Battle of the Thermal Drone Cameras
DJI and FLIR Systems recently announced the DJI Zenmuse XT2 dual thermal and visual imaging camera. Last month, we looked at the new thermal drone camera in detail (see article), and this month it’s time to start digging a little deeper. As the newest thermal camera from DJI, we found ourselves asking “what else is out there that compares?” to which we found direct competition in the Yuneec CGO-ET dual thermal and visual imaging camera.
In this article we’ll compare the specifications, applications, features, variants and compatibility to help you decide which payload is the best choice for you…
Both payloads feature a dual image system with 1080p camera alongside a thermal imaging camera, which can record simultaneously to allow quick interpretation during playback (CGO-ET) or across live feeds (XT2). They both also feature a wide colour spectrum that enables the user to see an accurate visualisation of heat sources. Although these features make way for a decent comparison, there are a few differences to highlight in each camera spec:
Visual Camera Sensor
The CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensor of the Zenmuse XT2 measures 1.7” whereas the CGO-ET features a larger sensor at 1/3”. The Zenmuse XT2 boasts a 12-megapixel sensor, which enables the operator to capture extremely small objects and areas of focus with high resolution. However, the CGO-ET image sensor is still able to combat image quality issues and maximise low light performance with its smaller 1/3” sensor that’s combined with fewer pixels (2M).
The CGO-ET has 3-axis gimbal with 360° unlimited rotation, meaning it can rotate all the way around to focus on any point. The Zenmuse XT2 is limited to a rotational view of 330°.
Thermal Frame Rate
With a maximum thermal frame rate of 30 Hz, the Zenmuse XT2 provides a smoother visual than the CGO-ET’s ‘near’ real-time thermal imagery with 9 Hz.
The temperature measuring range (in degrees of centigrade) for the CGO-ET is -10° to 180° whereas the Zenmuse XT2 is capable of operating at more extreme temperatures (level of gain depending) from -40° to 550°. In High Gain mode, the Zenmuse XT2 will be more sensitive to temperature difference and can only work within a narrow temperature range (640×512: -25° to 135 or 336×256: -25° to 100). In Low Gain mode, the opposite takes effect and it can work within a broader temperature range (-40° to 550°).
This payload was designed for the following applications, however DJI advise it is not limited to these applications only:
Search & Rescue
Energy i.e. Solar Panel, Oil & Gas Inspections
This Yuneec payload was designed for the following applications:
Building Construction and Inspection
Inspecting Photovoltaic Systems (Solar Panels)
Agriculture & Forestry
Police & Customs Applications
Search & Rescue
Although Yuneec highlight the above as the intended applications for the CGO-ET, it’s important to note that this aircraft is also not limited solely to these and its range of application capabilities can match that of the Zenmuse XT2.
This payload packs a punch with multiple smart features including Temperature Alarm, Quick Track, Isotherms and PiP Options. All of the XT2’s smart features can be applied in situ, enabling the operator to gain real-time insight and understanding of the selected object or environment. Read our previous article to learn more about each of these features.
The CGO-ET is full of great features to take your operations to the next level, including:
– Capture amazing details with night vision and low-light capability due to its large infrared sensors.
– 3-axis gimbal with 360° yaw axis rotation for smooth footage.
– Pre-set temperature ranges for various applications e.g. Solar, Gases, Electrical Leak, House Fire, Victim/Suspect (H520 version only)
– Adjustable opacity of the IR image over the RGB image.
– View thermal imaging and low light visuals either simultaneously, separately, picture-in-picture or as an overlay.
The Zenmuse XT2 can be mounted onto any M200 Series drone (M200, M210 & M210 RTK) as well as the Matrice 600 Pro. However, the Zenmuse XT2 will lack some intelligent features including Heat Track and Quick Track when flown on a Matrice 600 Pro drone.
Depending on a range of factors not limited to the aircraft, the flight time will adjust. The following table illustrates the maximum flight times when flying in optimal conditions.
The CGOET is available for both the Typhoon H and the H520. However, the CGOET for the H520 does includes some additional features, such as; improved thermal imaging output; crossfade of overlay is now infinitely adjustable; pre-set temperature ranges for various applications, and additional colour palettes.
There are various models available for the Zenmuse XT2 –
As mentioned in compatibility, there are 2 models available for the Yuneec CGOET:
All in all, DJI’s Zenmuse XT2 takes the biscuit for technical capabilities. However, it’s at a higher price point than the Yuneec CGO-ET. We’re unable to publish the exact prices of the Zenmuse XT2, but you get what you pay for and if you’d like a quotation, please feel free to contact us via the details below. In the meantime, we should point out that although the Zenmuse XT2 comes out on top overall, the CGO-ET still has excellent capabilities and with a lower price point it’s a great option for many individuals and organisations. The Zenmuse XT2 is perfect for high-risk operations such as oil and gas inspections, offshore inspections, inspecting hazardous materials and search & rescue. Whereas, being the most competitively priced thermal imaging payload on the market, we believe the CGO-ET is the answer public services in the UK have been looking for. Police and Fire services can now benefit from the addition of a dual visual & thermal payload to their kit, without breaking the budget!
DJI Zenmuse XT2 – Enquire Now