Thermal Imaging Cameras
A brief introduction
A thermal imaging camera may look like a normal video camcorder, but it operates somewhat differently.
Rather than using a CMOS or CCD detector which records different levels of a range of visible light colours, a thermal imaging camera uses a microbolometer array to accurately measure levels of infrared radiation across a scene.
Glass is opaque to most wavelengths of infrared light, so in place of conventional glass lenses, exotic materials such as germanium must be used.
Different cameras use different parts of the infrared spectrum and are useful for different applications, such as high-temperature industrial gas environments. Some require complex on-board cooling systems.
Algorithms in the camera incorporate a number of factors controlled by the operator – such as the surface emissivity of the object in view, and the humidity of the ambient air – to interpret the temperature of the object in question. As humans can’t see infrared, the camera logic turns temperature variations across the sensor into false-colour images where a range of colours represents a range of temperatures.
Thermographic cameras are not point-and-shoot. So many factors affect the output – including the nature of the subject, the ambient surroundings, the range of temperatures detected and even the choice of colour palette – that they are only useful in the hands of specialist, highly trained and experienced thermographers.
iRed is not bound to a particular manufacturer: our philosophy is to use the most appropriate tool for the job. Consequently we use, and can advise on, a wide range of different cameras and technologies depending on the application in question.
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