M7 Falcon Long Range thermal imaging flir PTZ camera

Long Range Thermal Cameras

Thank you for visiting Defense Imaging systems long range thermal cameras,

Defense Imaging Systems offers a wide array of long range LWIR uncooled and MWIR Cooled thermal imaging FLIR PTZ camera systems. Multiple add-on modules, sensors and options are available such as long range LRF Laser range finders, Long range IR illuminators, Radars, Laser dazzlers, pointers and a host of complimentary cameras Such as Color Night Vision, SWIR and Spotter imagers.

We offer COTS long range flir ptz thermal imaging camera solutions or we can totally custom build the perfect long range imaging system catering to your exact specifications and requirements.  We utilize the best grade advanced mechanical, electronic and electro-optical components ensuring the highest performing, most rugged & reliable EOIR ISR imaging system built to last for years, operating at 24/7 in any Ground, mobile, Marine or aerial environment. 

Long range thermal cameras

The M7 Falcon is a high performance multi sensor stabilized
Long range FLIR PTZ thermal camera.

The rugged, Cost effective all weather gimbal packs a plethora of features useful for effective
24/7 security and surveillance applications. Instant Optical zoom on both
the thermal Flir camera channel and the visible daytime low light camera
channel are easily accessible via a host of controlling options.

The all weather M7 Falcon Long Range FLIR PTZ Thermal Camera can
be used on fixed, marine, telescoping mast pole and mobile
mounted applications in any hot/cold climates.

The M7 Falcon long range flir ptz thermal camera is an affordable day/night security
solution for surveillance of borders, coastlines, shorelines and high value/critical
perimeter environments. The high speed Pan Tilt Gimbal has zero backlash and is
positioned by the user’s preference of speeds.

The System Has a multitude of useful EO/IR ISR DRI features easily controlled by the user.

Long range thermal cameras


Long range thermal cameras


  • Full PTZ controls with 360 degree continuous rotation
  • Hardened/coated anti glare optics
  • Smooth Accurate and rapid Auto Focus algorithm
  • Rugged, All weather design can withstand harsh environments
  • uninterrupted 24/7/365 day/night operation
  •  Solid state, reliable  maintenance free system
  • All metal construction
  • Ultra sensitive, long range thermal imaging flir focal plane array technology
  • High fidelity, long range, low light BSI CMOS CCTV television camera
  • On Screen symbology with sensors and gimbal status indicator
  • Smooth, jitter free, variable user selectable azimuth/elevation gimbal movement
  • Multiple thermal imaging Color and monochrome palettes
  • Latest advanced LWIR uncooled Focal Plane Array (FPA) sensor technology
  • Protected from intense energy sources and sun damage
  • Long life system utilizing the highest quality electronic and mechanical components
  • Reliable platform ensures years of maintenance free operation
  • LR2 Rangefinder with scale for Human and Vehicle target location
  • Gimbal heading indicator Windage/Elevation
  • Onboard user selectable enhancement features (Gamma, Polarity, Calibration, Detail Enhancement, Brightness, Contrast, Auto Or Manual Focus, Ranging, Sensor Protection, Crosshair Selection, MSCD,  Symbology Overlay, Stabilization)
  • User selectable full PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) manipulation
  • Simple to Install, learn and operate
  • System Includes Keyboard, Joystick, Monitors, Cables and all standard accessories ready to Plug N Play
long range thermal cameras
Long range thermal camera

Long range clip on thermal scopes

When looking for a high quality, cost effective Long Range flir ptz thermal camera with steerable motion control and
Multi sensor Day/Night optics, there are many choices, The M7 Falcon flir ptz Incorporates a
plethora of useful features for security, ISR and surveillance into a rugged all weather
system that’s simple to install, learn and operate.The M7 Falcon Long Range Thermal
camera is priced less than Half of our competitors and offers you the highest quality
Electronic and mechanical components in a package that will last for years, even in
constant daily usage and in harsh environments.

The M7 Falcon flir ptz can cut and see through thick smoke and environmental clutter.
The image below shows the power of thermal imaging sensing through thick smoke

Thermal imaging sees through smoke

M7 Falcon Long range flir ptz thermal camera sample
mono and color palette screenshots With ranging symbology

long range thermal camera
long range PTZ thermal cameras
long range PTZ thermal cameras
long range PTZ thermal cameras



Thermal Imaging Camera


Maintenance free uncooled VOX Microbolometer FPA Focal Plane Array


640 x 512

Field of View

Zoom 17° Wide to 1.8° Narrow (optical) Degrees FOV


Long Wave Infrared LWIR

Spectral Range

7 – 14 Microns


High sensitivity 40mK


Vehicle 12 Miles / Human 4.5 Miles / UAV 1.25 Miles / Fire (6.5×6.5 ft area) 4.5 Miles Recognition: Vehicle 6.5 Miles / Human 2.5 Miles / UAV 1 Mile


