Best Imaging Cameras 2021

If you are searching to purchase the best imaging cameras, you have come to the right place, read through this guide, you will be pleased if you do. We would be making it easy to read, for better understanding.

A thermal imaging camera (colloquially known as a TIC) is a type of the thermographic camera used in firefighting. By rendering infrared radiation as visible light, such cameras allow firefighters to see areas of heat through smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers.

Thermal imaging cameras are typically handheld, but maybe helmet-mounted. They are constructed using heat- and water-resistant housings and ruggedized to withstand the hazards of fire ground operations.

A thermal imaging camera consists of five components: an optic system, detector, amplifier, signal processing, and display. Fire-service specific thermal imaging cameras incorporate these components in a heat-resistant, ruggedized, and waterproof housing. As professionals, you also need to get tools like chainsaw chains and hole saw, as these tools would come in handy when needed.

These parts work together to render infrared radiation, such as that given off by warm objects or flames, into a visible light representation in real-time.

In fact, because of their versatility, professionals from different fields have embraced this technology. Electricians, hunters, firefighters, adventurers, architects, inspectors, contractors, and auto mechanics are just a few of the people who find thermal imaging cameras very vital to the effectiveness of their work. Auto mechanics also need engine stands for the engines they work on.

How does imaging camera work?

Before we understand how an imaging camera works, we have to acknowledge that everything that surrounds us emits thermal energy. You may be surprised to know that even ice emits thermal energy. Now, it’s quite apparent that the hotter an object is, the higher it will emit thermal energy.

Now, thermal imaging is equipped with a unique mechanism that helps the user visualize the heat levels that are invisible to the naked eye. However, it is much easier to understand how to operate a thermal imaging camera than it sounds. All you have to do is point it towards something and click images, if necessary.

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IMAGING CAMERAS BUYER’S GUIDE

Imaging modes

As we already know, the primary use of a thermal imaging camera is to generate the thermal picture of a suspicious area or object. However, it is imperative to evaluate whether the camera you’ve had your eyes on offers versatile image modes.

Although the old-fashioned units are good enough to click thermal images, the recent times are witnessing an increasing demand for the advanced ones that support fusion image modes.

The fusion modes enable us to click both the normal and the thermal image, which comes with imprinted radiometric information.

LCD screen size

As its a camera at the end of the day, it’s significant for the unit to at least have a standard 3 inch LCD screen. Although various thermal cameras offer around 5-7 inches of the LCD screen, they can be a tad expensive.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a 3 inch LCD screen, as it may otherwise become tough for you to analyze the image on camera. Like imaging cameras, measuring wheels and multimeters have screens, although, the ones seen in measuring wheels and multimeters arent LCD screens.

Refresh rate

Not to forget, it’s essential to check the refresh rate of the unit, when it comes to the thermal camera’s display.

The minimum refresh rate that you can settle for is nine Hz; anything less than that will cause you trouble while adjusting the focus of the camera. You can have the best results if you can manage to find a model with a 60 Hz refresh rate.

Pixel resolution

If your camera fails to give you a high-quality thermal image, it will become tough for you to make an accurate error identification of the area or object that you’re examining.

The higher the resolution is, the better you can zoom into the suspected object and make your job easier. You shouldn’t buy a thermal camera that offers less than 4800-pixel resolution.

Image Format

JPEG is the most common image saving format in thermal imaging cameras. It is always nice to save the images in JPEG to easily transfer the images on a computer using USB cables and for further process.

Thermal cameras that have bitmap image storage format typically remove the temperature details to be stored. Whereas there will be a problem if the image is stored as a nonpopular image format which then needs a particular application to open the file.

Built-in Visible Light Camera

If you are supposed to inspect low light conditions, a built-in visible-light camera offers great use. So you don’t have to bring an extra lamp for all the dark areas.

To submit a clear and detailed customer report, you would need a thermal camera with a built-in visible light camera.

