What is a Radiometric Camera?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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As a device that records and measures both temperature and radiant energy, the radiometric camera plays an important role in several different industries. Here is some information on how a radiometric camera functions, as well as some examples of how the device can be used to great advantage in several fields.

To understand how radiometric cameras work requires the user to understand some basics of capturing data based on radiometric imaging. Essentially, the concept is to utilize the abilities of the camera to detect both hot and cold factors within a given situation. These generally show up on the image produced by the camera as a range of colors, with colder portions of the captured scene identified with darker colors and the hotter portions depicted as brighter colors.

As an example, an image captured by a radiometer of people sitting on a sofa would show a range of colors to depict the amount of heat present in each object within the frame. People would show up as brighter colors, owing to the natural body heat of the individual. Inanimate objects, such as wooden furniture, would show up as darker colors, assuming that the objects had not come into direct contact with a heat source and absorbed some of the heat.


Radiometric camera systems allow the user to determine the settings required for the type of heat or cold detection that needs to be accomplished. Minimum and maximum ranges of temperature can be set, so that only data that is pertinent to the task will be imaged. Many models of the radiometric camera will emit some sort of a warning sound if the camera detects temperatures that are outside the range settings. This can be helpful in instances where scanning is being conducted to ensure a desired temperature range is being maintained.

Because a radiometric camera is looking essentially at intensity, a higher number of image bits will produce a more precise reading. That is, the mix of colors will more accurately reflect graduations in temperatures of each scanned object, which may be very helpful if the task is to pinpoint some factor that is causing an undesirable increase or decrease in temperature.

The use of the radiometric camera is helpful in several industries. For example, the radiometric camera is an excellent way to test the seals on refrigeration units, as well as commercial ovens. Another valuable application of the radiometric camera has to do with building inspection. Identifying hot spots in the walls or floors of the building can help to pinpoint electrical or structural issues before permanent damage is done to the structure.

There is even a place for the radiometric camera in the health care field. As an aid to medical equipment, the radiometric camera can be used to perform internal scans without the need for invasive procedures. Used for both human and veterinary medicine, a thermal scan by a radiometric camera can save lives by identifying health issues within the body and allowing treatments to commence without waiting for the results of exploratory surgery.


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