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Thread: Your thoughts on FLIR K40 or K50

  1. #1
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    Default Your thoughts on FLIR K40 or K50

    Anyone willing to share their experiences with either the FLIR K40 or K50? Looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thanks in advance.

    Skojo

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    Have no experience with either. Keep in mind, repairs will need to be shipped back to Europe I belief for any issues.

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    Default NFPA Compliance

    I too am interested in any experience, especially with the FLIR K-50. The company has a lot of experience outside of the fire service. This is their attempt to gain market share. The official line is that the K-40 and K-50 are designed to NFPA specifications. But no independent testing lab has tested for compliance. A FLIR marketing person indicated that they hope to start testing in 2014. This seems to be a weak response by someone who hopes to sell their products to the fire service. The issue is quite simple, purchase 4 K-50's, one for each of our first response engines, or purchase only 2 of another manufacturer for the same price.

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    We have had a Flir K-50 in service for probably 4 months now, and we have been very happy with it so far. The actual image it provides is top notch, and comparable to any other imager we tested, and superior to many. The lanyard system for carrying the TIC is not the best or the worst in the world, and the truck charger is a little on the large side, and not the most robust. Overall when comparing image quality, ergonomics, and battery life, we could not justify the additional cost of any of the competitors over this camera. We were able to purchase quite a bit of other equipment we needed with the $4000 we saved by going with the Flir. So far I could recommend this camera to anyone considering it.

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    We're in mid Indiana. On the IL state line. We have been using a Cairns Viper since they came out several years ago. We demo'd Scott, MSA and Argus. At the last minute I emailed FLIR to request a demo for the K40. A WS Darley Rep called me 5 minutes later and arranged a demo for us yesterday evening at 6:00pm.

    FLIR is a trusted name in this industry. Police night vision helicopters use the FLIR cameras on the nose...right? They used to make the internals for the MSA camera until they announced their own entry into the market. They make their own unit. The warranty is 2 years total and 10 on the internal components. Nobody beats that. The standard features beat everyone elses. You get 5 view modes, it's a nice size/weight and batteries are inexpensive to replace. The other models we demo'd only had one view mode. 4 hours run time each battery. Properly sized large screen. Truck charger station is an extra $750. But so is everyone elses. Also any software upgrades are free from FLIR.

    For a price of $3940 versus everyone elses $6000+ it was a no brainer. Darley says they sell them 4 to 1 over their MSA and Argus models. We could find no faults with the unit. It will do anything we would expect and more. Sure beats our old Viper.

    When you make your own units in house...the low price becomes understandable. They don't make bunker gear and fire helmets. Nor do they make SCBA. They make imagers for military and police. And now fire service. So the price advantage isn't because it's not a good device.
    Last edited by 2Chief; 04-04-2014 at 01:45 PM.

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    So my department just got the flir k50. I have yet to use it on a fire just yet but right out of the box I'm skeptical. I tested it side by side of our old msa evolution 5200. Shine them both on a person, the flir k50 is showing people to be 82-84 degrees, where the old MSA is showing people at 96-98 degrees. So which is more accurate? Yes I'm sure the skin temp is 82-84 and it is showing on the skin. But body temp is obviously going to be closer to 98 degrees. Shine it in a cup of water of cold water, flir shows 30 degrees, MSA shows 55 degrees? No ice in the water and it wasn't a block of ice so I'm guessing it was much closer to 55 degrees. Why the difference? I don't know.

    So why does this make a difference, especially when you are looking for a hot fire? I've used it to find people in car wrecks that were ejected in a brushy area down a hills on a dark night. On a warm summer night it could very well be 82 degrees and if that is what a person shows up as, they could hide very well. But it is pretty unlikely it will be 98 degrees out in the dark most anywhere. It also makes me question it's ability to penetrate. If it can't even show a persons accurate body temp because it only shows what their skin temp, is it only going to show the temp on the surface of dry wall and not the hidden fire under the drywall? Also I don't even understand the cup of water. It makes me thinks it's just less accurate. Most of the time I use a thermal image camera accuracy is very very important. A few degrees of accuracy can make a difference between what I think looks like a suspicious heat signature and not...............Jury is still out on it, but my initial impression is not good so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2Chief View Post

    FLIR is a trusted name in this industry. Police night vision helicopters use the FLIR cameras on the nose...right?
    Are you sure they are the same company? FLIR is the acronym for Forward Looking Infrared, not necessarily the company that is selling the product? I don't know, just wondering if this isn't a Xerox type of thing.

