FLIR Scout thermal imaging cameras: a perfect tool for finding wildlife
Thermal imaging cameras see through darkness and ignore visual camouflage.
Tools for detecting wildlife have evolved a lot
in the last century. Binoculars are now quite commonly used throughout
the world, followed by light amplifying nighttime vision systems that
can be used to spot animals at night. Now there’s a new wildlife
detection tool on the market: the FLIR Scout TS-Series handheld thermal
Unlike all other nighttime vision systems
thermal imaging cameras need no light whatsoever to produce a clear
image. Many animals are mostly active at night, using the cover of
darkness to remain undetected, but they will not be able to hide in the
dark any longer if you have a FLIR Scout TS-Series handheld thermal
imaging camera. All warm blooded animals will show up clearly in the
thermal image, in total darkness and in practically all weather
Thermal imaging cameras are widely used by professional documentary
makers and hunters worldwide. Until recently they were extremely
expensive. With the TS-Series handheld thermal imaging cameras FLIR
Systems is now bringing thermal imaging cameras within the reach of
nature and wildlife enthusiasts and hunters.
The Swiss nature photographer and freelance
wildlife journalist Michele Costantini was one of the first to receive a
FLIR Scout TS-Series
handheld thermal imaging camera for testing. He
wrote a review of this new wildlife detection tool for the Swiss hunting
magazine Jagd & Natur.
“Until a few years ago, a thermal imaging
camera would cost more than a midsize car”, explains Costantini. “In
recent years, however, some affordable thermal imaging cameras have come
on the market. Although the resolution of these thermal imaging cameras
is lower than the resolution of most visual photo cameras, the high
contrast image of a thermal imaging camera really is a great way to
track game. With these devices you can see the outlines of animals and
people very clearly even in total darkness and in light fog.”
The rugged FLIR Scout TS32 Pro handheld thermal imaging camera provides crisp thermal images at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels on which the smallest of details can be seen.
These four deer are easy to spot thanks to the InstAlert feature. Distance approximately 120 m.
Despite the heavy rain these young deer clearly show up on the thermal image at a distance of about 100 meters.
Also very useful during the day
Thermal imaging cameras from FLIR Systems
provide unparalleled nighttime vision, but not only will the TS-Series
handheld thermal imaging cameras help you to find animals in total
darkness; they are also very useful during the day. Costantini explains:
“Many species of animals have evolved to blend in with their
surroundings, making them hard to find for hunters or wildlife
enthusiasts. But if you use the FLIR Scout TS-Series handheld thermal
imaging camera these camouflaged animals stand out quite clearly in the
Costantini discovered that there’s more
wildlife in his area than he had expected. “Because most wildlife has
very good camouflage many of them remain undetected if you use
traditional means such as binoculars or light amplifying vision systems.
As most hunters and wildlife enthusiasts know all too well it is almost
impossible to track or trace young deer – also called fawn – in hay
fields, to name an example. With a thermal imaging camera, however, even
the most camouflaged animals become visible to the observer.”
This black hot thermal image shows two deer in the rut, distance about 60 meters.
Thanks to the InstAlert feature a buck (in the foreground) and a doe with fawn (background) clearly show up in the thermal image.
Even though these deer are huddled up closely, you can still distinguish the individual animals on the high contrast thermal image.
Saving young animals from the onslaught of the mowing machines
This makes the FLIR Scout TS-Series thermal
imaging camera especially useful, since every year young animals die
when the mowing machines come to collect the hay, according to
Costantini. “With a thermal imaging camera hunters and wildlife
enthusiasts can more effectively find the young animals hiding in the
hay and remove them from the danger zone before the mowing begins.”
Like all thermal imaging cameras the FLIR Scout
TS-Series handheld thermal imaging cameras rely on emitted heat instead
of light to create an image. The thermal imaging detector records
minute differences in the heat emission and the thermal imaging camera
then translates that information into a visible image. The fact that it
relies on thermal contrast instead of visible contrast means that
thermal imaging cameras will provide perfect vision even when camouflage
or darkness render normal eyesight completely useless.
In his experience Costantini was able to spot
just about every warm blooded animal with the FLIR Scout TS-Series
thermal imaging camera he tested. “If you have a good viewing point you
can find heat sources in meadows very quickly. And we found that not
only warm blooded animals like cats and rabbits emit heat, ants and dung
heaps also showed up quite clearly on the thermal image.”
A hare in a beet field, at a distance of about 140 meters, is easily spotted thanks to the InstAlert feature.
Light amplifying night vision system
Thermal imaging system
Designed for rough outdoors environments
The thermal imaging camera tested by Costantini
was a FLIR Scout TS32 Pro with a 2x extender, provided by FLIR products
distributor Pergam-Suisse AG. The small handheld thermal imaging camera
contains an uncooled Vanadium Oxide (VOx) microbolometer that produces
crisp thermal images at a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. Waterproof,
compact, lightweight and shock resistant, this rugged piece of equipment
is perfectly capable of coping with rough outdoor environments.
