Thermal Camera 'Color' / Palette Tutorial

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Oct 31, 2013

When many think of thermal cameras, they visualize their use in movies and TV, with a multi-colored science fiction color scheme, familiar to anyone who's seen 1987's Predator:

Predator's thermal vision

******, **** ************* ***** **** **** * ***** ******* ******* in ***** *******. *** ******** **: *** ***** ***** ******* actually ****** ** ************ ************? ** ***** ** **** *** differences ******* ***** *******, ** ******* *** ******* ******** **** in ******* ************, *** ********* *** ******-**** ********.

White ***/***** ***

*** **** ****** ******* **** ** ******* *******, ********* *** default *******, ** "***** ***", ** ***** **** ******* ****** as ******* ****** ** ****, *** ****** ******* ****** ******. "Black ***" ** ** ******** ******* ** **** ******, ***** greyscale, **** **** ******* ** *** ***** *** ** *** scale. **** ****** ** ********* ** **** ******* ****** ******. These *** ******* *** **** ** ******** ** ** ****** "greyscale" *** "********."

**** ***** ***** *** ******* ** *** **** ***** ***** white *** *** ***** *** ******** (***** *** ****** *******):

White hot vs. black hot

*** *****, ** ************* ***', **** ****** ********** ** ****** can ** ****.

White hot vs. Black Hot, 620'

***** *** ******** *********** **** *** **** ****** ** ******, with ******* ***** ******* *** *****. *******, ** *** *** key ******* ***** ****** *** ******** ** ***** ** ***:

  • ******* *****:**** *****' ******** *** *** ** ** ******** **********, **** contrast ***** * ********* *******. ******* ** ****, *************** ******* shades ** **** ** *** ******** *** ** *** ********* may ** **** ********* **** ************** ******* **** ******. ****, black *** ****** *** ** ****** ** ******* **** ***** hot, **** ***** ******** ****** ** **** *** ******* * lighter **********. *** ******* ** **** **** **** ********* ** the ******* *** ********** ****, *** ****** *** ** *********** for ****** ** ******** ******* ******** *** ********** ** ******* whites **** ******* *** "***."
  • ***** ****:** **** ******, ********* *** **** ********** ** ******* *** dark ******** ******* ******* ***********. ********* ** ****** ********, **** fields, ********** *******, ***., *** *** ********* ****** **** ***** surroundings. ******* ** ****, ***** *** *** ****** **** **** "natural", *** ** ****** ** ****** ** **** ***** *** images. ** ***** *****, **** **** ********** ****** ******* ******* water, ** ******** ******* * **** ** ******* ***, *** object ** ***** ******** **** *** **********. ********* **** ** these ****** *** **** ***** *** ****** ** *******.

Ice *** ****

**** ************* ***** * ***** **** ****** "*** *** ****" which *** ** ****** ***** ***** ***** ***** *** ***. Essentially, **** **** ** *** **** ** ***** ***, *** instead ** ********** *** ******* ****** ** *** ***** ** white, *** ** ****, *** **** ** **** *** *** coolest. ** ******, **** ***** ***** ** ******** **********, ***** warm *** ******* ******* * ********* ********** ****** ** ****** to **** **** ******** ****** ** ****/*****. *******, ** ********, hot ******* ** *** ****** ******* ** ***, *** **** objects ** *** ****** ******* ** ****.

*** *******, ** **** *****, *** ******* *** ** *** the ******* ****** ** *** *****. *** ******* *********** *** around **° *, *** *** *** *** *** **** ***** from **** **** ****** *** ***, ****** ** ***** ****. Additionally, ** ** ******* ******* *** ********* ** *** ***. However, *** ****** ** ** ***** ********* *** **** ** him ** *** ***** ** *** *** **** ****:

Ice and Fire

**** ** *** ****** ** *** ************ ** ******, ******. In ***** *****, **** ******* **** ****** ** ******* ** anything ***** **** ********* ** ******** *************' *******. ** *** and **** **** ************, **** ***** **** ** ****** **** objects ********* ** ***, ** ******* ** ***** ** * truly ****** ***** **** *** ******* ************, *** **** ** not ********* *** ****.

Color *****

**********, *** **** ******* ** ******* ******* ** ****** *********, since ***** ******* *** ******** **** **** ***** ******* *******. In ***** ************, *******, ********* *** ********** ****** ********** ** temperature *** ** *******. ** ***** *****, ******* ******** *** far **** ******, ***** *** **** ******** ** ***** *** more ****** ******* * **** ******* ** ************ **** **** using ********* ******. *** ******** ********, ******* ******** *** ******* become ******** *** ********* ** *******, *** **** *** ******** obscure ****** ****** * ****** ***** ** ****.

**** ***** ***** **** ******** ** ******* ******** ******** ** white *** *** ***** *** ****** ** *** **** ***** (click *** ****** *******):

Color palette comparison

***************

*** ************ ********, ** *** ***** ***, ***** ***, *** ice *** **** (**** *************) ** *** **** ****** ********. We **** **** ** ********* ** ***** ******* ******** **** using ******* *******, *** *********** **** ******** ** ********** *** increase ** ******** *******. *** ***** ******** ******* ***** ** black ***, **** ** *** ******** ***** **** ** ******** preference, **** ******* ***** ****** ****** ******. *** ***** ***** cameras ***** ******* *** *** **** ****, ** ******* ** is ***** ******* ** *** ********** *****. ** ** **** perform, *** ********** ** ******** ** *** ******* *** **** background *** *** ***********. ** *****, ** ** **** *** ******* ********, **** mode ** **** ** ** ********* **** ***** ******** ***** hot ****, **** ****** ********.

Comments (7)

In all the examples above, it actually looks like black hot would be the better option for detail. But I think black being the hottest would be difficult for new users to get used too as it would be counter intuitive at first until they got used to it.

I actually fine black hot more intuitive to use. In most cases, if you look around you, people and other objects are darker than the background. Black hot feels better to me for that reason.

I think the black is easier to see to me, Not only because I'm Color Blind, but it's seems more normal to me for some reason. Maybe because I'm color blind the other, hot/cold looks don't look the same to my eyes as everyone else. This is a cool feature to have in the back pocket.

Ethan, is the color-mapping a lossless conversion that is selected at the camera and therefore could be changed after the fact, e.g. to support playback scrubbing, to a different or several various schemes? Maybe only if it was stored in grayscale?

Hi Chris, sorry for the delay. I know of know camera or VMS that allows you to change the color scheme during playback. The camera maps the greyscale to the color palette (grey or otherwise) before encoding, so it's stored as whatever scheme was sent from the camera.

I found using "rain mode" or colour was best used when looking at scenes with little temp variance over the bulk of the scene... for example looking out over water. We found when the object was about 2 pixels on target it was difficult to see in a hot white or hot black mode but rain was great as one can see the hottter yellow person target against purple, indigo to black.

The only issue is one can't use rain all the time in a security application you had to be able to switch between modes and 90% of the time run it in hot white/hot black.

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