Ok I made up my mind and choose the Flir E40bx and found it from an authorized dealer for $3525. My first question is do you guys think this is a good price or if anyone knows of a better price somewhere else? Next question is I also see on most websites they list the IR camera for one price then they list it with NIST Certificate. Is this something worth getting as it usually adds several hundred dollars more?
Nice talking with you today Paul. It was nice to talk in person with a fellow internachi member. I appreciate you taking the time to call me. I think I will take some more time to research cameras further.
The main reasons why i was thinking of the e40 vs the e6 or e8 is adjustable lens, Manual level and span, wifi/bluetooth and video and 60hz. Yes the resolution is less but not sure if its worth giving up all those features. What do you guys think of the e50bx?
Finding defects is highly dependent on the delta T environment you are working in (you can manipulate this to your advantage, if you know how). The dollars spent on a camera that gives you the most resolution and sensitivity should be your first priority, given that we do not always get the perfect delta T window every time we do an inspection.
We can help you Mr Marinos with better prices because our students get deep discounts on all FLUKE, FLIR and TESTO cameras.
I am not allowed to quote discounted prices on public forums (the manufacturers do not allow this).
I have a Testo 875 and I got the super resolution upgrade. My testo bit the green weenie back in October. It was still under warranty, so I sent it back to testo direct, the Canadian dealer I bought it from. The local service guy could not fix it so he sent it to Testo US, Testo US could not fix it so they sent it to Germany, which is where it still is. My whining finally got me a loaner unit in December, they sent me a Testo 875-2, which is the 875 with all the bells and whistles, about double the cost of the 875 1. I have never had a flir, but I think the testo might well be a flir made under license they seem to be very similar.
Whatever, I have used the lowest and highest of the testo 875 range and can tell you what the differences are.
First off, as far as I am concerned 160 by 120 is sufficient for home inspections. I can see tiny drops of water that have landed on the floor, air leaks at windows and doors, framing in exterior walls, insulation voids, wet spots in ceilings, hot wires, all the stuff a home inspector needs to see. The testo has 9 Hz, whatever that is, as far as I am concerned it is just a number, I have no idea how more Hz is going to improve it significantly, and strongly suspect that it won’t. Like your computer, all those Hzs don’t help you if you are still using Windows 95
Super resolution only works for the pictures you save. It does not affect what you see in the field on the display screen. The way it works is it actually blends two pictures taken milliseconds apart into one. It does not work if you mount the camera on a tripod and there is no shake when you take the pic. So if you mostly use the camera to find stuff in the field, and providing high quality pictures for a report later is not very important, you don’t need super resolution.
The second camera that takes a real picture is somewhat more useful, but I rarely use it, as I pretty much use the IR camera as an inspection tool, not a reporting tool.
Flir’s MSX looks pretty attractive, but it is also easy to do more or less the same thing using Testo software if you have model that takes regular pics along with IR. It will take longer to blend the two pics but not much longer.
Having a lens that you can focus vs fixed focus is probably important, I am always using the focus, but I have never used a fixed focus IR camera to compare. Fixed focus regular light cameras are pretty awful, so I would think I would want a lens I could focus.
I don’t use the testo reporting software, but I do use the testo software to ‘develop’ my IR files. The software is pretty flaky, typical for proprietary software from hardware makers, but there is no alternative. Again, I don’t use the camera for reporting, so it is no big deal for me.
I really like the testo camera, but based on my experience with testo service I can’t recommend it. If I was buying again I would try to get the Flir E40bx for the best price, but more likely end up with the E6, because I can’t justify spending 4K for a home inspection camera. The reason for choosing Flir is that I could drive to their factory and give their CEO sh*t in person if I was really unhappy.
My overall impression of the IR biz is that there has been little technological change since the FPA type of camera was first developed in the 90’s. The early digital FPA photo cameras of the 90’s also were limited to 320 and 640 resolutions too, but now they are almost to 6400, for far less money than a 90’s digital camera was.
The IR camera makers have chosen to sell at higher prices to a smaller market, and looking at the product, not much has advanced. These people need to get their butts kicked with some competition. Probably some patent thing happening here that is preventing that.
