Dentists: Selecting Photography Equipment, Part 2 of MN Dental Lab Series

 ~ By Jeff Benson, DDS • Renstrom Dental Studio

Renstrom Dental Studio (MN Lab) Summer Newsletter

In the first article in Renstrom's dentistry photography series, I talked about the benefits. If you missed it, go to our website at, click the news tab and then click the Spring 2012 newsletter.

Most dentists would agree that dental photography would be a helpful tool for communicating with their patients and dental laboratories, but many practices still have not made photography part of their daily routine. Many of these practices are concerned that photography will slow down production or that it will be difficult to get high quality photos, but the reality is that those practices that do take photos routinely find that it takes very little time and that the quality of the photos is consistently excellent.

Ring Flash
Modern digital dental photography systems make it easy, even for beginners,to get good images with just a little practice. Once you begin to take photos on a regular basis, the quality of your photos will quickly improve to the point where you’ll be proud to use them to communicate with your patients and your lab.

The key to success is feedback, and today’s digital dental camera systems give you high resolution feedback about your photo’s quality, right on the camera’s display, immediately after the photo is taken. If you don’t like a photo, just delete it, adjust your technique and take another one until you have the quality photo you want. It’s amazing how quickly your technique improves when you have this immediate feedback.

So, what equipment do you really need to take great dental photos? There are two distinct types of camera systems available for quality dental photography: (1)Digital SLRs and (2)Point and Shoot cameras that have been “adapted” for dental photography. Both systems are capable of producing acceptable photos but the SLR systems will produce significantly higher quality photos because the lens and flash are specifically designed for close-up photography. Lets look at digital SLR systems.

Twin Point Flash
The dedicated macro lens is the heart of the digital SLR dental photography system. These lenses are capable of capturing very accurate images of the color, contour and surface texture of the teeth, gingiva and lips. The focal length of the macro lens to use with consumer grade digital SLR camera bodies, should be between 60mm and 105mm. The trend, however, is toward lenses in the 60-to 85mm range because they make it easier to get sharp focus on all the teeth simultaneously.

A dental SLR system will have a flash system that evenly illuminates the oral cavity while minimizing shadows and glare. Through-the-lens (TTL) flash exposure control capability on modern SLR cameras ensures good exposure over a wide range of magnifications and working distances.

Your choices are either a ring flash or a twin-point flash. The ring flash illumination is very even, with good penetration into the back of the oral cavity, but it is prone to glare and doesn’t show surface texture well. The twin point flash greatly minimizes glare and more accurately shows surface texture and incisal hue and translucency, but it doesn’t penetrate to the back of the oral cavity quite as well as the ring flash. Choose the flash system that best meets your needs.

Most modern digital SLR camera bodies, if paired with the lens and flash recommendations above, are capable of taking great dental photos,so you really don’t need a very expensive camera body.

One camera body feature that is very helpful,though,isahigh resolution LCD screen so you can better evaluate your photos as you take them. The Canon T3i and Nikon D90 have high resolution LCD’s (about 1 million pixels) at a reasonable price.

So, you ask, “where should I purchase my camera system?” If you’re not intimidated by buying the right components and making the changes to the camera menu settings, you can save some money by assembling your own system.

If you’d rather just get the camera and start shooting with it right out of the box, I suggest you go to and buy one of their digital SLR systems, or their Canon G11 Point and Shoot system, both of which come with most everything you need, setup and tested, in a handy storage case.

Either way you choose, I’m available to help you decide what you need, set it up and train your staff to get your office started on the path to better patient and laboratory communication with dental photography. Whatever your dental photography needs or questions may be, I’d be most happy to help.


Jeff Benson, DDS

Mon or Wed






Watch for Part Three of Dr. Benson's Dental Photography Series in the Fall Renstrom Dental Studio Newsletter

~ Part 2: Photography Newsletter Series also published on Renstrom

Renstrom Dental Studio (MN Lab) is also a member of the Northern Dental Alliance.


Article Reposted by

Dick Chwalek

Dick is also a co-founder, member of the Northern Dental Alliance.

No comments:

Post a Comment