Thermal Imagers


When looking for mammals in the dark of night, there is really no better way to spot one than by using a thermal imager.  Mammals, like sasquatches, radiate heat from their body which makes them plainly visible in thermal imagers.  There are a variety of “therms” on the market today, and this page details some that I have experience with.

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FLIR Scout TS24 240×180 monocular 7.5Hz, NTSC

This is my go-to thermal imager because of its size, ruggedness, and ease of use.  It records video or still photographs internally onto an SD card.  There is a 2x zoom and image lightness controls as well.  It is powered by four AA batteries.  High output rechargeable batteries work sufficiently, but one really should use lithium batteries to power it effectively.  The eyepiece doesn’t let light leak out so you can remain totally dark.  It’s light enough to wear around your neck with no fatigue.  There may be fancier thermal imagers on the market, but this one can take a beating and still work great.

FLIR BTS-XR Pro 640×480 Thermal Bi-ocular, no lens 7.5Hz, NTSC

This unit basically has the same guts as the thermal imager as above, but the screen has greater resolution and it allows to user to use both eyes to see the image.  It is heavier and bulkier than the first unit.  The lenses are interchangeable so one can use a telephoto lens, which I used on one occasion on Finding Bigfoot.  The conditions were lousy.  It was snowing hard and it was very, very cold.  They was difficult to discern, but even under these poor conditions deer were observed from a great distance.

FLIR Systems Scout III-640 Thermal Imager, Detector 640 X 320 30Hz, Black/Brown

These little units are pretty awesome.  They are small, lightweight, and have a fast processor.  The resolution looks great too, allowing for better digital zoom.  The one downfall is that they do not record internally.  There is a hot shoe that can be used to send a video signal to a separate recording device, though.  You’d have to be wired to the recording unit, which the one drawback to this unit.  Being tethered to a recorder in your backpack isn’t the worst way to go.  It’s how the Brown Footage from Florida was obtained, but on the FLIR Scout TS24 240×180 monocular 7.5Hz, NTSC unit above.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS

Finally, a small recording thermal imager that is affordable.  The FLIR ONE fits onto your iPhone (the Android version is below) and can even record videos onto your phone.  The limiting factor with these units is that things are hard to discern at a distance, but all in all, an excellent little unit.  Just make sure you encounter a bigfoot at close range and your footage will be excellent.

FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android

This is the FLIR one for Android phones. See the descriptions above.

Seek CompactXR Extended Range Thermal Imager for iPhone

Since I mentioned above that the FLIR one is a little limited in range, I thought I’d include this unit here as a solution to that issue.  This thermal attachment has a narrow field of view, but can detect thermal sources at 1800 feet.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be anything more than a blip at this great distance, but I think something like this might work well at a couple hundred yards or less.  Honestly, I haven’t had the chance to play with one of these things yet, so it’s really just a guess at this point.  (I have worked with the FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS above.)  There are other Seek models with different focal lengths as well.

FLIR Scout TK Thermal Monocular

New for 2016, this fantastic little unit cost less than $600 as of this writing, records internally, and literally fits in your pocket!  As technology improves and prices drop, fancy stuff like this will increasingly fall into bigfooters’ hands, and with that, more footage will be obtained.  The down side of this unit is that the resolution isn’t as good as the other Scout units, but I like it a lot more than the FLIR One units above.  This unit keeps things dark around you, not spraying your face with light when you use it, thus not scaring away the wildlife you’re trying to observe (hopefully).  

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