How Flir Uses MSX to Enhance Thermal Imagery

Aspiring thermographers, home inspectors, and drone operators are often overwhelmed when it comes time to choose a thermal imaging camera.  There are hundreds of options and choosing a make and model can be seen as a commitment like Mac or PC for computers, Iphone or Android for smartphones, DJI or…for drones? Just kidding, DJI, of course. Your ability to provide quality infrared services to your clients can depend on the level of expertise you bring to the table, so it can be truly helpful to master a single platform.  The market for handheld thermal imaging cameras is dominated by two major companies: FLUKE and FLIR.  Both offer their own distinct accessory technologies, but today we’re going to focus on FLIR and its proprietary MSX technology.

What is FLIR MSX?

FLIR, today’s leading provider or IR imaging systems, was founded in 1978 as a provider of IR imaging systems installed on vehicles for use in conducting energy audits. FLIR’s trademarked innovation, MSX, is an abbreviation for ‘Multi-spectral Dynamic Imaging’ technology, and has greatly improved the ability of thermographers to extract valuable insights from their imagery by adding in visual details in real time.  The image below provides a quick visual example of what infrared images appear when MSX is toggled on and when it is off.




MSX adds visible light details from an infrared image (ex 1) which enhance the image’s detail and visibility, producing what you see in example 2 (ex 2).

MSX technology is able to work its magic when utilizing two built in cameras, a thermal camera and a visible light camera. MSX technology extracts the key visible image elements such as: words, numbers and other high-contrast edge details.  In this example MSX technology increases the quality of the image without compromising temperature data.

On most of FLIR’s handheld thermal cameras, MSX is a toggle-able feature that is visible on the camera’s viewfinder and screen. If you would like to edit an MSX picture, you must do that through FlirTools, FLIR’s free editing software for editing and analyzing imagery.  There you can turn your basic thermal photos into highly valuable and professional inspection reports.

You can see in the video below there is a great improvement in accuracy and dynamic range when the MSX image mode is enabled. In standard thermal images, labels, surface detail, and objects behind glass are invisible, but with MSX, you can make out a precise level of detail that is usually impossible in standard thermal imagery.

Why is MSX Beneficial?


  • MSX does not distort the thermal image
    • Images taken with the MSX feature are not fused images, using FlirTools the thermal image can be viewed separately from the MSX copy
  • Fine details are now visible
    • Readability of numbers and letters
    • Clearer depth
    • Natural outlining and edges
  • When an image is taken with MSX on both the thermal and the digital photo are saved
    • FlirTools editing software provides:
      • the ability to extract the thermal and digital image
      • MSX manual tuning
      • side by side viewing of the thermal a digital image

Fine-tuning an MSX image creates clear and easily distinguishable details that are important for professional level thermal imagery. 

Next Steps

Choosing a FLIR infrared camera can be a great choice when launching your thermal imaging journey.  If you choose to go this route, learning how to utilize MSX technology will be an important part of becoming an indispensable professional infrared thermographer.  We hope you found this information useful. If you are interested in dronegenuity drone pilot jobs, or if you’d like to get more great drone industry content from dronegenuity, simply follow us on our social media channels: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates.


About the Author

Ethan Swansey