Which is the best thermal camera, FLIR or Fluke?
This is a question we get asked all the time by those who are either looking to purchase a thermal camera, or use our thermal imaging service.
To start with we are a FLIR distributor in Perth, Australia and only offer and support FLIR products, so I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible. Secondly, we don’t have access to the full range of Fluke products like we do with FLIR products, so we’ve reviewed two cameras that are as close as possible in functionality.
Both the FLIR E4 and the Fluke Ti90 are entry level thermal cameras, so they share many traits, although they each excel in certain areas.
The E4 is the lowest spec thermal camera in FLIR’s Ex range. With the release of the Ex series FLIR introduced the world to a new thermal imaging type, MSX or Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging. This was a great leap in thermal imaging as it enhanced the thermal image to a great degree. With the MSX function now standard on all new cameras and firm-ware updates, the user could make out detail that previously only the highest range of cameras were able to produce.
As can be seen from the images above there is a great improvement in image fidelity when the image mode is set to MSX. You can make out detail that is usually impossible with standard thermal images. Things such as labels, surface detail and even objects behind glass are now visible. These details don’t show any temperature difference and are therefore invisible in standard thermal images, especially items behind glass, which is treated as a solid object by thermal cameras. But with MSX turned on you can see it all.
Below is a video showcasing FLIR’s MSX thermal imaging mode.
What sets the Fluke Ti90 aside from some of the other thermal cameras in the same price range is that it has wireless capabilities through Fluke Connect™. With Fluke Connect one can link to a mobile device and review the data that’s been captured and analyse it in the field. This functionality is available on FLIR cameras in the Exx series and above, but not the Ex series. However bear in mind that Fluke Connect™ is not available in all countries.
The two cameras side by side
|Function||FLIR E4||Fluke Ti90|
|Imaging and Optical Data|
(the level of detail within each thermal image)
|80 x 60 (4600) pixels||80 x 60 (4600) pixels|
(the camera’s ability to adjust to temperature changes )
|<0.15°C (0.11°F) /<60mK||≤0.15°C at 30° target temp (150mK)|
|Field of View (FOV)
(the angle of which the camera lens can see)
|45 x 34°||19.5 x 26°|
(governs how far away the camera can be from a measurement point and still determine accurate results)
|Focus Type||Focus-free||Fixed focus 46cm (18″) and beyond|
|Minimum Focus Distance||48cm||122cm|
|Display Type||3.0″ 320 x 240 colour LCD||3.5″ diagonal LCD screen (portrait format)|
|IR/Overlay Fusion Image||MSX||No|
|Measurement Range||–20°C to +250°C (–4°F to +482°F)||-20 °C to +250 °C (-4 °F to +482 °F)|
|Accuracy||±2°C (±3.6°F) or ±2% of reading, for ambient temperature
10°C to 35°C (+50°F to 95°F) and object temperature
above +0°C (+32°F)
|± 2 °C or 2% (at 25 °C nominal, whichever is greater)|
|Colour Palette Options
(switch between these to change the appearance of thermal images)
|Black/white, iron and rainbow||Ironbow, blue-red and greyscale|
|Digital Camera||640 x 480 pixels||2 megapixel industrial performance|
|WiFi||No||Yes (Fluke Connect™)|
|Memory System||Internal memory storage of at least 500 sets of images
Micro-USB data transfer to PC and MAC
|Removable 4GB SD card and 8GB wireless SD Card
Direct download via USB to PC connection
|Battery Type||Rechargeable Li-Ion battery||1 x lithium ion smart battery pack with five-segment LED display with charge level display|
|Battery Life||Approx 4 hours at +25°C (+77°F) ambient temperature and typical use||4+ hours continuous use per battery pack (assumes 50% brightness of LCD/average usage)|
|Dimensions||24.4 x 9.5 x 1.4cm (9.6 x 3.7 x 5.5 inches)||28.4 x 8.6 x 13.5cm (11.2 x 3.4 x 5.3 inches)|
|Power Supply||AC Charger/ Power Supply with Mains Adapters||AC Power Adapter|
|Battery||Lithium Ion Battery||Lithium Ion Smart Battery|
|Interfacing||USB Cable||USB Cable|
Fluke Connect Wireless SD Card
|Carrying Case||Hard Carrying Case||Soft Transport Bag|
|Software||FLIR Tools Software (Free Download)||Fluke SmartView Software|
|RRP Australian Dollar (ex GST)||$1350||$1950|
As can be seen from the above table the two cameras are very close in functionality and packaging, but we think there’s a clear choice if you had to choose between the two.
The Good, Bad and Ugly
|— Higher Thermal Sensitivity at <0.15°C (0.11°F) /<60mK|
|— Wide Field of View (FOV) at 45 x 34°|
|— Minimum focal distance of 48cm|
|— Hard Case|
|— Low Spatial Resolution|
|— Digital Camera very low res at 640 x 480 pixels|
|— Internal Memory limiting images taken and expandability|
|— No WiFi Capabilities|
|— Higher Spatial Resolution|
|— Larger LCD screen|
|— 2 megapixel Digital Camera|
|— WiFi with Fluke Connect (limited to some countries)|
|— Removable memory cards (SD card and WiFi SD Card)|
|— Low Thermal Sensitivity at ≤0.15°C at 30° target temp (150mK)|
|— Tight lens viewing angle|
|— 122cm minimum focal distance|
|— No image overlay eg, MSX|
|— No Calibration Certificate|
|— Soft Transport Bag|
The Winner is…
Although the Fluke Ti90 does come with some very nice features and is fully capable of doing the job, the FLIR E4 takes it all a step further. Both cameras share the same IR (Infrared) resolution of 80 x 60 pixels, arguably the most important factor when comparing thermal cameras, but the E4 has a far more sensitive sensor, which enables it to take more accurate readings. It also has a wider angle lens that comes in handy in tight spaces, allowing you to capture a larger area without the need to step back too far from your target. But what really sets it apart from the Fluke Ti90 is FLIR’s MSX feature, which as can be seen from the above images enhances the thermal image considerably, allowing you to see detail not visible in standard thermal images. Finally, the FLIR E4 sells at a much lower price, making it the most affordable thermal camera in its range.
If you would like more information on our FLIR range of cameras please visit our Thermal Camera website at www.australianthermalcameras.com.au. If you would like further help deciding which camera is best for your business and project, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0434 065 203 any time and one of our friendly technicians will assist you.
Alternatively if you would like to test the power of thermal imagery before you commit to purchasing a camera, Scantherma also offer thermal imaging service. You can find out more here.