tried & tested

Ther­mal-imag­ing cam­eras were once the pre­serve of the mil­i­tary. Now you can get one that clips to your phone, so Will Bru­ton tried it out

Yachting Monthly - - CONTENTS -

Will Bru­ton tests the FLIR One iphone ther­mal-imag­ing cam­era

the pic­ture qual­ity from such a small cam­era is excellent


Be­ing able to see heat, par­tic­u­larly in a man-over­board sit­u­a­tion at night, could be a po­ten­tial life­saver. Un­til re­cently, ther­mal-imag­ing cam­era sys­tems built for yachts were ex­tremely ex­pen­sive. Both fixed and portable sys­tems were mainly found on large yachts. The cam­eras work by de­tect­ing the amount of in­frared light en­ter­ing the lens and then con­vert­ing this into an im­age that de­picts de­grees of heat in vary­ing shades of colour. Un­like night-vi­sion tech­nol­ogy which en­hances the light avail­able, ther­mal cam­eras will work in ab­so­lute dark­ness.

The FLIR One fits in the palm of the hand. By using your smart­phone as the screen, it’s the most com­pact ther­mal-imag­ing cam­era we’ve seen and packs away clev­erly into a hard pro­tec­tive case that can be kept on a lan­yard. How­ever, the FLIR One isn’t wa­ter­proof.

In­te­gral to the cam­era’s func­tion­al­ity is its app, which makes switch­ing be­tween cam­era modes eas­ier, al­low­ing you to save im­ages to your smart­phone, po­ten­tially use­ful when be­ing used as an en­gi­neer­ing tool. De­spite hav­ing its own power sup­ply, charged using a mi­cro USB port, the bat­tery drains rel­a­tively quickly.


We used the FLIR One iphone model (it’s also avail­able for An­droid) in a va­ri­ety of sit­u­a­tions afloat. In the en­gine room, the cam­era clearly dif­fer­en­ti­ated be­tween vary­ing de­grees of heat and can iden­tify mois­ture or elec­tri­cal is­sues, while out­side on a cold win­ter evening, it was bril­liant at show­ing up hu­mans and an­i­mals in pitch dark­ness. Point­ing the cam­era at some­one wear­ing a heavy win­ter jacket showed ex­actly where the heat was leak­ing. An MOB would stand out clearly in the wa­ter, even at some dis­tance.


A neat, ver­sa­tile piece of kit for any size of yacht. We were im­pressed by the qual­ity of the pic­ture gen­er­ated from such a small cam­era, though it is com­pro­mised by a del­i­cate con­nec­tion plug­ging di­rectly into the iphone. This also means that if you keep your phone in a wa­ter­proof case, it has to come out. It’s not an es­sen­tial piece of kit, but it’s cer­tainly a well-priced, clever ad­di­tion to your boat’s en­gi­neer­ing arse­nal that could come into its own as an ad­di­tional MOB search tool or find­ing your way into a dark an­chor­age. An up­graded model, the FLIR One Pro, will be avail­able later in 2018. www.ray­ma­

The cam­era is held in place by the con­nec­tor at the bot­tom of the smart­phone

The cam­era ex­cels at dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween tem­per­a­tures and can even give tem­per­a­ture read­ings

The FLIR One worked just as well at iden­ti­fy­ing hot and cold spots in the en­gine room

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