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This is an example of beginner digital camera. This document is useful for studying the digital camera.
Beginner’s guide to going digital EQUIPMENT DIGITAL photography offers some distinct advantages over film photography, not the least of which are instantaneous pictures and ease of manipulation, storage and transfer of image files. This article is aimed at practitioners with little or no experience of digital photography, who want to explore the possibility of using digital images in their day-to-day practice. It includes tips and techniques applicable to a variety of clinical disciplines, and considers how best to present the resulting images. KEITH BARRAND Various media, including CDs, data sticks and Zip disks, make it easy to store and use a wide range of high quality images MANY vets take photographs in around – the internet is a good place greatly reducing picture quality. their practices, whether of interest- to compare prices. This is most apparent when images ing cases or for specific purposes with a relatively small number of such as inclusion within RCVS Cost pixels are enlarged. Top-of-the- certificate and diploma case books. A basic camera can be bought for range cameras produce images with Photographs are always welcome, as under £100, while a top-of-the-range in excess of 8 million pixels. they add interest, allow visualisation model may cost upwards of £800. and convey a ‘feel’ for a case in a way that words cannot achieve. Camera type Keith Barrand qualified from the Until recently, for case report Digital cameras come in three main Royal Veterinary illustrations 35 mm photographs forms: College in 1988. After four years in mixed were required, but digital pictures s Basic compact cameras, which practice in Norfolk can now be used if they are of suffi- are similar to very basic, instamatic, he joined his present ciently high quality. The general ‘point-and-shoot’ cameras; seven-vet mixed practice in information provided for RCVS s Compact single lens reflex (SLR) Lincolnshire where certificate candidates defines ‘high type cameras, with built-in lenses; he is now the senior director. He holds quality’ as ‘sufficient to clearly s Digital SLR cameras (‘DSLRs’), This image of a dog’s eye has a grainy, the RCVS certificate in demonstrate their content to a stan- which are the equivalent of 35 mm ‘pixellated’ appearance. This loss of small animal medicine quality is due to excessive enlargement and is an adviser dard which would be necessary if SLR film cameras. These are very to candidates. His of the image after the photograph has submitting for publication in a pro- versatile and come with a wide been taken interests include fessional refereed journal’; each range of accessories, including inter- all aspects of small animal medicine and journal will have its own specific changeable lenses. Zoom surgery. He made the requirements with regard to images, Compact SLR type and DSLR There are two types of digital cam- transition to digital photography after but some general considerations are cameras are best for veterinary era zoom, traditional optical and many years of 35 mm listed in the box on page 46. photography. I use a compact SLR digital; some cameras have both. photography. type camera now costing under Optical zoom allows the field of £200, which is very versatile. view to be broadened or narrowed GETTING STARTED without any significant loss of pic- ture quality. My camera has x10 There is a huge range of digital cam- CAMERA FEATURES optical zoom (the equivalent of 38 to eras on the market. Bear in mind 380 mm in 35 mm photography). that the technology is evolving at a Pixels Digital zoom, however, can reduce great rate and what is a state-of-the- Digital photographs are made up the number of pixels in a picture, art camera today may be obsolete in of tiny ‘dots’ (pixels) in the same making it look grainy. a year. As with computer equipment, way as a television picture. The it is necessary to be prepared to more pixels there are, the better the Modes upgrade at regular intervals. quality of the picture. A minimum Most digital cameras come with a The price of digital cameras of 4 million pixels is recommended number of pre-set modes such as varies greatly from shop to shop, as for reasonably high quality images. portrait, landscape or sports mode. do accessories such as batteries, If an image has too few pixels, indi- These can be very useful, but should In Practice (2006) memory cards, and so on. Do shop vidual pixels can become visible, be capable of being overridden if 28, 41-46 In Practice q JANUARY 2006 41 necessary. The most useful modes IMAGE QUALITY AND be compressed further (with some are portrait and close-up (‘flower’). STORAGE loss of quality, called ‘lossy com- Close-up modes are essential for pression’) to speed up internet photographing external lesions. When taking digital photographs, downloads and to send as e-mail