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Sometimes you have a blocked drain or you are having issues with your car and you can’t quite see where you could so with looking. Inspecation cameras have now become an essenial tool for many trades people from mechanics who need to see deep inside the engine bay to builders and even those interested in DIY. These easy to use tools are portable, are becoming more affordale than ever and are easy to maintain.
While there are many inspection cameras available, only a few will do the work you require. An inspection camera suitable for drainage might not be useful when looking around pipes or deep into the engine bay of your classic car. It is crucial to understand what you are looking for so that you select the best inspection camera or borescope for your money. Below are five of the best models you can find in the market that are within an attainable price range and which we highly recommend.
Models like our Best Pick, the Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera feature a sizeable cable, image rotation, and LED lights to work with for domestic applications. For our professionals, the Bosch Professional Inspection Camera Kit has a 120cm cable, a sizeable screen, and bright LED lights to work with. These are not the only features that these inspection cameras have to offer, find out more in the sections below:
Digital Inspection Cameras Reviews
1. Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera
First on our list is the Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera that is designed to make it easy to look at hard-to-reach areas. It doesn’t matter if you are inspecting drains, pipes, or corners, this camera works optimally as it has a waterproof rating of IP67. It has an 8mm diameter camera head equipped with an LED light to offer a clearer picture in dark areas but it’s worth noting you need to be within around 6 inches of the object to see it clearly. You can use it to look around a large dark area for example but it’s great for inspection work up close. You can adjust how much light you need depending on the areas you are working in too.
The 1.5V inspection camera features a 95cm camera cable that is flexible for easier manoeuvrability but this is where it is a little restricted as the professional model we review next has a reach over 400cm. If you want to look at an object more clearly, there is a zoom feature and a 180-degree image rotation for a clearer perspective of the areas which is a nice feature to have. Additionally, if the surface under investigation is highly reflective, there is a button dedicated to changing the contrast of the image which works fairly well though not perfect.
The data captured is accessible through the small 2.31″ display that has a screen resolution of 320 by 240 pixels. Now, this isn’t amazing but for occasional use, it’s more than clear enough I think. The images are stored in the local memory with a maximum capacity of eight images but you can transfer the data to a micro-SD card if you so wish which gives you more memory. When you are done working, wrap the cable around the designated area in preparation for storage.
This what we would call a more domestic, DIY model is lightweight weighing only 390g therefore it is about as portable as they come; you can carry it around with no problems. It comes with four AA batteries which provide a running time of up to four hours.
- Great for domestic and general DIY use.
- Lightweight thus easily portable.
- Comes with a flexible 95cm cable for easier manoeuvrability.
- The camera possesses an LED light and zoom features.
- It is waterproof with a rating of IP67 so is suitable for wet environments and pipes.
- Comes with a cable wrap function.
- Easy to use and affordable.
- The screen size is small.
- The picture quality could be better.
The Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera is an affordable and decent inspection camera for more domestic or occasional use, it’s not perfect but it does get the job done and the price is much more affordable than the professional range Bosch sell.
It has usable features like an LED light but this is only really useful for close up inspection as the light is limited, the zoom feature is handy, and 180-degree image rotation is a great feature too which is super handy. While it does not provide clear crisp images, the picture quality is not bad. This portable camera would do well for general inspections rather than detailed inspections because it has a small memory and the screen size is not too big which is really its limiting factors. Professionals looking for cameras that give crisp images and a longer reach should maybe consider our next pick but for domestic purposes or one-off professional use; this model is more than convenient and it’s affordable too.
Look for a device to find studs, pipes and wires behind a wall – Check our our review of the best stud finders
2. Bosch Professional GIC 120 C Battery Inspection Camera Kit
The Bosch Professional Inspection Camera Kit features a longer cable of 120cm (4ft) to provide a longer reach when looking through pipes and other areas that need scrutiny. The professional camera is fitted with an 8.5mm camera head that provides good images with its 320 by 240 PX resolution, this is where this model comes into its own, the image quality and reach is much more superior than our Best Pick but the price is also significantly more too.
