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.