Understanding IR Resolution and what it really means when purchasing an IR Camera

Understanding IR Resolution

We break down the difference between infrared detectors to help you pick the right size of camera. We lay out exactly how many measurement points in each.

When looking at a series of thermal cameras, the biggest difference between the individual models is the size of the microbolometer inside. This IR resolution determines how detailed your thermal images will be and the information they contain. But it will also affect how much a given camera costs.

FLIR presents their IR Resolution as a set of dimensions: 320 x 240 for example. This means that your microbolometer has 320 infrared sensors across the top, and 240 sensors down the side. Each one of these tiny sensors is a temperature measurement point.

Thinking about each sensor as one pixel on your camera's display screen is a little bit of an over-simplification, but it's a good place to start.

So on a camera with an IR resolution of 320 x 240, you have 76,800 distinct measurement points. Compare that to a much smaller imager with an 80 x 60 detector, which will have 4,800 individual sensors.

Take a look at the graphic below, which overlays the dimensions of the entire Ex series of cameras together.

FLIR Ex Series Resolution Comparison

You can see between the E6 and the E8 that when you cut the horizontal and vertical resolution in half, you will effectively have ¼ the amount of pixels.

But what does that look like when you're using it in the field? Lower resolution means you will still see hot and cold spots, but not with the same definition or detail that a larger microbolometer would give. Take a look:

The Exx series are FLIR's premiere building inspection and industrial thermography cameras. Here are their different resolutions stacked together.

FLIR Exx Series Resolution Comparison

The E60 has four times the resolution of the E40, which you can see reflected in its price.

But when you go even larger than that, you need the T-series (T400 or T600). The T series are the pinnacle of thermography tools, and you can see it in their detector sizes.

FLIR T-Series Resolution Comparison

The T-series has some of the largest detector sizes: the T640 has a whopping 307,200 individual measurement points.

Whether you're looking for a basic infrared start, or a complete thermography solution, the resolution on a given camera is a great place to start making your decision.


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