Vehicle 3.3 Miles / Human / UAV 0.75 Mile

Operational Altitude

7.5 Miles


1500 g @ 0.4 msec

Solar Protection



Auto/Manual Silent, Instant


Detail/Contrast enhancement. Full auto imaging AGC contrast & brightness


Black hot / White Hot


16 Styles

Electronic Zoom

1-10x Electronic Zoom


16 region target selection

Range Finder

OSD ranging with Human and Vehicle target symbology

Hot Spot

Auto Hot spot scene detection THERMAL IMAGING LENS Material Germanium


Hardened, Anti Reflective coated, Sealed

Optical Zoom

Athermalized, Parfocal Continuous high speed Optical zoom


Precision Stainless

F Rating



Automatic/ Manual


In line calibrated to thermal sensor without vignetting, blooming, distortion


High 85.3%

Vibration Compensation


Upgrade Sensor Support

Up to WUXGA 1920×1200 IR Detector Sensor type: 1 / 2.8 “progressive scan CMOS

Scanning System

Progressive scanning

Signal System




50Hz: 25FPS (1920×1080) 60Hz: 30fps (1920×1080) 50Hz: 25FPS (1280×960); 60Hz: 30fps
(1280×960) 50Hz: 25FPS (1280×720) 60Hz: 30fps (1280×720)


0.05Lux @ (f1.8, AGC on) black and white: 0.01LUX @ (f1.8, AGC on)




Focal length 8-310mm, 40x optical zoom

Aperture Value


Horizontal Field of View Angle

41.3o – 2.0o (wide angle – telescope) close range 10 mm – 1500 mm (wide angle – telescope)

Zoom Speed

About 3.5 seconds (optical, wide-angle telescope)

Day/Night Conversion Mode

ICR filter


Focus Mode

Auto / manual / primary focus

Exposure Mode

Auto exposure / aperture priority / shutter priority / manual exposure

Day and Night Mode

Auto / color / black and white electronic shutter 1 / 1 second to 1 / 30000 second

White Balance

Auto 1 / Auto 2 / indoor / outdoor / manual / sodium lamp / fluorescent lamp

Backlight Compensation

Off / On


16 level adjustable

Bad Point Compensation


Wide Dynamic

Off / On, adjustable at 15 levels

Digital Noise Reduction


Lens Initialization

Built in

Image Quality Adjustment

Brightness, contrast, sharpness and saturation can be adjusted

Digital Zoom

12 network function

Video Compression


Compressed Output Code Rate


Audio Compression

G.722.1, G.711-a law, G.711-u law, MP2l2, G.726, AAC, PCM

Storage Function

Supports micro SD / micro SDHC / micro SDXC card (up to 256g)

Image Setting

Movement function can be adjusted through client or IE browser

Intelligent Alarm

motion detection, blocking alarm, memory full, memory error

Support Protocol

TCP / IP, HTTP, DHCP, DNS, DDNS, RTP, RTSP, PPPoE, SMTP, NTP, UPnP, SNMP, FTP, 802.1x, QoS, HTTPS, IPv6 (SIP, SRTP, optional), gb28181, onvif, psia, CGI, ISAPI three stream support



2MP electrical focus

HD Infrared Correction

Optical IR correction design, diurnal focus

Auto Aperture


Night-Day Wide Spectrum

0.4-0.75um visible broad spectrum window and 0.8-0.95um NIR narrow spectrum window with day-night independent double-pass window to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of imaging light and stray light

Preset Position

Precision potentiometer, DC5V, zoom focusing feedback





Integral aluminum alloy housing, sealed and waterproof


Integration double window design

Window Glass

4mm microcrystalline infrared high-efficiency transparent HLIN optical glass, transmittance > 98%

Surface Spraying

PTA three-resistance coating, anti corrosion (optional)

Temperature Control

The whole system adopts thermal balance design + wide temperature electronic and optoelectronic devices, with built-in heating and heat dissipation components, which can work in low temperature and high temperature environment

Weather Proof

IP66, water-proof, dust-proof


Aviation Water-Proof Connector


Load Duty

30kg CNC Pan-Tilt

Pan and Tilt

0 – 360° continuously, Tilt +45°~-45°

Rotation Speed

Pan: 0.01~30°/S, Tilt 0.01~15°/S, support with lens focus speed adaptive function


