Investing in a thermal imaging camera is a big commitment. Even though their prices have dropped dramatically over the past several years, you still want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money, so buying a thermal camera that will serve you in the long term is a must. For some people, the price of the camera will be the driving factor, while others will pat more attention to its features. Nevertheless, the most important things you should look for are dependability and quality, as well as exceptional technical support and service. But how do you measure something as abstract as quality? Well, in the thermal imaging camera world, there are a few things that you should look out for that give thermal cameras that epitome.
The Highest Image Quality That Your Budget Allows
Infrared cameras have fewer pixels than conventional cameras, which is why you need to pay attention to detector resolution. The higher resolution a camera has, the sharper images it can create, and the farther away it can measure. These two things are important for getting reliable and precise measurements. Not only does higher resolution imaging provide more accurate and consistent results, it allows you to show findings in finer detail to your customers, repair crews, supervisors or insurance companies, which can help you fasten the decision-making process for repairs and improvements.
Storing and Reading the Most Common File Formats
The majority of cameras store images in a proprietary format which can only be read with specialised software. Some offer optional JPEG storage capabilities that don’t include temperature information. FLIR cameras, on the other hand, offers standard JPEG with full temp analysis included. This enables you to e-mail images to customers or colleagues without losing any crucial information. Further, look for a camera that lets you stream MPEG 4 video through USB to monitors and computers. This is useful for recording dynamic thermal activities where cooling and heating happens quickly, and for capturing processes in motion or motorised equipment.
Repeatable and Accurate Results
Thermal cameras don’t just let you see the differences in temperature, they let you measure those differences as well, meaning the consistency and accuracy of the measurements is a key factor when determining the quality and value of the camera. Get a thermal imaging camera that meets or exceeds +2% accuracy. All FLIR cameras have that as the minimum standard thanks to the company’s manufacture of its own thermal detectors.
Further, the camera should include in-camera tools that let you include in-camera tools for inputting the reflective temperature and emissivity values. This will result in more accurate temperature measurements that can help you in the decision making process. Other useful diagnostics to consider are area boxes and multiple movable spots for annotating and isolating measurements that can be saved as radiometric data and be included in the findings for reports. These features become more meaningful as you get experience in using the camera.
Wide Temperature Range and Sensitivity
A camera’s temperature sensitivity and range are two important consideration. The range tells you the maximum and minimum temperatures the camera can measure, whereas the sensitivity tells you the smallest differences in temperature between two objects (commonly 0.05°C). In other words, you should invest in a camera that has a broad enough temperature range to capture all of the temperatures in scenes or objects you frequently encounter. Further, you should consider the smallest difference in the temperature you want to measure and get a camera with a sensitivity that can resolve those differences.
Backed by a Strong Manufacturer That Provides Technical Support and Training
The depth of technical support and quality of customer service should be key to your decision of which thermal camera you’ll buy. FLIR Systems is the leading manufacturer of thermal cameras, and they founded the ITC, which is the world’s largest thermal imaging training centre. Advance your career and make the most out of your investment by getting an accredited certification from them. Professional photographers get extensive training which is evident in their work. The same applies to your craft as a thermographer. Their certificate is proof that you have expertise in using your camera and reading the information it provides.
Latest Connectivity Technology
You can now connect thermal cameras to iPads, iPods or iPhones wirelessly. FLIR systems offer a unique application that lets you import IR images to devices for portable analysis, sharing and report generation. Being able to do this is a great benefit, especially when you need to act quick. New apps are being developed for more mobile platforms and extra functionality like streaming video, remote camera control, etc.
All of the aforementioned considerations and features are what make a thermal imaging camera a quality one. As you can see, FLIR thermal imaging camera models are considered the best on the market, and if your budget allows, you should aim to get one.