    As for the temperature readings being off? I'd question at what temperature was the pyrometer "set". Nearly every measuring meter has a sweet spot, and as you go above or below that the deviation increases. So if MSA calibrates their pyrometer at room temps, such as 100 F, then measuring closer to that will be more accurate. And if FLIR or another sets the pyrometer at a greater temperature where they anticipate the TIC to be used, say 500 F it's likely less accurate when measuring at standard room temps?

    The above being said, I've never handled the FLIR units and am just starting our search for a replacement camera for our older ISG. So I certainly will be interested to look one over along with the others on the market.

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    So just a day later I had the chance to look over the FLIR K40(?) The higher resolution one. I did check look at the temp readout and found skin temps at 82F but other items in the room were right at anticipate room temp, thus I suspect skin temp is not typically the standard 98.6F without contact to transfer the heat?

    The pros: price is the biggest, but the picture trigger as a standard feature (no camera options, just two models and a truck charger option). The multiple modes allowed decent quality imaging, and there is stateside service. In our area the TICs go to Nashua, NH. There are color and non-color modes, hi gain lock and low gain lock to assist with anticipated temps in the area you're looking (hi-gain for search, low gain for fire, maybe vice versa?). Batteries are just $150 each if they need to be replaced. The package comes with two, a standard charger, the TIC and some lanyards all in a Pelican style case.

    The cons: It's not cooled internally, so the camera will shut down if the internals get up to 185F? We couldn't get a read on how quick that could occur at the safe floor level. I'd like to stick it in the oven until it warned of shut down, just to gauge the time at say, 350 F? No thermal throttle or whatever ISG calls the similar feature (hot spot tracker?), but that's about the only feature missing from a comparable camera at twice to the price.

    On interesting item we had never seen or heard of was the TIC for IPhone 5. Apparently they're tossing one in with every camera. One of our firefighters downloaded the app (1-2 minutes) and was able to use the TIC on her Iphone. Not a great for interior work, but maybe as an outside size-up tool? It worked and allows photos and video along with multiple colorization options. Pretty impressive if not a tad on the gimmicky side. But again, it did function as a TIC.

    We can buy two for the price of one of other camera we were considering without a loss of screen size, certainly making us look to demo and prove it works or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    So just a day later I had the chance to look over the FLIR K40(?) The higher resolution one. I did check look at the temp readout and found skin temps at 82F but other items in the room were right at anticipate room temp, thus I suspect skin temp is not typically the standard 98.6F without contact to transfer the heat?

    The pros: price is the biggest, but the picture trigger as a standard feature (no camera options, just two models and a truck charger option). The multiple modes allowed decent quality imaging, and there is stateside service. In our area the TICs go to Nashua, NH. There are color and non-color modes, hi gain lock and low gain lock to assist with anticipated temps in the area you're looking (hi-gain for search, low gain for fire, maybe vice versa?). Batteries are just $150 each if they need to be replaced. The package comes with two, a standard charger, the TIC and some lanyards all in a Pelican style case.

    The cons: It's not cooled internally, so the camera will shut down if the internals get up to 185F? We couldn't get a read on how quick that could occur at the safe floor level. I'd like to stick it in the oven until it warned of shut down, just to gauge the time at say, 350 F? No thermal throttle or whatever ISG calls the similar feature (hot spot tracker?), but that's about the only feature missing from a comparable camera at twice to the price.

    On interesting item we had never seen or heard of was the TIC for IPhone 5. Apparently they're tossing one in with every camera. One of our firefighters downloaded the app (1-2 minutes) and was able to use the TIC on her Iphone. Not a great for interior work, but maybe as an outside size-up tool? It worked and allows photos and video along with multiple colorization options. Pretty impressive if not a tad on the gimmicky side. But again, it did function as a TIC.

    We can buy two for the price of one of other camera we were considering without a loss of screen size, certainly making us look to demo and prove it works or not.
    We just bought a K50. The guys used a few demos in some trainings, yes we could have probably done a full scale eval but we just didn't have time. I have one older Bullard that was deemed irreparable by Bullard, and another Bullard that is estimated going to cost me $4,000 to fix. I bought one K50 as quickly as we could since we were down two imagers. May buy another new imager instead of a $4K repair on a ten year old TI. (I'm not slamming Bullard, our two are not new at all and owe us nothing.)

