Delkin Devices SensorScope Sensor Cleaning System

 

This week we're reviewing the Delkin Devices Sensorscope sensor cleaning kit!

Routine maintenance takes time and money, but where should you invest it?  Sure, the saying goes, "You date a camera body, you marry a lens,"  but just because you'll eventually likely replace it doesn't mean you should neglect it.  To that end today we review a sensor cleaning system by Delkin Devices, the Sensor Scope system!

 

Single Sentence Summary

I honestly prefer my Arctic Butterfly for sensor cleaning, but I use it all the time to clean everything else - for whatever that's worth.

Why I Bought It

Initially I bought it for a number of reasons, first and foremost to clean my sensor.  When I think of sensor cleanings I tend to view two separate approaches, 1. Field cleaning - cleaning that occurs only as an emergency when I'm either deployed with the military, and 2. Detailing - a routine comprehensive cleaning and function testing that I perform at the office or at home. I bought this one, for the latter of the two, because it offered so many features and versatility, and since it's stored at the office, not lugged around with me traveling, I don't mind that it's a bit bigger of a case.

For those of you who are wondering what I use for field cleaning, I carry the following in a little roll-up bag: A VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly 724, a handful of Kinetronics Speckgrabbers, a little LED pen I bought from Home Depot, a LensPen Hurricane Blower, a handful of microfiber cloths, and some lens and sensor fluids.

What I Like

The LED lit scope is an incredible tool for inspecting the camera for dirt, grease, or any other issues. It fits perfectly, and really helps me see the problem up close so I can determine the appropriate response.  The last thing anyone wants is to drag dirt across their sensor. I love how the LED's on the SensorScope and on the Sensor Vac let me see what I'm dealing with up close. Plus I routinely use it to look for dirt all over the camera, particularly under the edges of the zoom and focus rings.

The vacuum made it quite easy to grab little specks of dust/hair, etc., and was gentle enough that it would never damage anything (assuming it's used cautiously).  The little LED on the vacuum makes it very easy to see exactly what you're targeting with it, and how close to the sensor you are.

The wand swab sizes varied, so I could easily clean both my full frame and crop sensors, and the microfiber cloth is much thicker than most. I'm not sure why, but I like that.  I feel like most of my cloths are disposable, but this one I treat like gold, lol.

Though I'm going to mention that I don't like the build quality of the case in the next section, I do enjoy the fact that it has a case to neatly organize so many tools into.  My wife will tell you that I'm not very OCD about anything, but when it comes to my camera gear I definitely have my preferences, and this one sets my heart at ease.

I also enjoy that the Sensor Vac has a USB connection option.  Most of my maintenance happens with the laptop nearby to confirm calibrations, etc. afterwards.  I already spend enough time labeling, charging, packing, and storing my AA's, I don't like adding any more than I need to my workflow.

What I Don't

To be honest I've found that when it comes to actually cleaning the sensor, it's not too often that I need to actually use solution and swab it.  I'll generally start by using the scope itself to look at the sensor up close just to see if anything needs to be done.  Honestly at least 80% of the time it's something that can be swept with the Arctic Butterfly.  As that's much simpler and less risky process, I usually don't even use the swabs themselves save from my quarterly maintenance.

Also, the batteries for the Sensor Vac are a bit of a pain to change (if you don't use the USB).  I don't understand why they made it such a ridiculous thing to access.  Every TV controller since the 1980's has had easy access to swap batteries, it's hardly rocket science, but they took the same design and dropped a single screw into it.  Presumably they did it because they hate us.  I have no idea why a better system wasn't implemented.

The rubber caps for the magnifying glass can be kinda dirt magnets.  It's that type of un-coated rubber that is uber-"grippy" (for lack of a better word), and any fine hair, dirt, etc. seems to cling to it like my four year old to a pack of Skittles.  Admittedly I do my detailed sensor maintenance in clean environments, and I always keep the magnifier in a plastic bag in the case, but it just seems like a poor decision.

The case, although a nice to have, feels like it's a few cents of plastic away from being as solid as it should be.  It's not that the plastic is flimsy or thin, but I feel like they could have invested a bit more into making the case a bit more sturdy.  It's particularly confusing because they have holes where you can put a lock into the handles on either side, but the plastic would easily cut or crack if you applied pressure.  I certainly wouldn't toss this into a Pelican loosely with any of my bigger gear, nor do I think it would fair well inside of one of my loaded cases in the belly of a plane if heavier objects shifted onto it. 

Inside the case they have pre-cut holes for all of the contents.  This is great for keeping key items from slipping, but horrible when it comes to sensor cleaning fluid.  The bottle they supply will eventually run out, and then you're stuck trying to find another one that fits.  I personally hate that there isn't a bit larger of a rectangular opening, and have had to store my other cleaners in with the wands.

Bottom Line

Even though I do like it (for how I use it), and how I've made it work in my workflow, I don't know that I'd honestly recommend this kit.  I honestly prefer the Arctic Butterfly 724 for cleaning the sensor itself, and most of my use of this kit could be done through alternate methods for a lower price. You can even just get the SensorScope by itself for about half the price of the whole kit, and it's really the only piece of it that I really would keep if pressed to.  I mean ultimately I have no vested interest in whether you buy it or not, but if I hadn't already bought it I wouldn't buy it again. 

Score

5/10

I'm pretty sure you get that I'm clearly not sponsored by Delkin Devices.  I chose the score to be rather, "Meh," because that's basically my response to much of the kit.  I could take it or leave it.  But it's just my personal opinion/experience, so take it or leave it yourself.

-Wes.