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Point #1: Buy an infrared camera that delivers accurate, repeatable results.

A basic requirement of your infrared camera is to produce accurate and repeatable results – just like a calculator.

What are some standard metrics for you to think about when thinking of buying an infrared camera?

Well, after 40 years in the business, FLIR has maintained a solid, consistent accuracy standard that never waivers. It’s the industry standard: ± 2% or 3.6° F, whichever is greater.

So if you are shopping for an infrared camera, and you learn that the accuracy spec is “plus or minus 5%” or something higher than 3.6° F, then you should stop right there.
Why? Because an infrared camera that could be 5% inaccurate means your images and temperature measurements will be wrong. If a manufacturer is trying to sell you an infrared camera that doesn’t have a place onscreen for you to input both emissivity and reflected temperature values – then you’re buying a calculator that’s missing a button!

Point #2: Buy an infrared camera with high detector resolution/image quality.

Just like buying a digital camera, the more pixels, the better the resolution, and the sharper the thermal image. It’s the same with infrared cameras.

If a salesperson says, “we offer 640 x 480 or 307, 200 pixel resolution,” the next question from you should be: “Is that Detector resolution or LCD resolution?”

The LCD display resolution may in fact be 640 x 480 pixels (640 multiplied by 480) of image content. But, if the IR detector pixel resolution – the ‘feed’ as it were – is only 160 x 120 or 19,200 pixels, then it just doesn’t matter what the display resolution is capable of.

You should always ask what is the detector resolution, and what is the detector pixel count? This is really the true resolution of the camera you are about to buy.

Point #3: Buy an infrared camera where you can change the battery yourself.

This is one of the most important aspects of usability after you buy your new infrared camera. It’s also one of those items that is hard to process until after you’ve been working with your camera for a while and you realize what a limitation it is if you can’t change your own battery.

If you’re using your camera to inspect electrical problems, or to inspect important assets like motors and pumps and production lines in a manufacturing facility, and your IR camera loses power, you could expose yourself and others to safety concerns – particularly in an electrical substation that hasn’t been inspected in awhile. At a minimum, you’re on the clock, so it is most likely costing you money.

Below are some power management systems for IR cameras:

Lithium BatteryReplaceable Battery 1     

 

Point #4: Buy an infrared camera that outputs standard JPEG format.

You should request a demo from any infrared camera manufacturer so they can show you both (1) how many keystrokes or “clicks” it takes to output an image and (2) outputting a standard JPEG right from the camera.

Standard JPEG makes it easy to email your images or place within Microsoft Word documents without trouble or frustration! In addition, you get to keep all your temperature data stored in the JPEG – even when you email it to a colleague, supervisor, customer, etc.

Point #5: Buy a lightweight, ergonomic infrared camera.

Weight, pure and simple, is a concern. A camera that weighs even just a pound or two more than another will start to cause back and arm strain within 20 minutes. Lightweight is key, especially if you will use the camera frequently or for extended periods.

Most ‘toolbox’ infrared cameras today should weigh in at under 2 lbs and feel very easy-to-grasp in your hand. 

The on-camera buttons should also be very comfortable to use, but more importantly, intuitive to understanding what function each button delivers.

Point #6: Buy an infrared camera that incorporates a mega pixel visual camera with a built-in illuminator lamp to help clearly document your work. 

Infrared cameras see in total darkness but visual cameras, as we all know, require well lit conditions and high resolution to generate clear, sharp pictures.

The image on the right is taken with an infrared camera with, essentially, some headlights mounted on it – the ‘target illuminator’ as many thermographers would call it.

 Dark Image Thermal ImagingBright Image Thermal 

Point #7: Buy an infrared camera with a built-in laser pointer.

Safety, convenience and ease-of-use are all good reasons to buy an infrared camera with a built-in laser pointer. These tend to be available on all cameras, except for the most basic, entry-level models.

Safety is always the best reason to spend a little more on the right tool. If you shouldn’t be touching the target you’re looking at with an infrared camera – say for example, an electrical box, motor, pump or something when viewed from a ladder – then the laser pointer helps you in two important ways.

The laser pointer keeps your hand free and clear from danger while allowing you to point to the area of concern to a co-worker (or supervisor or customer) standing nearby. Secondly, the laser pointer helps you orient yourself in relation to the target. This is particularly true if you are standing more than 10’ away from the target.

The laser pointer allows you to see precisely where the infrared camera’s lens is focused. It’s also ideal in gaining more orientation in dark environments, even if you’re standing closer to the target.

Point #8: Buy an infrared camera with software upgrade potential.

Today, most infrared cameras come with free software to help you analyze your images and create reports. While these entry-level freeware programs are helpful and useful, many individuals quickly find that they need more software functions. What’s important to note here is you don’t want to buy a camera and then, after a few months of using it, decide that you’re now ready to do more but only then be limited because there is no upgrade path.

Point #9: Buy an infrared camera with enhanced image fusion capabilities.

There’s been a lot of buzz about fusion capabilities with infrared cameras. We think that if it doesn’t offer you more than just putting a fixed Picture-in-Picture (PiP) thermal overlay “box” over your visible image, then it may be more useful not to have it at all.

More advanced fusion capabilities allow you to stretch and resize the thermal Pip using a stylus pen right onscreen, allowing you to customize your fusion to the exact target your looking at. For those who need to present documentation to supervisors or customers, this enhanced fusion capability will really make a favorable impact.

At its most advanced level, some infrared cameras allow you to combine a combination of visible and thermal imaging into one composite image. This can produce exceptional results and exceeding smart reports.

Rule of thumb: if you’re looking at an infrared camera with built-in fusion capabilities, be sure you can move and resize the thermal box in the middle of the LCD display.

FLIR has created a great video, and it really shows clearly what this is all about. You can view it at www.goinfrared.com/fusion.

Point #10: Buy an infrared camera with a wide temperature range.

Here’s an easy one. When you buy an infrared camera, be sure that the temperature range it operates in is sufficient with the temperatures of the targets you will be viewing.

Point #11: Buy an infrared camera with upgrade potential.

The engineering and sophistication of the infrared detector, robotic manufacturing techniques or specialty optics mean that some cameras can be easily upgrade whereas other can not.

Except for the least expensive cameras, however, many infrared cameras will allow you to upgrade the firmware to increase pixel counts and thermal resolution, not to mention letting you upgrade all sorts of in-camera features and functionality. Wherever you can buy an infrared camera that allows you to upgrade in this fashion, that’s a key value to you.

If there isn’t an upgrade path in this fashion, you should ask if the manufacturer routinely buys back used cameras in exchange for credit toward a new infrared camera purchase. You’re not going to get top dollar for your used camera, but you will get a fair price.

Point #12: Buy an infrared camera from a manufacturer with strong post-sale technical support and certified training.

If you are new to the field of infrared cameras, you will obviously want to think about customer service and technical support after you’ve purchased.

In addition to FLIR being the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of infrared cameras for commercial applications, they also own and run the world’s largest student training organization – the Infrared Training Center or ITC.

The ITC provides training regardless of what type of infrared camera you own. They train students in all types of industries with a wide variation in applications, regardless of the make or model infrared camera you own.

If you are really unsure as to whether or not to buy an infrared camera, many have decided to enroll in training first, before they buy. It’s always better to have a camera and bring it to class, but if you are really unsure, this is a great option.

For further information please call us today Ph 1300 53 88 46

 


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