Bear in mind that you may want you should generally use the highest attachments. For a description of to use the camera for other things image quality the camera is capable other file formats, see Lamb (2004), such as holiday and family photos. of. It is possible to configure the but a detailed knowledge is not nec- Consider which modes you are camera so that this becomes the essary for storing digital images. likely to need (although most are default setting; that is, the setting the Large files can cause storage present on many cameras anyway). camera defaults to when it is turned problems. In the days of floppy on. Lack of detail in a picture cannot disks and small computer hard Flash be corrected by manipulating the drives, this created difficulties, but Nearly all digital cameras come with image later. present-day large hard drives and a built-in flash, which is adequate Most digital cameras record other data storage facilities such as for most purposes. photographs as JPEG (pronounced CDs, DVDs, Zip technology and Problems like ‘red eye’ can be jay-peg) files. Such files are given data sticks have effectively solved fixed by manipulating the image the suffix ‘.JPG’. This is an image the problem. Listed on page 43 is later, but the flash should be capable format which compresses graphics the storage capacity of popular stor- of being overridden. to a fraction of their size without age media (note, 1 gigabyte [GB] = losing image quality. JPEG files are 1000 MB). The important point is Memory card fine for most casebook applications. that a huge amount of data can be Most cameras come with a small They can still be quite large, but can stored easily, cheaply and safely – (usually 16 megabyte [MB]) memo- ry card, which may only hold about 20 high quality images. Invest Manipulating images in something larger: a 512 MB Memory cards are very small memory card can hold over 500 and easily lost or damaged. reasonably high quality images (see A storage clip such as this blue plastic example is box below). useful Memory cards are small and deli- cate. It is best to keep them in the camera or a dedicated holder. The camera manufacturer’s own memory cards are usually the best option. (left) An original image of a dog and (right) the same image manipulated to correct the ‘yellow eye’ and add a realistic glint to the eyes Batteries One problem with digital cameras is In effect, it is possible to have the that they are heavy on battery usage. s Aim to present images as equivalent of a 35 mm darkroom Most cameras come with a recharge- you see them on your computer. Most image s It is acceptable to enhance able battery but these can ‘die’ with manipulation software programs images for the sake of clarity very little warning. Keeping a spare are reasonably easy to use and s It is NOT acceptable to battery to hand is a wise precaution. allow great flexibility. misrepresent images As with memory cards, the camera A rechargeable camera The majority of cameras come manufacturer’s own batteries are battery (left) with a with basic software that allows manipulation of colour, contrast and dedicated charging unit usually the best option. so on, and basic cropping. Most programs have a very useful quick-fix or auto-smart-fix function. Red eye reduction can be useful, but animals usually have ‘yellow eye’ due to tapetal reflection, which needs more advanced software to correct. Some excellent intermediate software, such as Paintshop Pro 9, costs about £100. Adobe Photoshop Elements v3.0, available for both PCs and Macs, is a stripped-down version of Photoshop Professional at How many pictures can I store? about one-tenth of the price (about £80), but still requires some expe- High quality images make larger files than low quality rience to use well. This type of software is quite demanding in terms images, and can quickly fill up memory cards. However, with of system requirements and may run slowly on or crash older comput- modern high-capacity memory cards, this should not be a ers – check system requirements on the manufacturer’s website. problem. The table below shows how many photographs can At the other end of the scale is advanced software such as be stored on different capacity memory cards. Photoshop Creative Suite CS2 (retailing at about £700). This is very good, but very expensive and requires time and effort to master. Number of pixels Memory cards Intermediate software lets you add text (or labels) to images. (With in each picture 128 MB 256 MB 512 MB 35 mm prints, the same effect was often achieved with Letraset!) 3 million 162 325 651 The key is to try before you buy. Many trial versions of software 4 million 128 256 512 programs may be downloaded free of charge (typically for 30 days). 5 million 104 208 416 This also allows you to check whether the software is compatible with 6 million 80 160 320 your computer. 8 million 48 96 192 Some useful website addresses are given at the end of this article. 