Despite the fact that The Snell Group makes it crystal clear in class that we are vendor-neutral, I am often asked for advice about camera brands. Now naturally I have a brand preference as an individual because as individuals we’re wired that way. We all have favorites for various things. Coke or Pepsi, baseball or football, Lebron James or Michael Jordan--whatever the arena is, we have favorites. My brand preference, however, is exactly that; mine. I have my reasons, and they’re likely different than the reasons you might consider important. Somewhere along the training journey though, I might let it slip what my preferences are. When I do, I make sure to emphasize that it isn’t an endorsement, just my personal preference.
There is a particular situation, however, where I will advise a student or customer to choose a specific brand. The one time that I’ll advise you to buy Brand X is this: when you already own a Brand X and it’s working well for you.
At trade shows I listen to the brand ambassadors for IR imagers, vibe instruments and all manner of equipment extoll the virtues of their product lines. The plain truth is that across the brands they’re all pretty good. They all work in similar ways and many time use similar components. However when it comes to analysis and reporting software, most of the time if I have a Brand A imager, I can’t open the images taken with it in Brand B’s processing software and vice versa. Th images are saved in proprietary formats and don’t interchange with other manufacturers’ software.
For the sake of consistency, I sometimes advise that if you’re adding imagers to your group, that you consider going with what you already have if all other things are equal because of data compatibility with past images. For the most part that means that the images you took 6-7 years ago can still be viewed and manipulated with the software for the camera you bought last month. There are exceptions to this, however, so make sure you double check with the imager manufacturer. There are some organizations I visit that have a mixed bag of equipment, and it almost always leads to problems in regard to being able to share information between groups that have different brands of imagers.
So, if you’ve got an imager you’re happy with, stick with that brand as you add equipment. If you happen to find yourself in the unenviable position of having either a brand of camera no longer supported, or are unhappy with the brand you’re using, remember that we have an On-Demand Webinar and a White Paper that helps you explore camera features that you might need for your applications and budget. Once you explore all the options you can make a more informed choice. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance either–it’s what we do.