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The best borescopes and inspection cameras in 2022: see things you can't reach!

Best borescopes and inspection cameras
(Image credit: Teslong)

The best borescopes are also known as inspection cameras, and they have become must-have accessories for tradesmen and DIYers to inspect drains, pipes and wiring without removing walls and ceilings. They are also essential tools for mechanics and car enthusiasts, offering a clear view of hard to reach engine or suspension parts without hours of dismantling.

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These tiny cameras can be manoeuvred into places which would be unreachable in any other way – short of knocking down walls, digging up drains or dismantling vehicles. And who wants to do that if they can avoid it?

Whether you're tracing an oil leak, unblocking a drain or checking wall cavities, the applications for these tiny camera are nearly limitless. We're all familiar with the medical uses of endoscopes (let's not even GO there), so this is the same concept extended to everyday industrial and repair work.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Borescopes and inspection cameras come in many forms. They may have a rigid arm with a fixed camera, a flexible arm, a soft bendy wire-like extension or a mixture. Borescopes and inspection cameras are varied and ingenious. Simple optical principles (like periscopes) have now made way for tiny cameras at the business end and some kind of display device at the user’s disposal.

Accessories can extend the possibilities still further. Tiny mirrors can re-direct the view sideways, for example, while hooks and magnets can help retrieve lost items from hard-to-reach places. There is a lot of flexibility (often literally), and the choices have become increasingly bewildering.

We've added a section at the end of this article on what we look for in a borescope, but keep in mind that they are designed for a wide range of jobs and everyone's needs are different.

The best borescopes: what we look for

• Camera resolution: the more the better, though remember these cameras must be tiny to be useful. Be aware that some makers 'upsample' resolution to make it sound better than it actually is.

• Screen size and resolution: the bigger and better the screen, the easier it is to get a proper view of what you're looking at.

• Magnet tips: perfect for picking up small metallic objects that you wouldn't be able to extract any other way.

• Mirrors: to get a sideways view in tight spaces where you can't turn the camera.

• Hook attachments: a useful tool to extract small objects in confined spaces.

• Battery life: the longer the better – you may be working away from a charging source for some time

• Memory card storage: most borescopes offer fixed internal storage but some have removable SD cards – useful if you need to offer images to a client.

• Wi-Fi: could be handy for viewing footage on your smartphone at a safe distance from the actual dirty work

Best borescopes and inspection cameras in 2022

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)
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An endoscopic camera built to tackle serious work

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 1920x1088 px
Cable: 16.5ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 7.9mm
Waterproof: IP67
Charging port: USB-C

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged but not over-heavy
+
5-inch screen
+
Case and accessories included

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen isn't very rugged
-
Not especially compact

Depstech caters for all these categories, and also offer a variety of different camera probes for the end of the semi-rigid flex; the DS500 includes a dual camera design, which not only features a forward-pointing camera, but a second looking out to one side (yet it manages this with a narrower probe than the wireless WF028 (opens in new tab) below).

While the DS500 is a deeper dip into the pocket than strictly necessary for occasional tasks, it also takes inspection in its stride in a way other solutions just don’t. The solidly built handset, not to mention the all-important probe’s dual-lens camera, all backed up with the ability to record mean you’ll not need to replace this tool for a long while. As a bonus the accessories are great and the built-in torch is genuinely useful (and has a super-cool trigger switch).

The DS500 is a fine tool, capable of performing its duties even in a rough and tumble environment. The build is confidence inspiring, always appreciated in the kind of environment where serious work is being done, and we really appreciated the case and addition of magnet as well as standard hook – you’ll never lose a screw again.

Read our full Depstech DS500 review (opens in new tab)

Depstech DS300 borescope against a white background

(Image credit: Depstech)
Is the accessibly priced DS300 enough for your needs?

