Brenton WardJune 5, 2018 at 2:30 am #178
In a word, the FLIR E30 is impressive!* From the moment you pick the unit up you can’t help but be impressed. The more I use the camera, the more I like it.** In this increasingly competitive market it’s tempting for manufacturers to cut corners to keep costs down and make cameras more appealing to the consumer.* As a result there has recently been a flood of low cost, low quality cameras on the market that have failed to impress us.* Well, not so with the FLIR E30.* Flir have stuck with the brands traditional values of manufacture and produced a very high quality piece of kit. *It shows in all aspects of the design and you would happily part with your money for this unit.
There is nothing particularly exciting about the image on the base model E30. The 160×120 detector with a thermal sensitivity of 0.1°C is standard issue at this price point and does a very respectable job.** It is what it is, and that’s an entry level detector.* The lens is has a good usable FOV of 25° and a respectable spatial resolution of 2.72 mrad.* What really amazed us is that our own laboratory tests revealed a distance to spot measurement (DTS) size ratio exceeding 200:1.* This is as good as many much higher 320×240 resolution cameras.** At first I did not believe the results I was seeing, so I had another technician perform the test.* To my astonishment, he got the same figures.* What does this mean in real world terms? Accurate temperature measurement on small components or distance measurement equal to much more expensive cameras.
Surprisingly this camera is also 60Hz, which is a welcome departure from the slower 9Hz entry level units we are used to seeing.
But what really sets this camera apart is the build quality and ergonomics.
The feel is solid and robust, with an abundance of soft touch rubber and plastics.* The lines are sleek and for a unit with a decent size screen it is very compact. *What seems a little out of character is the sharp clicking sound the buttons make and they do “wobble” around a bit in their placeholder. It is a noticeable contrast to the rest of the “solid” feel the unit exudes. *On the plus side there is a dedicated button for the laser pointer which is a really nice feature.
The casing is sturdy and very well finished.* All the joins and plastics align nicely and the unit just “exudes” quality.** The connections and interfaces (ie power, USB etc) are housed behind a nicely latched door with a solid rubber seal for keeping the nasty stuff out.* It’s on a decent hinge, so it’s unlikely to fail as quickly as some of the “rubber” hinged doors found on many entry level cameras. (see image below)
The only major design aspect that concerns me is the battery bay.* While the hinged door and opening mechanism is wonderfully sleek and well crafted into the design, my main apprehension lies with the battery ejections.* By pulling on a plastic tab you “lift” the battery out of the body, similar to those found on mobile phones.* While this works tremendously well on a mobile phone who’s battery stays in place for most of it’s life, Thermal Imagers have batteries swapped in/out several times per day (or job) and I can’t see this withstanding the daily rigors of battery swapping… only time will tell.* Beyond that, the battery delivers a whopping 4 hours of use, and for a majority of users (ie plant maintenance) they will simply charge the battery inside the camera between uses.
The screen display and menu system is excellent. Accessed via Touch screen or keypad control the primary menu system presents itself on the left hand side with an array of Icons designating the functions of Parameters, Palette, Analysis, Camera Selection and Setup Tools.* Being Icon based those not familiar with Infrared cameras may take a little while to understand what the icons mean. However once into the submenus everything is very well laid out and intuitive to navigate.
*Overall the user interface is excellent.* My only issue is the utilisation of traditional level and span control.* My own preference is to control the minimum and maximum temperature range individually (or independently) from one another to optimise the sensitivity of the camera.* In Auto Mode most cameras attain the bottom of the range correctly (Tmin) and all that requires tweaking is the top of the range (Tmax).* In most cases “tweaks” are required to reduce imager brightness on hot targets to reveal the hottest spot. With the E30 when I need to adjust my top range (either through level or span) it shifts the bottom as well, which consequently then needs readjustment.* This is a little old school and frustrating.
In terms of viewing quality, the screen is bright and clear and overall the presentation is excellent.* My only criticism is that some of the smaller fonts and onscreen details lack clarity. It appears that resolution is not sufficient to support some of the smaller characters, ie like the word “box” or “max” temperature indicator is very pixelated.* Nevertheless these are superfluous to the primary functions.
The focus mechanism is another standout feature with the lens shrouded in a large rubber ring. It’s very easy to get your hands around, especially if you were wearing safety gloves etc.** Most importantly it allows good “feel” for obtaining a cleanly focused image.* For those who have read my other reviews you would know this is the single most important aspect of image capture! Additionally the “expensive” lens material is well recessed in the lens housing, so it is kept safely away from incidental contact with objects.
For information on the software suite I will review this separately as it applies to the entire series.
Value for money this camera is hard to beat. In a world of increasingly lower cost cameras and cost cutting by manufacturers, the Flir E30 has not suffered the same fate as most entry level units.* The E30 has standout quality at this price point, with a host of features that exceed it’s rivals.
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