The best infrared cameras combine excellent build quality with accurate, high-resolution images and features that make capturing and sharing them easier. While some cameras sacrifice resolution and features in order to achieve a lower price, there are a few uncompromising models that offer the best of the best in all respects. The E60 is one of them.
Although there are a couple similarly excellent cameras out there, none of them combines best-in-class resolution, features and convenience as well as the FLIR E60. That's why it's our pick for the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Resolution is the most important specification to consider when looking at the imaging capabilities of a thermographic camera. This is because resolution largely determines how much detail you can see in your infrared images. Many cameras combine standard visible light images to make up for the detail lost in low-resolution IR images, but the fact remains that higher-resolution IR images are easier to work with – especially when subjects are small or intricate.
The FLIR E60 boasts a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. Of course, this is ridiculously low compared to normal imaging. But those who know a thing or two about infrared cameras recognize that this is actually quite high. Infrared sensors are different from typical point and shoot camera sensors and simply cannot be made at higher resolutions without becoming exorbitantly expensive.
Many thermal imaging cameras combine standard digital photographs with their infrared images to supplement the detail of their low-resolution images. These images come from an onboard digital camera. While the primary purpose of these cameras is to provide supplemental images, they can also be used to capture regular photographs that provide some overall context of the scene. The resolution of the E60's digital camera is among the highest at 3.1 megapixels.
Focus type plays a large role in how you can capture images with an infrared camera. While similarly priced imagers have autofocus systems that take care of this for you, the E60 is strictly manual focus. Once you get the hang of focusing with your camera, this shouldn't be a big problem – just a small ding in the overall convenience.
The device's thermal image format, however, is the most convenient available, so perhaps the E60 makes up for lost ground here. While some cameras force you to use proprietary file types in order to save thermographic data, the E60 stores all of its information in radiometric JPGs. Unlike unusual proprietary file types, these files can be opened and viewed on virtually any platform.
The ability to accurately measure and represent temperatures is crucial for an infrared camera and is influenced by combination of factors. When evaluating infrared cameras, we focused on sensitivity, temperature range, accuracy and emissivity correction.
The sensitivity of an infrared camera refers to its ability to discern subtle differences in temperature. The E60 has a sensitivity of 0.05 degrees Celsius, which means the camera can distinguish temperatures that are only 0.05 degrees apart. No camera we reviewed has a better sensitivity rating than this.
Temperature range is the recommended temperatures within which your infrared camera can dependably operate. The recommended range for the E60 is -20 to 650 degrees Celsius – the second largest range available. While some Fluke brand cameras offer an even wider range of -20 to 1200 degrees, The E60's range should be sufficient for the vast majority of applications.
The final two influencers of thermal precision are accuracy and emissivity correction. These factors are secondary to range and sensitivity, not because accuracy isn't important, but because they're virtually the same across the board. Every camera we reviewed is accurate to 2 degrees Celsius, and they all offer the same level of emissivity correction.
As far as supporting factors go, the E60 has pretty much everything you could want. It has Wi-Fi for quickly sharing files, voice and text annotation for taking quick notes, an illuminator lamp and a laser for acquiring targets easily, and video capture abilities for capturing temperature changes in real time. It also offers iOS and Android applications that make transferring, organizing and sharing your information easier.
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Like all FLIR cameras that we reviewed, the E60's battery offers four hours of shooting for every charge. Unlike most, however, the E60 comes with an additional battery and an external charger. This makes it much easier to keep your camera charged and ready to go at all times.
The design is also superior to most other camera designs. The build quality and splash and drop protection are all the same, but the E60 offers a touchscreen interface in addition to the usual buttons and controls.
The E60 is a hefty investment and requires a proportionally hefty warranty. Fortunately, FLIR offers the best warranty available for infrared cameras, covering the sensor for 10 years, the battery for five, and parts and construction for two. If the camera malfunctions during this time, FLIR will repair or replace your device free of charge.
For further support, you can consult your manual or visit the FLIR website for FAQs. If you prefer to contact FLIR directly about your problems, you can also reach support staff via phone or email.
Like any camera, the FLIR E60 does have some weaknesses. It lacks autofocus and has only the second-best temperature range, but the E60 does a lot right. It has the best resolution, the most useful features and great extras like an additional battery and charger. The biggest obstacle for most is paying the premium price for a premium product.