Delkin Devices SensorScope and VisibleDust Sensor Loupe

Delkin Devices SensorScope and VisibleDust Sensor Loupe

The SensorScope screws into your SLR’s lens mount.

 

SLR photographers and Lady Macbeth are both known for shouting, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” But it’s not blood on the hands that has photographers in a huff, it’s dust invading the precious sensor of an SLR camera. Though dust has always plagued photographers, it’s particularly irksome that cameras capable of doing a gazillion calculations per second still can’t keep their sensors dust-free.

 

Dust on a camera’s sensor can make for some unsightly blotches on your pictures, like a booger-looking splotch under your subject’s nose or a diaphanous UFO hovering in the sky. Some SLR manufacturers have tried to dump dust by using vibrations to knock it off the protective filter that fronts the camera’s sensor, but stubborn particles need to be blown or swabbed away.

 

But before swabbing your sensor, you need to locate the dust, which usually requires shooting an out-of-focus image of a light-colored wall or the sky with the lens stopped down to a small aperture, and then checking it upside-down on your Mac’s display. This shows the exact position of the particles on the sensor when you look at it with the lens removed and the camera’s mirror locked up. The SensorScope and Sensor Loupe make this arduous dust-finding task easier, allowing direct inspection of the sensor through a lighted magnifier without having to shoot before-and-after test images.

 

The SensorScope is a 2.5-inch-long, tubular magnifying lens with four embedded white LEDs powered by two CR2025 button batteries that are secured in a latching compartment. When the SensorScope is attached to your SLR camera’s lens chamber, the camera mirror flips up, exposing the sensor behind it. Because the SensorScope is in a fixed position, it’s not easy to use while you’re wearing eyeglasses. Nevertheless, its well-balanced light field enabled us to see even the tiniest bits of dust that had accumulated.

 

We tried the SensorScope on both a Canon 20D and a Pentax K100D. Due to the SensorScope’s narrow field of view, we couldn’t always see the sensor’s corners without shifting our eyes - a minor inconvenience. What really was a hassle, though, was having to continually press down hard on the light switch’s pressure pad to keep the SensorScope lit. It just made the entire procedure awkward, like tapping your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.

 

The Sensor Loupe uses six bright LEDs to highlight the dust on an SLR sensor.

 

The Sensor Loupe is 1.25 inches long and has a positive on-off switch. It’s powered by the same kind and number of batteries as the SensorScope, but unfortunately, its battery-compartment latch is weak and occasionally slipped open. We wound up taping it shut.

 

In our tests, the Sensor Loupe gave a full edge-to-edge sensor view. And because it’s not inserted into the camera chamber, its distance can be varied, making it easy to use while wearing glasses. However, its extreme brightness blew out one near-microscopic dust particle that the SensorScope had detected on the K100D’s sensor. Though dust this minuscule is negligible, our perfection gene kicked in - we covered a couple of the Sensor Loupe’s LEDs with tape, dimming the brightness and making the previously unseen dust visible.

 

After you find dust, how do you clean your sensor? Delkin sells a DigitalDuster cleaning kit ($150 bundled with the SensorScope, $70 cleaning kit only). VisibleDust also sells a variety of cleaning kits and tools.

 

The bottom line. You can find dust by shooting photos and using an imaging application, but that takes time and expertise. Both the SensorScope and Sensor Loupe do an excellent job of pinpointing dust on SLR sensors, so when you shout “Out, damned spot!” you can make it happen.

 

SENSORSCOPE

COMPANY: Delkin Devices

CONTACT: www.delkin.com
PRICE: $89.99

REQUIREMENTS: Digital SLR
Shows small dust particles. Includes front and back lens caps. Good documentation.

Light-switch button must be pressed continuously to stay on. Corners on some sensors are difficult to see.

 

 

SENSOR LOUPE

COMPANY: VisibleDust
CONTACT: www.visibledust.com
PRICE: $72.14

REQUIREMENTS: Digital SLR
Bright illumination. Can be used while wearing eyeglasses. Wide-angle view makes sensor corners easy to see.
Weak latch on battery compartment cover. Needs to be kept level to avoid reflections.

 

 

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