Saturday, April 28, 2012

The New Lytro Camera...Right for Clinical Photography?

When I got back from my Vegas lecture yesterday afternoon, a package was waiting for me.  About a year ago I put myself on the waiting list for the most anticipated camera to come along in a while. The new Lytro light field camera promised to be a new paradigm in photography. From the way it works to the concepts behind it, there was nothing like it.
The new Lytro may look small but it's a revolutionary approach to photography.

So, what makes it so great? Well, I can't really get into with this small of a space, but click HERE to learn more about the science behind it directly from the company.  In short, the goal of the camera is to allow the user to take a picture of virtually anything and be able to focus on any part of the picture, at any time, AFTER it has been taken. Basically, no matter what's in the picture, you don't focus, you don't use f-stops, you don't worry about flash settings. You merely pick it up, point it and shoot. Click HERE to see some sample images. Just click your mouse on any part and see it come into focus. There has never been anything like it. They are calling it "Living Photos".

I figured I'd take a look and see how it works and more importantly, see if it was good for dental use. After all, it's small, light, simple and I figured that if I could find a new way for dental photos to be taken, why not check it out?

Well, in my first trial, I wasn't impressed. The technology is awesome, but I just don't think it's there ...yet.  The image quality looked grainy and the lighting just wasn't good enough with the ambient room lighting. Remember, it doesn't use a flash.

This is just a first update. I promise to play with it this weekend and update you a but more some time soon...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Clinical Photography DVD Was Reviewed in Dental Economics This Month

The only thing greater than making what you think is a great product is somebody using it and feeling the same way.

In this month's Dental Economics, Dr. Joe Blaes reviewed my "Exceptional Clinical Photography Made Easy" DVD. The DVD shows all of the techniques that I usually teach in my hands-on classes, using an "over the shoulder" approach. I cover patient positioning as well as mirror and retractor placement for ideal images, every time.

The DVD has been purchased by dentists in 14 countries and I'm humbled by all of your comments after you've used it, so thanks.

Below is the review. If any of you have ever watched it, I'd love your feedback. DVD #2 (a prequel ala George Lucas) will cover how to choose a camera, set it up and get perfect lighting for every image by understanding f-stops, flash settings and depth of field.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why Great Depth of Field is Important in Dental Photography

Yeah, yeah, I know. Most dentists just want to pick up a camera, point it and get great images. So, if that's the case, then why all the fuss over depth of field?

Years ago, when we shot dental images on slide film, we were told to "focus on the laterals" so that we could get the centrals and cuspids in focus. With the advancement of technology, more specifically flash technology, we suddenly had a way to get a ton of lighting on an area, forcing us to turn the f-stop way up to give us great images.

But what's an f-stop and why does it matter?

f-stops, or apertures, are the adjustable components of the camera that allow light into the camera. The higher the number, the less light it lets into the camera. However, the higher the number, the greater the depth of field. A higher depth of field means that more is in focus from front to back. So, an f-stop of 32 will have much more in focus than an f-stop of 5.

For clinical photography, a higher depth of field means that for certain images we can worry less about having to focus perfectly and we will still get more in focus. For instance, for an anterior retracted image such as the one below, an f-stop of 25 will allow us to get every tooth, from central to 2nd molar in focus. Better yet, when shooting a high f-stop, it means that if you're off a bit in terms of your focus, you can get away with it because you have 2-3 inches of "depth" to play with.

With a higher f-stop, all teeth are easily in focus.
When one doesn't manage the f-stop properly, depth of field can be diminished.  Let's say you shot an image with an f-stop of 9, you will see a considerably diminished depth of field.

Notice how the posterior teeth are out of focus with this low f-stop image

So, the key is to be able to control your f-stop and always shoot with as high of an f-stop as possible for any given situation.  Sometimes, like for full face images, distance from subject requires all the flash power you can muster, as opposed to images such as a single central when there isn't a f-stop high enough to manage the amount of light thrown out by a full power flash, necessitating a lower flash power.

The need to alter flash power and f-stop settings are just two more reasons why I have felt that "point and shoot" cameras (which do not generally have either of the aforementioned features) are simply not appropriate for dental use.

There is one exception to the rule of great depth of field and it's portrait photography. When we take an image of a full face for non-clinical use, we do not want the background in focus, so it's important to manage lighting in such a way that the f-stop used is lower than for intraoral shots.

In portrait images, photographers use low f-stops to emphasize the face and make the background out of focus.

In the future, I'll cover more aspects of this topic including how to set your camera up to do this quickly and easily.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Glenn@KriegerContinuum.com .

Best Wishes,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

iDVD as the Best Dental Marketing Tool Ever!!!

