Digital photography: a primer for pathologists.J Clin Lab Anal. 2004; 18(2):91-128.JC
The computer and the digital camera provide a unique means for improving hematology education, research, and patient service. High quality photographic images of gross specimens can be rapidly and conveniently acquired with a high-resolution digital camera, and specialized digital cameras have been developed for photomicroscopy. Digital cameras utilize charge-coupled devices (CCD) or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors to measure light energy and additional circuitry to convert the measured information into a digital signal. Since digital cameras do not utilize photographic film, images are immediately available for incorporation into web sites or digital publications, printing, transfer to other individuals by email, or other applications. Several excellent digital still cameras are now available for less than 2,500 dollars that capture high quality images comprised of more than 6 megapixels. These images are essentially indistinguishable from conventional film images when viewed on a quality color monitor or printed on a quality color or black and white printer at sizes up to 11x14 inches. Several recent dedicated digital photomicroscopy cameras provide an ultrahigh quality image output of more than 12 megapixels and have low noise circuit designs permitting the direct capture of darkfield and fluorescence images. There are many applications of digital images of pathologic specimens. Since pathology is a visual science, the inclusion of quality digital images into lectures, teaching handouts, and electronic documents is essential. A few institutions have gone beyond the basic application of digital images to developing large electronic hematology atlases, animated, audio-enhanced learning experiences, multidisciplinary Internet conferences, and other innovative applications. Digital images of single microscopic fields (single frame images) are the most widely utilized in hematology education at this time, but single images of many adjacent microscopic fields can be stitched together to prepare "zoomable" panoramas that encompass a large part of a microscope slide and closely simulate observation through a real microscope. With further advances in computer speed and Internet streaming technology, the virtual microscope could easily replace the real microscope in pathology education. Later in this decade, interactive immersive computer experiences may completely revolutionize hematology education and make the conventional lecture and laboratory format obsolete. Patient care is enhanced by the transmission of digital images to other individuals for consultation and education, and by the inclusion of these images in patient care documents. In research laboratories, digital cameras are widely used to document experimental results and to obtain experimental data.