If you’ve ever seen thermal imaging footage, there’s a good chance it was captured with an infrared camera developed by Oregon-based FLIR Systems, a company that specializes in the design and manufacturing of thermal imaging cameras.
It’s for that reason that drone manufacturer DJI has teamed up with FLIR to create the Zenmuse XT, a thermal imaging camera and gimbal designed to be used on DJI’s Inspire and Matrice 100 drones.
We in the photography world often think of drone imagery as an artistic endeavor, but the reality is that the applications for aerial footage goes far beyond capturing sprawling scenery and sporting events.
This can be seen in DJI and FLIR’s newly-announced partnership, which puts the focus on more industrialized applications, such as fire rescue, law enforcement, surveying and farming.
The Zenmuse XT comes in two variations: one offering 640 x 512 pixel resolution and the other 336 x 256 pixel resolution. Also varying between models are lens sizes, which start at 6.8mm and go up to 19mm. Video is output as an MP4, while stills are shot as either 8-bit JPEGs or 14-bit TIFF files.
These new cameras are meant to act as a more affordable option for smaller operations who need access to thermal imaging without the cost of larger setups, often reserved for military applications.
Specifically, DJI says ‘adding thermal imaging as an additional sensor options for aerial platforms will open up new and innovative uses for our users, whether it’s gaining strategic insight into how their crops are growing or more efficiently understanding the spread of fires.’
Like other DJI Zenmuse gimbal systems, the Zenmuse XT will be able to transmit live video using its Lightbridge technology, a key component in dangerous and high-risk situations. As can be seen in the above image, the display will allow operators to access spot meter temperature measurements, apply digital soon, change capture settings and adjust the palette for more fine-tuned control of what’s being captured.
No specific date or price point is set, but DJI says the Zenmuse XT should be available ‘early 2016.’
It’s easy to see why these two companies have partnered up. Each has a technology that the other could use to reach an entirely new market. It’ll be interesting to see how else DJI expands their market share in the future. Already, they’re working on implementing more serious mirrorless systems, so who knows, maybe a partnership with Nikon or Canon could be in the future.
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