Like many dentists, I was a "PC Guy" for years. After all, my office software ran on a PC and it's just the way I was brought up. Then, one day at the mall about 5 years ago, I was walking past the Apple store and decided to stop in. I looked around and decided that I would try an experiment. I bought a cheap, bottom of the line Mac Mini and installed a virtual environment using VMWare ( I can explain this more to you if you're interested) and Windows XP. On that computer I installed the PC dental software so I could see how it could perform.

Well, it worked pretty well, with most of the shortcomings being due to the low computing power of the mini, not the overall nature of the Mac. However, having the mini allowed me to spend a lot of time playing with Mac apps. My favorite quickly became iDVD.

iDVD is ("was"-more on this below) an amazing piece of software that was originally designed to allow you to burn your movies to DVD, however, it was really very useful for marketing your practice. Imagine being able to make a professional movie that could play in your office, showing all of your cases with navigation using nothing more than a remote control.

iDVD allows one to create "chapters" of slideshows that one can see on the home screen. Like any DVD, what you burn allows a repeatable home screen like you might see on any commercial movie DVD. While this screen plays over and over, there are a variety of slideshows of your work that you can setup for one to choose. Best of all, when the shows start, music can play with them and the program will take the song you choose and make the number slides fit it perfectly. It's amazing!

Best of all, once it's burned to disk, all you need to show it is a TV with a  DVD built in. Right now, you could buy a 32" flatscreen TV with a built in DVD player for as little as $279. You can make a DVD in as little as 10 minutes and have a great way of showing off your work to everyone who comes into your office.

Below is an example of what you could make. Your patients could use the DVD remote control to pick which slideshow they want to see.

Here is an example of what the finished "Home Page" will look like while it plays on your computer in the reception area or consultation room.

All your viewer would need to do is pick which of the slideshows they would like to see.  What this blog cannot show you is how nice the screen looks on a TV. The box with the smile circles around and you can pick several picture to cycle. It also has music.

Now, imagine that for your finished cases you made a DVD to send to a patient's workplace along with a mug with your practice name and some mints/candies in it. The DVD could look something like this:

This is what a DVD to be sent to a patient can look like.

If you put nice pictures on the show, there's a pretty good chance that they'll throw it in their DVD player on their computer (can be Mac or PC or regular DVD player) and maybe show a coworker who could become a new patient...

Now, there are only three things that you need to keep in mind:

1. You must have good looking pictures to make this work well. If your images don't look great, it will be like showing a patient a filthy articulator covered in stone. At the least, you may want to consider buying our "Exceptional Clinical Photography DVD" found HERE.
2. For a few reasons, Apple stopped making iDVD this past year. Go and get a copy of iLife 11 and you'll be in great shape. That's where iDVD is found.
3. You must have a Mac to do this. Now, I love PCs as well, but there simply is NOT a program for PC that does what iDVD does as quickly and easily.

I hope this helps, and as always, you can email me with any questions or issues.

Take Care,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The One Sentence That Makes All The Difference in Digital Case Presentation in Dentistry

A number of years ago, I had an amazing associate who worked with me. Talented, smart, funny and personable. A great diagnostician, this dentist was an overall excellent communicator. However, though every step in the digital case presentation workflow was followed, the new patients who saw this associate simply didn't schedule a lot of treatment. Worse yet, many of the patients came in for a new patient exam, never to return.

It was perplexing and a real "eye opener" for me. So, I investigated the system and tried to figure out exactly where the problem was. The images were gorgeous and the process worked of me, so why should there be a problem?

After interviewing some of the patients who never returned, I found out something very interesting.  They felt that the dentist was moral and just and that if a treatment plan was presented, it must be one that they felt very strongly about, so they would politely look for a second opinion, not wanting to offend the dentist or make them change their moral nature by "dumbing down" their proposed treatment plan.

Well, we learned from this and it was from that point on that I started every single case presentation with the same line that I teach attendees to my courses.  Before presenting any images or suggestions, I merely say "Now, remember, no matter what we discuss, I work for you, which means that if you don't like any of my suggestions, we're still friends and we can find another solution that does work for you."

The moment I started saying this to patients, you could see their tension disappear. Best of all, it was a natural extension of the entire Digital co-Diagnosis process, of which I am a strong advocate.

Start having this honest and fair discussion with your patients before presenting care and you should see amazing results.

Click here to see why everyone is raving about our "Exceptional Clinical Photography Made Easy" DVD and our revolutionary line of mirrors and retractors to capture the best images of your career.

Best Wishes,

Please e-mail me at Glenn@KriegerContinuum.com