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Equipment Thermal Imaging - The Want is Strong

Discussion in 'Photography, Art & Design' started by Gareth Halfacree, 11 Jul 2019.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    So, I do thermal imaging work 'cos readers like purty colours and sometimes it actually conveys useful information too.



    I use a Flir C2 for the thermal imaging, strapped to a modified mobile phone tripod adapter on a copy stand. The thermal data is then processed and overlaid on an edge-enhanced greyscale visible light image to get what you see above.

    It works, but the thermal resolution leaves a lot to be desired: it's 80x60, or 4,800 individual readings. Enough to get a rough idea of what's going on, but you're not going to see individual resistors glowing happily in the dark.

    Trouble is, there's a big-ol' gap between the entry-level Flir stuff and the pro-level Flir stuff. Most obvious upgrade route would be the Flir One Pro (non-LT), which has a 160x120 thermal sensor for 19,200 individual readings - exactly four times the resolution of what I have now. Trouble is, it is an accessory device for a smartphone - which I've always wanted to avoid, 'cos why complicate things unnecessarily?

    Then I found the Flir ETS320.

    upload_2019-7-11_16-30-34.png

    It's basically what I've built myself, except with a screen that means you don't have to be hovering over the top of the thing. Captures images in the same format as my current camera, too, which means I can continue to use the same post-processing workflow - something I'd have to give up if I went with a cheaper brand like Seek (notorious for noisy sensors.)

    320x240 thermal resolution, 76,800 individual readings. 11.5 times higher resolution than my C2. Absolute beast. No visible-light camera, so it doesn't do in-body MSX blending like the C2 or Flir One Pro would, but I don't use that anyway 'cos the quality's pants.

    There's only one real downside... price. It's £2,748. There's a dude on FleaBay in Belgium selling a suspicious amount of test gear, has an as-new used-once one for £1,640 delivered - but a whopping two feedback (for a fibre splicer and a Fluke energy monitor, both £2k a throw).

    It's all academic at the moment anyway, because I'm completely and utterly brassic - but am I mad to be considering the upgrade? My clients like the thermal stuff I do now, but d'you think I'd be able to charge more (or get more thermal work) to earn back the cost of the ETS320?

    Pipedream or plan? You decide!
     
  2. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    If you have client demand for it, it's worth considering, especially as power (therefore heat) becomes more and more relevant generationally.

    Also, just how many places do you see reviews that include thermal imaging? You could even sub yourself out to bit-tech when they do m/b & GPU reviews as I can't see Dennis The Media Team springing for one. :)

    Ultimately isn't it a maths question - how many clients you need to cover the cost of the device?
     
  3. MLyons

    MLyons Half dev, Half doge. Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Unlikely with some of the deadlines we've got recently. Getting products with 4 days before the review
     
  4. Fingers66

    Fingers66 Kiwi in London

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    Pay his travel expenses to London with the rig in his backpack and job's a good'un.

    Gareth - if you get the gig I want comission.
     
  5. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    It's becoming increasingly common since the knockoffs hit the market and the entry cost fell through the floor. They're not usually... fantastic, though. This is one from a certain B2B electronics giant:

    upload_2019-7-11_16-59-21.png

    Same camera as mine, funnily enough.

    This one came from a colleague for a web outlet:

    upload_2019-7-11_17-0-24.png

    Some flavour of Seek, that one - probably one of the ones that dangles off your smartphone.

    Then Pimoroni's started playing, too:



    That's a Seek again, but apparently you can't lock the thermal scale - which is why it looks like the USB controller has got *hotter* in the second image, even though it's actually considerably *cooler*.

    Mine are better, though. :p

    "How long is a piece of string?" Having better-quality images for the mags won't help, 'cos I get page rate regardless. It might mean I can sell more to broader outlets, though - and I could always have a try at offering thermal imaging analysis as an outsourced service to businesses (and other journos, for that matter.)
    That'd certainly make more sense than shipping a bunch of motherboards or what have you to me!
     

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