Now that FLIR has a collection of Thermal imaging cameras for drones (or sUAS - small unmanned aircraft systems), how do you know which camera fits best for your specific type of work? This little blog is written with the hope to provide you with a little more info to serve as a quick guide for you to be more informed, so you can make the best choice.
First, let's list most possible FLIR Thermal (infrared) cameras for drones/sUAS:
1) FLIR Boson
2) FLIR Lepton
3) FLIR Tau 2
4) FLIR Vue (discontinued by FLIR)
5) FLIR Vue Pro
6) FLIR Duo
7) FLIR Duo Pro R
A) Resolutions (how many pixels):
Let's talk about the resolutions of the cameras. Like usual daylight (or visible/RGB/EO) cameras, thermal cameras also come in different resolutions. The difference is that thermal cameras see infrared signal (heat), the wavelengths of these rays are (much) longer than those of visible light. So the sensors (pixels) inside the cameras need to be bigger than those of visible camera to be able to sense the signal. So with thermal cameras, you will end up having standard or sub-standard definition, and you will not have HD resolutions, let alone the hot 4K or 8K! Yes, FLIR cameras, especially for drones, come in a few resolutions:
- 80 pixels x 64 pixels (what? why is it this low? Yes!) We're talking about Lepton or the FLIR One used for your smart phones.
- 168 x 128 (Lepton again, and FLIR Duo, some Tau 2)
- 320 x 256
- 640 x 512
B) Features (is it a finished product or just an OEM core):
Among the above list of cameras, FLIR Vue Pro and FLIR Duo Pro R are the two that are much more like a finished product, than just an OEM core components. As an end-user with the purpose of buying the camera as the final end product to be used immediately, you will like the two more than anything else.
The exception is the FLIR Duo (NOT the Duo Pro R)
However, with our VuIR (/view IR/ or /viewer/) series, any unfinished camera by FLIR is made finished within our product. Boson is an example, it is just an OEM core with mostly just the lens and sensor and NOT DVR, not power module, no button to push... But we have made the VuIR Boson, and it has its own DVR, a few buttons to push, a video transmitter, a user-friendly GUI (VuIR Boson HD)... So you can just enjoy the product without having to worry about original incompleteness of the camera itself.
C) Radiometry or No radiometry, that is another question
F) Size does matter
G) How far can you see things? Lens size & Camera Field of view
F) Geotagging your thermal imagery (add EXIF metadata that contain GPS coordinates)
to be continued....