The best thermal-imaging cameras in 2023

FLIR ONE Edge Pro is one of the best thermal-imaging cameras
(Image credit: Teledyne FLIR)

The best thermal imaging cameras allow you to explore the world in a whole new way. They let you see, measure and capture temperature differences, accurately and from a safe distance. 

Beyond the visible spectrum, there is an unseen world of heat radiation. Arty infrared film photographs aside, the practical uses of thermal imaging devices – also known as infrared thermal imagers – traditionally belonged only to military and professional budgets. 

But now anyone can access thermal imaging, whether you want to spot heat sources in dark places – ideal for wildlife spotting – or identify where heat is being lost from your property. If you simply want to measure temperatures, you may prefer our guide to the best infrared thermometers (opens in new tab).

Find out more about how thermal imaging cameras work at the bottom of this guide. Below are the best thermal-imaging cameras you can buy right now.

The best thermal-imaging cameras in 2023

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(Image credit: FLIR)
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1. FLIR ONE Edge Pro

The latest and best thermal-imaging camera for phones

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 px
Sensitivity range: -10°C to 50°C (14°F to 122°F)
Sensitivity: 70 mK
Dimensions: 37.5 × 35 × 149 mm (1.5 × 1.4 × 5.9 in)
Battery: 1.5 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Works on most phones
+
Measures up to 400°C (752°F)

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
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Not the cheapest option

The FLIR ONE Edge Pro is a wireless thermal-visible camera for camera phones and iPads. It's designed with a spring-loaded clip, which allows different users (or companies with several workers) to attach the camera to both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Unlike previous FLIR thermal imaging models that plugged into the bottom of the phone, the ONE Edge Pro doesn't actually have to be connected at all – and can be used up to 30 meters (100ft) away with a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection.

Is a compact, easy-to-use imaging device for builders, mechanisms, building inspectors and even homeowners who want to see how much heat their home is leaking! IP54-rated, it can measure temperatures up to 400°C (752°F) and has a maximum 1.5-hour battery life.

Teledyne FLIR promises that it's easy to recognize where problems are located and identify targets, thanks to FLIR's MSX (Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging), 160 × 120 (19,200 pixels) thermal resolution and VividIR, which combines multiple image frames together to deliver a clearer image.

(Image credit: Future)
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The best thermal imaging camera with a rugged body

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 px
Sensitivity range: -20˚C to 400˚C (-4˚F to 752˚F)
Optical Resolution: 5MP
Dimensions: 138 × 84 × 24 mm (5.4 × 3.3 × 0.94 in)

Reasons to buy

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3.5-inch touchscreen
+
Six thermal color palettes
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Withstands 2m (6.6ft) drop

Reasons to avoid

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Pricier than 128 x 96 C3 version
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Turning on takes about 20 seconds
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No GPS

The FLIR C3-X and FLIR C5 are good-looking compact thermal imagers that are well suited to DIYers and contractors. With a rugged body that’ll survive a bit of workplace rough-and-tumble, both have two cameras and a 5-megapixel optical lens. The IR maxes out at 160 x 120 on the pricier C5, allowing it to take advantage of Flir’s MSX technology. This patented method uses an edge-detection algorithm on the higher-resolution visual light image, overlaying this with the IR image to make the picture easier to comprehend.

Both versions have a 3-inch touchscreen and can store around 500 images onboard to transfer via Micro USB. The ability to type notes via a touch keyboard can be handy, too. If you can stretch to it, the FLIR C5 model adds more analysis features and Wi-Fi so you can get images to your phone and to your software. 

FLIR’s analysis software, FLIR Tools, allows you to change the color palettes and take readings from 4,800 measurement points in the image files, a little like using the eyedropper in Photoshop.

Read our full FLIR C5 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Seek)
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3. Seek Thermal RevealPRO

The best thermal-imaging camera for night use

Specifications

Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels
Sensitivity range: -40˚C to 330˚C (-40˚F to 626˚F)
Sensitivity: 70 mK
Weight: 117g
Dimensions: 127 x 61 x 31mm (5 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches)
Battery: 4 hours rechargeable

Reasons to buy

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High resolution thermal sensor
+
High refresh rate
+
Built-in flashlight
+
Emissivity adjustment

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t capture video
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No visual-light camera data

While the FLIR C-Series produces useful images in good light via MSX, this camera can do so at any time, since it doesn’t rely on visual light to boost its resolution. For our money, that makes it the best thermal-imaging camera for night use today. 