While looking through areas with no light, the camera has LED lights installed that can be adjusted to provide the right concentration of light. You can disconnect the cable easily and attach a new one thanks to the quick connect feature too. What I like is that you can also get a 3.8mm thin camera head and an 8.5mm version which is slightly smaller at 3 meters long.
The digital zoom camera can be used in areas with water without damage to it because of its IP67 waterproof rating. Any of the images you capture will be stored in the device to be transferred to the computer through a micro USB cable or you can use the micro SD card depending on your preference, I have a Micro SD reader for my MacBook so this would be easier for me. This makes it much easier to save images to look at later which is often essential for professional use.
This model is easy to use thanks to its design; it has an ergonomic handle that allows you to hold it firmly without straining your hands as you manoeuvre the camera through awkward places. It has buttons with clear illustrations to avoid any confusion while operating the camera but it’s fairly simple to use even without reading the instructions. At 640g is slightly heavier than our best pick but it simply a more premium models with is the trade-off.
Finally, something I do like about this inspection camera is that you can use either alkaline batteries (Stand AA Batteries or the rechargeable 10.8V/12V li-ion battery which some people may already have as they are compatible with other tools from the 10.8v range.
This model is easy to store and it comes with a mirror, magnet, and a hook for convenience too.
- Crisp clear vision with multiple zoom for clearer inspectional and larger 3.5″ LCD screen.
- Features a long cable of 120cm (4ft).
- Other cables also available which include 3.8mm thin camera head and an 8.5mm version which is slightly smaller at 3 meters long.
- Comes with adjustable 3-stage LED lights and zoom features.
- Lightweight at only 640g, easy to use.
- Fully waterproof with a rating of IP67.
- Provides a quick-connect feature for easy cable switches.
- Compatible with 10.8v lithium batteries or standard AA batteries.
- It is a bit pricey.
- Does not come with the 12V battery and charger. (Buy separately or use AA Batteries which are included)
The Bosch Professional Inspection Camera Kit meets the needs of the work environment by providing a longer cable and a larger screen. It has all the basic features you need to make inspections even in the dark using its digital zoom and LED light. You also have the option of changing the cable to a 3m cable with a larger 8.5mm camera but you will have to pay a little more.
Its image resolution is much better than our Best Pick, especially in darker areas and produces visible images that you can work with plus I like it’s easy to transfer them with a USB cable or memory card. The camera might be a bit pricey but it does give value for money as its features are of good quality. If you need a decent model for professional use, this is the one to consider.
3. DEPSTECH 1080P Dual-Lens Endoscope HD Inspection Camera
The DEPSTECH 1080P HD Inspection Camera offers an ergonomic design for easy manoeuvrability and good quality images that are clear and coloured. Now I don’t know much about the brand which is why it’s not our Best Pick but it’s a great alternative and maybe even better in some respects. This model has a larger 7.99mm diameter camera with a focal range of 1.2-3.9 inches that is attached to a very long 16.5ft semi-rigid cable. The semi-rigid nature of the cable is essential when working through tight spaces as you can bend it a little without losing focus on the image. Something that is a little unique is that it has 2 cameras, front and side. The camera has an 80-degree range in the front and the side to capture the full image or video.
You won’t have to squint to see the images captured because the inspection camera is fitted with a sizeable display of 4.5 inches. Below the IPS display is a small control panel that you use to access the menu among other features. This model is convenient for working in areas that are dimly lit as it has six LED lights that you can adjust, as you need. If the light is not enough, there is an additional torch at the back of the display that you can use.
The camera possesses a quality 3300mAh Lithium-ion battery that will give you a very impressive 5-6 hours of running time. This model is not heavy, it weighs about 660g so you can carry it around and it comes with a nice case for easy storage. It also features an indicator to notify you of the battery status so that you can recharge when needed.
Finally, its comes with a 16GB TF memory card that will store all the images that you capture for easy transfer to a computer. Like many of the inspection cameras available, this model is accompanied by a magnet and a hook to make retrieving objects easier too.
- Features a waterproof side and front camera and a long 16.5ft cable.
- Comes with a sizeable 4.5-inch 1080P IPS display.
- Offers LED lights and a torch for adequate illumination.
- The cable is long and flexible enough for easier manoeuvrability.
- Provides a running time of 5hours.