255 preset, support lens zooming and focus preset



Cruise Line-Scan

Support 6 cruise line, 1 line scan


Pre-positioning/Automatic Cruise Route/Automatic Scanning Route

Power-Off Memory

Support (restoring pre-power-off position, preset point status, cruise status, line-scanning status)

Azimuth Information

Support angle query, return and positioning

Zero Correction

Support for north-to-zero remote correction function

Power Consumption

about 80W


29 kg


Network Interface

RJ45. 10/100 Base-T adaptive (integrated video output and RS485 control)

Network Protocol

TCP/IP, UDP, IPv4/v6; support HTTP, RTP, RTSP, NFS, DHCP, NTP, SMTP, SNMPv1/v2c/v3, UPNP, PPPoE, DNS, FTP; support PSIA, ONVIF2.0, GB28181

Support Onvif

2.0 a

Pelco Support

Pelco-P, Pelco-D baud rate 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200 (optional)

Power Supply

AC/DC24V, Anti-reverse connection protection


Aviation waterproof connector


Working Temperature

– 25° ~60° (- 40° Optional)

Storage Temperature

-45 ~ +70



Seismic Resistance

0.2g (in accordance with GB/T15211-2013 5.4 harsh grade 2

Impact Resistance

15g (in accordance with GB/T15211-2013 5.3 harsh grade 3)

Lightning Protection

Built-in surge protection interface circuit, 4000V power supply, 2000V signal

Salt Spray Prevention

Continuous spray for 96 hours at pH 6.5 to 7.2, no change in surface

Protection Level




Long range thermal camera

M7 Falcon Long Range flir ptz thermal camera Technology Overview

Our long range Thermal imaging flir PTZ cameras are robust, All weather, heavy duty PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) positioners/Gimbals that rotate continuously 360 degrees and Pan/Tilt up and down allowing the user to guide and control the motors and position the long range flir cameras and associated sensors to the position of interest. The long range flir PTZ thermal Security cameras can be gyro-stabilized which reduces the shake and jitter from the imagery especially when zoomed in to maximum telephoto ranges. Our long range thermal imaging flir PTZ Security cameras Have the ability of reaching out and detecting threats up to 50 kilometers. All of our Long Range thermal imaging Cameras come with a complimentary long range zoom daytime EO CMOS low light camera Which make these systems a true complete day and night imaging system. Additional sensors can be added onto our long range flir PTZ thermal cameras such as SWIR (Short Wave Infrared) cameras, Laser rangefinders (LRF), tracking, radar with slew to cue capabilities, GPS, Compass, Laser dazzlers, microphones, spotlights, loudspeakers, laser infrared Illuminators, laser infrared pointers, and high speed cameras. We custom build our long range flir PTZ thermal camera and can incorporate most any add on option you can imagine into our gimbal platforms. OurLong Range thermal imaging payloads offer the user crisp, clear image quality with outstanding detail, clarity and fidelity. Long range infrared cameras come in both Cooled MWIR and LWIR uncooled flavors in both HD (High Definition) 1024×768 (XGA) HD SXGA (1280×1024) as well as HD 1080P (1920×1080) and HD WUXGA (1920×1200). Traditional SD VGA (Standard definition) which is typically 640×480 or 640×512 Pixel resolution. We support custom installations for our long range thermal cameras on mobile vehicle rooftop roof mounted Applications, building, telescoping, fixed pole, pneumatic, hydraulic or hand crank masts. We also support our long range thermal cameras with IP68 ratings for marine, coastal and shoreline installations on boats, vessels and ships, Our long range thermal imaging flir camera systems are mounted in many areas throughout the world in harsh environments and used for Border patrol and protection, coastline and shoreline installations, range, airports, forward Operation and observation bases (FOB), runways, critical infrastructures, high value asset protection and anywhere where long range 24/7 day and night vision imaging is critical to secure and protect a specific area. Our long range flir PTZ thermal cameras are easily mounted in multiple configurations like on roof mounted, car, Truck, mobile command vehicles, security vehicle and mobile applications. In marine vessels, our Long Range thermal imaging flir ptz cameras Are mounted to boats, yachts and cruise ships. Other mounting provisions are portable trailers, telescoping masts, poles, tripods, pendant, buildings and fixed mounts. SPI uses the best, most reliable and longest lasting coolers in the midwave MWIR long range thermal camera systems which is a critical factor in the procurement of long range flir cameras. Having a reliable cooler ensures years of continuous maintenance free operation from the MWIR camera. We source the best Cooled Camera system made up of indium antimonide InSb, HOT MCT Mercury Cadmium Telluride and SLS types with micro pitches as small as 10 µm.

