Light and illumination are the basics of photography. The very word “photography” comes from two Greek words, phos meaning light, and graphis meaning drawing. Hence, photography can be described as drawing with light. Photography is about capturing light and recording it, today mostly in a digital format. Over half a century ago, it was nearly impossible to direct the camera’s flash into the dark, oral cavity with enough precision to yield adequate intra-oral images for medical purposes. The introduction of ring- and lateral flash systems attached to the end of a macro lens in the 1950s provided adequate illumination where needed for intra-oral photography. The limited availability of camera systems, lenses and flashes along with only a few suitable films for this type of photography created a quasi standard. Already then, authors were saying that standardization in dental photography was necessary in order to increase the quality of documentation (Bengel 1985).
However, with an ever increasing array of digital cameras and lighting systems to choose from, today, we are further away from standards in dental photography than ever before.