How to Choose a Thermal Imaging Camera

Camera technology has come a long way in recent years, not least with the advent of digital technology. The smart phone you use every day most likely has a more than capable camera on it, and there are very impressive digital cameras available for surprisingly affordable prices.

In terms of security, this means that we have a better chance of covering our property – domestic or otherwise – with CCTV systems. These are very useful when it comes to capturing offenders. However, there is one other area of visual technology that has advanced a great deal lately, and that is in night-vision.

Put simply, we as humans are not designed to be able to see in the dark. Our eyes are great at processing the information given to us in daylight, but by dark we simply struggle to compete with the animals that are built to come out at night.

Night vision goggles and cameras go some way to rectifying this, but perhaps the most impressive aid to night vision is that of the thermal imaging camera. This very clever and widely used technology is utilised by security services, the military, and people who need to be out at night, for example those who enjoy hunting.

What is thermal imaging, and what should you look for when buying a thermal imaging camera?

How It Works

Unlike a night-vision camera, which uses enhanced optics to gather an image in subdued light, a thermal imaging camera focuses on the infra-red heat signal of everything in its range of vision. Put simply, every object – living or otherwise – emits a heat signal that is above zero degrees, and the camera can ‘see’ this.

It works by way of special lenses which focus on a set area; the lens picks up the heat signal and transmits it to a vast array of tiny processors within the camera. These then convert the heat signal into an image known as a thermogram, which is visible to the viewer as a series of shapes in different colours. Each colour – from blue to red – signifies a higher heat output, so living things will appear in shape, and brighter.

You may have seen these images on TV when watching documentaries about the police helicopters, for example, or in films where soldiers use them as night vision. This is very real technology, and it is readily available here and now, and you may be surprised how affordable a thermal imaging camera can be.

What to Look For

Whether you need a thermal imaging camera as part of your security system, or are planning on going hunting, you need to look for a few features that will make your choice the right one. Thermal Imagers can help you make the right choice.

Detector Resolution – this can get confusing, so put simply, you need to buy the camera with the best detector resolution you can afford. That’s detector resolution as opposed to display resolution. This will give you the best images.

Accuracy – one factor about thermal imagers is that they provide measurements of your results, so look for one that promises the greatest accuracy.

Formats – if you are going to be recording data for output, make sure the camera you choose offers the standard formats; there’s no point having an expensive camera and then finding you need a load of new software to access it.

These are just a few of the things to look out for when buying a thermal imaging camera, and there may be many more that influence your decision, but the basic advice is quite simple: buy the best you can afford, and you can’t go far wrong.