    I'll make no bones about it, I'm a huge ISG fan. I like the product image quality, etc. I know sales folks in the company so I worked all angles to try and buy one at a bargain, a demo, etc. I also like Bullard well enough. We currently own three Bullard T3s (all older) and two ISGs that have been upgraded to the Elite XR standard if I recall correctly (they have the black case with new guts.) I'd love an ISG X or E380. They were just so incredible expensive.

    The K50 has a decent enough image quality. There is something very similar to a thermal throttle as you can set it to colorize the hottest item in a room. As an example, it will make heat ducts glow red in a normal room temperature, so you should be able to find hotspots quickly. The size is nice, it is light, and the price can't be beat. I believe we were at $5800 with truck charger, camera and two batteries.

    Is it the best camera on the market? Don't know yet. Was it an exceptional value for a department that is pinching pennies at the moment due to shrinking tax income, who needs to buy two cameras in a couple months? Very much so.

    Made in Estonia. I don't care. FLIR states they will have service centers on the east and west coast. Lots of my MSA electronic components aren't made here either. If we had only one TI and just one TI, maybe I'd worry about it. We're spoiled and have an imager on every engine and the quint, including the reserve engine. I really don't want to give that up.
    Last edited by npfd801; 12-04-2014 at 04:26 AM.

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    We're looking for our first TIC and we've checked out the K-50, the MSA 9600, Scott's Eagle attack, and the Bullard Eclipse series. The FLIR camera cost 1/2 the price of the MSA ($7799) and the Eagle is $6885. The Bullard even more. For the money the K-50 is far ahead of the rest for what we're looking for. As a rural dept, we are primarily looking for hot spots before we fold up and head back to the station.

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    NPFD801: Thanks, we too are under time constraints that running full test will be difficult and to be honest seems unnecessary as so many FD's have tested TIC's it's hard to belive we'll stumble on something no one else did. The one issue I am stuck on is that it sounds as if the FLIR might shutdown in the self-preserve mode sooner than others when exposed to moderate heat. I'm not concerned with the high heat as I'd be more concerned about my guys carrying the TIC at that point, but at common floor level temps, will the unit sustain 15 minutes then a hand-off and another 15? Realizing temps typically won't be sustained, but for the sake of argument better to have more time than less.

    I too am a big ISG fan when they're working. Out of the box I've yet to see a TIC with a better image. Our issue has been that we seem to have our ISG TIC's out of service a couple of times a year at 2-3 weeks at a time. I'm leaning toward buying 3 FLIR's over one ISG all with the higher resolution.

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    We were able to purchase 4 K50's with a AFG grant about a year or so ago. We have not had any issues with them. When we put the cameras out for bid, I requested bids from ISG (now owned by SCOTT from what I hear), Scott, MSA, FLIR and Bullard. When the reps heard that FLIR was one of the cameras we were looking at, we ended up getting bids from only FLIR and Bullard. The others refused to submit a bid. We are currently looking at purchasing 2 more K50's. We have had other departments in the area come over to look at the FLIR's. One department just ordered 2 for them.

    To us, the picture was the best out of all of the camera's that we looked at, the ease of handling, the weight and price were also major considerations for us. It did come down to the FLIR or ISG. We have never had a "shutdown" of this camera and we have had these TIC's in a couple of real good hot fires with no problems.

    I hope that this helps you out.
    RFDACM02 likes this.

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    I like them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruffneck View Post
    I like them.
    Seeing how you started this thread, can you elaborate on what you found in any research, use or purchase?

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    I believe Skojo started the thread, but I'll be happy to give my two cents on the FLIR K series. I haven't seen or heard anything negative about them other than some lanyard issues and I believe that is being addressed at FLIR. My reaction to every new generation of TIC that has come across has been how much smaller they have become and the K series is no different. The camera seems to be easy to work and does give a better quality image than the MSAs we are currently carrying on most our apparatus. The only other TIC I've worked with is an old Bullard, or what I affectionately called my anchor.

    FLIR has been around for a while and from what I see coming out they are taking thermal imaging to new levels. Heck, you can get it for your smart phones now. The price seems right too.

    Stay safe!
    RFDACM02 likes this.

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