42 In Practice q JANUARY 2006 but 3·5" floppy disks are impractical memory card, but this does not for storing images. allow image manipulation. If you Portraits and close-ups need to manipulate an image, you can save it as a JPEG file and ask Storage capacities your local image processing service to print it, or send it to an online The storage capacities of vari- printing service, both of which are ous media are as follows: reasonably cost-effective options. s 3·5" floppy disk 1·44 MB Most printing is carried out on s CD 650 MB inkjet printers. Printers designed for s DVD 4·7 GB photographic-quality printing are s Data stick Up to 1 GB best, but the cost of ink cartridges s Hard drive 60+ GB can make them expensive to run. Use your printer manufacturer’s ink car- tridges for the best colour fidelity. Whole-animal or animal head-shots, such as the rough collie pictured In addition to storing data, the It is possible to print off pho- on the left, are easy to take. Close-up pictures of specific lesions are above media are useful for backing tographs straight from the camera slightly more difficult – but can be taken with the right equipment. up (that is, making extra copies in without needing to use a computer. (top right) A collar entrapment axillary wound in a cat, clipped prior to repair, taken from a distant view for orientation, and (bottom case the original is lost or damaged). Some printers permit cameras to be right) a close-up view of the same lesion A copy on the hard drive of your connected directly to them via a computer should not be the only USB cable, while others allow mem- backup, as catastrophic hard drive ory cards to be inserted, and pho- failure can result in the irretrievable tographs printed as required. Some loss of picture files (as well as other image manipulation is possible but data). such printers are relatively expen- sive as you are buying hardware and Digital photographs have a software. Camera retailers and sites number of professional and BACKING UP such as www.amazon.co.uk are leisure uses, as well as good sources to investigate. educational and academic. The general principle when dealing They may be placed on with any electronic data, including Paper websites, in newsletters or digital images, is back up, back up, Photographic paper comes in a range in personal photo albums. A data stick plugged into back up! of qualities, and the prices vary However, due to the potential a USB port. Most modern computers have two ports Some older computers may only accordingly. It is a good idea to buy for manipulation, they are on the front of the hard be able to read CDs and not record small packs initially, until you find generally unsuitable for legal drive housing, often behind purposes. In the veterinary a small trapdoor information on (burn) them. However, one that suits you. relying on floppy disks as the sole One concern is the tendency of context, this is relevant with backup is not practical, as each disk prints to deteriorate over time. Using regard to cruelty prosecution holds only one or two high quality good quality ink and paper should cases, for which 35 mm prints JPEG files. The cheapest ways to minimise this. are preferred. upgrade such a computer system are: s Buy an external CD-R/RW writer (costing £60 to £80) with appropri- WHAT ABOUT EXISTING ate CDs (under £1 each); PHOTOGRAPHS? DISPLAYING IMAGES s Buy data sticks that plug directly into a USB port (often located on the A number of options are open to you It is possible to embed images in front of the hard drive box). Data if you already have 35 mm prints or wordprocessing or publishing docu- sticks may cost up to £150, depend- slides that you wish to incorporate: ments, such as those produced ing on capacity, but they are rela- s Use the prints as they are by past- in Microsoft Word or Microsoft tively new and prices are falling ing them into the casebook. Publisher. This gives a very profes- rapidly; s Convert them to digital images sional look to your report, although s If your computer has a floppy using a scanner. This might be a it does preclude the use of photo- disk drive as its only means of flatbed scanner or a combined printer/ graphic paper, which is not suitable saving data, it is likely to be quite scanner/fax. Image quality is vari- for text; hence, the quality of the old (in computer terms) and a able (although generally good), pictures will not be optimised. complete upgrade may be a cost- depending on the quality of the orig- However, for photographs in which effective option. A good new inal image and of the scanner. Once fine detail is not vital this represents computer system can cost anything saved digitally, these images can a good option. from £500 upwards. be treated like other digital photo- Alternatively, photographs can graphs. be printed onto photographic paper s Some photographic retailers con- and mounted in the book, either in PRINTERS AND PAPER vert photographic prints or slides to spaces between