Doing It Right With Nikon

on March 10, 2015

Few of us have occasion to shoot digital intra-oral photographs - but the few that do need to have perfect results.

Perfectionism is a philosophical concept, and you can sit under the olive trees and debate it as much as you want ( wine and cheese optional...) but once it meets with medical or dental practise the stakes rise. Patients demand perfection, the Dental Board demands perfection, and the lawyers who represent patients demand perfection. None of 'em could cut a cavity or pull a molar to save their souls, but they demand perfection in others...

So dentists need perfect equipment to make this perfection. They are slugged about two thousand bucks for the air handpieces, ten thousand bucks for the drill control units, and $ 3.50 for cheap British diamond burs. With a bit of care one burr can go for an entire year before the last diamond chip on it is whirled off into the patent's oesophagus and the dentist has to buy another one.

Occasionally dentists need before, after, and during photos of the work they are doing. Nikon make a state-of-the art macro lens - the 105mm f:2.8 AF-S VR Macro - and the R1 C1 Close Up Flash kit.

It's complex - no doubt about that - but it can be programmed to do the simplest form of point and shoot for intra-oral views. There are two flash heads in the set that are powered by internal batteries and a dedicated controller that slots onto the top of a Nikon DSLR. You don't need the battleship DSLR's either - the D 3200, D3300 sort of thing will work perfectly.

Set the controller to fire both flashes at 1:1 light ratio. Clip on the little narrowing prisms to fire the flash down the axis of the lens. Then put your camera on M, ISO200, shutter speed 1/250. aperture f:8. and manual focus. Approach the subject, ask them to open wide and say" Incisor". and press the button. That's it - one file perfectly exposed and generally in focus.

It is just that simple. The camera/flash combination can be kept on a side shelf in the surgery. Have the nurse pin the patient in a half-nelson and blaze away. Jpeg images can be emailed to other surgeries and if you take RAW images you can make sure of colour corrections. Plus you can Photoshop in nicer teeth if necessary - for some people it is better to keep the teeth and Photoshop in a prettier patient.

In any case, Nikon make it as easy as it is ever likely to get to produce the sort of perfect intra-oral views that you can bore people with at conferences. Nothing will ever put people to sleep as good as pink and purple histological slides projected on a large screen, but intra-orals and trips to Fiji come a close second and third.