Top 10 Best Thermal Imaging Cameras (Reviews)
Thermal imagers can have different strengths, light reading capabilities, and resolutions and not all thermal imaging cameras have been created equally.
We reviewed and created a comprehensive list of some of the absolute best thermal imaging devices on the market today.
Let’s take a look!
Table of Contents
- 1 FLIR E4 – 80 x 60 IR Resolution Thermal Imaging Camera – With MSX Imaging And Wi-FI Connectivity
- 2 Perfect Prime IR0005 – Versatile Pocket Sized Thermal Imager At Decent Price
- 3 HTI@xT Infrared Thermal Imager – Easy To Hold Thermal Imaging Camera For Professional Use
- 4 Perfect-Prime IR0175 – The Best Budget Thermal Imager
- 5 CAT PHONES S60 – Waterproof Smartphone With Thermal Imaging Capabilities
- 6 FLIR ONE PRO LT USBC – Attachable Smartphone Camera
- 7 Seek Thermal Compact Imager – Inexpensive And Portable Thermal Imaging Accessory Camera For Android Devices
- 8 Fluke VT04 Infrared Imager – Professional Thermal Imager With Carrying Case
- 9 FLIR C2 Compact – A Pocket-Sized Thermal Imaging System
- 10 Best Thermal Imaging Cameras Buyer’s Guide
- 11 Final Words
FLIR E4 – 80 x 60 IR Resolution Thermal Imaging Camera – With MSX Imaging And Wi-FI Connectivity
It allows you to gain a competitive advantage if applying thermal imaging to your business.
The clear MSX thermal images are second to none; this camera clearly reveals energy outputs of all kinds.
The powerful cost-effective design makes using this imager easy and efficient. Multiple resolutions are available, but the most inexpensive model has an 80 x 60 IR resolution output.
This is pretty good for the price. MSX technology means that you will have access to multi-spectral dynamic imaging that will emboss digital camera details on the thermal images in real time.
This allows you to see exceptional clarity on a thermal scale. If you are using this thermal image recorder to assist you in your line of work, the MSX allows you to easily see exactly where a thermal issue is taking place.
You will even be able to see fine textures, numbers, letters, and other important details. This allows for more efficient problem identification without compromising radiometric data in any way.
Users could potentially conduct a detailed analysis and reach a conclusion in seconds. Other features include Wifi for fast and simple sharing, a simple and user-friendly design, and an impressive warranty that covers the detector for 10-years.
If you are a professional in an industry that necessitates thermal imaging, this is a great option.
The E4 is the most inexpensive option in this FLIR model lineup.
On the downside, the E4 is also the lowest resolution camera in the lineup. While the E4 has 80 x 60 resolution, the E8 has quadruple the resolution at 320 x 240.
Additionally, the E4 only detects readings as low as -15°C. Comparatively, the E6 can reach -6°C.
Still, for the price, you get quite a lot. The FLIR E4 would be a good option for anyone wanting very dependable FLIR thermal imager at a lower than usual price.
Perfect Prime IR0005 – Versatile Pocket Sized Thermal Imager At Decent Price
With the 35,200 Pixel image display, you can see crisp and clear full-color thermal images on the 3.2″ display screen. An included extended warranty speaks to the durability of this compact imager.
If you register the product, you can even gain access to an extra 12 months of protection.
The accuracy is also pretty decent with this device. Emissivity and reflected temperature values are precise so that your readings are more reliable.
An included 3GB storage card comes with integrated software so you can easily transfer files.
It also includes an easy to use USB cable for JPEG transfers. The design of this camera makes it easy to use, hold, and operate.
You will be able to comfortably grip this imager for long periods of time without noticing strain or awkward balancing issues.
The large buttons are also helpful for users who are wearing gloves as they take readings.
This is a quality thermal imager and visible light camera with IR resolution. This pocket-sized thermal imager does not include a handle or gripping pole.
HTI@xT Infrared Thermal Imager – Easy To Hold Thermal Imaging Camera For Professional Use
You can choose from multiple color palettes when using this thermal imager so you’ll get more easily scannable images and be able to quickly identify the temperature readings.
Choose from the rainbow color scale, red scale, cold color combo, black and white, or inverse white and black options to get the perfect scale for whatever job you’re on.
It includes a 4GB memory card for easy sharing of your recordings and images on a TV or computer. This is a great option for industry professionals.
Use it for home inspection, fire management, archaeology, electronic manufacturing, or any other job that mandates accurate temperature readings.
It’s a lightweight and comfortable option as well. This imager has an easy to hold handle for all day use.
Weighing in at less than a pound, you’ll find that your arm isn’t worn out after using it for five minutes.
It also comes with a convenient travel pouch. Finally, this device includes a hassle-free warranty which gives users peace of mind.
However, one drawback that we have noticed with this camera is its tech compatibility. It will not work well with old computers.
Perfect-Prime IR0175 – The Best Budget Thermal Imager
It is a simple and efficient thermal imaging device that has a resolution of 1024 pixels.