Battery Life

If you are a professional technician, the thermal camera you chose should have a high battery life to complete inspection without any interruption. Choosing the thermal camera with a removable and replaceable battery is a wise choice for anyone.

The thermal cameras with built-in batteries will trouble when the batteries die and you have to run for the power supply in the middle of the task.

BEST IMAGING CAMERAS

NAMES FEATURES WHERE TO BUY
FLIR E4: Compact Thermal Imaging Camera

B0115XR01C

Offers the ability to simply take images by pulling the trigger.

Includes include center spot and area box measurement modes.

Features radiometric JPEG’s that retain all temperature data.

Quick-release li-ion rechargeable battery.

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FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

B00NXJDQV0

Lepton IR Imaging Engine allows for the ability to quickly see what’s hot by simply pointing it at an object.

Features a 24:1 spot size ratio that allows for the measurement of hot spots up to 716° F (380°C) while keeping a safe distance.

Instantly capture images and measurements with the pull of a trigger.

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PerfectPrime IR0005 Thermal Imager

B07FF91VK4

Low price

High thermal resolution (220 x 160 px)

American made sensor

Compact size design

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220 x 160 IR Resolution Infrared Thermal Imager

B07BDJZ845

HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGERY

CHOOSE FROM 5 PALETTE.

3 GB BUILT-IN MEMORY CARD INCLUDED

IDEAL FOR PROFESSIONALS

LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMFORTABLE GRIP

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Seek Compact Thermal Imaging Camera

B00NYWABAA

Doesn’t need batteries

Mini USB or iOS Lightning

High-resolution IR sensor

Manual focus offers a great range

High refresh rate

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Seek Thermal Revealpro Imaging Camera

B07B7N4DLV

High-resolution thermal sensor

High refresh rate

Built-in flashlight for night owls

Emissivity adjustment

Doesn’t capture video

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Perfect Prime IR0018 Infrared Thermal Imager Camera

B079PPWXX9

HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGES

5 THERMAL PALETTES

ACCURATE AND PRECISE

Live Readings

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FLIR C3 Pocket Thermal Camera

B01MS85Q85

Hot/cold spot feature

Pocket-friendly design

Maximum temperature range up to 302-degree Fahrenheit

41-degree field of view

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Hti-Xintai Thermal Imaging Camera

B08CGZKV5R

Low Power Consumption

Portable and Easy-to-use

Multifunctional Application:

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Fluke VT04 Infrared Imager

B00EW2MC9Y

Compact and intuitive visual IR thermometer that blends a visual image with an infrared heat map overlay

Features NEAR and FAR mode that automatically aligns visual and thermal lenses to correctly locate issues

Includes a center measurement box showing the exact area of temperature measurement on the screen

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FLIR E4: Compact Thermal Imaging Camera

B0115XR01C

FLIR E4 has the rugged construction but features a sleek design and finished with rubber. The drop resistance of this thermal camera is up to 6 feet. So any contractor or building inspector can use this tool on various floors and terrain.

FLIR E4 is capable of capturing the detailed thermal images using the 80 x 60 pixels thermal sensor. It uses both 3.1 MP digital camera and thermal camera. The digital camera provides high-resolution images with more temperature details.

It also has the MSX image enhancement technology which receives the details from the visible light image and sets them on the thermal image so at the end inspector will get overall heat data. This feature makes it competitive with other advanced models that cost more.

PROS CONS
It suits nearly all home applications. The software may be troublesome.
It has increased sensitivity.
The resolution is amazing.

FLIR TG165 Spot Thermal Camera

B00NXJDQV0

Also coming from FLIR, this model is can handle a wider range of applications with great precision. The camera comes with the innovative Lepton IR Imaging engine and a thermal resolution of 60 x 80 (4800 pixels) to ensure that you get a crisp display. The sensitivity of 150Mk and the refresh rate of 9 Hz are also a plus.