Because everything generates heat, thermal imaging cameras can see as well at night as they can during the day. Cameras dependent on visible light are useless at night or in poor visibility without supplementary illumination from lamps, LEDs or lasers.
See clearly also in broad daylight and in total darkness night vision
SPI’s long range IR FLIR PTZ pan tilt thermal imaging cameras will not only protect borders and assets against intruders during the darkest of nights.

The cameras are also perfectly suited for daytime surveillance. The long range infrared cooled and uncooled FLIR thermal imaging cameras will detect objects that remain invisible to the naked eye. For example, people hiding in the shadows or in the bushes will be detected. The cameras are also not blinded by glare from the sun.
Force Protection, Border Security and Surveillance The Ultra extreme NFOV long range FLIR thermal imaging night vision PTZ surveillance systems cover more territory and enable detection and classification better than any other sensor suite available. Networkable video and control make the long range FLIR thermal imaging systems the perfect border security imaging solution.

long range plz thermal camera

The Long range thermal cameras can be connected to a radar in a so called “slew to cue” configuration. If the radar detects an object, the camera turns in the correct direction so that you get a visual image from that blip on your radar screen.
Coastal Surveillance Some countries are bordered by thousands of kilometers of coastline. The Long range thermal cameras are the perfect tools to monitor what is happening along the coastline. They can be used to intercept illegal immigrants or to detect other threats coming from the sea. They are perfect for Vessel Traffic Monitoring and can work together with Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and radars.

Perimeter Security Airports, air force bases, hydroelectric power plants, refineries, oil and gas pipelines and any other large infrastructure objects have perimeters that can be kilometers long. The ultra extreme Long range thermal cameras provide the ultimate security solution. Detection ranges can exceed 50 kilometers KM
Quick and accurate Pan & Tilt unit The ultra compact, ultra precision IP68+ Pan & Tilt unit is designed for heavy duty service in extremely demanding environments, from hot desert to arctic conditions. This positioning unit includes slip-ring connections for the different signals (video, power and data), which allow for infinite horizontal rotation, and provide DC servo drives for the rotary movement in both axes.

long range plz thermal camera

High precision gears provide fast accurate movement, free from backlash and extremely low hysteresis, through a continuous 360° rotation. The performance contributes to find targets faster, as well as to get a good and stable display of the sensors’ pictures even in very narrow fields of view. Incremental encoders allow for accurate geo-referencing of targets with precise read-out of the vertical and horizontal angles. Our PTZ pan tilt gimbals are the longest lasting most reliable positioning gimbals available. Enhanced electronic and active gyro stabilization ensures jitter free imagery at extreme long ranges and while operating the system on the move on mobile/windy harsh mast/pole/tripod hydraulic and retractable platforms.

long range plz thermal camera

Laser Range Finder LRF, SPI’s ultra extreme long range day/night vision MWIR midwave cooled and long-wave LWIR uncooled systems can be equipped with long range eye safe Laser Range Finder. Combined with the GPS system and the electromagnetic compass, it will allow you to exactly determine where a suspected object is located and how far it is away even at extreme standoff long ranges.
Easy to install learn and operate, Our long range thermal IR infrared imaging PTZ pan tilt gimbal systems are designed to be easily installed and operated from remote or local C2.

long range thermal imaging camera

With Long range PTZ or pan / tilt / zoom thermal imaging becoming relatively cheaper and an integral part of Short, medium, long and extreme ultra long range Surveillance, security, observation systems, a whole range of uses becomes both possible and economically viable. long range Thermal flir PTZ cameras can be an excellent complement in many situations where conventional cameras diminish their performance as low light levels are present. They are, of course, unparalleled in a situation of twilight, thermal cross-over, near darkness and total darkness. They can also be an option in areas that are very difficult to illuminate effectively, for example a sea front, a harbor, or any other vast expanse of open water thus making SPI’s long range PTZ thermal infrared imaging Ir cameras paramount for use in marine, boat, vessel and ship applications.

Similarly, artificial light not only runs the risk of revealing where the cameras are placed, enabling parties to avoid or vandalize them, but can also create projected shadows in which an intruder can avoid detection. Furthermore, spotlights can blind as well as illuminate. So cameras that do not rely on light can be the preferred solution in many different traffic situations, whether it is in railway tunnels, on air strips, runways, or on regular streets. Long Range Thermal flir PTZ cameras, on the other hand, cannot be blinded by bright lights or laser beams.SPI Corp’s long range multi sensor Eoir flir thermal imaging camera systems offer substantial long distance detection ranges allowing the operator to be positioned at very far distant standoff locations offering ample time to react, to threats or targets of interest.