According to Costantini the FLIR Scout TS32 Pro
is extremely easy to use. “The operation is very simple and almost
completely self-explanatory. With only 5 buttons on top of the device
all camera functions are controlled. All controls are practical and are
within easy reach of the fingertips. They can be easily operated with
gloves. The shuttered eyepiece ensures that the operator is covered in
complete darkness because it prevents stray light from coming out of the
viewfinder. This helps to avoid alarming the animals.
Different versions available
The TS Series is available in different
versions. All of the rugged TS-Series handheld thermal imaging cameras
produce thermal images of either 240 x 180 or 320 x 240 pixels. Advanced
internal camera software called Digital Detail Enhancement (DDE)
delivers a perfectly crisp image without the need for user adjustments.
The unique InstAlertTM feature colors the hottest parts in the thermal
image red, making it extremely easy to spot animals in the thermal
For each TS-Series thermal imaging camera
there’s a Basic and a Pro version. The Pro versions contain useful
features: the thermal images can be saved on a removable SD card in JPEG
format by pressing a button. In addition, the Pro-versions offer the
possibility to record, video images in MPEG-4 full-screen mode. The USB2
port is used for direct transfer of images and video sequences on a
computer for your own video or photo collection.
The FLIR Scout TS32 Pro handheld thermal imaging camera allows the user to choose whether the screen should show either white hot or black hot on the thermal image.
Excellent range performance
Most versions of the TS-Series thermal imaging
cameras provide a field of view of 24°. This field of view offers an
excellent combination of range performance and situational awareness.
With a FLIR TS-Series handheld thermal imaging camera that has a
resolution of 320 x 240 pixels a deer can be spotted at about 450 meters
away, in total darkness. For situations where longer range performance
is needed a 2X extender is available. With the added functionality of
the extender a deer can be spotted at approximately 790 meters. This was
the version Costantini tested. “The version of the TS-Series I tested
was well suited for detection of wild and in all weather conditions and
in complete darkness.”
If you need an even longer range performance,
you can opt for the TS32r. This long range wildlife detection tool is
equipped with a 7° lens. Due to this narrow field of view it can be used
to spot a deer at about 1,450 meters away.
Hours of autonomous use
All versions of the TS-Series can function
autonomously for 5 hours. They are equipped with 4 rechargeable
batteries (NiMH), but replacing these with regular AA batteries is also
The FLIR Scout TS-Series thermal imaging camera
also comes standard with a “Hot Shoe”. Not only does it allow for
tripod mounting of the TS-Series, it also has a power in and video out
jack. This means that you can put the TS-Series in an inconspicuous
position and follow what is happening from a hidden location. Not only
will this help you to remain undetected, it also allows you to follow
what’s happening on a large monitor, making it even easier to spot the
animals you want to see.
The unique InstAlert feature colors the hottest parts in the thermal image red, making it extremely easy to spot animals in the thermal image.
FLIR TS-Series handheld thermal imaging camera is a great investment for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts
According to Costantini the thermal imaging
camera is particularly beneficial for hunting wild boars. “Boars can be
detected quite easily at distances of over 500 meters. The thermal
imaging camera alone is however not good enough as a shooting aid; you
still need a good scope. But finding the well camouflaged wild boars is a
lot easier if you have a thermal imaging camera.”
Costantini thinks that during the day hunters
or wildlife enthusiasts should still carry binoculars next to their FLIR
thermal imaging camera. “If you rely solely on a thermal imaging
camera, you might experience some unpleasant surprises. To put it simply
thermal imaging cameras are extremely useful to spot wildlife and even
differentiate which kind of animal it is, but to determine of what sex
the animal is or what kind of health condition you still need
For hunters the thermal imaging camera can be
very useful after the shot has been fired as well. “Often the game isn’t
killed immediately and it will bolt away. Often it will die later on,
but sometimes it is difficult to find due to the camouflage. I had such a
situation with a fox when I was testing the thermal imaging camera.
Using the camera I could find it within seconds lying dead in the
neighboring meadow. Although a thermal imaging camera will never replace
a good bloodhound, yet this application is certainly interesting,
especially if you already have the thermal imaging camera with you
According to Costantini the FLIR Scout TS32 Pro with a 2x extender is one of the best thermal imaging cameras on the
market. “I think it’s a great investment for hunting parties and
wildlife preservation organizations. It is very easy to use and I
consider it to be one of the best methods for finding and saving young
animals just before the hay harvest. The user has to be aware of the
fact that these devices do not make binoculars and shooting scopes
obsolete, but as wildlife detection tool it really is very good.”
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