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Apr 06, 2020 | 11:05 pm 7011 0

Types of Thermal Pallets

Types of Thermal Pallets

The success of any hunt is dependent on the ability to track down and locate your target, therefore thermal camera’s are an ideal assistant.

We will review  the difference between various thermal palette types, but first, let's get acquainted with what a thermal pallet is.

What are Thermal Pallets

Thermal energy is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it's the invisible energy that is around us at all time but we cannot see because our eyes aren't sensitive to those wavelights. Thermal cameras need to apply what is called false color in order to take pictures of energy that we can understand.

An onboard thermal sensor detects different amounts of heat energy, then generates an image. Thermal images look like ordinary photos but they constitute a huge data set. It's a real treasure for all hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to have a clear understanding of what these colors mean.

These images are made-up of pixels. In short, the better camera resolution you have the more pixels your image will contain. In thermal imaging, each individual pixel represents a particular temperature data point that makes results better. Thermal sensors detect changes in heat energy identifying various heat sources throughout a scene and adjusting the color or shade of a pixel.

To get the most of your thermal camera you need to practice looking at different target types to learn what works best in the conditions you typically operate. 

Additionally, it is important to know that numeric temperature values are less important for law enforcement and hunting applications than body heat.

What else we need to know: User-controlled thermal palettes assign color or shading to individual pixels based on their heat energy. Changing palettes transform the appearance of a scene and highlights fundamental areas of a thermal image without altering any temperature data.

What's more, not all colors are suited for every situation. In fact, some colors can make your job even harder. So, let's see the difference.

White Hot:

White Hot is the most regularly used palette. It displays warmer objects in white and cooler objects in black. The versatility of White Hot makes it appealing for use in shifting landscapes and urban regions.


The Sepia palette applies a warm, golden hue to the White Hot palette for reduced eye and mental fatigue. Ideal for instances of prolonged thermal surveillance or scouting, Sepia's narrow visual spectrum keeps users comfortable during long viewing periods.

Rainbow HC:

Works well even in low-contrast conditions Rainbow HC, using different colors to display minute temperature variations. This type of palette is best suited for scenes with minimal heat change.

Black Hot:

Black Hot is the most beloved choice of shooters because of its high-quality and clear image. Lots of operators think that White Hot and Black Hot are simply negative images of each other but they are not. There is a lot of the differences that often one pallet can reveal things you missed with the other. For example, if there are two objects that absorbed a lot of solar radiation it may be hard to distinguish major differences in White Hot because the scene looks washed out but if you switch to black hot things can be easier to make out.

Outdoor Alert:

The purpose on which Outdoor Alert was designed is to speedily identifying body warmth. By highlighting the warmest 10% of a scene in a mix of vibrant oranges and yellows, this type of palette is perfectly satisfied for high-contrast conditions and offers stellar nighttime body heat detection.


Ironbow is good all-around color palettes, especially when looking at roofs solar panels and electrical equipment. It uses color to show heat distribution and subtle details. Hot objects are displayed in lighter, warm colors while colder ones are dark, cool colors. The most significant benefit of this palette is that it can speedily recognize body heat.


This type of palette is designed to enhance contrast by placing contrasting colors next to each other. This palette is something between Ironbow and Rainbow HC. From a drone operator's perspective, this high-contrast color palettes will give the best results when the object of interest fills enough of the screen to let you take advantage of that color separation. But be careful using them in search or public safety missions. Finding a person may be harder than with White Hot or Black Hot because there is a significant temperature difference between the target and the surroundings.

In conclusion, every person uses thermal imaging for different purposes. Some choose the simplicity of White Hot, other’s the shifting colors of Ironbow. Nevertheless, all thermal palettes have something in common - they help people to make confident, split-second decisions when it truly matters.

You can find more information about thermal imaging here:
Difference between Black and White or Color palettes on Thermal Imaging
What Do The Colors Mean In Thermal Imaging?
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