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FLIR E6 Compact Thermal Imaging Camera Review

FLIR E6 Compact Thermal Imaging Camera Review

The Ex-series from Flir has built its own reputation by combining top-class functionality with superior thermal sensitivity. The E6 is an entry-level thermal camera presenting an affordable solution for thermal inspections and damage assessments.

In this Flir E6 review, we will discuss the prime features of the camera in detail and compare its performance with some of the other models from Flir.

Sale
FLIR E6-XT - Handheld Infrared Camera - with Extended...
  • 240x180 IR resolution (43, 200 pixels); Measurement modes include center spot, area min/max, above/below alarms
  • Built in LED spotlight you can use as a flashlight and for photo illumination
  • Rugged & lightweight; intuitive on screen Menus & ergonomic on camera buttons allow for one handed operation
  • Captures/stores thermal, visual and msx images with each pull of the trigger; Radiometric JPEG retain all temperature data within the thermal images
  • Picture in picture overlays a fixed section of a thermal image onto a digital photo to clarify problem locations and enhance documentation

We tested all the features of the camera and the interface to judge its overall performance. The E6 is a robust camera that’s simple enough for first-timers in the world of thermal cameras. It also has a few advanced features to help the users conduct a detailed thermal analysis.

It’s not perfect though. There are a few areas where Flir could have done better. Then again, the high price tag will surely drive the hobbyists away.

So is the Flir E6 infrared camera a good choice for professionals and home inspectors?

Let’s find out.

Flir E6 Key features

  • 19,200 pixels (160 x 120)
  • Spot Measurement mode
  • Simultaneous storage of IR/Visual/MSX images
  • On-board 640 x 480 Digital Camera
  • Display: 3″ color LCD
  • Swappable Li-ion Battery with 4-hour life
  • Picture in Picture image
  • Easy-to-use weighs only 1.2lbs
  • 2% accuracy

Pros

  • A rugged design
  • User-friendly interface
  • Versatile performer
  • MSX Imaging technology
  • A wide field of view

Cons

  • Too pricey for hobbyists
  • Temperature range is limited
  • No touchscreen
PROPERTIESFLIR E4FLIR E5XTFLIR E6FLIR E6XTFLIR E8XT
ImageFLIR E4FLIRFLIR E6FLIRFLIR
Detector Size80 x 60160 x 120160 x 120240 x 180320 x 240
Thermal Sensitivity150 mK (NETD)100 mK (NETD)60 mK (NETD)60 mK (NETD)50 mK (NETD)
Temperature Range482 F752 F482 F1022 F1022 F

A Few Things to Consider Before Buying a Thermal Camera

The fact is, thermal energy is being radiated by all objects around us. But to capture that, we need the help of a thermal sensor that can detect even minor heat differences.

Now, there are a whole lot of thermal cameras in the market with varying features and prices. To avoid getting lost in the crowd, you need to know about the key features to look for in a device.

Here are a few important ones for first-time buyers.

  1. Make sure to pick a thermal camera and not a thermal imager. Thermal imagers can provide temperature reading of various objects and are effective for safety and maintenance. But they can’t capture or store images.
  1. An advanced imaging mode that offers better image clarity by combining thermal and visual images is necessary. Most brands have their own patented technology to offer the best blend of images with the radiographic data imprinted.
  1. The LCD screen of the camera should deliver a crisp image that’s easy to read in bright outdoor conditions. In our view, anything less than a 3 inch LCD screen isn’t worth the investment.
  1. For using a camera for longer periods, size and weight are factors you can’t ignore. Compact and lightweight devices are also easy to carry in a toolkit or even in your pocket.
  1. Last but not the least, the camera’s sensor should have the right temperature sensitivity and resolution. This will depend on the type of job it’s used for and the working environment. Also, a higher-resolution thermal camera will help you to detect hotspots more accurately.

Why Should You Consider the Flir E6 Camera

Pros

  • A rugged design
  • User-friendly interface
  • Versatile performer
  • MSX Imaging technology
  • A wide field of view

Cons

  • Too pricey for hobbyists
  • Temperature range is limited
  • No touchscreen

As per the Flir E6 specs, the camera has the right features to capture the subtle thermal patterns in a home or industrial setting. But how’s the performance in the real world?

Actually quite good. Let’s take a closer look.

An Ergonomic Design

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To start with, the Flir E6 is a handheld thermal camera. We used it for long periods and at no point did it feel uncomfortable. At 1.3 pounds, the device is well balanced and the position of the buttons allows easy one-handed operation.

Flir has used ABS material for the camera body and the build- quality is solid. It has been drop tested to withstand a fall from 2-meter heights so drops or knocks won’t be an issue. Then again, the device has an IP 54 rating. 

The operating temperature range is between –15°C to 50°C. So this is a thermal camera that has been designed for use in harsh conditions.

