Thermal cameras detect heat radiation and can be used to identify the surface temperature of objects and people.

So, what's their limit?

In a live Tech Briefs presentation titled High-Speed Imaging, a reader asks an industry expert from the thermal imaging camera manufacturer FLIR Systems: "What is the maximum temperature that can be registered by infrared cameras?"

Read the edited response below from Jerry Beeney, Global Business Development Manager at FLIR Systems..

Jerry Beeney: The maximum temperature that an infrared camera can actually measure really isn’t a function of the camera, but more a function of a calibrated temperature source.

Jerry Beeney from FLIR Systems
Jerry Beeney, FLIR Systems

Obviously, infrared cameras have minimum integration times, and at some point the thermal energy that the camera is collecting is going to saturate the detector and you’re not going to get any type of fidelity on the measurement.

Above those temperatures, we typically want to attenuate that signal by putting some neutral density filters in front of the camera. Based on that, the highest that we can go from a factory calibration is really limited by the black body reference source  that we have, which is 3000 °C.

I've actually had customers who've used other methods. One person used a calibrated tungsten tape inside of a vaccuum to reach temperatures of about 3600 or 3700 °C, and was able to accurately calibrate the thermal camera.

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