text or on separate digital images using high quality pages. Double-sided sticky tape, Printers scanners. These are likely to give photo-corners or paper glue can be Many shops have machines that better results than trying to convert used. If desired, the page can be allow printing directly from a the images yourself. laminated. In Practice q JANUARY 2006 43 Endoscopy images Microscopy images (right) A digital eyepiece camera (Woodley Equipment) inserted into a binocular microscope Clockwise from top left: a Damalinia species louse x 40, from an Angora goat; a fast-moving ear mite (Otodectes cyanotis) from a puppy’s ear – the image of the back legs suffers here from movement blur; a Cheyletiella species mite x 100, from a rabbit; and a cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) x 40. Large mites can be difficult to photograph, due to the Videogastroscope: limited depth of field video images recorded Gastroscopy images of on this equipment can grade 1 (top) and grade 2 be used to make (above) equine gastric photographic stills but, There are three options for microscopic images: ulcers. Pictures, Jane Nixon, at about £9500 + VAT, s Digital eyepiece cameras cost about £100 (including software) and Nixon Equine it is expensive. Picture, Kruuse UK fit most makes of microscope. The camera slots into the eyepiece of the microscope and connects to a computer via a USB cable (so it must Closed-circuit digital colour be used next to a computer). Images are displayed on the computer cameras and snapshots can be captured and saved as JPEG files. These can be can be attached to an endoscope. exported and manipulated in the usual way. Although the resolution At £2170, this is low (0·4 million pixels), image quality is adequate is another s Digital microscopes have built-in cameras; one example, the expensive option. Picture, Kruuse UK Woodley Dig 30, costs about £1300 + VAT, and produces pictures of quite low resolution (0·4 million pixels) s Dedicated microscope cameras fit most makes of microscope and cost from £600 to £800, depending on picture quality. Examples are Endoscopic images require specialist equipment. Moticam the Moticam 480, 1000 and 2000 (0·4 million, 1·3 million and 2 million cameras (£600 to £800, from Woodley Equipment) can be pixels, respectively). They also fit onto most makes of endoscope and used to obtain images from endoscopes and have the advan- so can be used for endoscopic pictures. Note that Moticam cameras tage of connecting to most makes of microscope. are not compatible with Mac computers Ophthalmology images Pictures of the eye and adnexa are not difficult to take. Using a close- up mode with the flash on often produces unsatisfactory results. Better results are obtained as follows: s Take photographs in a dimly lit room with the flash on s Stand well back. Use the optical zoom to frame the area of interest s Crop images to the area of interest s Alternatively, take the picture outdoors with the flash off. This may result in unwanted reflections in the animal’s eye Photographs of the retina require specialist training and equipment. Retinal cameras such as the Kowa Genesis Digital Fundus camera (Keeler) cost around £10,000. Unfortunately, there is no inexpensive Image of the retina and optic nerve of a dog with option. Buying a second-hand 35 mm retinal camera such as the Kowa Image of a normal canine retina taken using a Kowa RC-2 camera papilloedema associated with a RC-2 (1950s vintage), if you can find one for sale, and scanning the and scanned into a computer brain tumour taken with a Kowa pictures into your computer is probably the cheapest option. As the Genesis-D digital retinal camera price of digital retinal cameras falls, more Kowa cameras may come onto the second-hand market. The British Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists has a website (www.bravo.org.uk) with links to suppliers of second-hand ophthalmic equipment. Due to the high cost, relatively few retinal cameras are owned by vets in the UK. Advisers to candidates of the certificate in veterinary ophthalmology may own a retinal camera or know of colleagues who do. Contacting your adviser for advice is a good idea. The images on the left were provided by Dr David Williams. For more examples of good ophthalmology pictures, visit www.davidl A meibomian gland adenoma in Glaucoma in a Staffordshire a 10-year-old Gordon setter bull terrier williams.org.uk. 44 In Practice q JANUARY 2006 Radiography images Digital radiography is a luxury enjoyed by only a few, largely due to the cost of the equipment. Most certificate candidates still use conventional radiography, which results in an ‘analogue’ image. Digitising radiographs by means of a digital camera is a cheap and con- venient alternative for most people. For this, the camera can be set to black and white or fluorescent lighting mode, if available. If not, a por- trait or close-up shot may be appropriate, with the colour being removed during