My first encounter with professional-grade thermal imaging equipment was in 2015 when I commercially operated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for agricultural surveys. At that time I had acquired a 30Hz 640×512 pixel sensor specifically designed for UAV applications. I had also used this sensor for other tests and analyses, including electronic design, residential development, and home improvement applications. Using it outside of a UAV was, however, quite painful, as it just wasn’t designed to be used in a handheld environment. After testing out other lower-cost models designed for smartphones, I was quite disappointed by the image quality, handling, and integration. Neither one of the available thermal cameras satisfied my needs and expectations. I had then discovered PerfectPrime’s product lineup and liked the IR0019 with its technical specifications. Despite the resolution not being on par with my first thermal imaging camera, it is more than sufficient for my purpose. Therefore I made the decision and ordered the IR0019.

PerfectPrime IR-0019 Unboxing

What you get

I purchased the camera directly from PerfectPrimeEU through Amazon Marketplace. It arrived in a padded envelope via FedEx, shipped from HongKong by PerfectPrime. For this reason, I had to go through the customs import process in Germany, supply proof of payment and had to pay an additional charge for import taxes and duties. In my case, however, these charges weren’t that much. This does have to be factored into the final price you pay, in addition to the price listed on Amazon, though. I would recommend PerfectPrimeEU to either use Fulfillment by Amazon in Europe or ship from a European warehouse to avoid this risk and additional effort for other customers.
When you open the envelope, you have an anti-static bag with all the goods on it. These include the transport case with a shrink-wrapped camera inside, a Micro-USB cable, a USB charger, a neck strap for the transport case, a small documentation leaflet, and a thank you note for the purchase. In addition to the product, PerfectPrime offers an elite full technical support and a 30 day full-refund warranty, if you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

PerfectPrime IR-0019 Technical

Technical Details

The PerfectPrime IR0019 is a handheld thermal imaging device with an integrated 3.2″ full angle color display, an integrated rechargeable 18650-type lithium-ion battery, a 9Hz 320x240px thermal imaging sensor (microbolometer), and a 30Hz 640x480px visible light camera sensor. All is packed in an ergonomically designed case for handheld operations. The thermal imaging camera can be protected with a pivotable lid on the front, making it quite a rugged device by design. Its thermal specifications include a 0.07°C thermal sensitivity, a 27° x 35° field of view (FoV), a fixed 0.5m focus distance, a temperature range of -20°C to 300°C (-4°F to 572°F) and an integrated 3GB memory. The emissivity of the surfaces captured can be adjusted from 0.1 to 1.0 to allow for correct and calibrated temperature readings. The camera’s memory cannot be upgraded or swapped, but is accessible through a Micro-USB cable. Images are stored as 8-bit JPG files with a final resolution of 240x320px. One of the great features of the IR0019 is the adjustable visible image overlay, which is available in 5 steps of 25%, from 0% to 100%.

PerfectPrime IR-0019 RGB Image Overlay

User Experience

The thermal imaging camera has a simple, yet clear user interface. The front of the camera has one trigger button to capture an image. The rear of the camera features a set of eight buttons below the screen consisting of four arrow keys and four function keys. The first one is the power button, which has to be pressed long to either power the device up or shut it down. The second key is a menu key, opening and closing the software menu. The select key is used as the confirmation key for most of the functions, whereas the enter key can be used to close the current sub-menu. The first set of sub-menus must, however, be opened with the arrow-right key. The menu is okay but may feel slightly less-intuitive at times. It’s easy to get used to it though. The arrow-up key shows and hides an additional information layer on the bottom of the screen. The arrow-left and arrow-right keys are used to adjust the level of the RGB image overlay. Additionally, the RGB camera’s overlay positioning can be adjusted in the menu via image registration in order to compensate for a potential parallax offset, making it an excellent feature for semi-translucent recordings.

PerfectPrime IR-0019 RGB Image Overlay Positioning

A selection of five different color palettes is provided, including spectra, iron, cool, white and black. These can only be changed during a live inspection in the menu and cannot be altered after an image was taken.

PerfectPrime IR-0019 Color Palettes

Performance

The performance of the sensor and the thermal imaging camera itself is quite astonishing, especially considering how much value the customer is given for the price. The images from the microbolometer are clear and have a smooth transition in colors and brightness. They are captured quickly without noticeable delays. The battery has barely lost any charge for the time I have been using the IR0019 so far. Overall, this device should prove very useful in a professional environment. The user interface is responsive, but not quite as instant as a modern smartphone, but that’s a whole different category of device. I have not experienced any glitches so far, which is an important aspect of any software-based device.

PerfectPrime IR0019 Performance

Summary

A thermal imaging camera can be a very versatile device and used in many different ways including home improvement, residential development, energy-efficient design, hardware engineering, search and rescue operations as well as educational projects. With the PerfectPrime IR0019 handheld thermal imaging camera’s high quality, excellent reliability and astonishing price-performance-ratio, the user is encouraged to apply this technology on a regular basis. If you are interested in this product, you can visit the manufacturer’s website (https://www.perfectprime.com) or Amazon’s European store (https://amzn.to/2rqucvX).

Image courtesy of PerfectPrime