Thermal Imaging for Wildlife Observation

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Thermal Imaging for Wildlife Observation

Thermal imaging devices are the ideal tool for any wildlife observer, providing greater detection capabilities than regular day optics and allowing them to spot animals well into the night when visibility is next to non-existent. Using extremely sensitive thermal sensors and incredibly powerful objective lenses, each thermal device in the Pulsar range will achieve a crystal clear image at long distances and even through small gaps in dense foliage, regardless of adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain or thick fog, enhancing the user’s identification capabilities even further.

How Does Thermal Work?

Easily detecting the metabolic heat produced by animals, thermal imaging devices use thermal energy to gather information about objects through sensors (or microbolometer) attached to a special type of lens (usually made from Germanium), to formulate clear and detailed images of the observed objects. Because these devices do not emit any artificial light or infrared illumination, users are able to observe wildlife at night, without running the risk of startling animals or scaring them away.

Eight Colour Palettes

In general, these thermal imaging devices will present their pictures in grayscale – with white representing heat, black representing colder regions (or vice versa), and various shades of grey indicating gradients of temperatures between the two. However, for improved identification and differing applications, newer, more modern thermal imaging devices are now capable of adding colour to the images they produce — using colours such as orange, blue, yellow, red, and purple.

Each model in Pulsar’s range of devices offers 8 colour palettes to achieve more effective observation and to allow the device to adapt and react in varying environmental conditions.

For object detection, use White Hot, Black Hot, and Red Hot; Rainbow and Ultramarine are most effective for object recognition and identification; and Red Monochrome, Sepia, and Violet are best for long periods of observation in total darkness.

Understanding Thermal Imaging Specifications

Thermal Sensor Size – Similar to digital cameras, thermal sensors are measured in pixels; generally speaking, the bigger the sensor the better the picture, as a larger sensor can capture more detail. Pulsar thermal imagers use one of three differently sized sensors, each with its own designation: XM models use a 320×240 thermal sensor, XQ models use a 384×288 thermal sensor, and XP and XG models use a 640×480 thermal sensor.

Thermal Sensor Pixel Pitch – This is the distance between the centre of the pixels. A smaller pixel pitch results in finer image quality and a physically smaller thermal sensor. However, a larger pixel offers more sensitivity. A sensor with a smaller pixel pitch will have a greater base magnification than a thermal imager with the same size lens and a greater pixel pitch. Pulsar XM & XG sensors have a 12µm pixel pitch, and XQ and XP sensors have a 17µm pixel pitch.

NETD – Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD) is a measurement of the smallest temperature difference a thermal device can detect. The lower the value, the more sensitive the device becomes — performing better than a device with a greater NETD value in conditions that are challenging to thermal imagers such as cold, fog, and rain. A device’s NETD rating is an important indicator as to how well it will perform.

Refresh Rate – A high refresh rate (such as 50Hz) is best when choosing a thermal imager. A high refresh rate will result in a smooth image when panning or tracking fast-moving objects.

Finding the Perfect Thermal Imaging Device

It would be difficult for us to say which model would be best for you, as specifications and requirements differ from person to person — so we’ve compiled a list of a few models across Pulsar’s range of powerful thermal imaging devices that we believe may suit your needs.

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