image manipulation. The best way to photograph radiographs is in a darkened room with Digital photographs of radiographs: the radiograph on a viewer. Stray light from the viewer around the distal femoral fracture in a cat (above) edges of the radiograph should be masked off. and a similar fracture after treatment (right) with crossed K-wires These conditions can confuse the autofocus, so focus manually if possible. If this is not possible, focus on something equidistant from the plate, such as the manufacturer’s name plate on the x-ray viewer, and then use the camera’s focus-lock button to overcome this problem. The flash must be turned off, so long exposures may be necessary which can result in movement blur if the camera is hand-held. Using a tripod helps. Ideally, the timer function on the camera should also be used, as manually depressing the shutter can cause the camera to move slightly. A more detailed description of the technical aspects of digital photography of radiographs is provided by Lamb (2004). Manipulating radiographic images s Connect your camera to your computer with the cable provided. yellow. This can be removed by converting the image to This will usually autostart the photograph manipulation software, monochrome which will guide you through uploading the images from the s Adjust brightness and contrast to achieve the desired result camera onto the hard drive s Save the image (usually as a JPEG) to the hard drive s Radiographs are essentially monochrome (black and white) s Crop to the area of interest, if required images. Photographs of radiographs often have a colour cast, usually s Back up the image and print out the picture Ultrasonography images Histopathology images Colour-flow Doppler Photomicrograph of the echocardiogram obtained proximal phalanx of a dog from a dog with suspected showing an interface heart disease. Picture, BCF dermatitis consistent with Technology symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (haemotoxylin and eosin). This type of picture is best left to histopathologists to provide. Picture, David Shearer, Finn Pathologists Producing digital histopathological images yourself requires expensive equipment and training. Most pathology laborato- ries offer a photomicrography service at a reasonable cost – this is often the best option. Remember to acknowledge Older diagnostic ultrasound machines are analogue, while newer both the lab and the photographer when publishing material. machines are digital. Include a scale on the image or a magnification factor in the s Analogue ultrasound machines. The easiest way to obtain images is caption, along with details of the stain used. probably to use a dedicated printer, but these cost in the region of Many histopathology labs have high quality digital equip- £650. An alternative for analogue images is to use a video frame cap- ment and, for a fee, will photograph slides for vets. Results ture device, with the appropriate connections and software. They cost can be excellent and this can be the cheapest option. from £50 to £100 and plug into the back of the ultrasound machine. ‘Captured’ frames can be uploaded and manipulated in the usual way s Digital ultrasound machines usually have software for transferring images onto a computer in the form of JPEG or bitmap (BMP) files. It is ECG traces also possible to attach a video camera, if the machine has a video Close-up of a single input (found on more expensive models), to download ‘stills’ from it complex on an ECG trace (lead II) from a dog with With both types of machine, you can freeze the ultrasound image suspected atrial standstill and photograph it using a digital camera in the same way as radi- ographs (see above); some experimentation with settings may be necessary. Such images can be manipulated to produce pictures of adequate quality, but probably of inferior quality to those produced using the above methods. Obtaining images from diagnostic ultrasound machines can be Electrocardiograph (ECG) traces can simply be pasted into complex. Contact the manufacturer of your machine for advice on casebooks. However, a better result can be achieved by pho- obtaining the best image. tographing the relevant portion of a trace. In Practice q JANUARY 2006 45 The up-to-date requirements for Intermediate Intraoperative photographs the various RCVS certificates are Vets who are ready to progress from available at www.rcvs.org.uk by the beginners’ stage, who use their It is not possible to take pictures when gowned and gloved! following the links. camera for things other than their Any suitable member of staff, such as a nurse, can take casebook, or who have a general photographs at appropriate moments during surgery, but interest in photography, should con- make sure that they know how to use the camera before the GOING SHOPPING? sider buying a mid-price camera with operation starts. intermediate-level software such as Beginner Adobe Photoshop Elements. You may The easiest