Emily Alten is a writing enthusiast and biology nerd who specializes in educational healthcare and medicine content for RxPhoto. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Columbia University with a degree in biological sciences/pre-medical studies. RxPhoto's medical app converts an iPhone or an iPad into a clinical photography system securely capturing, managing, and sharing patient photos and videos. RxPhoto.com

Without a doubt, you need to take photos of your patients on a daily basis. Whether you're building a before and after portfolio for marketing or using photography for procedure tracking, you want your pictures to look clean and consistent. Very few offices have a skilled photographer on staff, so it can be difficult to decide on the best camera to use. Ahead, we profile the pros and cons of the three most common options for aesthetic photography.


Many physicians choose a DSLR camera for their clinical photography, and most set up a dedicated photography room to ensure that their pictures remain consistent shot after shot. A skilled photographer can set a DSLR camera with the proper aperture for the room's lighting, choose the correct lens, and set up a tripod for the camera at a good distance and angle from the subject. Ultimately, DSLR cameras have many features but only benefit you if your staff is trained. Without proper training, you are essentially paying a lot of money for a glorified point-and-shoot digital camera.

Medical Imaging System

Dedicated medical imaging hardware products are designed for use in clinical photography. Some are made specifically for taking photos of the face, some for full body photography, and some are similar to DSLR cameras in that they are handheld and used to document any anatomical region. Most physicians set up a photography room specifically for using these types of cameras.

Mobile Devices

Because of the upfront cost of the other options, it's no surprise that many doctors are using mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, especially since the quality of mobile device cameras has been improving at a staggering pace.

Mobile Devices versus DSLR

Smartphone and tablet cameras are often just as good, if not better, than standard point-and-shoot digital cameras. They do not have the features of a DSLR camera, such as swappable lenses, adjustable aperture for varying amounts of light, or larger sensors for larger printouts. These features are overkill for your purposes. If treated like a DSLR camera by using consistent lighting and consistent set-up, a mobile device can take images of the same caliber as the DSLR.

Mobile Devices versus Medical Imaging Systems

Imaging hardware products are designed specifically for clinical photography. While image quality on a mobile device is suitable for most physicians' needs, perhaps you are worried about repeatability, a feature that medical imaging systems stress. Apps can work on smartphones and tablets to incorporate the most important features you have with expensive imaging system cameras, proving that mobile devices are just as efficient and more versatile than bulky clinical photography studios. For example, with RxPhoto (currently iOS):

• On screen templates and ghosting features allow “after” pictures to be perfectly aligned with “before” pictures, so that two different photographers can take the same picture at two different times.
• Automatically sorts and organizes your photos by patient, date, and anatomical region.
• Automatically stores photos on a HIPAA-compliant cloud server you can access from any computer.
• Staff training is minimal.
• Staff can bring their own devices, limiting big equipment purchases.

Mobile device cameras are continually improving. Apple has even touted that the iPhone 7 will kill the DSLR. As these cameras continue to advance, you will find more and more doctors using them with apps such as RxPhoto for their ease of use, portability, and financial benefit—taking costs down from thousands of dollars to just hundreds.