long range thermal imaging camera

Long range imaging systems provide a benefit to the user when coupled with an array of sensors and geo locating modules especially in specialty military, security and surveillance applications. The farther you are, the more time you have to react and not be seen.What the science behind a long range thermal imaging FLIR IR night vision PTZ pan tilt gimbal turret camera?(a) Housing – Usually composed of an aluminum bell shaped cover, The housing can be of all shapes and sizes from plastic to military grade hardened coated all weather NBC Nuclear Biological Chemical compliant.

long range flir camera

(b) Camera module
This is where the image FLIR, MWIR, LWIR, SWIR, night vision, intensified, cmos, long wave, short wave, mid wave cooled and uncooled detector and sensors reside, CCD sensor, optical zoom germanium DFOV, TFOV, Fixed and CZ continuous zoom lenses, and the motors that control Zoom and Focus are located.
(c) PTZ Pan Tilt control board
The PTZ control board processes RS485 data that converts it into mechanical movements. Some are Pelco, Pelco Extended and are available in a wide array of protocols supporting VMS, GUI, ONVIF, IP, ETHERNET, FIBER, MICROWAVE, ANALOG, DIGITAL and WIRELESS

long range thermal ptz camera

(d) PTZ motors – are the small motors that allow the thermal FLIR and CCTV HD camera to perform up, down, left and right functions. Some systems have no motors and other methods of moving and positioning the long range thermal cameras PTZ, some use brushless motors. We can Customize your long range Pan Tilt Zoom Thermal, CCTV and other exotic sensor system to cater to your exact application,
We have facilities that can satisfy any requirement in a rapid response timeframe. We offer the worlds longest range, best weapons grade all weather IP67 hardened PTZ EOIR
imaging systems.

Long range thermal camerasLong Range Visible HD CCTV cameras can compliment the Thermal cameras and assist in daytime and low light DRI (Detection, Recognition and Identification)Long range Critical infrastructure applications require not only continuous video surveillance and monitoring, but also a solution that yields highly reliable intrusion detection, with fewer false alarms. This need makes advanced video analytics a must for any adequate long range thermal/cctv surveillance system.ANALYTICS, IMAGE CAPTURE, ACTION AND NETWORK SUPPORTABILITY.

long range thermal ptz camera

Advanced analytics will provide multiple automated alarm notification options, including email, edge image storage, digital outputs or video management software (VMS) alarms. Incorporating high quality, unique and adaptive analytics can virtually eliminate false alarms, allowing security personnel to respond more efficiently and effectively, while also lowering overall cost for the end user. Once a long range intrusion attempt is discovered, it is important to act fast. Organizing a response system that can initiate actions based on GPS location data, such as the slewing of the Long range thermal cameras, automated intruder tracking or activated lighting sensors, greatly increases staff’s situational awareness while easing their workload. For instance, thermal imagers deployed in conjunction with video analytics can be used to generate an initial alarm event, which can then trigger a sequence of other security equipment and notifications for personnel to eventually respond to. Having all of this in place essentially lays the entire situation out in a way that allows responders to accurately understand and evaluate a scene.

long range thermal ptz camera

While traditional long range surveillance & security technologies such as radar, Long range thermal cameras and visible cameras, or video analytics work well on their own, utilizing all of these options together provide an advanced perimeter detection system. For example, ground surveillance radar can detect possible threats beyond the fence line as they approach and send a signal to pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, triggering them to slew to a specific location. From there, embedded analytics and visible cameras can further identify objects, notify authorized staff, and collect additional evidence through facial recognition or high-quality photos and videos, Post auto-response mechanisms have activated and done their job, it is time for responders to acknowledge and assess the situation. From here, authorized personnel can take the next appropriate step toward defending against and delaying the threat.

long range thermal ptz camera

Deterring suspicious activity can be achieved through real-time two-way audio, a simple but powerful tool. Often, control room operators can diffuse a situation by speaking over an intercom, telling the trespasser that they are being watched and that the authorities have been notified. The primary purpose of the delay facet of the overall perimeter protection strategy is to stall an attempted intrusion long enough for responders to act. Access control systems play a key role in realizing this objective. When a security officer sees a non-compliant, suspicious individual on the camera feed, the officer can lock all possible exits to trap them in one area all through the VMS.

MWIR and LWIR reference overview, Long range thermal cameras such as the M7 Flacon is an ideal sensor for 24/7 all-weather surveillance often used in protected environments such as a border or an airport. Quite often it is difficult to decide between

a thermal camera active in the cooled mid-wave infrared spectral band (MWIR 3-5 micron) or in the long-wave infrared spectral band (LWIR 8-12 micron).

Here’s a quick break down of the technical differences between the two, with comparative costs and benefits associated with each that may help
you decide on the most appropriate technology between Long range thermal cameras that are cooled MWIR and uncooled LWIR.

