`KENIS', a complete, high performance, compact and lightweight thermal imager, is built around the `OSPREY' infrared detector from BAE systems Infrared Ltd. The `OSPREY' detector uses a 384 X 288 element CMT array with a 20 micrometers pixel size and cooled to 120 K. The relatively small pixel size results in very compact cryogenics and optics, and the relatively high operating temperature provides fast start-up time, low power consumption and long operating life. Requiring single input supply voltage and consuming less than 30 watts of power, the thermal imager generates both analogue and digital format outputs. The `KENIS' lens assembly features a near diffraction limited dual field-of-view optical system that has been designed to be athermalized and switches between fields in less than one second. The `OSPREY' detector produces near background limited performance with few defects and has special, pixel level circuitry to eliminate crosstalk and blooming effects. This, together with signal processing based on an effective two-point fixed pattern noise correction algorithm, results in high quality imagery and a thermal imager that is suitable for most traditional thermal imaging applications. This paper describes the rationale used in the development of the `KENIS' thermal imager, and highlights the potential performance benefits to the user's system, primarily gained by selecting the `OSPREY' infra-red detector within the core of the thermal imager.