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Once a rather specific niche item, infrared cameras are quickly becoming commonplace for the serious photographer. When it comes to thermal imaging, temperature, and night vision, few other types of cameras compare. Depending on the quality and tech of the camera, the field of vision and digital imaging of the infrared camera will vary, but as with most thermal imaging cameras, you get what you pay for. There are some diamonds in the rough here, so we’ve done the legwork for you and provided a list of various cameras for you to pick and choose, whatever your needs are!
E4 by FLIR
Starting with a rather economical option is the FLIR E4, which starts at just under $950.00. Given the price point, we have a smaller unit with a resolution ratio of 80X60 (4,800 pixels) and a two-meter drop tested rating, this little guy is sure to meet your basic infrared needs. While not as superior as the ones that follow, the FLIR E4 should fulfill any hobbyists needs with image capturing and image modes, such as MSX, which adds detail to the infrared image, including an overlay of the actual digital picture. This leans into a great use around the workplace, especially for making those home improvements, such as renovation (instead of moving) or insulation. The rugged design holds up and makes it an obvious choice to have on the work site as well.
With one button to operate the on-screen settings and a focus-free lens, it makes it the perfect entry point to becoming accustomed to infrared cameras and other thermal imaging cameras. It also comes in larger resolutions; 120x90, 160x120, and 320x240 respectively with escalating prices, in case you’re looking for something simple, but better image quality. It comes with a quick-release rechargeable battery that has roughly a 4-hour life of typical use. And with its ability to connect to Wi-Fi, you’ll always be able to share or send images with ease, thanks to the FLIR mobile app.
TI90 by Fluke
Changing gears, spec wise, this is a step up from the FLIR E4. The Fluke TI90 has some great flexibility when it comes to sharing its digital thermal images, since the built-in Wi-Fi can seamlessly send images to Android or Apple devices. With a resolution of 80x60, the camera may be a little less than what some professionals are looking for, given that the infrared images may be a poorer quality, but with its ability to take decent visible light images and use them in conjunction with infrared, it negates some of those weaknesses. It also has something else to make up for the poor image quality, which is the radiometric data, which can be exported via its IS2 format and be poured over in-depth at your leisure.
As far as measuring temps. the Fluke TI90 can capture between minus 20 degrees and 250 degrees Celsius, with sensitivity to 0.15 degrees, though still not as specific as the more higher tier cameras. Despite being a lower tier infrared camera, the Fluke TI90 does not skimp on battery life, rugged design, and being able to handle over six feet of fall damage. Overall, not a bad place to start if you’re looking for thermal imaging and analysis.
E6 by FLIR
The FLIR E6 is similar to the E4, but only a higher tier with even more features and highly sensitive instruments. With basic resolution of 160x120, it already overshoots the baseline of the previous models and has several measurement mods, including center spot, area box, auto hot, and cold spots. Like other FLIR models, it has MSX, which has the visible light and infrared overlay, which provides clarity in this “picture in a picture.” And just like the E4, the E6 has only one button to navigate the on-screen settings, so that even the most amateur user isn’t overwhelmed. With a better field of vision and image quality, the FLIR E6 will be able to meet whatever needs you should have, especially for those DIY projects. Anything more specific you may need to go a tier higher to the E8, which we will look at soon. Still, this is perfect for DIY home upgrades.
Overall, the FLIR E6 provides a decent step up from the cheapest infrared cameras and an entry point to the “more” expensive ones. With a resolution and price point that puts this camera as a nice compromise between those who want a better picture, but don’t want to fork over too much money FLIR has you covered with the E6.
TrueIR Imager by Keysight
The Keysight is a fun blend of essential features packed into a mid-tier infrared camera. The lack of Wi-Fi may be a turn off to some, but don’t let that keep you away. Its radiometric JPEGs make it easy to share images across platforms. With a resolution of 160x120, it has a decent picture, although not the highest thermal imaging camera out there. With a 3.1 megapixel visible light camera, the Keysight compensates for the lower than normal resolution with this extra clarity the visible light brings. It has a manual focus, which allows you to zoom in on a particular area and sharpen that image. This is huge for those who want the control back in their own hands.
The real shining point for the Keysight is the thermal accuracy of this camera. It is accurate up to 2 percent within a minus 20 degrees to 350 degrees Celsius. With that kind of accuracy, it should please anyone looking for it. The Keysight doesn’t come with too many extra features, but there are some nice auxiliary functions, like the built-in illuminator lamp in case you don’t want to rely on night vision or something extra. Overall, the Keysight is a great little camera for those users, who want something practical with greater controls at an affordable price.
