Best Infrared (Thermal Imaging) Cameras 2019 - Flir vs. Fluke vs. Keysight
In researching infrared cameras, also known as thermal imaging cameras, we spent 30 hours poring over technical documents, consulting product specs and reading customer reviews. We recommend the FLIR E60 as the best available option out there because it has high imaging resolution, a 10-year warranty and features like Wi-Fi connectivity and streaming radiometric video. This camera can do everything you could ever ask of an infrared camera, making it worth the high price point.
The FLIR E60 has high imaging resolution, Wi-Fi connectivity and an impressive 10-year warranty which in our eyes makes it the best overall thermal imaging camera.
The FLIR E6 has fewer features than most infrared cameras but only costs a few thousand dollars, making it useful for home inspections as it’s still sensitive enough to spot water damage or heat loss.
If you’re a professional doing more than just the basics then we recommend the Fluke Ti400 for its huge range of -20 to 1,200 degrees Celsius.
|Product||Price||Overall Rating||Imaging||Thermal Precision||Auxiliary Features||Battery Life & Design||Help & Support||Infrared Resolution (pixels)||Thermal Image Format||Standard Resolution (megapixels)||Focus Type||Temperature Range (Celsius)||Sensitivity (Celsius)||Emissivity Correction||Accuracy||Touchscreen||Charge Time||Spare Battery||Battery Life (hours)||Drop Rating (feet)||Dust & Splash Protection||LCD Size (inches)||External Charger||Laser Pointer||Mobile Applications||Illuminator Lamp||Text Annotation||Wi-Fi Connectivity||Radiometric Video||Voice Annotation||Video Recording||Warranty (years)||Phone Support||Email Support||User Manual||FAQs|
|FLIR E60||View Deal||5/5||10||9.5||9.8||9.8||10||320 x 240||Radiometric JPEG||3.1||Manual||-20° to 650°||✓||±2° C||✓||4||✓||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Streaming Only||✓||✓||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Fluke Ti400||View Deal||5/5||9.3||10||10||10||9.4||320 x 240||IS2||5||Auto/Manual||-20° to 1200°||≤0.05||✓||±2° C||✓||2.5||✓||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||2||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|FLIR E50||View Deal||4.5/5||7.5||9.5||9.8||9.8||10||240 x 180||Radiometric JPEG||3.1||Manual||-20° to 650°||✓||±2° C||✓||4||✓||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Streaming Only||✓||✓||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Fluke Ti300||View Deal||4.5/5||6.8||10||10||10||9.4||240 x 180||IS2||5||Auto/Manual||-20° to 1200°||≤0.05||✓||±2° C||✓||2.5||✓||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||2||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|FLIR E40||View Deal||4/5||5.6||9.5||9.8||9.8||10||160 x 120||Radiometric JPEG||3.1||Manual||-20° to 650°||✓||±2° C||✓||4||✓||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓||Streaming Only||✓||✓||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|FLIR E8||View Deal||3.5/5||8.1||8.8||7.5||10||320 x 240||Radiometric JPEG||0.3||Fixed||-20° to 250°||✓||±2° C||2.5||4||6.6||✓||3||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Keysight TrueIR Imager||View Deal||3/5||5.6||8.8||3.8||7.3||7||160 x 120||Radiometric JPEG||3.1||Manual||-20° to 350°||≤0.07||✓||±2° C||4||4||6.6||✓||3.5||✓||✓||3||✓||✓||✓|
|FLIR E6||View Deal||3/5||5||8.8||7.5||10||160 x 120||Radiometric JPEG||0.3||Fixed||-20° to 250°||✓||±2° C||2.5||4||6.6||✓||3.5||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Fluke Ti90||View Deal||3/5||2.5||8||5||7.5||9.4||80 x 60||IS2||2||Fixed||-20° to 250°||≤0.15||✓||±2° C||2.5||4||6.6||✓||3||✓||2||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|FLIR E4||View Deal||2.5/5||3.1||8||7.3||10||80 x 60||Radiometric JPEG||0.3||Fixed||-20° to 250°||✓||±2° C||2.5||4||6.6||✓||3||10 Detector / 5 Battery / 2 Parts & Labor||✓||✓||✓||✓|
The FLIR E60 has everything you could want from an infrared camera. Its touchscreen is intuitive to operate and the camera has a temperature range of -20 to 650 degrees Celsius, which should meet the majority of your needs.
Once you have your photos taken they display in radiometric JPG, so you can view them right away on your computer and don’t have to download any inconvenient software.
It also comes with an extensive warranty package. This includes a 10-year warranty on the detector, 5-year warranty on the batteries and 2-year warranty on parts and labor. The price tag might seem a little extreme but the E60 is one of the few thermal imaging cameras on the market we found that comes with an additional battery and external charger. Keep in mind you might have to buy those components separately if you go with a less expensive model.
