FLIR today announced the launch of an innovative new line of thermal cameras, the FLIR Ex-Series. Four completely new thermal cameras make up the Ex-Series, the FLIR E4, FLIR E5, FLIR E6, and FLIR E8. Our first impression upon wielding one of the new cameras is completely tactile–the fit and finish is more consistent with the latest iPhone release than with a piece of technology aimed at breaking price barriers. All four Ex-Series thermal cameras share a beautiful black and silver housing, which despite its sleek finish, can withstand a six foot drop and return to active duty.
Pricing tiers are centered around imaging performance rather than additional software features, with each successive camera offering a meaningful hardware difference. The resolution ranges from 80 x 60 in the FLIR E4 all the way to an impressive 320 x 240 in the FLIR E8. Important to note is that, as far as the building community is concerned, the FLIR E6 thermal camera will be the one to fill the shoes of the outgoing FLIR i7. The E6 meets and exceeds the RESNET Guidelines for Thermographic Inspections of Buildings.
|FLIR E4||FLIR E5||FLIR E6||FLIR E8|
|IR Resolution||80 × 60||120 × 90||160 × 120||320 × 240|
One surprising development is that FLIR has included their new MSX imaging technology in all four of these cameras. MSX stands for Multi Spectral Dynamic Imaging and offers a new way of blending visual and thermal images. All cameras in the new Ex-Series include a 3.1 megapixel digital camera to capture visible images with each thermal image–a great new feature in its own right. MSX extracts data from the visible light image and embosses it on the thermal image using proprietary algorithms. The net effect is an image that shows full thermal data without any loss, as well as all pertinent visual data.
After using the new Ex-Series for a while, our opinion is that MSX really changes the game in the lower resolutions. The E4 and E5 (like the outgoing i-Series) contain thousands of points of excellent thermal data. The problem has been in correlating this data to the target itself. With the new MSX enhancement, even lower resolutions have a sense of “clarity” that only higher resolutions cameras had before. The thermal data is the same, but it just feels much more usable in the MSX view.
Another standout feature of the E4/E5/E6/E8 cameras is the introduction of a 45-degree lens as standard fitment. Most FLIR thermal cameras are shipped with a 25-degree lens, which when combined with higher resolution, gives a great balance of field of view and measurement spot size. With the new Ex-Series, FLIR has decided in favor of a larger FOV, and we have to agree with that decision. As with the MSX, this is an advancement that makes the camera fundamentally more useful in most field conditions. The user can see more of a wall, roof, or electrical panel in just one image, saving time in the field, and making for simpler reporting.
One final development worth noting is the introduction of a new menu navigation system. While that may not initially seem like news, the intuitiveness of the menu really is much improved. This has also allowed for the simplification of the buttons on the camera itself. To this reviewers eye, the system now functions more like an Apple product or any newer smart phone. To anyone who has ever had to fumble through menu systems three times, trying to remember where some setting was, this is a welcome change.
With so many hardware and software innovations, price is almost an afterthought with the new Ex-Series. But FLIR has tackled that one too, offering the new FLIR E4 thermal camera for a list price of just $995. That’s a true thermal camera with almost 5000 pixels for under a grand. On the other end of the spectrum is the E8 at $5995, which is a full $2000 less than the going rate for other quality 320 x 240 thermal cameras.
The verdict? Let’s do a little math: more features, plus better resolution, plus lower pricing. It all adds up to a great step forward for users of infrared.
For more information about the new FLIR Ex-Series Thermal Cameras, see full features and specifications at Ivy Tools. Or feel free to give us a call at (877) 273-2311.