MSX or Multi Spectral Dynamic Imaging is a feature available with selected Flir cameras. I have recently had the opportunity  to try this out in a working environment, and have decided to post my opinion here.

I personally have a mixed view about this. On the one hand it is a fantastic feature, and it does work very well, on the other hand I do feel that the information that it presents is potentially confusing if not explained properly.

First of all lets look at what it is. MSX does add incredible detail to thermal images that has not been available before now, it provides visible spectrum definition within a thermal image. It does this by inserting details from a visual digital photo, into a thermal image. There is no doubt that it does provide better target identification, and it will definitely have  many new possibilities for thermographer’s in future. It also has the affect of making some images look like they are megapixel images.

The really good.


Visual photograph of a compressor.


Standard Thermal Image of the above compressor.


Thermal Image with MSX, note the additional detail from the visual image inserted into the thermal image.

While this feature is fantastic, for those that don’t understand it may confuse, as it is difficult to tell what information is coming from the visual, and what is pure thermal. My main concern is that it would cause problems for new thermographer’s, and possibly also for customers. There is also a noticeable parallax, but it is tolerable, and is not so bad as to cause a problem. This is workable even at the relatively short distance used during an electrical survey, and of course as you would expect with Flir, it can be tweaked afterwards in the software. There is however the potential to give the wrong impression to new users. The image below was taken of an electrical panel, with a clear perspex flash guard in place. The perspex is of course transparent to the digital camera, but it is not transparent to the infrared. It creates the impression that you can image through the perspex, and this is not the case. So while I do feel that MSX is a fantastic new tool, and very definitely has uses in many instances, care must be taken to explain it to potential camera users and customers, and people need to be educated properly about the differences between visual and thermal.


To sum up, I like it, I won’t use it all the time, but it has its place in my box of tricks, and I will certainly use it when I feel it is appropriate. It has the ability to make target identification a lot clearer, and help customers relate the thermal image to what they see visually. But I will be careful not to overuse this, the same as other analysis techniques.

Proper education has always been essential, but I feel it is more important with advanced analysis techniques like this. Infrared ignorance has always been something that needs to be tackled head on, and it important to remember that while our jobs as thermographers have become much easier over the years, the science has remained pretty much the same, and education is still of paramount importance.




Originally posted July 2012