Combined with its 15Hz refresh rate (most are 9Hz), it can easily be used to spot animals or people in the dark, or through dense foliage. There’s also a 300-lumen LED light, should you want to surprise someone you’ve spotted in the dark. The simple menu system provides access to other useful features too, such as Level and Span adjustments (a little like manual exposure, allowing you to isolate a thermal range), and Emissivity adjustments (manual or pre-sets). 

The fixed-focus camera works between 30cm (12 inches) and 550m (1,800 ft) and the 2.4-inch color screen is protected with Gorilla Glass. The 4GB memory can capture as many images as you’d need to (you can hold the shutter down if you like). For distance temperature readings, you can use the 4x digital zoom, though be warned that the resolution suffers.

(Image credit: FLIR)
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4. Flir One Gen 3

The best phone connected thermal-imaging camera for value

Specifications

Resolution: 80 x 60 pixels
Sensitivity range: -20˚C to 120˚C (-4˚F to 248˚F)
Sensitivity: 150 mK
Dimensions: 34 x 67 x 14mm (1.3 x 2.6 x 0.6in)

Reasons to buy

+
Capture videos and stills
+
Case-friendly phone connector
+
iOS or Android versions

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs charging separately
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Short battery life
-
Fixed focus

The Flir One is a camera that connects to your phone and is compatible with both iOS and Android. Nicely compact, measuring just 1.3 x 2.6 inches, it offers a resolution of 80 x 60 pixels, and excellent value for the price.

Note that there's also a more expensive, ruggedized One Pro (opens in new tab) model, which boosts resolution to 160 x 120 and provides extra features including manual exposure, multiple measuring zones, and sensitivity up to 400˚C.

Both include a timelapse function, limited – and it is limited – by the battery life. Weirdly the Flir One uses its own battery, and has an independent power switch, though that does mean that it won’t steal too much power from your precious phone battery. The knob which you might imagine to be a focus wheel actually adjusts the phone connector’s length to match your phone case thickness.

Busy contractors will want an iPhone power bank to keep this running longer, or to look elsewhere on this list. But for the average user, this will be plenty to get a few shots or clips via the easy-to-use app. Your phone’s touchscreen is great for taking touch readings or, with the Flir One Pro, setting regions of interest.

(Image credit: Bosch )

5. Bosch GTC400C

Rugged pistol-grip thermal imaging camera for the jobsite

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 pixels
Sensitivity range: -40˚C to 400˚C (-104˚F to 752˚F)
Sensitivity: 50 mK
Dimensions: 95 x 63 x 233mm (3.7 x 2.5 x 9.2 inches)
Battery: 5 hours with lithium ion rechargeable pack; 2 hours with AA cells

Reasons to buy

+
Uses worksite rechargeable 12V batteries or 4xAA
+
Rugged build with built-in protective cap
+
Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity
+
Manual focus

Reasons to avoid

-
Bigger investment than less rugged devices
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Micro USB for data transfer, not charging
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Accuracy +/- 3˚C (At this price 2 would be better)
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No SD Card slot

This thermal-imaging camera is easy to use in the workplace but fully equipped with wi-fi and Bluetooth to share data with a phone. Held with a pistol grip, the image can be frozen with a trigger and saved using the camera icon below the screen. The design, with a built-in lens cover and rubber guards to protect the 3.5-inch screen, is strong and IP53 dustproof. 

The device includes a picture-in-picture context function, which places the thermal image in the centre of a frame with a visual image around the outside providing context. Also useful on-site is the lock feature which fixes the minimum and maximum temperature (like an exposure lock). Bosch also provides a supporting app so you can transfer images beyond the 600 the device will hold. This is great for additional analysis and report creation, and the radiometric data is there for later analysis (but it’d still be nice to store more onboard).

