IR Camera Over Water?

Has anyone tried to install a standard 850nm/950nm IR camera for marine use on a boat to view the water in close proximaty around it? What kind of results did you get with the view at night time?

I know all about the FLIR systems, but wanted to see if anyone has tried it with a much less expensive option.


In my experience, it wasn't reflection that was the big concern, it was the swarming bugs.

Even IR attracts insects. Coupled with the fact that web slinging insects are attracted to swarming bugs, and you've got quite the maintenance issue.

Good point Brian. We are looking for a low cost alternative for pleasure boaters to install and use while underway. So I think while moving the bugs shouldn't be an issue. Reflection may not be bad, as the idea would be to see objects in the water, rather than really need to have a great deal of detail. If a bouy reflect differently than the water, and any partially submerged objects reflect differently as well, this could be a big improvement over starlight.

I see, I presumed this was for when the boat was in the slip or at the dock. Considering water is essentially dynamic, and the atmosphere surrounding a boat can range from still/clear to turbulent/foggy, I think any camera using visible/IR spectrum range will be challenged. Do you project the camera being mounted on a stabilizing positioner to counter the movement of the water? Not inexpensive, but without it it can be near impossible to keep a view of even nearby objects.

With no actual experience mounting IR cameras on a moving boat, I'll digress. It is an interesting and challenging prospect.

It will work OK over water, shouldn't be that much different than any other illumination source in terms of how it behaves.

Your main issues (IMO) will be coverage area, you usually want a fairly wide FOV for applications like that, and then selecting a camera that allows you the really tweak the exposure settings so that the overall image brightness and contrast stays somewhat stable through minor lighting changes and doesn't become distracting.

I think you'll also have issues with range for this setup. It's usually not the things that are 50' in front of you, it's the things 500' in front of you that you want to be on the lookout for at night. Thermal cameras are good in this application because you can see farther (typically), but (again, IMO) the fact that they are looking at heat, not light, helps maintain a more stable image at night.