- Comes with a free 16GB TF card.
- Features an indicator for the battery status.
- Offers good value for money.
- Doesn’t have a date or timestamp function.
For those who don’t want to spend too much on an inspection camera but want to take quality images and need a long inspection cable than our best pick, the DEPSTECH 1080P HD Inspection Camera is a good choice. What I like is that it has two cameras, a higher pixel range and the size of the screen is good too. We like the adjustable LED lights and the additional torch because you can work in dark areas much easier. For its price, this inspection camera is a good bargain and well worth considering for occasional use even for professionals.
4. ROTEK Digital Inspection Camera
Next, we have the ROTEK Digital Inspection Camera equipped with an upgraded IPS hard screen of 3 inches. The inspection camera has a 5.5mm diameter probe that is waterproof so you can look at areas that have water like pipes and drains without causing electrical damage to the camera. The pictures taken by this camera are of good quality as it has a 3 megapixel camera that offers an image resolution of 2048*1536 Pixels and a video resolution of 1920*1080 pixels.
This model also boasts of features like image rotation and contrast adjustment so that you can get a clear image, even on highly reflective surfaces. You can look into areas with corners or bends as the camera has a 3m (9.8ft) semi-flexible cable that you can twist in the direction you want. The camera has a focus range of 3-500cm and it comes with six LED lights that are adjustable depending on the intensity you want.
The comfortable to use camera will not strain your hands even while working for long periods because of its ergonomic handle. It has a built-in 1800mah battery that should give you about 4 hours of running time. This model is easy to use, it is lightweight at 480g, and even better, you can detach the tube to make storage more compact. Also included in the package are a magnet, a mirror, a waterproof cap, and a storage box to keep them safe in storage.
- Takes both images and videos.
- Comes with an upgraded 3-inch IPS display.
- Features a long 3m semi-flexible cable for easy manoeuvrability.
- Offers an IP67 metal probe with a diameter of 5.5mm.
- Provides a waterproof cap, mirror, and magnet.
- Offers contrast adjustment and image rotation.
- Features six LED lights to illuminate dark areas.
- The in-built battery gives an estimated 4hours of running time.
- It is affordable.
- The instructions could be better.
- The lens may get foggy in water.
The ROTEK Digital Inspection Camera is an affordable model that is suitable for occasional use, maybe use need one to renovate a house or check your own pipework. It is by no means a professional camera but it does a good job in dry environments and areas that don’t need too much reach because the cable is not too rigid.
It is lightweight and it comes with a storage case hence it is easily portable. If you want to look around your car or up dry pipes without wanting to spend much, this model would suffice. The instructions have small lettering hence; you may need a magnifying glass to read them through but it’s easy enough to work out on you’re own.
5. ZOTO Industrial Endoscope, 4.5 Inch 1080P Full HD IPS LCD Digital Inspection Camera
Introducing the ZOTO Industrial Endoscope Digital Inspection Camera with a sizeable screen of 4.5 inches that lets you record your images and videos in HD colour. To put this into perspective it’s got the largest screen in this review. The display features of an IPS screen with an easy to use control panel with clearly illustrated buttons and language options for different users.
You can use this inspection camera in both dry and wet environments as it has a 5m waterproof cable with a rating of IP67. It is also suitable for working at night or looking through poorly lit areas because it is equipped with eight LED lights and an additional flashlight to illuminate the area optimally. The camera is powered by a 2600mah inbuilt battery and with a full charge, it will give you 4-5 hours of working time which is prettty decent.
Additionally, this model supports both video and image capture so you need adequate space to store the information; the images taken are stored in an inbuilt memory card with a 16G capacity. Apart from the inbuilt storage, this inspection camera also has a TF expansion card slot, and a micro USB port to transfer the data to a computer if necessary.
It is not the lightest model weighing just under 2kg so it is much heavier compared to most other models. This premium-priced digital inspection camera comes with a 12-month warranty hence you can trust the product’s quality. The camera also comes with a mirror, a magnet, a data cable, and a hook.
- Takes HD images and videos.
- Offers a long 5m cable for adequate reach.
- Features eight LED lights and an additional flashlight.
- Comes with a 16G memory card and a TF expansion card slot.
