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Using Black and White Thermal Imaging Vs. Color Palettes in Heat Vision Cameras

black and white

Heat vision cameras have changed the way humans are able to visualize their targets in low light or dark conditions, but they aren't all the same. Besides black thermal and white thermals, there are multiple thermal imaging color palette options to choose from depending on the application and purpose of what you're trying to accomplish.

Should You Use Black Thermal, White Thermals, or Color?

If you're looking at heat vision cameras for surveillance, measurement, or another purpose, there are a few factors to take into account. Surveillance models use monochrome screens that can provide you with a high contrast view of your target for easy tracking, while models used for measuring temperature display a spectrum of thermal color to indicate varying heat levels. Categorizing by color can help you determine the best thermal imaging color palette for your application.

Thermal Camera Color Palette Options

White Thermals

White hot is the most popular palette option and it's used primarily for hunting and surveillance. The image displayed shows warmer objects as light or white and keeps colder objects darker to provide enhanced definition.


Sepia won't strain your eyes as much in the case of prolonged use, but ultimately the visual is quite similar to white thermals in that warmer objects are displayed lighter than colder objects.

Rainbow High Contrast

Excellent for tracking animals or humans, this option showcases heat in a variety of colors to indicate the warmest spots on your target. Red indicates the highest temperatures, with a rainbow of color cooling off to blue as the temperature of your target decreases.

Black Thermal

Black thermal or black hot is the reverse of white hot and displays the polar opposite. It paints the backdrop a light or white color while warm objects grow darker as their temperature increases.

Outdoor Alert

Based on the black hot concept, outdoor alert showcases warm objects in a darker color with heat indicated by orange and yellow.


The arctic thermal camera color palette option displays cool objects in blue tones and warm objects with a gold/yellow hue. This is a great low contrast option that is easy on the eyes.


Another high contrast option for high heat vision cameras, ironbow displays warm objects in light colors and cool objects in darker colors so that anomalies can be detected accurately and without error.

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