FLIR K33 Thermal Imaging Camera Review 

 July 7, 2017

By  Randy Angwin

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Last updated on September 17, 2022

Once in a while a gadget enters the market that could make you wish you had chosen a different career. That’s often the effect with FLIR’s range of thermal imaging cameras. The ability to see details of a room thanks to thermal imaging is quite an exciting notion.

Of course, firefighters use it in firefighting applications, it’s also a matter of life & death. Even in the lower end models such as the K33 reviewed below, you still find the brand’s excellent technology that’s magic to have in hand.

We did some thorough research so you can determine whether this is what your team of firefighters need. 

FLIR - Get to Know the Brand

First you need to know more about the company FLIR. This will help you have faith in the product and help you pick the best possible device from their range.  

FLIR entered the market in 1978 and from the start became a market leader in the infrared imaging industry. Initially this was specifically for airborne applications. A few years later its niche widened to also include tools that can be used in other commercial applications and be handheld. Some of the popular features included:

  • Temperature differences could be measured
  • There was superior image quality
  • The range included laboratory systems

The company joined powers with other entities such as acquiring Hughes Aircraft Company’s industrial infrared imaging group in the 1990s and Agema in 1998. Combining all these resources led to the company making an even greater impact, faster than even they expected.

Many other companies have been acquired over the years and today their exceptional set of tools is the result of the many resources have been combined. They can now employ 3 000+ employees and operate all over the globe.

The benefit to you is that this can now be placed in your hands to keep yourself or others a little safer than before. Is the FLIR K33 the one you’ll try out? 

FLIR K33 Specifications

Here’s what you can expect in the FLIR K33:

  • Dimensions: 11”x 4.9”x 4.7”
  • Weight: 2.4lb
  • Field of view: 51°x 38°
  • Focal length: 9mm
  • Resolution: 240 x 180
  • Image Frequency: 60Hz
  • Object temperature range: +32°F to +1202°F
  • Screen size: 4”
  • Screen resolution: 320 × 240 pixels
  • Operating temperature range: -4°F - 185°F
  • Battery type: Lithium Ion
  • Battery life: 4 hours operating time
  • Languages supported: English
  • Color: Black

All of these features give firefighters a clearer view of their surroundings when they operate in low visibility scenarios. Even if they’re surrounded by smoke, thermal imaging tells them about details, structural aspects and more.

Features of the K33

One of the most impressive features is how durable this unit is. No matter where you use this, it’s bound to be dropped once in a while. With this one you usually won’t have a problem if dropped from a height of 6.6ft or lower, even if it lands on a concrete floor. It’s even somewhat water resistant with an IP67 rating. 

The extreme durability is in part thanks to the durable material which includes a flame resistant magnesium alloy and rubber aluminum.  

Added to this you have a design which is specifically made for firefighters. That means every day use won’t quickly wear down the components.  

Turning to the intricate workings of the K33 you also see application specific features. The screen is larger than many others on the market, which is very practical for firefighters. In emergency circumstances you need clear information, which won’t be possible via a miniscule screen.

Fire Mode

Added to the large screen is the improved resolution when you compare this model to some other FLIR products. This isn’t top of the range yet, but a great combination of some of their best features. 

In this model you’ll see the textural and structural details are much more enhanced than on some previous models. Once again this is convenient for firefighters where every bit of information can help make more appropriate decisions. They have more data and an improved perspective of what’s really going on around them. It also prevents them from becoming disorientated. They can make more accurate calls on:

  • The safest point of entry
  • Where objects are located

In part, this is thanks to Flexible Scene Enhancement (FSX™) technology.

It seems FLIR really tries to assist users in every way possible. Whether you’re a firefighter or using it in other industries, chances are you’ll be wearing gloves. Therefore, you need simple functions and you don’t want to take off your gloves to get it right. That’s possible with the K33:

  • A glove friendly button serves to power it up.
  • You pull a trigger which makes the unit capture an image.

Note that this model does not support onboard archives as higher end models do.

If you prefer mounting your camera on a tripod it is possible, but you’ll need an adapter. You may also want to invest in some of FLIR’s excellent accessories, such as a neck strap or additional battery charger.

The four hour battery life is more than impressive for such high tech devices.

Flir K33 thermal imager for firefighters

All of this is wrapped up with FLIR’s exceptional warranty called the 2-5-10 warranty:

  • The battery is covered for 2 years
  • Parts and labor have 5 year warranties
  • The detector will be covered for 10 years


  • Large HD screen
  • Durable
  • Easy to use when wearing gloves
  • Great warranty


  • Expensive unit, though affordable option from this brand
  • Can’t record video
  • Doesn’t record images

Closing Thoughts & Suggestions:

There’s no question that this is a great option to keep you - if you operate in low visibility scenarios - or your team of firefighters safer. Is there a better option? Yes, FLIR has even more impressive tools: If you require stored video footage you may want to look at some other FLIR products.

But still, the FLIR K33 is an excellent combination of features that come at an affordable rate for most. It makes for a worthwhile investment. 

About the author 

Randy Angwin

Randy Angwin holds a master of science degree from University of Florida. He is an expert in infrared and night vision technology. His knowledge helps us staying on top of the latest trends in the thermal industry. When not working, Randy likes to hunt and spend time with his two German shepherds.

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