Choosing A Dental Camera Package
Dental camera packages are a specialty here at Pro Photo Supply. They consist of a high-quality camera, macro lens, and a macro flash. Typically, a kit will cost between $1,500.00 and $2,500.00 depending on a doctor’s particular preferences. The vast majority of these kits will never venture beyond the front door of the office, so most dentists purchase kits at the lower end of the price scale.
The requirements for an effective dental photography set-up are fairly straightforward: a camera that can record very high quality close-up images inside and outside the mouth, and a patient portrait to go along with them. It also needs to be simple enough that anyone in the office can confidently use it.
That’s why before we deliver a dental kit, we optimize the settings in the camera and flash so that it’s ready to go to work right out of the box. We also provide a simple instruction and photo tip manual that helps the dental care professional get great results every time. We also provide free phone support for our customers who accidentally "customize" their settings too much.
As Pro Photo’s go-to guy for all cameras dental, the chief complaint I hear is that the average dental camera is “too heavy.” It’s true that a high quality camera mated to a high quality lens can weigh upwards of 5 pounds. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but depending on the size of the person taking the pictures and how busy the office is, the weight can be tiring.
The second biggest complaint is the cost. As in most things in life, you get what you pay for. While most of our dental clients view a dental kit as cheap insurance, and a great way to document the work they do, the required outlay isn’t exactly chump change.
That’s why we keep our ears open and our eyes out for advances in digital technology that will do the job better in terms of cost, quality, and ergonomics.
A newcomer to the dental world, the Olympus E-M5 paired with Olympus’ Zukio 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, is a great choice for dental healthcare professionals that want a smaller, lighter camera that works with a wireless flash, and does not sacrifice photo quality. Pricing comes in just a bit above the low-end, but the mirrorless micro 4/3 camera body with lens and flash weighs in at under 2 pounds.
Another interesting dental camera configuration is the Canon G16. There is a company that sells it with a specially-made device that attaches to the front of the camera to diffuse the light from the flash making it usable as a dental camera. The G16 is a very good point-and-shoot camera. However, by the time you purchase the camera and the diffuser as a package, or separately, the final cost is nearly that of a much higher quality DSLR with a proper macro lens and macro flash. Other than a distinct weight advantage, the loss of versatility and image quality may not be worth the small savings.
For the practitioner that’s looking for the lightest weight, lowest cost option, the Olympus TG-3 might be the camera to try. At $349.99, it’s by far the least expensive choice out there. The camera has an f2.0 lens and in macro mode can focus on objects less than an inch away. It weighs 5.5 ounces, which should be light enough for anyone.
A macro flash with diffused light is a key component in dental photography. Olympus has a solution. For $35.00 you can purchase an add-on adapter that turns the small camera flash into a ring flash by directing the light into a mirrored ring that snaps into the front of the lens. It’s simple to use, and works amazingly well.
So, the TG-3 is affordable, light, and takes great macro shots; so what’s the downside? Its ability to focus exceptionally close and remarkably well starts to degrade from the middle of the frame. Because it’s a simple point-and-shoot camera, it does not offer the ability to adjust the f-stop or shutter speed in what Olympus calls the “microscope” mode. Although simple to use, the lack of shooting and flash adjustments may be frustrating for some. But, at less than 400 bucks, it’s difficult to expect more than that the TG-3 offers.
On top of the macro function, this Olympus camera is waterproof up to 50 feet, crushproof when dropped from 5 feet, and has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS features. For the budget-minded dentist that loves the great outdoors, this camera is a great choice for in and outside the office.