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Old Aug 16, 2004, 6:12 PM   #1
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Hi, hope you can help. I want a digital camera to photo skin for medical shots. Needs to be easy to use and be able to give very high definition of, for example, a freckle - with enough detail to show the edges of the freckle very clearly......mainly for images to be put on a projected screen as in presentations. What's the best camera for this job? :O


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Old Aug 16, 2004, 11:15 PM   #2
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IMO, you need a Nikon Coolpix 4500, using the optional Cool-light SL-1.

The Coolpix 4500 has the best macro mode in the business. You can"fill the frame" with an area about 3/4" across with virtually no distortion (because the Macro "sweet spot" is at around half zoom).

The optional Cool-light SL-1 attaches to the front of the lens, and uses a ring of white LED's to help with illumination. At distances this close, a flash would be useless (and have too much glare anyway). You'll need something very good for illumination. Otherwise, shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent motion blur. Here is the light:

http://www.nikonmall.com/product.asp...;searchcatid=3

The Coolpix 4500 also has a "Best Shot Selector" mode that is unique to Nikon. When in this mode, you can press and hold the shutter button down while it takes multiple photos in rapid succession. When you release the shutter button, it automatically saves the sharpest photo. This is very useful for macros to get sharper images, when using a tripod is not practical.

Unfortunately, the Nikon Coolpix 4500 is no longer being manufactured, and I do not see any reputable dealer that still has one in stock. The dealers that claim they have them in stock inthe price search engines arenot reputable in my opinion (and they'd likely be selling gray market versions at inflated prices).

I do see some in new condition on Ebay for a little over $300.00 now. These are also "gray market" cameras (versions intended for sale outside of the U.S.). But, some of these sellers appear to have good reputations (always check feedback carefully though). So, if you buy one of these (gray market), Nikon in the U.S. will not service it. However, it's a very well made camera. You could also buy a spare if it's a big concern (this camera lists for $699, so you could buy two of the gray market cameras for about the same price). Here is an example of a vendor with 4 of them available:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...48642&rd=1

I think this combination (Nikon Coolpix 4500 + Nikon Cool-light SL-1) would probably be your best bet. You can get optional closeup lenses designed to capture an even smaller area (Raynox makes some for it). However, then you couldn't use the Cool-light SL-1. I think you'll need it, because you just won't be able to get the lighting good enough otherwise at the extremely close distances you'll be shooting at (around 1 inch from the skin surface). IMO,a 4 Megapixel image of a skin area less than one inch across should be fine to show the detail you are looking for in a freckle, without worrying about anyadditional closeup lenses for this model anyway.
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Old Aug 17, 2004, 7:36 AM   #3
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Thanks JimC, the cool light and best shot selector sound like excellent features. I'm buying from England anyway so am unsure how the grey market warnings would apply, presumably the same as for the US in that if I buy a grey market version then Nikonwon't service it??.....anyway I can see them for £300 new +£61 for the cool light so will be checking it out, it's a bit more than I wanted to pay but if this is the tool for the job I'll have to stump up I guess. I'd be nervous buying from e-bay for the camera itself, e.g. for a used one.

I appreciate the time you've put into answering this query, but my concerns with this camera would be size and ease of use - IYO do you think a novice would be able to use it effectively?

:O
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Old Aug 17, 2004, 8:23 AM   #4
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stiofan wrote:
Quote:
I'm buying from England anyway so am unsure how the grey market warnings would apply, presumably the same as for the US in that if I buy a grey market version then Nikonwon't service it??.....
I don't know Nikon's policies in Europe. Here in the U.S., they won't service them if they were not intended for sale in the U.S. I think this is probably to discourage the practice of importing them at lower prices from overseas, the reselling them in the U.S. Since Nikon USA is setup as a separate company with it's own profit center for the import and distribution of Nikon products, this practice bypasses them (and the profit they would normally make on these cameras).

Quote:
anyway I can see them for £300 new +£61 for the cool light so will be checking it out, it's a bit more than I wanted to pay but if this is the tool for the job I'll have to stump up I guess.
Well, you may be able to get by with a different model, since you'll be blowing up the image to a larger size for onscreen viewing. I personally think for the best detail of something as small as a freckle, combined with the lighting difficulty you'd have a distances so close, the Nikon would be a much better way to go.

Quote:
I appreciate the time you've put into answering this query, but my concerns with this camera would be size and ease of use - IYO do you think a novice would be able to use it effectively?
I think you'll find it easy enough to use for your purpose, but any camera will take a little getting used. I've owned two of the swivel bodied Nikon models (the older Nikon Coolpix 950 and the Coolpix 990). The macro mode is quite simple to use. You have a button on the back of the camera marked with a picture of a Mountain, and a Flower for changing focus modes.

Youpress the button until the flower appears in the display (which is the universal symbol on a camera forit's closeupmode). Then, you zoom in until the flower icon changes color (indicating it's at the lens "sweet spot" for macros). Then, you can take the photos, with the camera able to focus from less than one inch away, all the way to infinity in Macro Mode.

Since the body of the camera swivels, this will help you with framing your subject (since you can tilt the camera body towards you for easier viewing of the LCD). The Cool-lightSL-1 willhelp light the area, and will also help the camera to focus better at close ranges (thanks to the light, which will help it's autofocus system "see" better).

Indon't think autofocus will be a problemusing the Cool-light SL-1. The skin should have enough texture and contrast differencefor it to focus I would think (I've still got an oldCoolpix 950 I could try this with, but we recently moved, and it's packed up somewhere in a box). :sad: Worst case is that you'd need to switch to manual focus for some shots (but I doubt you'll need to).

BSS (Best Shot Selector), is simply a menu choice you'll have in programmed auto mode, so it's not difficult to set to use it for getting sharper photos. When it's set, you don't have to do anything special except to hold down the shutter button until you hear it click of a handful of photos. When you release the shutter button, it will automatically save the sharpest image it captured.

There are some more advanced features you could use. For example, you can spin a command dial on the camera when in programmed auto mode, and the camera will toggle through various shutter speed/aperture combinations (all of which would give you proper exposure). This would let you "fine tune" depth of field for closeups, by using a smaller aperture (larger f/stop number). You can also shoot in aperture priority mode and accomplish the same thing (select a smaller aperture, and let the camera pick the shutter speed).

But, to be frank, you're not going to need to worry about trying to increase depth of field for a freckle (it will be flat enough anyway). Also, the larger apertures the camera's autoexposure is likely to select (it will always selectthe largest available aperture for the focal length you are at in lower light) will give you faster shutter speeds to help prevent motion blur from camera shake anyway.

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Old Aug 17, 2004, 10:32 AM   #5
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Thank you JimC, really appreciate the posts, very helpful to me.
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