Over the past several years there has been an increased demand for thermal imagers on a global scale. All categories of customers starting from outdoor enthusiasts and home inspectors to law enforcement and military professionals have already taken full advantage of the latest advancements in thermal imaging technology.

Before they became proud owners of their devices, however, many of them had doubts as to what kind of thermal imager to buy. The one showing plain Black-and-White image or the Colorful one?

 

To answer this question one has to decide on the final application that the device will be used for. Finding heat leaks at home, long-range detection, or maybe some recreational activities? You might even have your own unique application, but each application is a niche that is filled by specific products.

  • Color thermal imaging provides a more illustrative temperature distribution, however the image appears to be “false-colored” and sometimes details are hard to distinguish. Due to bright color palette, a thermal image can be distracting and tiresome for a human eye. Great for evaluating heat leaks, finding zones of high temperatures: fire operations, home inspections, power lines problems detection.
  • Black-and-White thermal imagers deliver more natural-looking images. Great for detection, recognition and identification of static and moving objects: shooting, hunting, reconnaissance, border control, search & rescue.
  • In color thermal imaging changes in color are used rather than changes in intensity like in the black-and-white image to display changes in the signal. Humans have much greater dynamic range in intensity detection than color overall, making black-and-white images easier and quicker to process by the brain.

In addition, the color palette is primarily used in low-end inexpensive models of thermal devices. One of the reasons might be is that low cost thermal imagers come with equally cheap lenses and low sensitivity thermal cores that don’t allow you to see/detect very far or very clearly - working best on small distances. In such cases “colorization” of thermal imagers helps to “lure-in” customers, as it makes a great demo in store or online. However, in real-world conditions it becomes harder for a human eye to focus on a color-contrasting objects and conduct successful long range detection, recognition and identification.