Specifications

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
Probe diameter: 5.5mm (0.22in)
Cable length: 5m (16.5ft)
Focus range: 41 – 5000mm (1.6-198in)
Ingress Protection: IP67 (camera and probe)
Field of view: 170˚
Charging port: Micro-USB
Accessories: Hook, Magnetic catch, Hard Case

Reasons to buy

+
Records stills or video to TF card
+
4.3-inch screen is easy to view
+
5 meter (16.5ft) semi-rigid cable
+
Excellent picture, long range in focus

Reasons to avoid

-
Body could be more rugged
-
Rear of probe can get caught
-
Removing mirror's coating is fiddly

The DS300 offers a lot of functionality and easy portability, for a surprisingly low price. The recorded images and video quality, especially frame rate, could be better, but the live display is good quality and operates well whatever the light. The accessories are useful, and the handset easy to hold. While there are more expensive, bigger and very rugged devices available (the DS500 (opens in new tab), for example), this handset and probe arrangement seems ideal for all but the most aggressively dirty environments.

Read our full Depstech DS300 review  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Depstech)
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This probe could revolutionize your DIY and creativity

Specifications

Type: Snake cable
Resolution: 2,592×1,944px
Cable: 16ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 8.5mm
Waterproof: IP67
Connection: USB-C (USB-A and MicroUSB adapters included)

Reasons to buy

+
Allows live streaming
+
Relatively cheap
+
Analog brightness control

Reasons to avoid

-
No Lightning Port connector
-
Image quality suffers from artifacts

The Depstech 86T-5M (opens in new tab) is an excellent value-for-money endoscope which – as long you’re not hoping to connect to an iPhone – provides a solution more than adequate for occasional DIY needs, or retrieving lost items from tricky spots. We liked the simple lighting control and were impressed with the usefulness of the adapters. If we were being picky, the magnet is tricky to use – but ferrous metals need some volume; it’s hard to blame physics. 

Remembering this costs little more than a good delivery pizza and is impressive; adding the fun of creative uses through the webcam connection and it seems like a bargain. Bear in mind that his device wouldn’t befriend Apple phones, though that is down in large part to the fruity firm’s resistance to the otherwise all-conquering USB-C connector.

(Image credit: Bosch)
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4. Bosch GIC 120 C

A great borescope and inspection camera for professionals

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 320 x 240 px
Cable: 1.2m
Probe diameter: 8.5mm
Light: 4 LED
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Tough outer case
+
Adjustable light strength
+
Record to MicroSD
+
Always-up display option

Reasons to avoid

-
Rechargeable battery clips fiddly
-
Expensive initial cost 

This is a solid unit with a rubberized grip ideal for holding in one hand, and the protective bumpers in the design are appreciated. The buttons offer image rotation, variable light intensity and digital magnification, while the 3.5inch display gives immediate feedback, though the 320x240px resolution is pretty modest. A detachable hook, magnet or mirror end are included and, to help with orientation, the system can also keep the video’s horizon level even as the camera turns. 

This makes the Bosch GIC 120 C ideal for plumbers, electricians and other fitters checking safety issues, attempting to minimize exploratory drilling or simply removing dropped items from drains. You can store images or video on the included 4Gb MicroSD card (opens in new tab) to help when showing customers and preparing reports. The flexibility on power is handy for long jobs away from a charging point; you can either use a 10.8v Bosch Li-Ion battery pack or AA cells (in an included adapter). 

(Image credit: Bosch)
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5. Bosch Universal Inspect

And handy all-in-one inspection camera

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 320 x 240 px
Cable: 0.95m
Probe diameter: 8mm
Light: 4 LED
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
2.3in color LCD display
+
Internal memory + microSD card

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited length of camera cable

This is a neatly-designed inspection camera, made for the DIY market by one of the best-known names in power tools. The flexible camera winds neatly around the chunky main when not in use, and there is a built-in screen for convenience. The camera can store up to four images internally, but you can add to the memory with a microSD card, giving up to 32GB of extra storage. 

There are limits, though. The 0.95m (3ft) cord will only be suitable for some jobs, and the 2.3in screen will not reveal a great amount of detail. However, you do get a magnetic head, hook and mirror attachments in the kit. 

(Image credit: Depstech)
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6. Depstech DS450-500W

The perfect borescope for checking under floorboards!