Furthermore, whether it is you are new to thermal cameras or a whiz, this model features an intuitive design for anyone to use without necessarily undergoing special training; simply fire up the unit and you are ready to get to work! The spot size ratio of 24:1 provides an adequate safe distance to avoid risks when taking measurements.

Also, this detector can measure temperatures up to 380oC from a safe distance. The 8GB Micro SD Card provides plenty of space for your captured images. But just in case you want to send or create detailed reports, you can connect the device with your smartphone through the USB in seconds.

PROS CONS
The camera comes with rugged construction. The resolution of 60 x 80 is not the best you will get in the market.
The settings are very user-friendly.
It is compact.

PerfectPrime IR0005 Thermal Imager

B07FF91VK4

The PerfectPrime IR0005 compact thermal camera shows the thermal energy of heat sources and by converting it into visible images. Being able to accurately see where the hot and cold spots are on-site allows the inspector to fully diagnose the potential problems that may occur in the future. Fixing those potential issues before they cause serious damage will save companies a fortune on repair and downtime.

PROS CONS
The rounded edges offer improved ergonomics. It does not come with the least price in the market.
The small size is easy to pocket for portability.
The display is larger.

220 x 160 IR Resolution Infrared Thermal Imager

B07BDJZ845

This inspection tool also has a large display of 3.2 inches for larger thermal imagery. The IR display resolution of 220 x 160 ensures high definition images. The camera allows you to select the ideal color for your task from the five available options; white and black, cold color, rainbow, and iron red colors.

Additionally, the accuracy of within 2oF makes it an ideal choice for applications such as archaeology, firefighting, home inspection, real estate, electronics, manufacturing, and other areas where high precision is needed. Also, for the sake of the dedicated professionals always on the go, this device only weighs 0.83 pounds to not slow you down.

The lighter weight also permits hours of comfortable use by reducing hand fatigue. The gun-like shape pairs with the ergonomic handle to provide an excellent grip and allow you to use it at any angle. The built-in 3GB memory allows you to store your records in the standard JPG format while the USB lets you transfer them to your handset.

PROS CONS
It gives a fast response. It does not have an auto-save function. Therefore, after taking a picture, you have to select every time whether to save or discard.
The price is reasonable.
The resolution is pretty impressive.

Seek Compact Thermal Imaging Camera

B00NYWABAA

This tiny phone add-on provides more resolution and higher sensitivity than the FLIR equivalent (even the Pro one), making it a great choice for contractors, engineers, inspectors looking for that bit more resolution. With an adjustable focus, the lens can be set on subjects as far as 550m (1,800ft).

That’s not only handy for outdoor pursuits but allows you to take full advantage of the relatively high resolution to get sharp thermal images at any distance.

While the FLIR One includes a visible light camera (essential to the MSX tech), the Seek CompactPro uses your phone’s camera to provide a split-screen picture-by-picture function, which is subject to some parallax issues.

PROS CONS
It can detect hot spots and leaks from as far as 1000 feet to give you a larger safe distance. The software requires you to first register on the iSeek website which can be time-consuming especially for the busy technicians.
The 36-degree angle suits indoors and limited outdoor applications.
The temperature range is bigger for versatility.

Seek Thermal Revealpro Imaging Camera

B07B7N4DLV

This is an extremely flexible portable thermal camera with excellent resolution, meaning that it is just as useful at night as during the day. While the FLIR C-Series produces useful images in good light via MSX, this camera can do so at any time since it doesn’t rely on visual light to boost its resolution.

Combined with its 15Hz refresh rate (most are 9Hz), it can easily be used to spot animals or people in the dark, or through dense foliage, just like the Predator does! There’s also a 300 lumen LED light on should you want to surprise someone you’ve spotted in the dark.

The simple menu system provides access to other useful features too, like Level and Span adjustments (a little like manual exposure, allowing you to isolate a thermal range), and Emissivity adjustments (manual or pre-sets). The fixed-focus camera works between 30cm (12 inches) and 550m (1,800 ft) and the 2.4-inch color screen is protected with Gorilla Glass

PROS CONS
It can measure objects up to the maximum range of 500 feet away. It does not come with a carry case.
It gives a sharper image.
It comes with a rubberized casing.