The E60 offers only manual focus, which means you’ll need to use your own keen eye. This shouldn’t be too big of a problem for those who have used thermal imaging cameras before. It also has a bunch of additional features to make your job easy including Wi-Fi connectivity, voice and text annotation.
The FLIR E6 has fewer features than the E60 but it costs substantially less than its competitors. Even though it’s a lower resolution thermal imaging camera, it is still sensitive enough to spot water damage or heat loss, making it useful for home inspections.
While this camera lacks extra features like video recording capability, Wi-Fi and note-taking options, it does have the same 2-degree margin of error as its competitors. It has a temperature range of -20 to 250 degrees Celsius, which is somewhat smaller than most units on the market but still gets the job done for many applications.
It also comes with a comprehensive warranty, covering the detector for 10 years, the battery for five and parts and labor for two. FLIR provides paid calibration services as well and most manufacturers recommend this calibration at least once a year to make sure your unit is accurate.
Most thermal imaging cameras cost several thousand dollars which, way over budget for the average homeowner. The E6 is lacking in frills but will still work just fine for your home repair needs without costing an arm and a leg.
Best for Professionals
The Fluke Ti400 isn’t for the casual home repair newbie. The Fluke Ti400 has a massive range of -20 to 1,200 degrees Celsius making it ideal for recording extreme temperatures.
While the cheaper Fluke Ti300 comes in at a close second, the Ti400 has a higher 320 x 240 infrared resolution, putting it leaps and bounds ahead and making it a clear stand-out in our evaluation.
The Ti400 comes with a 5-megapixel digital camera you can use simultaneously while capturing infrared images. The camera then gives you the option to combine the two images for an even more comprehensive reading.
The one downside to using this camera is having to deal with its unusual IS2 file format. You have to download specific software to be able to look at your images, but they’ll be crystal clear and easy to read.
The option to manually focus this camera or use the built-in autofocus is extremely convenient. It gives the user the ability to make sure the resulting images are as focused as possible but also gives you the option to let the camera do that work for you.
This is an inexpensive infrared camera that can withstand a lot of abuse.
The FLIR E4 has an accurate temperature readout and is super durable. You can drop it from 6.6 feet without worry and in case anything does break, the FLIR warranty covers the battery for five years, the detector for 10 years and parts and labor for two years. The images this camera produces are a dismal 80 x 60 pixels, so this is best for looking large-scale problems in a home or business. To make up for this, the FLIR E4 has a visible-light camera. When you pair those images with your infrared images the camera’s accuracy increases.
The FLIR E8 gives you crystal-clear images with 320 x 240 resolution.
It reads temperatures between -20 degrees and 250 degrees Celsius with a 2 percent accuracy rating. It does lack some of the bells and whistles of other infrared cameras like Wi-Fi connectivity and an onboard flashlight, but it’s a great option if you’re biggest concern is image clarity. It comes with an auto-focus system and is also durable as it can survive a fall of about six feet. It’s simultaneously lightweight, coming in a just over one pound, so you don’t have to worry about arm fatigue. FLIR also gives you a great warranty package with this camera just in case anything breaks. The detector itself is covered for a full 10 years, making this accurate thermal imaging camera a great choice if you want a sharp image readout.
Why Trust Us?
Our experts know infrared cameras can be used for a lot of things. Maybe you’re doing energy audits at home to find inefficiencies or maybe you need one for home inspections to find leaks or water damage. Engineers use them to find overheating components and an electrician could use one to find overloaded circuits.
More in-depth work requires a broad thermal image spectrum, so we made sure to include at least a couple with that capability in our analysis. High-resolution photos and sometimes videos are important regardless of what type of work you’re doing, so we favored those with a clearer, brighter picture.
Whatever you plan on using your thermal imaging camera for, our evaluations included reading user reviews, analyzing product specifications and other research to find the best products available.
How We Tested
We evaluated every aspect of these thermal imaging cameras, particularly how well the camera captured images and then how clearly it displayed them for viewing. We watched videos, read consumer reviews and analyzed product descriptions to find out which cameras on the market are worth their rather expensive price tags.
Infrared resolution is the number of pixels captured by the infrared sensor and usually ranges from .0005 to .08 megapixels. This might sound small, but it works for infrared imaging. Standard resolution measures the clarity with which your images are displayed and while we realized we've been spoiled by our high-quality smart phone cameras, infrared cameras have yet to catch up. Instead, our research showed us most thermal imaging cameras have a standard resolution of 5 megapixels or less.
We also researched which image formats are the easiest to use and found cameras come with a variety of image outputs, so make sure you read the product description and know exactly what it is you're getting. Don't assume it will always give you a standard JPEG.