The IR0175 has a built-in 2.0″ viewing screen, thermal temperature range from -20ºC – +300ºC, the ability to give users readings that are accurate, and 2 IR display modes.
It operates using 3 AAA batteries(not included). We particularly like the durability of this camera.
It has a yellow plastic casing and thick, easy to hold grip handle.
For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to do much better.
This camera could easily be used for recreational or professional applications. With the price being so low, however, there are definitely a few downsides with this device.
For starters, the resolution isn’t particularly impressive. If you need to see crisp and detailed images, you should keep on looking. Secondly, it operates using non-rechargeable AAA batteries.
This isn’t the best power source option for many industrial situations.
Finally, we feel that the display colors are a bit off. You only really get the two displays: glowing white or iron oxide red.
While many other thermal imagers offer multi-colored display imaging, this device only gives you limited color choices. This can be a big problem if you need precise readings at a glance.
Even though in the advertisements displays are in full color, this is a basic and simplistic dual-color thermal imager.
CAT PHONES S60 – Waterproof Smartphone With Thermal Imaging Capabilities
This device allows you to solve two purchasing problems at once. For the same price that you may be able to get a thermal camera or a smartphone alone, you can get both combined into one impressive and compact, multifunctional device!
This is a quality product built by the long-time trusted and industrially approved CAT brand.
Operating in the same way that many smartphones do, this device runs using an Android operating system.
It’s fast, powerful, and extremely efficient. Did we mention that it’s waterproof?
This phone can be submerged in up to 5 meters of water for around 60 minutes using a unique Lockdown Switch.
It’s also super durable in other ways. For instance, this smartphone is drop-proof to up to 1.8m and also has been reinforced with a strengthened die-cast frame.
It exceeds even most military-grade specifications. On top of all of that, the 13 MP autofocus rear camera and 5 MP front camera both function immaculately.
The video capabilities range all the way up to 30fps and 1080P. That doesn’t even include the new thermal reading capabilities.
This is the only smartphone to integrate a FLIR camera into its design.
It can pick up heat signatures and surface temperatures from up to 100 feet. You’ll be able to use it to see through obscurants such as smoke, water, and more. The huge screen is another awesome bonus.
On the downside, this device is pretty heavy and somewhat bulky for a smartphone.
In fact, the weight and bulky design are a big enough deterrent that many people won’t consider using this device.
Still, when you think of what a smartphone feels like in a case, this option makes sense. It’s no larger than most smartphones in a weatherproof exterior protective casing.
Actually, it’s smaller than some phones when inside of their cases.
This is a rugged and reliable smartphone that doubles as a thermal imager. It showcases a smart and original design.
FLIR ONE PRO LT USBC – Attachable Smartphone Camera
It’s powerful and fast, perfect for identifying issues with HVAC systems, vehicles, moisture issues, and more.
The Vividir and MSA image enhancement features aid in increasing this camera’s thermal imaging performance. With FLIR and Android USB-C, this camera is compatible with many devices.
The free FLIR One app means that no additional registration is required.
You can actually use this camera with many other third-party Android applications as well.
It can be used at work or at home easily.
The FLIR ONE Pro LT offers impressive thermal measurements quickly and reliably when attached to your smart device.
It also offers multiple color modes for viewing. The enhanced resolution and processing gives you an in-depth perspective that many more expensive cameras can’t offer.
It allows you to turn the smartphone that you already own into a professional grade thermal camera. The application that it works with is also pretty impressive.
It’s fast, user-friendly, and free. While most cameras cost more because they are attached to a viewing LCD screen, this camera cuts out that particular expense.
You get all of the pro-grade capabilities without having to pay extra for a screen that isn’t even a good as most smartphone screens anyway.
The FLIR FLIR ONE Pro LT gives users FLIR ONE Pro LT. It also is separately charged so it won’t drain the battery life of your phone.
On the downside, if your smartphone has a case, this camera requires an extender. This camera also could have better resolution in our opinion.
Seek Thermal Compact Imager – Inexpensive And Portable Thermal Imaging Accessory Camera For Android Devices
The Seek Thermal Compact Imager is very easy to use and to carry with you. It connects to your Android devices easily and can be used to see a wide range of thermal issues.
It plugs directly into your smartphone so there’s no frustrating installation.
It translates thermal energy/infrared light into visible information quickly and efficiently.
The compact wide-angle design gives you a 36-degree field of vision.
It’s ideal for use inside and close range outside. You can detect thermal energy images from up to 1000-feet away.
The Seek Thermal Compact Imager also has a detectable temperature range of -40ºF to +626ºF. It can help you pinpoint energy loss, find insulation gaps, identify areas where heat is excessively draining, find overheated circuitry, and more.
The compact and focusable lens allows you to fine-tune the thermal images you’re looking at. This device also comes with a pocket-sized waterproof carrying case.
