What are the Limitations of Infrared Camera & How to Overcome Them

Limitations of Infrared Camera and How to Overcome Them

An infrared camera is a device of technological development. It is used to detects infrared energy of objects and convert them into an electronic image called a thermogram. It is used for industrial automation, scientific research assistance, petrochemical, forest fire-prevention, and law enforcement. 

History of Infrared Technology

To understand the working of the infrared camera, you must know about the history of infrared technology. This technology is discovered by William Herschel, he used the prism to reflect light on the table. He had measured the temperature level of the various colors, and at last, he realized infrared energy is high on the red spectrum.

What can thermal imagers do?

A thermal camera is not a regular camera to capture a normal image. Infrared cameras have the capabilities of a normal thermal camera and providing context with a thermal image. The object emits electromagnetic radiation that can be captured by the thermal imager. 

It is used in military and surveillance and can find malicious individual and potential intruders. Based on its use, it has many advantages and disadvantages. Infrared imaging is the most successful technology that is trying to capture unobstructed images. IR camera captures electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by any object. It is used to capture the pictures of humans, animals, walls, circuit breakers, and window borders.  

Limitations of Infrared camera and the ways to overcome them

If an object has a high temperature, then it emitted more infrared energy. Some other materials act as reflectors to infrared energy, and this brings some limitations. Here are some limitations of it,

First, the thermal camera can’t able to see through the materials and only used to detect the surface temperature of an object. Because the materials are cooled down or heating up contradictorily rather than the insulation. So, infrared cameras are not able to see through materials.

To detect the temperature variance it uses the water evaporation method. Thermal imaging cameras are not able to detect the temperature of shiny materials and reflective materials. Because they have a low emitting level and reflect only the environmental energy.

Another most important limitation is the environmental condition during the inspection. If there is no wind and no sun then, this is the perfect situation to use the IR camera.

Images through glass

This is the most significant disadvantage of an infrared camera, and this camera cannot capture an accurate image through the glass and other polished objects. Because glass tends to reflect the object heat both sides, so it ignores some images. So, don’t try to capture images that are beyond the glass. 

Blurred images

This is the common disadvantage of infrared cameras. Some photos are disheveled and blurry in infrared cameras. High-level cameras can withstand blurriness with higher frequency. Thermal imaging cameras need more stability than other visible cameras. If you want to overcome these blurred limits due to shaky handling, then give the extra few seconds to the camera to capture a clear image. This will provide sharp and bright images.  

If you have a camera built with a digital camera lens, then you have the option to superimpose a normal image with a thermal one. Some thermal images are blurred until you see the image in the circumstances. 

Confusing images

Sometimes your obtained images may not clear and also hard to understand. Maybe you are trying to get an image of a place under a door, but you cannot get a better image. Because that place does contains low-temperature levels.

You have many options to get a better picture. One of them is, you can try a different angle and get up close with your target.

Another option is to change the environment. If you have any worry about passing the heat from your home, then try cracking the heat up to produce better variation in the image. If you are working with a high-quality thermal imager, then you have the option to set a threshold, and that eliminates the reading of the temperatures above or below a particular amount. 

Daytime use

Nowadays, thermal imaging cameras are used during the day in various situations, but the sunshine can cause lots of noise in a thermal image. If you are operating a car engine and need to take an image of the pinpoint location then you will get an unclear thermal image. If you want to overcome this disadvantage, then allow the car to cool and take an image in the evening time.

The thermal camera is the best inspecting tool that can inspect your roofs. But this process is very tough during the daytime. So use this on a cold day to your roof inspecting. Contractors and inspectors must wait for the evening to capture the most accurate pictures without any interference of sunlight. 

Higher sticker price

IR cameras are the advanced devices built with many complicated components. Their optics and detection systems are very expensive. So, it has high initial costs. 

Undesirable individuals are detected but not identified

It can only detect the intruders and cannot identify the individuals. Because of IR radiation doesn’t create any detailed images. It has a low image contrast. 

Poor monitoring

It presents a temperature distribution map, and that is very different from visible light face detection technology, and the monitoring screens only determine the persons entering and not monitor the face and appearance. 

Final verdict

An infrared camera is helpful for a wide range of applications, from maintenance to law enforcement purposes.

 It is important to know the limitations and how to overcome them if you are the owner or prospective buyer of an infrared camera. Better understandings of these cameras will manage your expectations for any aspired use.

Many small problems can be solved but, not all thermal camera limitations can be overwhelmed and it leads to a better-infrared imaging experience for you, your employer, or the client.

Kim Goodwin
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.