(Image credit: Seek)
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6. Seek Thermal CompactPro

The best phone-connected thermal-imaging camera for resolution

Specifications

Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels
Sensitivity range: -40˚C to 330˚C (-40˚F to 626˚F)
Sensitivity: 70 mK
Dimensions: 41 x 20 x 15mm (1.6 x 0.8 x 0.6 inches)

Reasons to buy

+
Doesn’t need batteries
+
Mini USB or iOS Lightning
+
High-resolution IR sensor
+
Manual focus offers great range
+
High refresh rate

Reasons to avoid

-
Picture-by-picture parallax issue

This thermal-imaging camera also connects to your phone but provides more resolution (320 x 240 pixels) as well as higher sensitivity (-40˚F to 626˚F) than the Flir One – even the Pro version. And while that pushes up the price, it does make it a great choice for contractors, engineers, inspectors, and others looking for more detailed images. 

With adjustable focus, the lens can be set on subjects as far as 550m (1,800ft). That’s not only handy for outdoor pursuits but allows you to take full advantage of the relatively high resolution to get sharp thermal images at any distance.

On the downside, while the FLIR One includes a visible light camera, the Seek CompactPro uses your phone’s camera to provide a split-screen picture-by-picture function, which is subject to some parallax issues. 

On the plus side, the 15Hz refresh rate makes for better video (but can raise export issues when leaving the US, as it becomes “military grade”). Also, the app can give center-spot measures, or automatically highlight the hottest and coldest spots in a scene. 

(Image credit: FLIR)
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7. FLIR TG267

The best thermal-imaging camera for spot measurement

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 pixels
Sensitivity range: -25˚C to 380˚C (-13˚F to 716˚F)
Sensitivity: 70 mK
Dimensions: 210 x 64 x 81mm (8.3 x 2.5 x 3.2in)
Battery: 5 hours rechargeable

Reasons to buy

+
Great choice for industrial use
+
Spot measurement of temperature
+
One-handed operation

Featuring a laser and a continuous-scanning IR thermometer, the FLIR TG267 is a kind of hybrid between a non-contact thermometer and a thermal imaging camera. 

The grip shape is ideally suited to tasks like car maintenance, since the one-handed operation is easy, and the cool bullseye-shaped laser dot makes it simple to direct the point of interest. The 2.4-inch color screen (refreshing at 8.7Hz) gives you plenty of confidence that you’re getting the right readings for your work, boosted by the MSX tech for a sharp view.

The generous battery will provide five hours' use in the workshop, and charges via the same USB connector, which can be used to offload the saved images – up to 50,000 of which will fit on the built-in 4GB. The system also allows for emissivity correction (manually or with four handy pre-sets) and includes a tripod mount at the bottom of the grip.

Enthusiast mechanics may prefer to hunt down the cheaper TG165, an earlier FLIR product aimed at this category that still features a laser and IR thermometer, while the near-identical TG275 can perceive an even greater temperature range.

(Image credit: Seek)
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8. Seek Thermal ShotPro

The best thermal-imaging camera for analysis tools

Specifications

Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels
Sensitivity range: -40˚C to 330˚C (-40˚F to 626˚F)
Sensitivity: 70 mK
Weight: 205g
Dimensions: 80 x 140 x 28mm (3.1 x 5.5 x 1.1in)
Battery: 4 hours rechargeable

Reasons to buy

+
SeekFusion image combination
+
Ruggedised design
+
Wi-Fi transfer
+
High-resolution camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Menus are not quite as elegant as FLIR C series

The Seek ShotPRO is a compact IR camera that boasts a much better thermal resolution than its immediate competitors but, unlike some other accessibly priced Seek products, also includes the ability to mix visual light. The technology, SeekFusion, allows you to adjust a live overlay with an on-screen slider, a little like changing opacity in Photoshop layers. It lacks the edge enhancement of FLIR MSX, but on the other hand, the greater thermal resolution means that isn’t really needed.

The Short Pro, like the FLIR C3, is capable of Wi-Fi streaming (it partners with a free app called SeekView), though still boasts 4GB of memory to capture stills and video. Even without the app, the 3.5-inch touchscreen can be used with built-in analysis tools; you can create up to three boxes and monitor the minimum, maximum, and average temperature in each. Using the tripod mount can be handy for watching things change over time.

