Endoscope vs. Borescope Inspection Cameras: What’s the Difference?

Endoscopes and borescopes are two very similar devices. In the retail space, you will likely find a ton of borescopes that are being called endoscopes, and technically, that’s true, but these are not the true endoscopes used in medical procedures, these are consumer grade.

An endoscope is a type of borescope. As akin as they are to one another, there are a few key differences. For instance, true endoscopes aren’t even available to the public and are solely used by doctors and veterinarians.

In this article, you’ll learn what makes endoscopes and borescopes so different, as well as what makes them similar enough to be so popularly confused with each other. Keep reading to learn what borescopes and endoscopes really are and how to choose which one is right for you.

The Similarities of Borescopes and Endoscopes

To the untrained eye, endoscopes and borescopes are the same; there is no difference. So, before you learn what makes them so different, you might want to learn some of their common denominators.

Borescopes

Borescopes

Endoscopes

Endoscopes

Similar Build

Physically, endoscopes and borescopes are designed the same. The camera is attached to a long and narrow hose that is fed into an opening and controlled by you from the end.

Some even have their own controller or an attached screen. However, these screens do not normally capture the best quality and are often very small.

The cable that endoscopes and borescopes are made from is called semi-rigid cable. This is a flexible kind of cable that holds its shape to be able to get into tight areas and to be stored. They also vary in length, some being over 50 feet long and others being only 4 feet long.

Original Purpose

The premise of using a borescope or an endoscope- even a medical one, is to see into places that, without a tiny lens, are inaccessible to view. The lenses are small, and the cables are flexible to get into tiny holes to see what’s inside.

While they do the same kind of job, making their way into tiny places and illuminating problems, they are made for completely different purposes. For example, borescopes are commonly used for rifles, and endoscopes are used for, well, endoscopies.

Added Features

Aside from camera capabilities, there are other added features in borescopes and endoscopes that make them similar. Consumer endoscopes and borescopes can have lighting control, as well as some included attachments, to help you even more.

You may think that you would always want the brightest lighting, no matter what, but this is sometimes unnecessary and can obstruct the detail of the photos. Too much light can cause reflection that, instead of pointing out issues, can cover them, which is why it’s better to be able to dim the lighting when there is already enough.

Additionally, most endoscopes and borescopes come with accessories to help you do more than see the problem. With hooks, magnets, and other attachments, they can help to fix the problem as well. For example, the hook can help you to unclog your shower drain and the magnet can help you retrieve a lost ring from the kitchen sink. 

Wide Connectivity

Another great similarity between endoscopes is the ability to connect to phones, tablets, and computers. There are two ways this is usually done through USB or WiFi.

WiFi endoscopes and borescopes are usually only compatible with smartphones and tablets. They connect through their own built-in Wi-Fi connection and the app. The setup process can be confusing for some, so don’t forget to read and follow the instructions.

USB borescopes and endoscopes are a lot simpler to use, since all you have to do is plug in the USB cord. They can typically be used on all devices, including computers, to view and save videos and photos. 

Camera Quality

Consumer-grade endoscopes and borescopes often have similar camera quality, which can range from blurry and unstable to crystal-clear and steady, even while you’re moving it around.

You can’t generalize borescopes and endoscopes, saying one is better than the other. Every model has a different camera, so like many other things in this world, there can be good and bad found in both endoscopes and borescopes.

The key is to choose whether you need a borescope or an endoscope. After that, you can choose which model has the best camera quality and base your decision on that. As an example, 720p resolution is a lower quality than 1200p or even 1080p.

The Key Differences Of Endoscopes and Borescopes

Now that you’ve learned what makes borescopes and endoscopes similar, let’s go over what makes them different. There are a handful of differences between borescopes and endoscopes, purpose and size being the biggest.

Endoscopes

Endoscopes

Borescopes

Borescopes

Purpose

The biggest difference between borescopes and endoscopes is what they’re used for. The endoscopes you have heard of most so far are the ones that are used for colonoscopies and surgeries.

These are different kinds of endoscopes and aren’t available to the public. The only type of endoscope that you can use on yourself is an ear-cleaning endoscope or an otoscope.

Borescopes and regular endoscopes are used for a wide range of inspection and repair purposes. For example, they can be used to unclog drains, see inside your air vents, or for mechanical repair. The difference is how big of a space they can fit into.

Camera’s Capabilities

Today, this is typically another model-specific feature, but borescopes are normally just a camera lens and a screen. Endoscopes, on the other hand, are much more convenient and have adjustable camera quality and lighting.

Depending on the specific model, you may also be able to take recordings and pictures that you can save for before and after photos, or for a consultation with a professional about the issue. This can be a really important feature to have and often saves you money for home repairs in the long run.

Size

Other than purpose, size is the biggest factor that separates borescopes from endoscopes. Standard borescopes have a much larger lens than endoscopes, which allows endoscopes to be used in many more places. The size for a borescope can range from 5-9mm or even larger, but an endoscope’s lens can be 3mm or smaller. 

The cable of an endoscope is also much thinner than that of a borescope to be able to twist or bend in multiple directions. A borescope, however, usually has a much thicker and heavier cable that is made to be strong and stable.  

The third sizing difference is length. Borescopes are much longer than endoscopes. Endoscopes typically don’t need that much length, while borescopes can be 30 feet or longer for longer distanced and heavy-duty work.

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