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 5 megapixel
Cable: 16.4ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 8.4mm
Light: 6 LED + 1 for side lens
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable to hold
+
Record stills or video
+
Packaged with case, card and accessories

Reasons to avoid

-
Camera connector a little fiddly
-
Depstech’s dual lens version not much pricier
-
Recorded video is a weird 20fps 

The Depstech DS450 (and its dual-lens siblings built on the same case) feels as natural to use as a mobile phone. The 4.5-inch IPS screen is about the same size and – with the camera cable connecting at the top centre – and is easier to hold vertically. The camera itself is well lit and provides good visibility, though the LEDs produce a distinctly-blue-tinged light. The claimed 1.96-200 inch focal range seems somewhat optimistic though, or perhaps the 2592 x 1944 pixel screen is simply too much resolution for the camera.

The excessively tight USB socket which connects the camera cable to the main unit and the slightly squidgy buttons are an annoyance, but the 3,300mAh battery supplies a very practical five hours worth of working time. The in-body torch is nice to have too.

Best borescopes: Depstech WF028-5M

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)
See and reach further than you’d imagine with this Wi-Fi endoscope

Specifications

Type: Semi-rigid snake
Resolution: 2592 x 1944 px
Cable: 16ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 8.4mm
Waterproof: IP67
Charging port: Micro USB

Reasons to buy

+
Image is sharp with rich color
+
Long flex gets to virtually any spot
+
Rechargeable battery

Reasons to avoid

-
Frame rate unpredictable
-
Wi-Fi unit is not waterproof
-
Only one attachment provided

The wireless approach has long been a customer favorite because it’s cheaper and more portable than buying a whole new device with a screen, plus it welcomes Android and iOS devices equally. The WF028 is an effective – and reasonably priced – example of this approach, and provides all the features you realistically need. The build quality and rigmarole of connecting to the phone wouldn’t make it our choice for daily use but it is a very handy tool to have at home for occasional use.

We’d also have preferred to see a slightly narrower lens unit and a USB-C charging port in this day and age. In comparison to a device like the Depstech DS500 (opens in new tab) above, the WF028 isn't designed for heavy usage. However this is a great choice for a quick emergency inspection, or retrieving something in a hurry.

(Image credit: Takmly)
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8. Takmly Inspection Camera

This the best USB borescope, and it's cheap too!

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 640×480 px
Cable: 16.4ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 5.5mm
Light: 6 LED
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Cheap solution for Android, PC and Mac
+
Narrow probe
+
Simple solution

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't work on iPhone or iPad

This is a ‘does what it says on the tin’ device, no more, no less. The VGA resolution is somewhat disappointing, given it is advertised as 2 megapixels on Amazon, but it can also be had for the price of two or three cups of coffee (at London or New York prices, anyway). 

Even at this price, it still comes with adaptors for traditional, micro and Type-C varieties of USB, and Mac OS and Windows 10 are both capable of recognizing the camera too. 

The big positive is that it broadly ‘just works,’ though you might need to download an app as explained in the manual. Crucially, though, you don’t need to service an additional battery-powered device or connect anything to Wi-Fi – it draws its power from the host device down the semi-rigid flex straight to your device and sends the picture back the same way. The small box at the user end of the cable includes a dimmer wheel for the LED, and the always useful key hook and mirror accessories are included, although they are a little wiry.

The major drawback is that this borescope does not work with iOS devices.

(Image credit: Teslong)
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9. Teslong Dual Lens

The best all-in-one borescope, though '1080' resolution is stretching it

Specifications

Type: Flexible snake cable
Resolution: 1 megapixel
Cable: 16.4ft / 5m
Probe diameter: 5.5mm
Light: 6 LED + 1 for side lens
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Industrial grade grip
+
Built-in torch and mirror mode
+
Dual lens saves time
+
Adjustable screen angle

Reasons to avoid

-
Would like to see 5MP option

This more rugged-looking device is one which might stand up to a little more punishment than others on this list. It includes a fairly average monitor, though with 854 x 480 pixels it still beats some of the big brands. We like the torch for quick external inspections. 