(Image credit: Flir)
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9. FLIR Scout TK

The best thermal-imaging monocular for value

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 pixels
Sensitivity range: -20˚C to +40˚C (-4˚F to 104˚F)
Sensitivity: 50 mK
Weight: 170g
Dimensions: 152 x 51 x 51mm (6 x 2 x 2in)
Battery: 5 hours rechargeable

Reasons to buy

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Waterproof
+
Good-quality optics
+
Can store images & video

Reasons to avoid

-
Range restricts tasks

Combining a 160x120 pixel sensor with a 640 x 480 pixel LCD display means the Scout TK has the resolution and tech to identify a mammal – a person or a deer, say – hiding at around 100 yards (91m) away while being no harder to use than a traditional scope. That’s not a stunning level of detail, but without the scope your eyes might well not make out targets at a much shorter distance, giving this device a broad range of security and hobby uses.

The compact size and rechargeable battery boost the practicality; there will be no trouble fitting this into a decent coat pocket. The USB image download is convenient, and there's a cable included too, although no wireless transfer.

With a fixed field of view (20˚), the controls are not challenging: just brightness and the option to switch the color palette (White Hot, Black Hot, InstAlert, Graded Fire, and others). A single button handles recording, with a short press for a still and a long press for video. The 9Hz refresh rate is fast enough to make hand-holding practical.

(Image credit: CAT)
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The best thermal-imaging smartphone

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 pixels
Sensitivity range: -20˚C to 400˚C (-4˚F to 750˚F)
Sensitivity: 150 mK
Weight: 248g
Dimensions: 158 x 77 x 12mm
Battery: 4000mAh (Up to 2 days general use)

Reasons to buy

+
Super rugged construction
+
Fully waterproof
+
Full-feature Android smartphone
+
Indoor air quality monitoring

Reasons to avoid

-
Average visible-light camera
-
No 5G

The CAT S62 Pro (opens in new tab) is designed to take serious abuse, with the construction that means that it can be dropped without having to worry about dents or cracking its Gorilla Glass 6 screen. With an IP68 rating, CAT phones can be submerged in 3m of water, too, without fear of ingress. And this industrial design also comes with some useful additional features that you don't find on a phone – including a very capable thermal imaging camera built on the FLIR 3.5 sensor (160 x 120). 

This is useful because it reduces the things you need to carry and avoids any connecting with IR cameras via Bluetooth or cables. The phone, too, is a perfectly serviceable affair with a 660 Octo Core 2GHz CPU that will run your favorite apps and 6GB storage for them. Even if it may lack some of the refinements of the top camera phones, it has a 12MP Sony sensor, comes with Android 10, and supports the Android Enterprise feature set. 

Note: the older CAT S61, still available in places, had a lower resolution IR camera, but offered laser measuring, offering an alternative with even more flexibility.

(Image credit: Flir)
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11. FLIR E8-XT

The best professional handheld infrared camera

Specifications

Resolution: 320 x 240 pixels
Sensitivity range: -20˚C to +550˚C (-4˚F to 1022˚F)
Sensitivity: 50 mK
Weight: 570g
Dimensions: 94 x 244 x 140mm (3.7 x 9.6 x 5.5in)
Battery: 5 hours rechargeable

Reasons to buy

+
High resolution
+
Extended temperature
+
Wireless data sharing

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Visible light camera only 640 x 480

FLIR’s rugged E-series, of which the E8-XT is the top of the line, offers the advantages of the company’s image enhancement, which merges visible light with the IR thermograph for easier-to-understand imagery. At this price, it seems a little unfair that the visible light camera is only 640x480, but in this context, it works well enough.

Of more concern to a working professional is the combination of Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and the FLIR Tools app, which enables timely delivery of your assessment, with imagery, to clients. This is well-realized, easy to operate, and can also be used, via screen recordings, to capture video from the camera.

