There is an enormous range of thermal imaging cameras available. You can spend anything from a little over £300 for an entry-level model to upwards of £40,000 for a state of the art industrial thermal imaging cameras. Let’s take a look at what you’ll get for your money across a range of options:
£300 – £400: BUDGET MODEL: RS PRO Smart Thermal Imaging Camera
This is a model designed to work with Android phones. The unit connects to your camera and is operated via an app. It produces a low-resolution image (206 x 156 pixels) which would be useful for technical analysis but is unlikely to produce artistically impressive visuals.
If you just want a quick visual presentation of what the patterns of heat distribution are in a given area, this might be very useful. As well as the low price (around £330), it is extremely portable and easy to use, allowing you to quickly share or upload your images. It runs off your phone’s power and storage capabilities and takes video images as well as stills. You can buy similarly priced add-ons for iPhones, which connect via the lightning port at the base of your device.
If you prefer a dedicated device, there are handheld thermal imaging cameras for roughly the same price. These typically have a pistol grip, a display screen, control buttons, onboard storage (memory cards) and power (rechargeable batteries). They are bulkier and more specialist but might be a handy and affordable tool for builders, plumbers or engineers.
£600 – £1000: MID-PRICE: Bosch Professional 12V System Thermal Camera GTC 400 C
At around £620, this retails for roughly twice what the smartphone models cost. However, it has several advantages over the entry-level models:
- It’s effective within a wider range of temperatures (-10 to +400 degrees Celsius)
- It boasts an accuracy of ±3C, making it more of a professionally suitable tool
- More rugged build
- Can also be used with an app for ease of image sharing.
It uses a gun-like ergonomic grip and comes with its own carrying case. There are a range of other brands at this price point that operate in similar ways and have the same overall functionality and build. You can pay up to £3000 for this type of thermal imaging camera.
Check it out here.
£8000 – £10,000: PROFESSIONAL: LIR E95 Thermal Imaging Camera
This model currently sells for about £9200. If you really need high resolution images or video, or a camera that works across an exceptionally high range of temperatures, this price is what you might expect. What you’ll get for your investment is:
- Temperature range from -20 to 1200 degrees Celsius
- Laser-assisted autofocus
- 640 x 480 pixel display (similar to a Standard Definition television)
- Accuracy of ±2 %
- Fully-featured model with excellent build
At this level of expenditure, it might be more of a corporate investment, since these models are priced out of the range of most individual tradespeople.
Take a look here.
£30,000 – £40,000: TOP OF THE RANGE: FLIR T1020 (T1K) HD Thermal Camera
At the top end of the spectrum (£30,000 to £40,000) you can buy a thermal imaging camera that actually looks like a standard SLR camera. This model has unparalleled technology, producing High Definition images, perfect if you want to get creative or create video content suitable for presentations or training. Here’s the specs of this model:
- 1024 x 768 pixel images – full HD quality stills and video
- 800 x 480 pixel display
- Ergonomic camera build
- Above industry-standard thermal accuracy: < 0.02C at +30C
- Touchscreen controls
- Camera designed for use in extreme conditions
- Availability of specialist lenses
This model has all the bells and whistles you could ever want, but at this price its a significant investment. At this quality, however, there might be military, scientific, legal or industrial uses which would make this a sensible investment.
Not for the keen home enthusiast in thermography, however! Check out the full specs here.
So there you have it. The simple answer is: as much or as little as you like, with the main considerations being:
- what do I want to for?
- how accurate must it be?
- what image quality do I need?
- what range of temperatures will I need to cover?
Answer the above and you’ll find plenty of suppliers, brands and models to suit almost any budget.