- Offers a decent running time of 4-5 hours.
- Has a 4.5-inch display with a magnifying feature.
- Accompanied by a 12-month warranty.
- Comfortable to use.
- Only offers one cable size considering that not all inspections require a long cable.
The ZOTO Industrial Endoscope Digital Inspection Camera is of good quality because it produces videos and images of better quality than most of the models in the market. I would describe it as between our Best Pick and Runner-up. More expensive than our best pick but some of the same features as the more expensive Runner-up but for less money. To be clear though, the quality is nothing like that by the Bosch professional range.
This model not only has a large screen but it makes sure that you have enough light to use even when working through pipes and drains. We like the ergonomic handle as it helps balance the camera’s weight making it comfortable to use. Although the cable is a bit long for short jobs, it would be ideal for those looking for a camera with a long reach. It comes with a 12-month warranty hence you are assured of durability.
Inspection Camera Buying Guide
Inspection cameras are also known as Endoscope are convenient whether you are working with dry or wet areas. These cameras make it easy to find issues in drains, cars, and other areas that are hard to reach. If you are looking for an inspection camera to use, you need to understand which features are available. In this guide, we discuss the various inspection camera features to help you narrow down the best inspection camera model.
What Is An Inspection Camera For?
For all intent and purposes, an inspection camera is a device that possesses a small camera lens at the end of a flexible cable. The flexible cable is then guided through those tight areas that the hands and eyes can’t reach to determine if there is a problem. These cameras are a cost-effective way to inspect an area without using too many tools and equipment. You do not have to cause damage to the area you inspect, just find an opening where the camera can fit and guide it through.
Types of Inspection Cameras
There are different kinds of inspection cameras, and it is essential to distinguish them so that you don’t buy the wrong model.
Endoscopes are miniature cameras that are illuminated and they feature small-diameter lenses of around 4mm. In most cases, endoscopes are used in the medical field due to the small-diameter lens and cable. There are endoscopes that have a larger camera lens diameter of up to 80mm, but these are used for exploration in non-related medical fields which is what we focus on this this review.
Borescope Cameras refer to devices that are for industrial rather than medical use. These types of cameras can either possess a flexible or rigid structure. Rigid borescopes debuted in the market first but flexible models are becoming a favourite with customers. Borescopes are usually suitable for large equipment or industrial inspections and they give a broader field of view. Their large diameter lenses have more light to illuminate the area, but endoscopes provide better image magnification.
Wireless inspection cameras are the new kids on the block as they rely on wireless communication to transfer data. The information is saved and transferred to a screen nearby for direct viewing. Wireless inspection cameras are ideal when working in dangerous areas and you need real-time feedback.
Telescopic cameras facilitate easy inspection of high areas. Because they normally have a rigid structure, it is easy to extend them above. Cameras with flexible cables are hard to manage especially when trying to look at something up a pipe.
What to Consider When Shopping For an Inspection Camera
Inspection cameras do not have as many features as photography cameras because they are designed to gather basic information. To find a suitable model, it is good to look at the quality of the various features present in inspection cameras. Some of the features to think about include;
The quality of the camera head affects the quality of the images you get. While a larger diameter camera head may offer clearer pictures, it might be too large to go through the areas you want to inspect. Think about the area you want to inspect and the camera size that would accomplish this without much hassle. If it is your first time purchasing an inspection camera and you don’t know which diameter you want, select a model with a camera head that is less than 10mm. You will notice that most models have a camera diameter of 6-18mm so it is up to you to compare the measurements and make a purchase.
A good camera lens can be god-sent whether you are inspecting an area during the day or night. If you want quality images, you want to get an inspection camera with a high resolution. Admittedly, the resolution will not be as good as those found in phones today, but they will suffice. An inspection camera with a high resolution will produce images that will remain clear even when magnified in the computer.
Most of the inspection cameras in the market have LED lights. These lights come in various intensities that can be adjusted to reflect the surroundings accordingly. The lights are convenient while working in dimly lit areas, and pitch darkness.
The number of LED lights in an inspection camera doesn’t matter if their quality is low. You can get better images with one good ultra-bright LED light; it all depends on how much you are willing to spend. A professional-grade inspection camera with clear images will cost much more than the domestic models. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.