and cheapest way to get also like to use an online printing ser- CASEBOOK REQUIREMENTS good photographs is to buy a digital vice or inkjet printer specifically camera which comes with some designed to produce high quality Most certificate boards welcome basic image manipulation software. prints. photographs of radiographs, ECG Buy a spare rechargeable battery and traces or endoscopic images, but a large-capacity memory card. Advanced discourage or do not accept original Using an online photograph You don’t need me to tell you what radiographs. Some certificates (eg, printer, print-docking station or to do! Consider a DSLR camera with Certificate in Veterinary Diagnostic basic inkjet printer should give advanced software. Good colour laser Imaging [CertVDI]) require original reasonable results. printers produce excellent prints. radiographs, or accept ECG traces if pasted into a casebook (if you do Acknowledgements Thanks to: Chris Lamb (Royal Veterinary College) and Jimmy Simpson (Royal [Dick] School this, do not laminate the page – the of Veterinary Studies) for reading and commenting on the manuscript; David Williams paper is heat-sensitive and lamina- (Cambridge veterinary school) for pictures and for proof-reading the ophthalmology section; Paul Lymer, of Woodley Equipment, for the loan of a digital eyepiece camera; tion obliterates the trace). Gavin Mitchell, of BCF Technology, for advice on and proof-reading of the ultrasonography RCVS certificates are in a state section; and Stuart Wilson, of Kruuse UK, for advice on endoscopic imaging. References and further reading of flux at present. Certificates ANON (2005) Adobe Photoshop in individual subjects will be Useful contacts Elements 3.0 Classroom in a Book. replaced by a modular certificate in s Adobe Photoshop, www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/main.html Peachpit Press, Berkeley, USA s BCF Technology Ltd, telephone 01506 460023, www.bcftechnology.com LAMB, C. R. (2004) Digital advanced veterinary practice, but s British Association of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (BrAVO), www.bravo.org.uk photography of radiographs. existing certificates (and case report s David Williams, www.davidlwilliams.org.uk European Association of s Jasc Paintshop Pro, www.jasc.com/products/paintshoppro/ Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging requirements) will probably be s Kruuse Ltd, telephone 01977 681523, www.kruuse.com Yearbook. pp 1-16 around for some time. s Woodley Equipment Ltd, telephone 01204 669033, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Images for publication Below In Practice provides some basic considerations for anyone producing electronic photographic illustrations to accompany an article or paper for submission to a pro- fessional journal. These images were General considerations taken at different s Check whether the publisher requires printed as well as electronic images. Ensure image quality settings. While any hard copies are labelled with the figure number and your name they would appear s Images embedded in wordprocessing (eg, Microsoft Word) documents are not very similar on a computer screen, suitable for print publication. The original JPEG or TIFF files are required (see below) note the difference s Avoid the temptation to crop pictures excessively during image manipulation. 2816 x 2112 pixels (~6 megapixels) in print quality This will allow a greater degree of flexibility in print s Name your electronic image files to correspond with the figure numbers in the text s If images require arrows, labels, etc, it is best to indicate the position of these on the hard copies only, so that the journal can ensure a consistent style in print s For histology/cytology images, include details of magnification and stain used s Retain copies of all images supplied, whatever the format s Beware copyright issues: obtain explicit permission to use other people’s images and include acknowl- edgements where appropriate Taking digital photographs s When taking digital pictures, choose the highest image quality setting the camera offers. For good quality reproduction in print, image size should ideally be in the region of 2000 x 2000 pixels (4 megapix- 640 x 480 pixels (~0·3 megapixels) els) or above, depending on the camera. Note that images of less than 1000 x 1000 pixels (1 megapixel) are only suitable for viewing on television and computer screens, and are not suitable for print publication s Submit digital images as JPEG or TIFF files Specific requirements will vary. Refer to the published Scanning prints or slides ‘notes for authors’ or check s Scan images at a minimum resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi) at a width of at least 15 cm (or with the publisher direct if approximately the size the image will appear in print) you have any queries. s Submit scanned images as JPEG or TIFF files 46 In Practice q JANUARY 2006
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