E8 by FLIR
Clearly, FLIR dominates the infrared market, but the FLIR E8, really operates its own space. Clocking in at a price point of around $2,000, the 8 is on the cusp of being on the more unaffordable end of thermal imaging cameras, while also still being affordable to those, who have the money to spend and want the better model. The FLIR 8 has the best resolution, coming in at 320x240, which is probably one of the best out there right now. If you want a crisp and clear picture, then look no further than the FLIR E8.
When it was first released, the FLIR E8 did not have as many features, including a lack of Wifi connectivity, but it now is able to connect with ease and is shaped into a compact and durable design. I haven’t mentioned it as of yet, but FLIR leads the industry in support and the 8 comes with the battery warrantied for five years, the actual camera for ten years, and parts/labor for two years from the day you purchase the camera. Not a bad deal at all and FLIR stands by it, hard to imagine why they wouldn’t.
E40 by FLIR
The E40 has a lot of rich features, excellent resolution, and an awesome field of view. It's ability to detect specific temperature differences is a huge bonus as well, especially for those users who want a detailed and controlled reading. Like other versions of the E FLIR series, it is able to shoot radiometric JPEGs, which help in sharing and networking for later analysis. It has some of the high performance that some contractors or DIYers are looking for and need to spend a little extra cash to get. The E40 is a decent step up, great for some DIY projects that will add value to your home.
TI300 by Fluke
The TI300 by Fluke, is one of the last in the line of relatively cheaper infrared cameras, but not by much. And with only a 240x180 resolution, it has a less sharp picture than other cameras of this tier, but it should still provide a decent enough field of view and frame rate for most applications. The digital camera it has on board is 5 megapixel, which provides additional support to its imaging capabilities. Along with a durable design that can handle close to a seven-foot drop, the TI300 is a must have on the work site, or if you're going to be working out in the elements.
E60 by FLIR
Like the other models that have come before, the E60 by FLIR is outfitted with numerous functions and features as befits a thermal imaging camera of this tier. The FLIR's trademark MSX is still here and aids in the picture within a picture that helps users with documentation. The high frame rate that is intrinsic to the camera is fantastic with capturing great pictures with high resolution. The temperature measurements, when it comes to FLIR brand cameras, are highly precise and while the temperature range may not be that much (between -20 to 120 degrees Celsius), it still has enough for the common contractor to be able to detect insulation issues or solar cell failures. The compact and ergonomic design is also not to be overlooked.
TI400 by Fluke
For these last two infrared cameras, I want to talk about what the highest of the high end can get you when it comes to thermal imaging. Starting with the Fluke TI400, it has one of the best resolutions out there with a 320x240. Pairing this with a 5-megapixel camera that takes digital pictures, while you take infrared ones is huge for professionals and serious DIYers. Another thing to make note of is the massive range of temperatures the Fluke TI400 can detect, which is from -20 to 1,200 degrees Celsius. And this is all while it can be accurate of temperature up to a 0.005th of a degree, which is one of the most precise cameras listed.
Overall, the Fluke TI400 is the full package. It comes with great auxiliary features like a laser pointer, illumination lamp, Wi-Fi capabilities, and text and voice annotation. The battery life on this camera is roughly four hours of normal use, and it can be charged in just 2.5 hours and you’re back in business, which makes this so well-rounded. It really is one of the best on the market.
E53-24 by FLIR
And this article couldn’t end without one last mention of a FLIR thermal imaging camera. This time we are talking about the FLIR E53-24. With a resolution of only 240x180, it seems that it’s lesser than the previously mentioned TI400, but it brings with it the FLIR MSX visual enhancements, which make up for that lack. The four-inch touch LCD screen is attractive and slightly better usability than the others, previously. It has a full 24-degree field of vision optic with a manual focus, but the drawback is the lack of autofocus, which may make it more difficult to work with for some users. This is not for first time operators, but those who want only the most precise instrument on the market.
At top of the tiers, this infrared camera offers wireless connectivity with JPEG files, which is easily available and a very common file source. The FLIR 53 has a temperature range compared to the TI400 and the functionality of makes it more complicated but allows for users more control. Overall, it is an excellent piece of hardware, even if the price point may deter some individuals from investing in it.