Thermal Imaging Cameras: Characteristics and Performance

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The ability to see through smoke and mist and the ability to use the variances in temperature to differentiate between targets and their backgrounds are invaluable in military applications and have become major motivators for the further development of thermal imagers. As the potential of thermal imaging is more clearly understood and the cost decreases, the number of industrial and civil applications being exploited is growing quickly. In order to evaluate the suitability of particular thermal imaging cameras for particular applications, it is important to have the means to specify and measure meaningful performance characteristics.

Thermal Imaging Cameras: Characteristics and Performance expands our current understanding of thermal imaging and, most importantly, provides a sound quantitative basis for evaluating the suitability of various thermal imagers for particular applications. Utilizing a practical approach that keeps theory and mathematics to a minimum, the text reviews the important performance parameters for industrial, laboratory, and surveillance applications as well as how these parameters can be measured. The author, T. L. Williams, a distinguished expert on designing and testing thermal imaging systems and recipient of the Callendar Medal from the Institute of Measurement and Control, focuses on the standard form of imaging camera but also includes descriptions of the different specialized forms of thermal imagers useful to anyone working with these systems.

Providing detailed descriptions of the equipment and techniques that can be used for testing complete thermal imagers as well as in the testing of the main subunits of a thermal imager, this comprehensive reference will prove invaluable not only to those who use, test, and design thermal imagers, but also to anyone designing equipment or making measurements in the thermal band of wavelengths.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420071856
  • Publisher: CRC Press
  • Publication date: 3/23/2009
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Thermal Imaging Cameras


Symbols and Abbreviations

An Introduction to Thermal Imaging

Aim of This Book

What Is Thermal Imaging?

Atmospheric Transmission

Choice of 3–5 µm or 8–12 µm

Important Factors in the Application of Thermal Imaging

Specifying and Measuring the Performance of a Thermal Imager

Thermal Imaging Cameras and Their Component Parts

A Basic Thermal Imager

Image-Forming Optical System

Windows for Thermal Imaging

Scanning Mechanisms

Radiation Detectors

Cooling Detectors

Special Signal Processing and Other Requirements


Computer and Software


Industrial and Commercial Thermal Imagers and the Facilities

They Provide


Thermal Imagers That Measure Actual Temperature

Software Facilities for Industrial Applications

Thermal Imagers for Surveillance Types of Application

Imagers Used by Firefighters

Manufacturers’ Data Sheets


Performance Parameters for Components of a Thermal Imager







Performance Parameters for a Complete Thermal Imager


Factors Affecting Performance

Performance Parameters

Frame Rates and Readout Timings

Other Factors


Basic Equipment for Testing and Calibrating at Thermal Wavelengths


Radiation Sources

Infrared Detectors

Cooling Detectors

Optical Systems and Collimators

Integrating Spheres

Spectral Filters


Measurement Procedures and Techniques for the Principal

Components that Make Up a Thermal Imager


General Measurement Procedures

Lenses and Optical Systems (see also Section 4.2)

Detectors and Detector Arrays




Measurement Techniques and Procedures for Complete

Thermal Imagers



Nyquist Limit


Signal Transfer Function (SiTF)

Noise-Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD)

Minimum Resolvable Temperature Difference (MRTD)

Minimum Detectable Temperature Difference (MDTD)

Objective MRTD

Objective MDTD

Slit Response Function (SRF)

Aperture Response Function (ARF)

Temperature Measurement Performance Characteristics

Emissivity Range


Veiling Glare Index (VGI) and Uniformity Index (VGUI)

Scene Influence Factor (SIF)

Field of View (FOV)

Close Focus Distance

Spectral Response


Calibration and Alignment of Test Facilities


Calibrating and Aligning a Collimator

Radiometric Characteristics


Applications of Thermal Imaging Cameras


Industrial Applications

Advanced and Specialist Applications

Medical and Biological Applications

Military and Civil Surveillance and Other



Appendix A: Objective Measurement of MRTD and MDTD

Performance Parameters That Determine MRTD and MDTD

Theory for MRTD Measurement

Theory for MDTD Measurement


Appendix B: Sampled Imaging Systems and Aliasing

What Are Sampled Imaging Systems?

Image Formation by Sampled Imaging System

Basic Theory

Measures of Aliasing

MTF Measurements Techniques


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