Mobile dental photography. Part I

Photography
8 Jun 2014

Louis Hardan and Jordi Manauta

Macro photography is the art of close-up, more often, it is used on very small subjects, such as flowers and insects. Photography is powerful in dentistry, its numerous applications such as diagnosis and treatment planning, legal documentation, publishing and lecturing has made digital photography a standard of care in modern dental practices.

Recently, smartphones have come a long way in digital photography, the purpose of this article is to demonstrate the capacity of these devices to take high quality pictures useful in different types of documentation and communication.

An article by Louis Hardan and Jordi Manuta.

High-quality images are an excellent communication tool because cameras are able to capture an extensive variety of details. Even some spectrophotometers are small digital cameras; therefore, most digital cameras have infinite potential, regardless of whether they are single-lens reflex (SLR), compact digital, or included in a smartphone or tablet. Nowadays the DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras are widely used in dentistry to take high definition macro images but mobile devices are already producing quality pictures due to recent technology development.

Smartphones and tablet cameras were designed for public use and not for dentistry, Macro functionality was developed to use these devices as scanners, in order to be able to copy documents and send them immediately. Therefore, No matter how serious a photographer is, most people use smartphones to capture moments and situations such as snapshots.

To overcome the bad reputation of smartphones in producing low quality pictures, people must treat this device as a camera and not as phone.

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Fig 2: Anterior view taken with a smartphone and Flexipalette®

These kind of cameras have some interesting features and characteristics that are beneficial for dental photography:

1- A very wide aperture but in an extremely small camera, due to the small size of the diaphragm, therefore a very high depth of field is achieved on a regular basis without loosing definition.

2- Very high ISO settings with low noise.

3- Rather good resolution to show small details

4- Large display to preview and view the images, especially when using smartphones with large screens.

5- Battery autonomy that allows working for many hours.

6- In some cameras the white balance, exposure and focus can be modified manually.

7- Smartphones are light and easy to operate.

Here are some pictures that have been taken with different smartphones and the Smilelite® device, in anterior and posterior regions. It’s premature to say that smartphones are surpassing DSLR cameras in image quality – there’s still room for improvement. But the gap between the two devices continues to get smaller as smartphone technology improves.

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From Fig 3 to 8: Pictures of Anterior teeth can easily be taken with a smartphone and Smilellite®.

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From Fig 9 to 11: Posterior teeth can have a good outcome with smartphone photography.

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From Fig 12 to 14: Smartphones can take great artistic pictures.

So the big question remains: will smartphones someday replace the heavy and expensive equipment required to take high definition pictures in dentistry?!

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Fig 15: Micro photography is possible with mobile dental photography.

In the second part of this article, soon to be published, the authors will discuss the use of smartphones in shade matching using Smilecapture®. The artistic pictures presented in this article do not give an idea about the true color of the teeth due to the fact that those shots were taken with uncalibrated smartphone cameras.

 

Bibliography