Infrared Camera Resolution

Is camera resolution important?

Both thermal images below were captured on what are considered high-resolution infrared camera systems by today’s standards. The first one is from our new FLIR T1020 camera. This camera uses FLIR’s new OSX HDIR optics system which produces the most advanced fidelity imagery in the industry. The second image is from our FLIR T640 camera which is also considered an advanced camera system.




Most thermographers are using cameras with resolutions of at least 320 x 240 or 76,800 pixels. BDG uses only high-resolution imagery systems that produce at least 640 x 480 lines of resolution (307,200 pixels) with our advanced system, the T1020 producing 1024 x 768 lines of resolution (786,432 pixels).

I know, that was a lot of numbers… stay with me as I am getting to the point now.

Resolution or pixel count are crucial in thermal imaging because each pixel is a unit of measurement. This is illustrated in the images below. Both images are shown in 3D mode which is one method of interpretation enhancement we use while processing the imagery taken while at the inspection site. The cooler temperatures (darker) are recessed, and the higher temperatures are raised allowing us to evaluate temperature contrast in small increments. The T1020 camera system has more than double the pixel count providing us with much more detail for accurate data interpretation.

Camera resolution is even more important when targets are at a greater distance. The further the distance, the larger the pixel points (measurement) become therefore reducing the capability of detecting the temperature contrast needed to identify potential defects. The digital zoom feature (on some infrared camera systems) does not increase thermal resolution. So just like a regular photographer, multiple camera lenses are important when targeting building facades at a distance.

So the answer is yes, camera resolution is important, especially when performing building science related surveys. Equally important is the ability of proper image capture, data interpretation, and construction knowledge.

Note: Both thermal images are thermally tuned to the exact temperature range for proper comparison.