Message Board Thread - "Where to compare infrared cameras?"

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Where to compare infrared cameras? itcwm 6/7/2006
I want to buy an infrared camera for energy auditing jobs.

Can anyone point me to detailed reviews of different entrylevel models? (software reviews, hardware-reliability)
Are there amazon style competive ratings of different manufacturers and models?

Are there any reviews of the monroe Heat-Find IR Jr. cameras? Comparisons to Flir entry level models?

How often do the cameras break? How is customer service? How easy is the software to use? What are frustration/problems with specific models?

Is 120x120 resolution really enough for energy auditing?

Re:Where to compare infrared cameras? john@FLIR 6/8/2006

The best recomendation is to get a camera demonstration. We are happy to show you our different FLIR camera models. You can also get industry references to talk to and get their take on what you need.

Some customers think 120 X 120 is suffient for energy surveys while most prefer at least 160 X 120.

We recommend the cameras are sent in for routine maintenance and calibration once a year. The images are standard JPEG and the software is very simple to use. Let us know how we can help.

Good Luck,
John Keane
FLIR Systems
Re:Where to compare infrared cameras? Videe 6/8/2006
Another great opportunity to compare cameras is through FLIR courses like Building Science or of course the Level 1 classes. You will have as many as 20 students with cameras of various kinds and frank stories about customer service, prices, ROI, application to camera stories and more.
If you do some homework in advance and perhaps rent the camera you think you can use so so you have a unit for the class - you can then compare and make a very educated choice.

M Adler
VAIdigital InfraRed Services
Re:Where to compare infrared cameras? Bernie Lyon 6/8/2006
I would recommend that you speak directly to working thermographers that are using cameras. You might consider attending the InfraMation Conference, held in Las Vegas, at the Orleans, the week of October 23, 2006. You could ask hundreds of folks what camera they prefer, and why. They could also comment on issues regarding reliability, service, software, ease of use, problems, etc. If that event is too far off, or not practical, consider attending a Building Science Course. You would be amongst folks that are interested in the same application. And, again, you could ask the camera operators why they prefer a particular model. You would also be able to operate any cameras present in the class.
I could not find any reviews of the Monroe Heat-Find IR Jr.
The resolution of your camera depends on what you want to use it for. In general, the lower the resolution, the closer you must be to your target to make proper evaluations, such as interpreting thermal patterns or taking temperature or delta temperature measurements. In addition to spatial resolution, there is also thermal resolution to consider. Be careful. Lower priced cameras often lack useful features and can actually be more difficult to operate, with respect to getting useful data.
Here are some questions to consider before buying a camera:

What is the cameras standard field of view?
What is the spot size ratio?
Is the camera radiometric (measure temperatures)?
Can you manually adjust the level and span (brightness and contrast)?
Is there a single spot in the center, or a moveable spot for temperature measurements?
Can you analyze images after they are frozen?
Can you analyze images after they are saved?
Is there a video output for recording real time?
What kind of batteries are used?
What is the battery charge time and run time?
Can the battery be charged in the camera?
Are images stored in an internal memory or removable card?
What is the file format?
What are the calibrated temperature ranges?
What are the extrapolated temperature ranges?
What temperature measurement tools can be used on the camera?
What temperature measurement tools can be used with either free or purchased image processing software?
What kind of reports (color thermal image, visual image, graphs, charts, etc.) will meet the needs of your clients?
There are many different kinds of infrared cameras to choose from. Some are packaged with image processing / report generating software.
I have often encountered individuals who have purchased an infrared camera that was inadequate for their application. Do a lot of research and, if possible, communicate with camera operators. The purchase of an IR camera can be a significant investment. You do not want to regret your decision.

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