i5 suitability

Apologies in advance, I know this will be off topic. After extensive searching, this forum seems to be the only place where folks are talking about the extech/flir i5 at all. I have seen several reviews online, but they all seem to just state the specs and features, and fall short of any sort of actual review.

Again, apologies as I know this forum is dedicated to inspection and such, but I have a slightly different question to those here who have used the i5 and could possibly provide some insight. I was wondering if despite the low resolution, would it be at all useable for surveillance, manuhunts, or search and rescue? I am a tribal P.O. who works nights, and would have to foot the bill myself, so I was curious if this imager would work. Does anyone have any outdoor, or urban pictures taken with the i5 so that I could see it’s performance? I know that it was designed for inspection work, but given it’s price point, I was hoping it could be used as a general purpose device.

thanks in advance, and sorry for the off topic post, however there is nothing else out there on online other than here about the i5’s performance.

thank you


Andy, what sort of distance are you looking at… I have tracked my kids through the wood and down the street at over 300 ft…gray scale is best when tracking people.

As a former police officer, most of the people I chased at night were usually within 50 ft of where I was standing…except in a couple cases, they were unarmed…it would have been nice to have any type of IR camera however one should also have another officer with them from a tactical standpoint…it would be easy to be distracted…of course K-9’s would be better however you are easily looking at a minimum of$25,000 - $50,000 between dog and trainer.


I don’t know much about the I-5 so others that use it will have to answer but to use it for your application it would need to have a wide angle FOV to be useful at all. I don’t think the FOV (Field of view) is large enough to make this application possible. The quick look at the data sheet says
17" by 17" FOV with fixed focus.

Price may be attractive but usefulness less so.

Hopefully someone with experience with it will chime in.

Andy, check your email… I sent you some pictures that I just took with my kid running down the street…about 300 feet. It is almost pitch black around the house…I could not see him with the naked eye at 10 feet…I was able to track him up to 300 feet with no problem.

You obviously can get nice and more accurate cameras…for a price of course.

Hope it helps…and stay safe.



Andy find a FLIR B2 Camera on ebay with a 17mm Lens. you can pick one of thes up used for around $ 3,000 These are a kick but camera 120x160 RES and the are built like a brick house.



Thanks all for the insight. I may end up looking at the bcam solution. There is a lot more info to digest on the subject that I previously thought, but your replies have helped me out a lot. Many thanks,


Andy would night vision not be better?

I was hoping for something that could show heat sources in wooded areas (as much as can be expected with foliage, etc.). Seems like suspects always bail in wooded areas and I was looking for a “grab and go” solution.

No, infrared is much better than light amplification.

You can detect vehicles that have been driven recently.
You can see where a suspect has momentarily been. I have recorded the location where a rabbit was 20 minutes after it left on a 40° night.
You can track a fresh blood trail.
You can locate a spent shell casing (or any object such as a gun that the suspect may throw away. If they had it concealed against their body, the temperature will be higher than the air).
You can see through smoke and fog.
A laser is helpful for target acquisition. It also projects what appears to be a potential laser gun site on the suspect. I have seen several prison riots where lasers (not the machine gun attached) sent convicts back to their cells in short order.

You can not see through glass (looking inside a vehicle, or trying to look out from a closed window).

The B2 will be difficult to operate from within the vehicle as you have to look down from the top of the camera to see the screen.

The i5 does not require focusing.

Resolution is not really critical for this application. You’re looking at large temperature differences and large objects.

Wide-angle is not preferable. You get no distance with a wide lens.

Get with your local distributor. I’m sure they will let you try one out before you buy.

The i5 has a fixed focus which is optimized for about 4-9 feet. That and the low resolution (80x80) make is a poor candidate. A big issue is the fact that the view screen becomes a flashlight shining right on your body/face making YOU a good, fully illuminated target for the bad guy in the bushes you are having trouble seeing.

I don’t sell cameras but have worked in the market for 25+ years. I’d strongly suggest you look at the FLIR H-series which is designed specifically for law enforcement work and which is priced at under $5k. http://www.flir.com/cvs/americas/en/lawenforcement/ground/handhelds/

Thermally yours,
John Snell


That is a good point that I thought about, but decided that for an extra $2-7,000, he could work around.

There are products designed for these applications. Some of us can’t afford them.
I’d rather have a glow in my face than not seeing in the dark. You just need to “stand back”. He’s going in after them IR or not! Why be blind?
Just put some" limo window tint " on the screen.

Yes, this is a close up camera designed for electrical panel evaluation.

I think it can handle to infinity.

No focus requirement is a great option when your other hand has a .44cal to handle!

I have played with this camera at a seminar for the new 40-50-60 Flirs.
On the screen, I was impressed.
I have spent many hours in a patrol car and UH-58 with bino’s, and would have killed for this equipment…

John, point is well taken.
But consider the poster.

This guy is not on the “cash for clunkers program”!

Hehe…cash for clunkers. I am currently trying to apply for the DHS CEDAP TIC grant, I hear that application period has been extended to late september for phase 2. Gonna try that before donating my own cash to the cause. Limo tint? thats a pretty good idea!

As opposed to what every police academy and officer survival school has been teaching for a long time to put a flashlight in your non gun hand while using same to support your gun…all the while having same lined up with your head so that any perp simply knows to shoot at the light to take your head off…uhhhh, I think I would rather depend on the lowest quality IR camera as opposed to getting my head blown off.



Speaking of cash for clunkers, I wish I could trade in my old Western Sensor DCI imager (Probeye digital conversion) on a new system, lol…