Some basic physics first. The infrared spectrum is usually divided into three bands that correspond to three atmospheric transmission windows:

  • SWIR = ~1-2.5μm short-wave infrared Uncooled
  • MWIR = ~3-5μm mid-wave infrared (thermal) Cooled
  • LWIR = ~7-14μm long-wave infrared (thermal) UncooledLet us focus on the last two spectral wavelength bands, MWIR and LWIR, which are referred to as the ‘thermal imaging bands’, as the long range thermal cameras in these bands are actually making an electronic image that corresponds to the thermal gradients in the observed scene.

Overall atmospheric transmission The overall atmospheric transmission depends on the local atmospheric constituents (aerosols, particles, water vapor, fog, rain etc).

long range thermal imaging MWIR camera systems are less affected by humidity than long range thermal imaging LWIR camera systems for most target ranges, so we would usually recommend MWIR cameras for applications like coastal surveillance, vessel traffic surveillance, shoreline, frontier and border or harbor protection.

Both bands are adversely affected by fog and rain, though LWIR band has better performance than MWIR in fog conditions.

LWIR band is better than MWIR for imaging through smoke or aerosols, so LWIR is usually the chosen technology for firefighting applications and for military applications.

Nevertheless, for very long-range target detection at 10km distance or more, MWIR has greater atmospheric transmission than LWIR in most climates. For that reason, MWIR is usually the preferred choice for very long range surveillance applications.

Target temperature (thermal flux, contrast, spectral content)

For most of the long range surveillance situations (man or vehicle to be detected within ambient temperature background), there is more flux (thermal energy emitted by the targets and by the environment background) available in the LWIR band than in the MWIR band at most scene temperatures, (around ambient temperatures).

However, the thermal contrast (target flux normalized to background flux), which actually makes the thermal image, is usually greater in the MWIR cooled band, this is one of the reasons why MWIR
is often the preferred choice when customers can afford it. Moreover, MWIR is also a better option if you want to detect airplanes or missiles, and the hot exhaust plumes are significantly more visible in the MWIR than in the LWIR.

Solar effects LWIR sees negligible solar effects while MWIR
does, so LWIR imagers provide more consistent images between day time and night time. However, please make sure that your LWIR camera is ‘sun immune’, i.e. resistant to direct exposure to the
sun, and in fact some of the low cost un-cooled microbolometers can have their detector ‘burnt’ by a too much or too direct exposure to the sun.

Long range thermal imaging camera

Inversely, while most of the MWIR current technologies are ‘sun immune’, the actual MWIR performance can be deteriorated by solar glints, for example the sun reflecting off water can hide targets in case of coastal surveillance. The last but not least factor is price. As often,
the technology performance is proportional to the budget. This fact is globally true for long range thermal cameras with un-cooled LWIR cameras (very affordable today much like the M7 Falcon, good enough for most of the short and mid-range applications), cooled MWIR cameras (expensive, for long range surveillance) and cooled LWIR Long range thermal cameras (usually very expensive, for long-range application or specific military usage). There are no un-cooled MWIR cameras available for standard surveillance. NVTHERM can help characterization.
The M7 Falcon long range thermal camera utilizes the more affordable LWIR thermals. The same system in MWIR would cost around 3x.

We are here to help assist you in selecting the absolute highest quality, cost effective
day/night video security/surveillance system for your needs.

Homeland Security never sleeps. It’s a 24/7 operation that can’t afford downtime or periods of reduced readiness. More and more, Long range PTZ thermal FLIR security cameras along with complimentary CCTV long range zoom telephoto TV EO sensors have become the visual surveillance sensor of choice for these demanding, high-security missions.

For many years PTZ (Pan, Tilt Zoom) FLIR thermal cameras have proven themselves to be the best 24-hour visual surveillance imaging solutions available, and today they are a vital component in the US Homeland Security mission, helping to secure our borders, airports, sea ports, nuclear facilities, and other critical infrastructure installations.

Through dust and smog, even in the darkest nights, SPI’s Long range stationary, vehicle, mast mounted PTZ (pan & tilt, zoom) FLIR thermal cameras let security professionals see intruders and vehicles alike at various short, medium, long, and very long detection, recognition and Identification (DRI) Ranges.. No matter what they need to see, or where they need to see it from, SPI thermal FLIR PTZ cameras keep law enforcement and security officers seeing clearly.

FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) Thermal Imaging cameras

The demand for COOLED AND UNCOOLED MWIR/LWIR thermal imaging to enhance the CCTV environment is increasing markedly.  High Resolution, ultra sensitive, Advanced Micron Pitched Thermal imaging provides 24-hour, all-year-round, long-range asset and personnel protection.  Unlike other cameras thermal imaging cameras require no lighting that may draw unwanted attention to a facility or site.  They provide vivid, high-contrast images of intruders even when light fog, smoke, rain, snow, foliage or lack of ambient light may make them difficult to see with the naked eye or with conventional cameras.

Some thermal imaging cameras have a range up to 50km and can be easily integrated into either legacy video or modern IP based networks to complement established daylight cameras.  Compatibility with third-party video analytical tools provides reliable unattended threat detection and alarm capability.

Thermal imaging has a valuable part to play in short to long-range surveillance but there are several system choices available in the commercial market place.  The main options are a cooled or uncooled thermal imaging system.  So apart from the obvious what is the difference between them and which one is the most effective system?

cooled MWIR MID WAVE INFARED (Stirling micro-cooler type) FLIR thermal imaging camera

Let’s start with the design basics.  A cryocooler is integrated with the imaging sensor on a cooled camera to reduce thermally-induced noise to a level below that of the signal being imaged.  This type of camera is the most sensitive to small differences in scene temperature.  They can be produced to image in the midwave infrared or MWIR band of the spectrum where the thermal contrast is high due to blackbody physics.  They can also be designed to work in the longwave infrared or LWIR band.

Thermal contrast is the change in signal for a change in target temperature.  The higher the thermal contrast, the easier it is to detect targets against a background that may not be much colder or hotter than the target.  Generally speaking, the images from MWIR cameras pointed at nighttime scenes of interest show quite vivid contrast compared with other infrared wavebands.

Uncooled LWIR LONG WAVE INFARED (Thermo Electric TE) FLIR thermal imaging camera

A common detector design employed by the uncooled infrared camera is based on the microbolometer.  This is a tiny vanadium oxide resistor with a large temperature coefficient on a silicon element with a large surface area exhibiting low heat capability and good thermal isolation.

Changes in scene temperature cause changes in the bolometer temperature that are converted into electrical signals and processed into an image.  Uncooled sensors are designed to work in the longwave infrared from 7 to 14 microns where terrestrial temperature targets emit most of their infrared energy.

Uncooled cameras are generally less expensive than their cooled counterparts.  The manufacturing economies based on detector-demand have a large part to play here but so too does the exclusion of the cyrocooler which is costly device.  As they also have fewer wearing parts uncooled cameras have longer service lives.

Cost effectiveness of thermal FLIR imaging cameras

Given the price-sensitivity of the security market and the need for cameras capable of uninterrupted operation there would appear to be little or no case for a cooled camera.  But of course it’s not as clear-cut as that!  Range and other issues have to be considered.  When the stand-off range is 5km or greater, thermal imaging systems, based on cooled cameras, quickly become more cost-effective.  And note the emphasis on the word ‘systems’ of which the basic thermal camera is just a part.

One of the biggest cost drivers of a long-range uncooled system is the lens.  As effective range requirements increase the lenses for uncooled camera systems become so bulky and expensive that it can often be cheaper to opt for a cooled camera with an equivalent focal length lens.

Long range thermal cameras reference information

Long range Thermal imaging cameras have been providing security professionals with the upper-hand in the detection of threats for the past decade. Thermal imagers have unique advantages, such as allowing users to detect people, vehicles or other objects during daytime and nighttime as well as under difficult environments such as light fog, smoke, haze, and dust. In addition, thermal sensors/imagers provide a reliable platform for integrating intelligent security software applications used in perimeter security applications. A conventional visual/optical IP camera is affected by changes in the captured image and can, for example, be disturbed by darkness, shade and back lighting. A thermal imaging camera detects the thermal radiation emitted from objects, which
provides a consistent target compared to illumination variances in visual light systems.

Long Range Thermal imaging cameras utilize a thermal sensor/imager which “sees” heat instead of light. Thermal images depict objects using their temperature rather than their visible properties. So how can thermal imaging “see” heat? All objects warmer than absolute zero (-273°C/-459°F) emit infrared radiation in the MWIR and LWIR wavelengths (3μm–14μm) in an amount proportional to the temperature of the object. Thermal imaging focuses and detects this radiation, then translates the temperature variations into a greyscale image, using brighter and darker shades of grey to represent hotter and cooler temperatures, thus giving a visual representation to the heat shapes in the field of view.
To “see” radiated heat, special lenses and sensors are needed to focus and detect electromagnetic radiation in the MWIR (mid-wave infrared) and LWIR (long-wave infrared) ranges. 

Thermal flir Imagers/Sensors
The Thermal flir imaging sensor detects thermal radiation emitted from the surrounding environment. 

