The digital image is completely different from the chemical (analog) one to which many were used to, the characteristics are different. The terms below are the basics or the minimum you need to know to make the best use of any camera you already have, that you want to buy or replace. These pages are a stimulus to photographically document all cases of which you should have documentation, and the reasons are many, I will express only a portion of the digital information needed for anyone who is about to start to document, but I will also give information on the practical use for the more experienced. The intention is to continue with more articles, more detailed and specific for doctors and technicians. For every important topic that I will be using multiple images to be as comprehensive as possible, so that anyone should be able to understand and put into practice the information needed to make the most of their own equipment. You have to know the subject, “Digital Photography”, which is not just about cameras, lenses and flash, but also computer terms that are often found in the menu settings of digital cameras. Some settings are often overlooked or, not having some knowledge of ??computer terms, are incomprehensible. The topics with the most images will be mainly the settings and functions that can benefit medical records which, if clearly understood (the examples with pictures are often the most understandable), may also be useful for the use of the camera outside of the medical office or laboratory.
Clinical records have always been essential and have now developed to the point where we find applications both in the medical and technician offices, the reasons are many, I will mention the most important: use pictures to train or communicate with staff, exchange of information with dental technician, to show patients the work to be carried out in their mouth with photos (“now called marketing”), consultation among colleagues and, last but not least, for any medical-legal issues. Only good documentation with photos, x-rays and models can prove that we have done good work before any judge. All the archived documentation of the treated cases have allowed those who have been working as a lecturer or speaker to pass on their own experience. The increased use of the computer in the office allows all dentists and dental technicians to be able to document their work, digital documentation has big advantages over the “old” analog (on film) documentation. I would say that the possibility to see the pictures in real time and store them later directly in the patient’s file, or with the new “WI-FI” card we can transmit and store them directly in the patient’s file at the time they are taken, this allows us to view them on the screen (or on a screen positioned on the wall visible to the patient, or on the monitor now applied on many treatment units) and to discuss them in real time with the patient. If we want, we can also print them immediately, all this can be done with the patient sitting on our chair. If we want we can make a copy of the images to give to the dental technician or the patient, these copies will be exactly the same as the originals and, no matter the type of media you use to record images, such as: Compact-Flash, SD, Memory-Stick , XD-Picture, etc. All media will be readable on any computer. With analog equipment this was not possible, so I abandoned both film and analog cameras more than fifteen years ago. The choice of digital cameras is endless, among digital compact and dSLR we can choose between three hundred different models, but here we will quote the most widely used in medical and dental technician’s offices. Digital cameras fall into three categories:
The “Compact”, are, more or less, the size of a pack of cigarettes, and vary from one compact to another or from the difference of the lens or from the sensor, often, however, among the compact cameras only some fully meet our needs.
Then we have the “Bridge” ,that is, a cross between a compact and a dSLR, as some are almost as big as a dSLR with a standard lens.
Lastly, the “dSLR” are bodies on which you can mount all the lenses that the camera’s manufacturer produces.
The reflex, if equipped with a dedicated macro lens and appropriate flash for macro photography, gives good results, or if we use the best macro lenses and the latest flashes that can be used wireless (cordless) on brackets with movable arms to direct the light where we need it the most, the results that can be achieved are outstanding.