for thermal imaging cameras will drop under 1000 dollars soon (not true).

No one denies that there have been many advances in the field of thermal imaging camera manufacturing, but there is still a long time to go until they can become very affordable. Therefore, if you plan on getting one now, then get it, since the prices won’t drop anytime soon for obvious reasons.

Infrared Imaging Explained

If you’ve wondered what infrared imaging is all about, then you’re probably someone who loves physics a lot. Nevertheless, this is a method of capturing IR images not visible to the eye which are then going to be converted into images visible to the human eye. As humans, we can only see the visible light, but this is only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. But what is this spectrum, you ask?

Well, it’s a special scale that classifies the various forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as radio waves, microwaves, infrared rays and so forth. So if you’d like to see in infrared light, then you’ll need to use infrared cameras and imagers since they feature special sensors which don’t operate by using visible light.

Any object or organism that has a temperature above absolute zero will be able to produce infrared radiation. However, when temperature increases, this also causes the molecular and atomic activity to increase which means that more thermal radiation or heat will be produced. This in turn is going to emit more infrared radiation.

Infrared radiation that is reflected from or emitted by warm objects can be easily picked up by long-wave thermal infrared imagers. This is because the imagers feature lenses that can have as much as 7000 sensors which can easily convert IR energy into electrical signals which are then going to finally be converted into a visible image.

What’s special about infrared light is its ability of penetrating areas which visible light could never be able to, allowing it to reveal obscure objects. As one can imagine, this makes it very useful in a lot of applications and it’s generally used by the military in order to produce gun sights, binoculars and other infrared imaging devices.

Firefighters, police and many other agencies can use these imagers to rescue individuals who are lost at sea, lost in the woods, to catch criminals and so forth. As a technician using infrared imagers, you can easily located under-heated or overheated parts in order to eliminate leaking chemicals that can lead to potential hazards.

Lastly, if you’re an archaeologist, you can use these imagers in order to monitor archaeological sites and examine artifacts, while if you’re a wildlife researcher, you can use them for studying warm-blooded animals in their natural habitats. There are currently many luxury cars, planes and ships that use infrared images, but they’re also used in astronomy telescopes and space satellites for research.

Infrared Imaging Bascis

Infrared Imaging, Infrared Thermography, and Thermal Imaging refer to a process of using thermographic cameras to produce images by detecting radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. That range is roughly between 900-14000 nanometers.

And here is another way to put this: all types of objects emit infrared light / energy in a form of heat. Because each of the objects / its components as well as parts of our body have slightly different temperature an infrared camera sensor detects those temperature variations and “paints” an image based on those readings. Because the output image is based on radiation, dark or bright environment does not affect the image.