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Advice sought on OM-D EM-5 setup for photos during surgery

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by silicone, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    Hello all and thank you in advance for advice!

    I am a plastic surgeon planning to purchase a photo system for use in photographing patients, primarily for body photographs and for use during surgery inside a body cavity. The latter is an area that even expensive point and shoot autofocus cameras often fail because their mechanisms mistakenly focus on the surrounding skin being retracted rather than the subject I would like to photograph. The flashes also frequently create harsh shadows inside the cavity or wash out the image details. I will need to capture fine detail of tissue, so I need to use macro capabilities sometimes. Needless to say, the camera needs to operate quickly and reliably since I'm standing there with a patient under anesthesia! The picture quality needs to be as high as possible--good enough for publication in journals and textbooks as well as for presentation use blown up on a big screen for an audience. I will also use the camera for travel, casual and family use and assume any setup that meets the above requirements will probably be more than sufficient for casual and hobbyist use.

    I have used relatively sophisticated point-and-shoot cameras in the past but they fail for this work (too slow, poor focus and flash) and also owned a Nikon D100 but found that it collected dust because of its size and weight.

    This has led me to consider the following setup:

    OM-D EM-5 with 12-50 kit lens
    I value the manual focus plus "point on the screen to focus" capability, manual control if needed, and I picked this lens because it seems the most versatile single lens (particularly with the macro capability) and is a good price in the kit. In silver, which looks super-cool and reminds me of the Nikkormat I learned on :smile:.

    Flash--here I am a little stumped. From what I have read, a ring flash may be best for this sort of thing (avoiding flash shadows inside a body cavity during surgery and not overwhelming a macro shot), but I have never used one so I am not familiar with the issues. I have considered the Metz 15 MS-1 (pricey), but would something like the Polaroid Macro Ring 48 LED Light work as well or better? Or what about the Olympus MAL-1? I have searched but not found much on this subject except the advice, "use a ring flash for macro". Too bad Olympus doesn't make a nice ring flash for the EM-5. It seems like a pretty big empty spot in an otherwise fairly robust accessory market for these little cameras.

    I would value opinions on both the overall system choice for the money (DSLR kits like the Nikon 5200 or Canon T4i are significantly cheaper), the lens choice, and also the flash.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
  3. 0dBm

    0dBm Mu-43 Top Veteran

    859
    Jun 30, 2011
    Western United States
    I don't own either the OM-D EM-5 or the 12-50 so I'll address the lighting portion of your question.

    The use of flash units for macro photography work is challenging because of the short duration of the light. There is simply not enough time to adjust the light output for proper exposure; thus the "washing-out" of the image.

    A LED ring light is the best compromise.

    The main problem with that Polaroid Macro Ring 48 LED Light is that it has a color temperature of about 6500-7500 Kelvin since it uses Nichia 5mm LEDs. At that color temperature, the colors of the subject WILL wash out.

    What you will need is an LED light with an adjustable output and one which has a Color Rendition Index of 85 or above so that the color of the subject as depicted on the photo will be close to that of the subject itself.

    I don't do much macro work; however, I am considering this product for that application.
     
  4. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    For what you are doing I would think a ringlight is a must. I would also recommend a constant ringlight over a flash unit. Flash will have a tendency to reflect too much off liquids such as blood. Flash also flattens details and since it sounds like you need the details a constant light will give a little more control. Best if you can find one that is dimmable. Another advantage of a constant light is that you can use longer shutter speeds, especially if the camera is mounted on a tripod{if not the IS does help a lot!}.

    For the focus and what and where you are shooting the touch focus should work really well. Not sure the touch screen will work if you have gloves on however! Check with Olympus and find out. If not a stylus might work. To increase your depth of field{amount that is in focus} stop the aperture down a little, of coarse on the long end it is already stopped down a fair amount.
     
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  5. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    Thank you for bringing that to my attention! Pricey but looks like a good alternative to the Metz.

    I appreciate the detailed explanation! I would have had no idea about the color rendition issue. The ring LED solution you suggest looks pretty nice.

    Thank you very much for the info. I assume I can use the touchscreen since I can use my iPhone with 2 sets of surgical gloves on; but I don't know for sure.

    Lots to think about...I am going to research each of the options mentioned above. The F&V R-300 seems like a very good choice since it has constant output, with variable output, and is fairly economical, also.
     
  6. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    Keep in mind, the Ring Flash RF-11 has built in modeling lamps as well as the flash tube. They can be used independently or in combination. We have a number of these units in our research lab that are used on a daily basis and they work very well.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If you can use an iPhone then the E-M5's screen should work too, same technology{capacitive touch}. Some other cameras use resistive touch screens that are less responsive but cheaper to make.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    Australia
    what are modelling lamps?

    You use your iphone when you have surgical gloves on? Wheres the infection control? :smile:
     
  9. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Modeling lamps are continuous lights which are used to gauge how the light will fall from the flash.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Kiwicasper

    Kiwicasper New to Mu-43

    8
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maybe its just me, but i always got the impression there where tons of light during a sugery. Can't you use that?
     
  11. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    I don an extra pair of sterile gloves to take photos which are then discarded.
     
  12. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    It is extremely bright and washes out camera sensors, especially when using a lighted xenon retractor inside a body cavity. I have to turn the surgical lights off for photos. The human eye seems to have a greater range than cameras in being able to see the brightly lit portions of the surgical field and also the less brightly-lit areas immediately adjacent to this. when I have tried to take a picture (at least with a camera on auto settings like a point and shoot or the iPhone 5), one area will be appropriately-lit and the other will be nearly black or white.
     
  13. Why not a portable surgical light or the overheads? You can aim them wherever you choose?
     
  14. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    The overheads are too bright for good photos (see my post above) and also do not light inside cavities well. The hand-held lights at the end of retractors for cavities are also too bright and the photos turn out poorly, so they get turned off too. There may be some iso, aperture or speed settings that would be favorable while varying the surgical light output, but to make the overall photo good enough for publication, the practical solution that has worked with my limited photography equipment and skill set has been to use a flash.
     
  15. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The human eye can see much better than any camera.

    The E-M5 should do very well for your use. In fact there is an in camera tone curve adjustment that will allow you to brighten the shadows and/or darken the highlights. This is one of the features that makes me want one! I have seen some videos on youtube showing how it works. I would add one but it is hard to add it to a post from my iPad. Just search for " e-m5 tone curve" and you should fine them.
     
  16. silicone

    silicone New to Mu-43

    6
    Feb 22, 2013
    Thank you I will look that up!