Post Processing Thermal Images
Tip written by: Infraspection Institute
Post processing of thermal images is a common practice for many thermographers. While image processing may provide a measure of convenience for some, it can have significant drawbacks.
For many thermal imagers, infrared images can be stored in 12 bit format. Saving thermal images in 12 bit format allows thermal images to be recalled at any time and post processed for level, gain and color palette. For imaging radiometers, temperature measurement settings such as emittance may also be changed. Post processing may take place within the imager or through a separate personal computer using the manufacturer’s proprietary software.
Over time, many thermographers have adopted a policy of quickly recording imagery in the field and then returning to the comfort of their office to further process their imagery. Although post processing affords the thermographer a variety of options for image analysis, one should be aware that post processing can be time consuming. Spending as little as five minutes processing imagery can result in a substantial increase in report preparation time.
In addition to wasted time, post processing may invalidate imagery as legal evidence. Not unlike digital photography, thermal images that have been post processed are creations and not originals. Should a thermographer’s report be introduced in a claim, a competent opponent will likely question if the imagery is original. In such situations, a thermographer must be able to affirm that his/her report does not contain processed imagery.
In light of the above, we recommend that thermographers store images exactly the way they will appear in their report and endeavor to avoid post processing altogether.
Image recording and reporting are two of the many topics covered in all Infraspection Institute Certified Infrared Thermographer® training courses. For information on thermographer training and certification, visit us online at www.infraspection.com or call us at 609-239-4788.
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