There are six brightness-adjustable LEDs surrounding the 70-degree angle main camera too, as well as a second lens (with one LED), so rather than fit a mirror attachment you simply flip the camera head to its side-camera mode via the switch not on the display device, but the user-end of the borescope where it attaches to the viewer.

There is also 32Gb of storage to record onto included, and the display is charged by familiar USB. However, it records 1080p video (effectively 2 megapixels) from a 1 megapixel sensor, so this sounds like resolution upsampling done purely for marketing reasons.

(Image credit: Teslong)
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10. Teslong NTG100H rifle borescope

The best borescope for rifle inspection – specialized but unique

Specifications

Type: Rigid probe with cable connection
Resolution: 720P @30fps
Cable: 26in
Probe diameter: 5mm
Light: 12 LED
Waterproof: No

Reasons to buy

+
USB with Type-C adapter
+
Good image quality
+
Measurement markings on probe

Reasons to avoid

-
Locking collar could be lost
-
Cable can restrict rotation of probe

If you’re serious about keeping your guns in excellent condition, the best possible tool is a dedicated borescope, which will allow you to examine the barrel for carbon, copper and powder build-up and other damage. This, in turn, lets you better manage your cleaning and potentially save money without taking risks.

At 26 inches long, the NTG100H will fit inside any barrel of 0.2 calibre and above. To view the barrel wall, you can attach the mirror head, but there is a locking collar needed for this which is easily misplaced (though two spare mirror heads are included, which seems generous).

In terms of viewing, you connect via a cable to a Macbook, Chromebook or Windows PC and use the built-in camera software – this does restrict movement a little, though it is long enough. Measurements along the side will help you precisely pinpoint any issues you locate with the probe and there is a white collar you can slide to mark the spot. 

(Image credit: Vividia)
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11. Vividia Ablescome VA-980

A clever borescope with an articulated probe head and a flexible cable

Specifications

Type: Semi-flexible with articulated head
Resolution: 640×480 px
Probe: 65cm (29.5in)
Probe diameter: 8.5mm
Light: 6 LED
Waterproof: IP68

Reasons to buy

+
Semi flexible arm
+
Price

Reasons to avoid

-
Adapter needed for iOS
-
Limited length

Vividia has somewhat cornered the market in turning the corner (sorry), in that – in this price-bracket at least – articulating heads are few and far between. Thankfully it has chosen to offer the probe on a semi-flexible arm, so you can get the flexible head just about anywhere within reasonable reach. 

The semi-flex can be bent and then retains its shape – a little like some desk lamps – which is handy for certain tasks, but since it’s a mechanical approach, rather than simply a stiff wire, the practical length is limited. 

Vividia has kept on the safe side of that, so the scope should have a good long life, but the reach is much lower than some of the cheaper non-articulated alternatives. 

(Image credit: Extech)
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12. Extech HDV650-30G Plumbing VideoScope Kit

A pro borescope for lengthy plumbing runs

Specifications

Type: Semi-flexible
Resolution: NTSC/PAL
Probe: 30m (100ft)
Probe diameter: 25mm (others available)
Light: 12 LED
Waterproof: IP67

Reasons to buy

+
Best borescope for distance
+
Long cable
+
Powerful lighting

Reasons to avoid

-
Standard definition

With 12 built-in lights, this versatile but pricey videoscope has an exceptionally long, strong fiberglass core which packs away into a spool. 

It might not look like much, a kind of coated wire-frame arrangement, but it’s actually much easier to grip than, say, the plastic spools common on extension leads. That thoughtful quality extends to the highly durable display which is both waterproof and oil/chemical resistant too. You need to worry about delicate touch-screens, as the controls are all on robust buttons around the display. 

Images can be recorded as stills or video to the SD card, or output via the analog connector. Admittedly the design features what feels like a historic connector – the Mini-USB – but this is a professional tool with a professional price and the cost of a USB adapter is hardly relevant. 

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones (opens in new tab), The Smart Smart Home Handbook (opens in new tab), 101 Tips for DSLR Video (opens in new tab) and The Drone Pilot's Handbook (opens in new tab)