PTZ Pan Tilt Zoom
The PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) Positioner I a precise mechanical platform that utilizes precision motors to steer the long range thermal flir imaging camera which is accompanied by a complimentary long range visual camera, typically an HD color BSI CMOS low light EO imager with both optical and electronic zoom.
Thermal Imaging Lenses
Glass lenses are used primarily for optical cameras to focus light on a camera sensor. Glass, however, is not translucent to thermal radiation. Thermal lenses are manufactured from a metalloid called Germanium (Ge). Germanium is a rare element and thus is quite costly. With Germanium prices often as high as $2000 per kilogram, thermal imaging cameras have traditionally cost significantly more than optical cameras, depending on the type of sensor, lenses of different specifications are required for various security applications.With thermal imaging, it is essential to remember that DRI (Detect – Recognize – Identify) criteria are valid only in ideal conditions. Ideal conditions are often not mentioned and are based on conditions which rarely happen in the real world. The average environmental application will get 25% less than the maximum distance that the thermal camera is rated for and in extreme conditions detection can be less than 10% of the maximum rated distance. We wrote this white paper to give customer level contacts and security integrators a better understanding of the actual performance they can expect from thermal imaging.
No Light Needed
Most cameras require a light source to create an image. But since thermal energy is naturally emitted radiation, a long range thermal imager can “see” the environment regardless of lighting conditions. This passive technology can be used in complete darkness without the need for an illuminator, making it an extremely covert and versatile solution.
Wide Area Threat Detection
Humans, animals and vehicles are characteristically warmer than their environment in most cases, providing a high disparity that allows for fast wide-angle detection of threats.
Reliable Day/Night Coverage
A optical camera’s image is dependent on good illumination circumstances. In areas where contrast is poor or dynamic array is too wide, optics can become virtually useless. Thermal, however, is entirely immune to changes in light, permitting it to see reliably in any lighting environment for daytime and nighttime imaging.
Fog, Dust and Smoke
Thermal energy passes through many visually evident obscurants including smoke, dust, fog, and light vegetation.

Environmental Conditions to Consider
Weather and environmental conditions will affect the thermal radiation emitted from an object and decrease the effective detection range due to the lack of contrast between the background and foreground. Environmental factors that affect the thermal imagers include weather conditions and the temperature difference between an object and its background. An object with nearly the same thermal emission temperature as the background, such as a body on a moderately hot summer day, is harder to distinguish from its background than an object with a greater temperature difference, such as a car with a running engine on a cold winter day. The two most important environmental factors that affect the image of an object in the thermal imager are absorption and scattering. They reduce the thermal radiation that reaches the imager, thereby reducing the distance at which the imager can detect an object.
Water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air are the primary causes of absorption. During absorption, the heat radiated from the object is absorbed by water vapor and carbon dioxide and loses some of its energy before reaching the thermal imager. The water vapor content of the air affects image quality even in sunny and clear weather. In winter, if all other weather conditions are the same, the water vapor content of the air is lower than in summer. Since water vapor content is lower, less thermal radiation is absorbed by the water molecules, allowing more thermal radiation to reach the thermal imager and resulting in better image quality when compared to a summer day.
During scattering, the thermal energy radiated from the object is dispersed when it hits particles in the air. The loss of radiation is directly related to the size and concentration of the particles, droplets or crystals that constitute polluting, condensing or precipitating conditions such as smog, fog, rain or snow.
Fog, Smog & Haze
Fog appears when water vapor in the air condenses into water droplets. The droplet sizes vary with different kinds of fog. In dense fog, the water droplets are bigger due to accretion, thus scattering thermal radiation more than light fog. Also, fog scatters thermal radiation more than smog and haze because of the greater size and concentration of its water droplets.
Rain – Snow
Even though rain drops are larger than fog droplets, their concentration is lower. This means that rain does not scatter thermal radiation as much as fog does. The level of scattering during snow is somewhere in between the range of fog and rain. Sleet or wet snow has a scattering level more like rain, whereas dry snow is more like fog.
The terms detection, recognition, and identification (DRI) can be ambiguous, especially to customer level contacts and the public who do not have a security or electromagnetic background. The terms detection, recognition, and identification do not relate to performance, but rather are calculated based on their pixel counts. To better understand this, the Long range Thermal flir cameras high resolution thermal sensors have a resolution of 640×512 which is over 300,000 pixels per field of view. We can also integrate HD long range thermal sensors consisting of 1280×1024 or 1920×1200, Human “detection” only requires 3 to 4 pixels and “identification” only requires 230 pixels, which is an extremely small number of pixels on the screen.

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