Perfect Prime IR0018 Infrared Thermal Imager Camera

B079PPWXX9

This thermal camera combines an ergonomic design with a super-sensitive thermal sensor to allow the user to detect and measure heat spots for troubleshooting. The industrial-grade unit lets you capture high-definition images for reporting purposes. The accuracy of the tool renders it an ideal option for identifying fire spots in thick smoke. For the sake of electricians, this device will let them detect the hotspots arising from faulty wiring allowing them to do the necessary to ensure safety.

The IR resolution of 220 x 160 (35, 200 pixels) combines with the large screen display of 3.2 inches to allow you to see sources of problems with clarity for detailed analysis. Also, it has a wide temperature range of -20 to 300 °C / -4 – 572°F to suit multiple applications.

The internal memory of 4GB gives you plenty of storage spaces to keep the photos you capture when troubleshooting.

PROS CONS
It comes with an informative manual which is also very clear. It does not have a built-in Wi-Fi
It has different color palettes.
The camera comes in a nice package.

FLIR C3 Pocket Thermal Camera

B01MS85Q85

After using the FLIR C2, we were quite eager to check the features that the C3 brings to the table. And after a brief period of testing, it’s safe to say that the C3 is the mini-me version of the C2, with an additional Wi-Fi support facility. So, if you are a fan of the FLIR C2 but were looking for something that could be more compact than that unit, then C2 is your go-to option.

We don’t recommend this product as the best camera for professional use. Nonetheless, it’s quite decent to detect minor leakages and electrical repairs that need to be made at your residence.

Now, this model offers us the traditional FLIR MSX enhancement option along with a high-resolution sensor, which is useful for clicking sharp images. Also, its picture-in-picture setting option is a bonus, which came as an upgrade in the C3 unit.

PROS CONS
The tool has a very high sensitivity. The resolution of 4800 pixels is not the best.
It is easy to download the images.
It only weighs 4.8 ounces.

Hti-Xintai Thermal Imaging Camera

B08CGZKV5R

Just in case you are looking for the most versatile thermal imaging camera in the market, this should be one of the best deals for you. The high-quality device is designed to suit almost any maintenance application ranging from mechanical, HVACR, facility maintenance, building diagnostic issues, facility maintenance, and other applications.

The camera delivers clearer images with a resolution of 35, 200 pixels, and a 2.4-inch screen display. The five color palettes mean that you can view the images of the target object in a rainbow, cold color, iron oxide red, white heat, or black heat color for a more detailed display. After capturing the report, you can share the images with the computer or smartphone to facilitate the generation of detailed reports.

PROS CONS
The measuring accuracy of ±2°C/±2% means that it gives reliable reports. It may not come with a tripod as indicated.
It has an automatic shut-down feature.
It is energy-efficient.

Fluke VT04 Infrared Imager

B00EW2MC9Y

The Fluke VT04A Visual IR Thermometer is designed to help you see it all. You can see issues in context by blending the infrared heat map with a visual image. You can easily identify the exact location of the potential issue by blending the two at 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% infrared with one button. View aligned images from as close as 15 cm (6 in) in NEAR mode or from a distance in FAR mode.

The VT04 also helps you take accurate temperature readings without taking your eyes off the screen. Fill the center box with your target and rest assured you’re measuring the target and not the background.

PROS CONS
The 4GB Micro SD card provides enough storage space for pictures. The readings may at times differ by about five degrees.
The detector comes with batteries for a straightaway start.
It is an ideal entry-level device.

CONCLUSION

With so many options and choices, it may confuse you to rely on one thermal imaging camera which fits your budget and needs. Always select the thermal camera by witnessing the necessary features mentioned above and the field of application.

Do deep research and compare the different models which will give you a better understanding of what you necessitate or what is not.