However, while considering the brightness of the LED, you don’t want the light to be too bright as you will not be able to capture a clear image. You can try to look for a model with sensitive image sensors and bright LED lights to capture images and videos with ease.
When looking to purchase an inspection camera, you have to consider its purpose. If you want a camera to inspect the drains, the cable will be more rigid compared to those suitable for vehicle inspection. If you know there is a bit of manoeuvring required, pick a model with a semi-flexible cable. This way, you can direct the cable around bends easily.
Inspection cameras with rigid cables are convenient if there are some obstacles to push through. A rigid cable paired with a good camera can be perfect for inspecting up straight pipes located in high areas.
The length of the cable is also vital because you want to have adequate reach. You can find models with cables between 1-8m, but be careful not to select a cable that is too long. Long cables add more weight to the device making it tasking to handle in the end. Ask your supplier if they distribute cables of other lengths so that you are not limited.
The camera head
Considering that the camera head will contact water at a certain point, it is essential for it to be waterproof. The level of waterproof rating also applies because some cameras can stay underwater for long and some die after a few minutes. Many models in the market have an IP67 rating, but you can get models with a higher rating.
On top of this, look for inspection cameras that feature crystal or glass lens covers because they are more durable than plastic, and the image quality is better. Glass and crystal covers can contact chemicals without experiencing any effects.
Whether the inspection camera is running on alkaline or lithium-ion batteries, one has to consider the running time. This is especially directed at professionals because you don’t want to work to be interrupted suddenly. Look for models that offer more than three hours of running time before requiring a recharge. Also, be keen on models that accept both rechargeable and disposable batteries just in case electricity is unavailable.
As much as you are not after a screen as large and as clear as a television screen, you don’t want to deal with a small display. A small display forces you to squint, which can be tiring for those with eye problems especially if you’re going to use it a lot. Get an inspection camera with a sizeable display, 3-inches and above whose resolution can produce good images.
The control panel below the camera should be well illustrated with flexible buttons for ease of use.
Not every camera will possess the same focal length hence, you need to confirm before making a purchase. Because one cannot adjust the focal length in inspection cameras without reducing the depth of field, consider if you want a model for general or close-up use. Look at things up close comfortably by taking a model with a short focal range below 20mm; anything above is suitable for inspection larger objects in larger areas.
Almost all of the inspection cameras in the market come with a mirror, hook, case, and magnate. The difference is in quality because some accessories tend to fall apart easily. If you buy a low-quality inspection camera, you cannot expect the accessories to be of better quality. Unless you are buying an inspection camera for temporary use, invest a little more, and get a better high-quality model.
Are inspection cameras expensive?
Generally, no, inspection cameras are not expensive unless you want to buy professional inspection cameras but even these are affordable when you think of the time they dame and the cost of not having to cause damage to get to the inspected area. On average, you can get a useable inspection camera between £70-£300 depending on the spec and brand. However, there are high-tech models in the market that will cost you thousands.
Can inspection cameras be repaired?
Yes, some models can be fixed depending on the level of damage and the availability of spare parts, meanwhile; some models once they are spoiled you have to look for a new inspection camera.
Why are crystal lens covers preferred over glass?
While crystal is expensive, it does not scratch easily thus it is more durable. Crystal lenses can traverse areas with high temperatures without affecting the image quality.
Our Final Conclusion
With technology moving so fast, it will only be a matter of time before inspection cameras with HD screens and cameras hit the market at more affordable prices. In the meantime, we will have to contend with what is available. Before we bid you farewell let us summarise our top inspection cameras that include the Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera and the Bosch Professional Inspection Camera Kit.
We appreciate our Best Pick, the Bosch UniversalInspect Digital Inspection Camera because it is affordable, and it is usable in both domestic and professional fields. Our Runner-up is designed for professionals on the go who want a lightweight model to carry around. This model also offers a longer cable and a larger screen than our best pick.
At the end of the day, the power of selecting the best inspection camera lies in your hands. You have all the information you need; all that remains is to make a decision. With that said, we finish off this review wishing you the best in your selection!
Last update on 2021-07-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API