Top positive review
A useful tool to help identify sensor dust
21 July 2016
The Carson 4.5x SensorMag LED Lighted Cleaning Loupe is essentially small magnifying glass mounted in a focusable microscope style configuration with a set of downward facing LED's to illuminate. Itsrole is to aid in the cleaning of sensors on digital cameras that have detachable lenses. The stand is roughly horse shoe shaped which has a slider on it which lowers and extra plastic collar strip (if required) to adjust the fit of the stand to accommodate different manufacturers lens mounts. The main magnifying glass is housed into a chunky screw threaded holder which fits inside threaded collar mounted with a swivel action onto the main stand. Focussing is achieved by turning the threaded magnifying glass up or down in the threaded collar. The collar can then swivelled on the base to move the magnifying part out of the way when cleaning.
I bought the cleaning loupe after noticing a lot of "Dust Bunnies" on some of the images from a Nikon D7000 that I use as a back up camera. The dust bunnies appear as a dark blobs when shooting at small aperture or sometimes when you digitally process images caused by dust on the sensor. Despite trying the in-camera sensor cleaning and then using a blower, the dust persisted.
Using the Loupe is pretty straight forward. With the Nikon, you have to lower the extra collar strip to help it fit into the lens mount.Again, on the Nikon, you go into the camera menu and select "Lock Mirror up for cleaning". This let you expose the sensor. The first time I did it was a bit scary but as long as you don't start touching the sensor with sharp object or fingers it's fine. The loupe fits into the lens mount but it doesn't lock into place so it can be a bit wobbly - best to use it with the camera placed on a table or equally solid surface, and you'll need to turn on the loupe LED's if you want to see the sensor properly. To focus the loupe twist the magnifying section using the knurled bit at the top. The actual sensor will look completely out of focus no matter how hard you try. This is normal. To focus the loupe properly look at the frame of the sensor and once this is sharp the loupe will be focussed and you'll be able to see any crap on the surface of the sensor. In my case it became quickly apparent where the offending dust was so I set about cleaning.
The description of the product as a Cleaning Loupe could be misleading - it's an inspection tool which can aid in the cleaning process but it doesn't actually clean the sensor - for that you'll need to buy some sensor cleaning products. In my case I used appropriate sized sensor cleaning pads for the sensor size. Again, the cleaning process can seem quite scary but it turned out to quite easy. In theory I could have just swivelled the loupe magnifying out of the way, but in practice I found it to restrict access so it was easier to just lift off the loupe during the cleaning.
Over all I was impressed with the Carson 4.5x SensorMag LED Lighted Cleaning Loupe. It did the job without any fuss. It's plastic but its construction feels sturdy and it even comes with it's own zipped carry case.
Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely if you're a casual user. If I were to have any criticism it would be that it didn't lock into the camera mount so it was a little bit wobbly, and although the theory was good, the magnifying lens swivel didn't really help as I found it restricted proper access during the actual cleaning process, so if you intend to run a sensor cleaning business you might want something a bit more sturdy. Other than that, it's a useful tool at an affordable price given the price of professional sensor cleaning services! :)