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VisibleDust now taking pre-orders for Sensor Loupe  
Friday, April 20, 2007 | by Rob Galbraith
VisibleDust has announced they're now taking pre-orders for Sensor Loupe, a device for examining a digital SLR sensor for dust.
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Look Closely: Views of a prototype Sensor Loupe (Photos courtesy VisibleDust)
Sensor Loupe is similar in concept to Delkin's SensorScope, which began shipping several months ago. Both feature a handheld 5X optical magnifier with an array of LEDs that illuminate the sensor and reveal whether or not it needs to be cleaned. VisibleDust has posted a comparison table on their website that shows how Sensor Loupe stacks up again a "Top Competitor," which is obviously meant to be SensorScope. Feature differences include the number of LEDs - six for Sensor Loupe vs four for SensorScope, and size - Sensor Loupe isn't as tall. Sensor Loupe also uses coated optical glass vs plastic optics in SensorScope.
We have a SensorScope, and the image it shows of the sensor surface is plenty bright and plenty sharp, so we're not expecting the greater number of LEDs or possible higher-quality optical path of Sensor Loupe to give that much clearer a look inside the camera (though it might at the edges - we haven't used a Sensor Loupe yet). The biggest differentiators are more likely to be:
  • Sensor Loupe is meant to be held in front of the camera, without touching the lens mount, while SensorScope features a unique stepped base that enables it to sit much like a lens right on the mount of Canon and Nikon digital SLRs, at the optimum distance for sharp focus on the sensor. As a result, SensorScope will likely be the more convenient of the two to use, except perhaps with full-frame sensor Canons, where to position and see the entire sensor surface requires a lot of shifting of the SensorScope on the mount. But Sensor Loupe's design will mean few if any instances where using it actually introduces debris into the camera. This is a real problem with SensorScope, though a minor one in our experience.

  • Sensor Loupe can be ordered on its own, separate from VisibleDust's various cleaning brushes and swabs. The biggest drawback of SensorScope is that if you already have a solution for removing dust, or you simply want Delkin's sensor inspector and nothing else, you can't do it. Delkin requires that you purchase SensorScope as part of a US$170 (approximate U.S. street price) kit that includes the company's sensor cleaning tools. Sensor Loupe will sell, direct from VisibleDust, for US$70 (approximate street price, converted from Canadian dollars).
VisibleDust is accepting pre-orders for Sensor Loupe now through its online store, and expects to begin shipping the device in mid-May 2007 (it will, presumably, arrive at dealers sometime after that). The Sensor Loupe will come with a carrying case, neck strap, microfibre cleaning cloth and a pair of 3V CR2025 Lithium batteries to power the LEDs. It's selling for CDN$77.50, which as of this writing is about US$70. More information is in the press release below.

Press Release

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, April 19, 2007 - VisibleDust, Inc. proudly announced today that they are taking preorders, on their website, for the newly introduced Sensor Loupe™. The orders will be taken on a first come first delivered basis, and VisibleDust hopes to start shipping around the 15th of May, 2007.

Dust is an inherent problem when it comes to DSLR’s and poses many problems for any photographer. Image quality is degraded and many hours of editing must be carried out to retouch any pictures with expensive digital imaging software. Also it takes a lengthy process to determine if the sensor is actually dirty, taking test shots and examining them once again with expensive digital imaging software. This may not be practical when a photographer is out in the field.

Developed within the VisibleDust research lab the Sensor Loupe™ is specifically tailor made for examining the sensor of a DSLR. Because of its awkward location, deep with the camera chamber, illuminating the senor is rather difficult and direct light may obfuscate dust by blending it against the sensor. With the unique BriteVue XL™ lighting system (patent pending), with its specially configured array of 6 vivid LEDs and high resolution lens, the Sensor Loupe™ brings forward the debris in a three dimensional spectacle.

The Sensor Loupe™ was designed to help photographers spend more time taking pictures and less time editing images and cleaning the camera. With the Sensor Loupe™, the photographer can easily check for debris in minutes and know exactly if a cleaning needs to take place or if they can continue with a shoot. This will greatly reduce the amount of digital editing a photographer will have to do and also reduce the number of potentially harmful cleanings one may attempt. Also, if debris is located, it may help in determining the type of contamination and the relative course of action for removal.

Although the Sensor Loupe™ is specifically made for examining the DSLR sensor, its versatile design will prove useful for a myriad of tasks. For example it may be used to examine the chamber area of the camera body, peruse negatives from film style cameras or to inspect the motherboard of a computer. The uses are endless.

The compact design of the Sensor Loupe™ will prove to be a convenience in any photographer’s collection of tools. The high resolution lens is constructed of a single 5x magnified K9 optical glass with MgF2 coating to prevent chromatic aberrations. The 6 LEDs in the exclusive BriteVue XL™ lighting system provide ample lighting for a crystal clear view of the sensor. It also comes with a handy carrying case, a neck strap, and a micro fiber cloth for cleaning the lens. Retail price is US$69.95.

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