As you probably already know, many of the ‘optional’ features are actually already installed in the camera, to activate them you pay for an unlocking code (super resolution works like this), or it is just there, but needs a hacker to unlock it. As far as I am concerned this all too common deceptive business practice sucks. I don’t like to promote bad behavior by buying it, so my usual response to this is, ‘kiss my butt’, I will deal with a company that makes everything you get in the box available for the price you bought it for.
Most of the extra features are designed to get you pay more for stuff you don’t really need. The only one I might get if I was doing it again is the second camera for visible light pics, but I am satisfied without it too because I mostly use the IR camera as an inspection tool.
As to what I mean by inspection tool vs reporting tool, if I see moisture with my IR camera, I check it by feeling it, using moisture meter etc. If I see a cold spot in the ceiling I go up in the attic and try to find out why that spot is cold. If I see something that looks cold air leaking through a door or window, I put my hand there to see if I can feel air moving, etc… So IR and regular pictures are nice for my report but not really necessary, because I was able to verify what the IR camera saw with other methods, and most of my inspections are done with my client, so they are there too.
I have been using my IR camera for nearly two years, I really missed it when it broke and I was without. I do not want to do an inspection without it.
As far as minimum requirements, 160 X 120 is definitely enough. Good enough that I suspect less might be OK too, but probably not too much less.
I am waiting for the IR camera industry to smarten up and start competing, and upgrading their technology, some of the smart phone attachment stuff is a good sign that something might be happening here. I am seeing an emerging market for hunters, security, or even night driving that may result in spill over to inspection, here’s hoping.
Can you get by with 160 x 120 resolution for residential?
How important is an adjustable lens?
I suggest if you are going to purchase a thermal camera that you don’t approach it from a “saving money” perspective and approach from an “I am going to use this and use it correctly to make a lot of money” perspective!! In my opinion if you do not do that you will buy a 2000-3000 dollar paper weight! Not all cameras are the same, cheaper is not better, cheaper will cause you to assume liability you do not have to assume. You can “get by” with 160x120 but do you just want to “get by”. Adjustable lens is the MOST important aspect of the camera, you just cannot do this without it, auto focus will cause you ALOT of problems. In my opinion the minimum camera one should buy is the FLIR E60bx or the comparable FLUKE or TESTO, I don’t know a lot about cameras other than FLIR. I did own a FLUKE Ti-100 and it was just an expensive paper weight, although I like the FLUKE Smartvue software better than FLIR Tools or Tools+, but really the software sucks for either, that is what happens when hardware makers try to make proprietary software. I bit the bullet and bought a FLIR T420bx and I love it. I bought it with the intention of doing commercial, low sloped commercial roofs, and maybe equine, so I spent the money now. I have done enough residential to have it halfway paid off. This is just my 2 cents.
The E50bx is a great camera, and worth the extra cost over the E40bx due to extra resolution for your reports. I own an E8 as a backup camera and am happy with it. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of the Exx series but still a good camera for residential inspections using qualitative reporting. If considering roof scans or mechanical / electrical quantitative reporting, more camera is needed and expected (with comprehensive training of course).
Man it is amazing how diverse everyone’s opinion is! Thanks for all your input although I am no closer now than before towards a decision. I have been trying to read up on as much as I can find. I think the approach I need to take is trying to come up with a realistic idea as to what I plan to use thermal for and then I can pick a camera accordingly. Keep the info coming guys!
Manny, my intended use for a camera is doing reports on high end homes and the mechanical systems used in these homes. No way do I think I will offer free thermal just to keep up with the JJones (no reference to JJonas intended.)
My camera needs would be 320 x 240 resolution and an adjustable lens, more needs may come up as I get experienced with the equipment and I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
IR is definitely gonna need some sales for me to get paid to do residential.
John, thanks for your input I will definitely reach out to you for some advice shortly. I have taken most of the thermal and building science courses nachi offers and now i plan on taking more advanced thermal classes. I am trying to decide what class to take. My intentions are to take the level one class but its expensive. I was thinking of starting out with either the class you offer or the other one geared towards HI (cant remember the name right now). I am leaning towards the second one only because once i get around to taking level one class some time is credited from basic course.