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Thermographic cameras for birding & mammaling?

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Old Saturday 4th December 2010, 10:33   #1
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Thermographic cameras for birding & mammaling?


I am wondering if anybody has tried searching for birds and mammals at night with a thermographic camera? Nowadays these cameras are affordable (< 2000USD) and therefore may offer exciting possibilities for birdwatchers and mammal-watchers. I am thinking of a combination of a thermographic camera to find animals and a powerful torch with red or green filter to observe them without much disturbance. Here is a video that I found to illustrate this:

I would be glad to hear of any experience with thermographic cameras for wildlife observation. How easy is it to detect animals? At what distance and what size of animals? What features make a camera more ore less suitable for wildlife observation? Which models are especially suitable? What effect has ambient temperature (e.g. in tropics it might be harder to find animals due to reduced temperature gradients)? What are success rates compared to other techniques like spotlighting?

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Old Friday 10th December 2010, 17:34   #2
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I'm sorry but I don't know anything about thermo imaging. As far as I know they work far into the IR and the resolution is fairly poor. Image intensified cameras potentially will work by moonlight etc. but I think the good ones are pretty expensive.

I've been tooking at the trap type cameras but I thought it might be fun one day to try a bit of a DIY approach.

To locate the wildlife in darkness you might use IR imaging. I've not looked for dedicated IR cameras though I guess they exist. Most regular camera chips have quite a bit of sensitivity in the IR. Some of the Sony types are particularly good. I've used industrial monochrome cameras successfully for other applications. They are fairly cheap with low pixel counts. Most consumer cameras have an IR cut filter over their chips. I've heard that it is possible to remove them, though I would advise having it done professionally. For night time use you only need to provide an IR light source and look at the screen. There are plenty of IR lamps on the market, though some show more red than others. It is actually pretty simple to make your own either with a beam or flood. The plus side is of course you can locate and capture with the same instrument.

Just a couple of ideas to play with.

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