While Flir has made portability a priority, this isn’t a pocket-sized camera. The overall dimensions are 3.7 x 5.5 x 9.6 inches. However, it can easily fit into a tool belt that most inspectors use.

On the other hand, some of the long term users mentioned a few issues that cropped up with use. There were some instances of the USB port getting dislodged.

Sale
FLIR E6-XT - Handheld Infrared Camera - with Extended...
  • 240x180 IR resolution (43, 200 pixels); Measurement modes include center spot, area min/max, above/below alarms
  • Built in LED spotlight you can use as a flashlight and for photo illumination
  • Rugged & lightweight; intuitive on screen Menus & ergonomic on camera buttons allow for one handed operation
  • Captures/stores thermal, visual and msx images with each pull of the trigger; Radiometric JPEG retain all temperature data within the thermal images
  • Picture in picture overlays a fixed section of a thermal image onto a digital photo to clarify problem locations and enhance documentation

The Camera Performance

The IR sensor of the E6 offers a resolution of 19,200 (160 × 120) pixels. While this isn’t the best compared to other high-end models, the device delivers a clear thermal image.

There is a built-in optical camera that offers a resolution of  640×480-pixels. When you combine the thermal and the optical images with the Flir MSX technology, the output is sharp and detailed.

Here’s the best part. You can capture digital and thermal images simultaneously so that they can be blended perfectly.

The field of view ( 45° × 34°) is wide enough to capture images in narrow spaces. Also, the accuracy levels range between ±2 percent or 2 °C. Besides, the thermal sensitivity is 0.06°C – good enough for industrial use.

The camera can capture object temperatures between –20°C to 250°C. While it’s sufficient for home inspections, but we felt that the upper temperature limit isn’t high enough for some critical equipment.

And another thing…

The E6 also meets the RESNET standards that make it a perfect device for building diagnostics and audits.

Easy to Use Interface

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A camera with a simple interface is always a practical choice during fieldwork. Firstly, this is an automatic and focus-free device that’s very easy to use. Next, the Flir E6 software offers an intuitive interface that makes operation easy.

You can easily toggle between the various settings and parameters or review the stored images. There are multiple color palettes to choose from based on your preference. You also get multiple temperature measurement tools for analysis.

For example, you can choose the area box for a particular image. The system indicates the highest and lowest temperatures within the box. It can also indicate the temperature above or below a user-defined threshold. There’s also a spot meter that can be pointed to any part of the image.

However, we did notice a slight lag while toggling between the menus and functions. If you’re expecting a butter-smooth response from the buttons, you’ll be disappointed.

In addition, you also get Wi-Fi connectivity for easy sharing of the images. We suggest that you go through the Flir E6 user manual to learn more about the settings and configurations before first use.

As expected, the E6 comes with the free Flir Tools software that can be used to import, edit, add notes, and analyze the thermal images. It can also be used to generate an inspection report in pdf format. The software is compatible with both Windows and Mac.

Advanced Imaging technology

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Coming to an important feature, the Flir E6 camera system comes with the MSX (Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging) technology. That makes it an extremely reliable tool for inspections. Basically, MSX superimposes the optical image over the thermal image. So it’s easier to locate the heat-related issues.

In reality, numbers, labels, and structural features often get lost in a thermal image. With MSX you get the right level of texture, depth, and definition in a single image.

The high contrast image is generated through the onboard processor that selects the key parts of the visual image for blending. Needless to say, it does that without compromising the thermal data. The result is fast target identification and faster problem resolution.

Not to forget, you get an amazing image quality where the colors really pop out. Honestly, image quality is the key to make your field reports attractive.

In addition to that, The E6 also comes with the picture in picture mode. This directly overlaps the visible image over the thermal image in real-time. Quite simply, a practical tool for more accurate electrical surveys and mechanical inspections. 

Sale
FLIR E6-XT - Handheld Infrared Camera - with Extended...
  • 240x180 IR resolution (43, 200 pixels); Measurement modes include center spot, area min/max, above/below alarms
  • Built in LED spotlight you can use as a flashlight and for photo illumination
  • Rugged & lightweight; intuitive on screen Menus & ergonomic on camera buttons allow for one handed operation
  • Captures/stores thermal, visual and msx images with each pull of the trigger; Radiometric JPEG retain all temperature data within the thermal images
  • Picture in picture overlays a fixed section of a thermal image onto a digital photo to clarify problem locations and enhance documentation

Things to Know About the Flir E6 Camera

A Bright Display

The 3-inch display is another feature that makes the E6 so easy to use. The 320 x 240 LCD screen comes with a refresh rate of 9 Hz. It’s not super smooth but offers the right level of clarity and contrast.

The screen menus are intuitive and easy to use. However, those who are looking for a touchscreen will be disappointed.  Also, the visibility under direct sunlight isn’t the best.