When you’re regularly working in rough environments, the E8 represents the kind of reliability you need. The autofocus makes it easy to use and the lenses and 3-inch screen are well-shielded in a drop-proof IP54 enclosure.

(Image credit: FLIR)
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12. FLIR MR277 Moisture Meter

A handy tool for building inspectors

Specifications

Resolution: 160 x 120 pixels
Sensitivity range: 0˚C - 100˚C (32˚F-212˚F) Temp | 30˚C to +50˚C (-22˚F to 122˚F) Dew point
Sensitivity: 60 mK
Weight: 340g
Dimensions: 160 x 85 x 44 mm (6.2 x 3.3 x 1.7in)
Battery: rechargeable

Reasons to buy

+
Moisture hygrometer
+
Higher-res FLIR camera 

Reasons to avoid

-
MR160 might be more cost effective

The benefits of MSX-enhanced IR imagery are clear in any scenario, but especially when you just want to get the job done. Here the extra contrast from the natural light camera combined with the detail (in line with FLIR’s patent) makes identifying moisture problems, air leaks, and insulation issues a relative breeze for anyone in the field. The 8GB of internal memory will store up to 15,000 images, and their associated hygrometer readings and measurements from the laser measure, the beam of which is directed from a lens near the cameras.

(Image credit: Perfect Prime)
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13. Perfect Prime IR202

The best cheap thermal-imaging camera for Android

Specifications

Resolution: 80 x 60 pixels
Sensitivity range: -40˚C - 400˚C (-40˚F-1832F)
Sensitivity: 150 mK
Dimensions: 56 x 30 x 14 mm (2.2 x 1.18 x 0.55in)

Reasons to buy

+
Accessibly priced
+
USB-C or Lightning versions available

Reasons to avoid

-
-Low resolution
-
You need to get the right one for your phone (and provide the phone)

The IR202 is an ideal home inspection tool, made extremely portable by its compact design and piggybacking off the power from the host phone (Android only). At 15fps, the imaging is faster than some thermal images, though the 80 x 60 resolution means you’ll want to be relatively near your subject – meaning that hunters might want to look elsewhere for a tool to scan the woods. 

It is nevertheless a noticeably higher resolution than the device’s immediate predecessor, the IR0102, which had a 32 x 32-pixel resolution. As a low-priced device, adding this to your toolkit is a lot less painful than some of the devices on this list, and with fuel prices on the rise, locating leaks (an ideal task for this adapter) could cover the cost surprisingly soon.

How thermal imaging cameras work

For the most part, the best thermal-imaging cameras work like regular ones, except that the image sensor detects invisible IR light and it is translated to a visual “thermogram”. This is what you see through the creature’s perspective views in The Predator and Prey.

Like visual cameras, these images are made of pixels but start at lower resolutions such as 80x60 pixels, or 0.003 megapixels. That sounds limited, but it's enough detail to pick out hotspots in wiring, for example.

See also Best thermal drones (opens in new tab)

Higher resolutions are always better, allowing you to work at a distance, which is especially important in security and rescue scenarios. Digitally overlaying the thermal image with a high-resolution, visible one can make understanding the picture easier, and many devices on this list do that.

The sensors are also of varying detail (150mK sensitivity means each pixel takes readings to the nearest 0.15˚C, so lower numbers are better). Meanwhile, refresh rates aren’t always high; 9Hz is typical, which is fine for locating hotspots, but not exactly cinematic.

Read more: Best indoor security cameras (opens in new tab) or Best outdoor security cameras (opens in new tab)

Thermal imaging works in the dark, or through smoke, but can be fooled by the reflectiveness (emissivity) of a surface. Because IR is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like visible light, it also has similar properties when it encounters lenses or rain. For professional use, it pays to read up a bit on understanding thermograms, but you’ll understand the basics the moment you power on your thermal camera. Depending on the software, you can also take retrospective measurements from the thermal JPEGs. 

You might also like the best inspection cameras and borescopes (opens in new tab) and the best night vision goggles (opens in new tab).

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones (opens in new tab), The Smart Smart Home Handbook (opens in new tab), 101 Tips for DSLR Video (opens in new tab) and The Drone Pilot's Handbook (opens in new tab)

With contributions from