This is a great device for contractors, professional traders, inspectors, structural auditors, and other DIY home renovation purposes.
This would not be the best tool for electricians or other industry professionals. It would work in a pinch but is not as good as some of the other options that are out there. It also isn’t ideal for iPhones.
Fluke VT04 Infrared Imager – Professional Thermal Imager With Carrying Case
FLIR C2 Compact – A Pocket-Sized Thermal Imaging System
Best Thermal Imaging Cameras Buyer’s Guide
What should you consider when choosing a thermal imaging camera?
When you’re looking for a thermal imaging camera, there are quite a few things that you’ll want to consider.
Taking the time to decide exactly what you’re looking for can save you time, money, and hassle later on down the road.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you purchase a thermal imaging device.
• What application will your thermal imager serve?
Thermal imaging systems can be used for a variety of applications.
Will you be surveying fires? Cave exploring? Do you plan on hunting or researching wildlife?
You’ll want to answer these questions for yourself before looking for a thermal imaging camera.
A camera that would work amazingly for finding animals in the woods at night would not necessarily be the best candidate for identifying issues within an HVAC system.
Some cameras are versatile and multifunctional, but if you will be using your thermal imaging camera in an industrial environment, you’ll need a certain set of features.
• What is your price range?
Thermal imaging cameras vary greatly in prices.
You can get an attachment for your smartphone that will cost you near to nothing and serve as a fun tool to identify heat signatures or purchase tactical thermal imagers that ca spot anomalies from over 1000 feet away that will cost around ten times more.
Knowing your budget can save you from suffering buyer’s remorse after choosing a camera that’s either too expensive or not quite nice enough.
• Do you need analytical software?
Professional grade thermal imaging systems will frequently come with analytical software that can give you precise readings when plugged into a computer or sometimes even on a display screen that’s included with a camera’s onboard design.
This software can mean that a camera will cost more, so if you don’t need it, you may want to opt for a device with no additional software.
However, for professionals in many different industries, this data collection and projection software is critical to the proper gathering of important heat analysis information
• What temperature ranges will you be working with?
These cameras can be used in a variety of situations and can read different temperature signatures.
While some cameras can read temperatures in the extreme negatives, other cameras only detect temperature ranges that are mild. The rating capabilities will speak volumes toward the overall accuracy of a thermal imaging camera.
• How long will you be using your device?
If you are taking a quick look at some wiring to figure out where something is overheating, you won’t need much in the way of balance or stability in your camera. If, however, you will be taking complete readings for analytical purposes, you’ll need to consider how long you’ll be holding your camera. A heavy thermal imager with no handle can be a hassle to hold at arm’s length for an extended period of time.
Can a thermal imager detect water leaks?
Yes. Thermal imagers can detect complex heat signatures.
In areas where water has been leaking, clear temperature indicators are almost always present.
In fact, many plumbers and similar industrial professionals rely on heat sensitive imaging to detect leaks and leak locations at a distance.
Thermal imaging cameras can also detect other areas of heat loss like structural abnormalities, water damage, drafty spots, and more.
What can a thermal imaging camera see through?
What a thermal camera can see through will depend on the camera itself, the heat source, and the surrounding situation.
Thermal cameras generally read radiation and represent it as an image based on the collected outputs. This means that cameras can see hot and cold signatures based on the strength of the output based on the temperatures of the target and surrounding object temperatures.
The radiation signatures of the objects nearby and the target are important factors that will affect what can be seen.
If the temperatures differ greatly between the target and the surrounding object(s), there will be an obvious heat signature difference creating a “see through” effect which directly correlates to the temperature of both objects.
Animals walking through the woods, for instance, are visible as they travel through the trees, but not as they disappear behind thick barriers like stumps or large rocks.
Similarly, wiring will be visible with an open electrical panel, but a closed metal panel will be harder to see through. If the heat is seeping through, a thermal camera will be able to see it. If the heat is blocked, a thermal imager won’t be able to detect it.
How exactly do these cameras work?
Thermal imaging cameras work by utilizing a special lens that detects infrared light emitted by objects. Essentially all objects emit some amount of infrared light. The focused light is then scanned by a phased array of infrared-detecting components. These detecting components create a detailed temperature pattern by the name of a thermogram.
How are infrared night vision cameras different?
There are a few main differenced between infrared cameras and night vision cameras. They contain vastly different detected frequency ranges as well as different mechanical components, for one.
Thermal cameras use radiation to detect far-infrared signatures on the spectrum. IR or night vision cameras use light at a much higher frequency of the near infrared area.
The components used within the devices to translate this information vary as well.
For more on the complexities and differences of these two device types, click checkout this quora answer.
So there you have it!
Some of the absolute best thermal imaging cameras available along with detailed descriptions and information on each product.
We hope that this list has had at least a couple of thermal imaging cameras that you’ve found to your liking!
We want to know what you think. What thermal imaging systems do you prefer? Please feel free to leave your comments, questions, and feedback below!
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