What Should You Look for When Buying an infrared Camera?
We’ve been spoiled by high megapixel cameras on our smart phones, but the best thermal imaging camera tops out at 0.08 megapixels, or 320 x 240 pixels. Higher resolution cameras can give you clearer images and measure smaller targets. This can be especially helpful when taking readings from distance due to high temperatures or other hazards.
The cameras we researched offer fixed or manual focus. A fixed focus thermal camera offers less flexibility than one with adjustable focus. With an adjustable focus, you will be able to get more precise images of objects that might be out of the range of a fixed focus camera.
File formats might seem like an afterthought, but having to deal with a proprietary format can cause some headaches. The FLIR and Keysight cameras we reviewed use a radiometric JPEG format with embedded temperature analysis. The Fluke products use a proprietary .is2 file format, but you can also download standard JPEGs without any imbedded temperature analysis.
Our primary concern when researching thermal precision specs was the temperature range and sensitivity of these IR cameras. Sensitivity is the ability of the camera to record finer distinctions in temperature. The lower the number, the better the camera is at spotting subtle temperature changes. The infrared cameras we reviewed range from <.05 degrees to <.15 degrees. This is a small difference to be sure, but when dealing with intricate electronics, having a lower sensitivity can make a big difference.
The temperature ranges these cameras can detect range from -20 degrees Celsius to 1,200 degrees Celsius at the high end. Realistically, you’re probably only going to need to detect from -20 to 250 degrees for most home inspections.
Auxiliary Features and Battery
You can get a perfectly functional infrared camera without additional features but they can prove useful. A Wi-Fi enabled camera lets you immediately download images and email them to clients. Laser pointers and illuminator lamps let you target specific areas, which is helpful in dark areas like attics or crawlspaces. Voice or text annotations can be useful for giving notes to clients.
The standard battery life for these infrared cameras is four hours, though charge time varies between four and 2.5 hours, with 2.5 hours being the standard. Thermal imaging cameras are durable, able to withstand being dropped from up to 6.6 feet. Some models include a spare battery, which can help if you have jobs in multiple locations and don’t have time to stop and recharge.
Weight & Dimensions. It’s essential to find an infrared camera that balances features, power and size. If your camera is too bulky or heavy, it may be difficult for you to store or maneuver, especially if you work in tight quarters. Weight is a bigger deal if you’ll be manually maneuvering the camera than if it is fix mounted.
Spectral Band. As you look for an infrared camera, it’s important to keep in mind what you plan to film because different types of cameras detect different wavelength ranges. There are three wavelength categories: short, mid and long.
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Short-wavelength infrared cameras detect from approximately 0.9 to 1.7 microns. Of the three ranges, this is the closest to visible light. As such, short-wave infrared cameras need to be high resolution to capture details properly.
Mid-wavelength cameras detect from roughly 2 or 3 microns up to 5 microns. While they don’t capture as much detail as long-wavelength cameras, this is the best type to buy if you plan to use your camera in places with severe temperatures. It’s important to ensure your mid-wavelength camera is built of the proper heat- or cold-resistant materials so you know it will work no matter what environment you use it in.
Lastly, long-wavelength infrared cameras detect wavelengths between 7 and 12 microns – and in some cases, up to 14 microns. Unlike mid-wavelength cameras, long-wavelength cameras can capture a good amount of detail due to their decreased atmospheric absorption.
Image Storage. It’s good to know how your thermal imaging camera stores the images you take. Most use an SD or microSD card. We recommend always keeping one or two backup cards with you, in case you fill up the one inside the camera. Check the camera’s user manual to find the maximum compatible SD card size. You should use the maximum size possible so you don’t have to constantly delete old files to make room for new ones.
Also, find out what kinds of file formats your camera works with, as some types take up more space than others. This can help you keep mental tabs on how much storage space you have left so you don’t run out while you use the camera.
Warranty. Considering these cameras are often used in extreme temperatures, it’s important to consider how long they are under warranty. It’s comforting to know your expensive device is covered, no matter what.
Repairs. Similar to the warranty, it’s good to know ahead of time what your options are for getting your infrared camera repaired. Some manufacturers have their own repair and calibration centers. Typically, you need to take your camera in to be re-calibrated every two to three years. Because this process can take weeks if not months, working with the manufacturer directly often means you have access to a loaner unit in the meantime.
How Much Do Infrared Cameras Cost?
The infrared cameras we tested all cost an average of $4,266. Some cameras come with additional accessories like a carrying case and batteries. Thermal imaging cameras for under $1,000 often lack a lot of useful features. Depending on where you live it's oftentimes more affordable to rent a thermal imaging camera from companies like MoviTHERM or Home Depot.