On the whole, at this price point, we feel that the screen quality is good enough. 

Pros

  • A rugged design
  • User-friendly interface
  • Versatile performer
  • MSX Imaging technology
  • A wide field of view

Cons

  • Too pricey for hobbyists
  • Temperature range is limited
  • No touchscreen

Storage

Surprisingly, Flir doesn’t mention the exact storage capacity of the device. As per the Flir E6 user manual, the camera can store up to 500 images. The images are stored in standard JPEG format. That makes it easy to share them with users who don’t have the Flir software installed.

Sadly, SD card support isn’t offered with the E6. To get more space you need to clear the internal memory by transferring the images or deleting it. For fast transfer, it’s best to use the micro USB connector.

Do keep in mind that the thermographic data in the images can only be interpreted through the Flir Tools software. So you can’t use the normal imaging software to work on them.

Versatility

One thing we really liked about the Flir E6 thermal camera is the excellent versatility. It can be used for building and home inspections as well as for restoring areas damaged by moisture. Then again, it is equally effective for inspecting ducts, condenser units, and heating systems.

The wide-angle lens offers a wider field of view that makes it very effective in all types of settings.

One more thing…

Flir has added a laser pointer to quite a few of their inexpensive cameras. That really helps during industrial inspections. But the E6 comes without it.

e6

Flir E8 vs E6

Both these devices belong to the Flir Ex series and are designed for industrial use. They come with the excellent build quality, the same accuracy levels, and features like MSX technology. Both the devices also meet the RESNET standards from all aspects.

The primary difference is, E8 comes with a higher 320×240 IR sensor resolution. As a result, the image resolution is 4 times that of the E6. You get better quality images that capture the minor details more accurately. Obviously, that makes the E8 more expensive than E6.

In case you’re looking for the best image resolution, the Flir E8 is a better choice.

Flir i7 vs E6

These two thermal imaging cameras come with a similar design and affordable price tags. Still, there are subtle differences. Let’s take a brief look at the Flir i7.

The i7 comes with a thermal sensor of 140×140 resolution and sensitivity of 100mK. The accuracy levels and the temperature range are the same as the E6. It also has an IP43 rating and has been drop-tested from 2 meters. There are multiple measurement modes including a spotmeter and the area measurement box.

Coming to the main differences, the i7 doesn’t offer the MSX imaging technology.  At 2.8 inches, the screen size is also on the smaller side.

If you’re looking for the best image quality, the Flir E6 is definitely a better choice.

msx thumbnail

The FAQs

Does the E6 come with a warranty?

The device comes with the standard 10-5-2 warranty from Flir. Once the product is registered, you get a 10-year warranty on the IR detector, 5-years on the battery, and 2-years on the parts and labor.

How is the battery performance of the E6?

The E6 camera comes with a rechargeable 3.6 V Li-ion battery. The good news is, the Flir E6 battery is replaceable. Flir also provides an external charger with the device. It usually takes 2 hours to get charged. You can also charge it in the camera, but that takes slightly longer. Once fully charged, you can expect 4 hours of operating time.

How to register my Flir E6?

To register the device, you need a FLIR Customer Support account. You can visit the site Flir support site and follow the steps for product registration. Keep in mind that you need to mention the serial number of the product. This is usually found on the back or side of the device, near the bar code.

Final Words on Our Flir E6 Review

To sum it up, the Fir E6 thermal camera is a very good choice for professionals looking for a mid-level device that offers reliable performance. 

Firstly, it comes in a durable package and offers good image quality. There are plenty of advanced features along with easy connectivity through Wi-Fi. The battery life is good enough for a long day of inspection.

Yes, it has its limitations. If you want better image quality and more features, Flir has other advanced options that you can look into. But with the E6, the price to performance ratio is very good. 

Quite simply, if you’re involved with any electrical, mechanical, or building issues related to heat, the Flir E6 is a great tool to pack in your kit.

So that was our complete Flir E6 review for you.

Are you ready to make the choice?

Sale
FLIR E6-XT - Handheld Infrared Camera - with Extended...
  • 240x180 IR resolution (43, 200 pixels); Measurement modes include center spot, area min/max, above/below alarms
  • Built in LED spotlight you can use as a flashlight and for photo illumination
  • Rugged & lightweight; intuitive on screen Menus & ergonomic on camera buttons allow for one handed operation
  • Captures/stores thermal, visual and msx images with each pull of the trigger; Radiometric JPEG retain all temperature data within the thermal images
  • Picture in picture overlays a fixed section of a thermal image onto a digital photo to clarify problem locations and enhance documentation
About Kim Goodwin

Kim Goodwin holds a Master's in thermal engineering from the University of Rhode Island. At Thermo Gears, she reviews most equipment that uses thermal imaging technologies.