Wifi HD small camera for filming in operating theatre.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by orangezorki, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Hello everyone,

    I hope I'm posting in the right forum, as this is not specifically mac/iOS related, but I'll definitely be editing everything on my macs and I always get some good advice on these forums.

    I'm actually a surgeon in training, and my consultant and I would like to get some good footage of a small operation that we do. It takes some time, but only has an incision (cut) of a few inches at most. As everything around the operating field has to be sterile, I can't just lean over and hold a camcorder. The idea I've had is getting a small, probably action-type video camera and clamping it someway to one of the movable theatre lights, so it points straight down at the action. This presents a few problems.

    1. Most importantly, it has to be totally secured - I can't have a dirty camera falling straight down into the middle of the operation, and possibly KOing one of my colleagues!

    2. As the area to be videoed is small, I really need quite a long focal equivalent lens. For comparison, when I have taken stills (when I can lean over carefully for a moment), I have had great results with my Pentax K-5 and 105mm Sigma macro lens. This camera will probably have to be a fair bit further away (~2x).

    3. Controlling the camera directly will also be a problem, so I am drawn to the GoPro Hero3, so I can control it with the iPhone, but I have heard very disappointing reliability reports, as well as thinking that the lens might be far too wide.

    I know that this is a very specific set of needs, but does anyone have any ideas?

    Many thanks in advance,

  2. macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2013
    You mentioned the GoPro Hero 3 and yes I have to say that's what I was thinking when you mentioned all you need to do. And about the lens being wide angle, it is very much wide angle, but if you record on 2.7K, you can zoom in a lot on the video after in editing, even if you're using 1080p, or especially 720p. The only thing we've experienced as a problem is in low light, there is a lot of noise/grain. But as long as you have a lot of good light, it should be fine.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    I film in OTs with a Sony HVR V1P. ENT mainly want me (neck dissections etc) for training/presentation videos. I've attached a shot.[​IMG]

    The biggest problem is getting the surgeon's hands out of the way. The best surgeons (from my POV) remember I'm there and have an idea of the bits they want captured and ask if I have a clear shot.

    I have grappled with the problem of clean, clear video capture and it isn't easy or cheap.

    Me with a camera on a tripod = big and bulky (camera, not me), extra person in theatre, but I'm dedicated to video and the camera's good.
    Pendant cameras = super expensive, surgeon needs to remember to hit 'record' , not always a clear shot and unless someone is monitoring, you won't know.
    Head-mounted camera = head isn't as still as you might think, plus then the surgeon has to really think about video when they should be thinking about the op.

    IMO, GoPro cameras (and similar small single cameras) don't have the colour fidelity or dynamic range required. They actually take really bad video, but people tend not to notice because it's mainly extreme sports and everything is moving so fast anyway. OT lights tend to be massively bright in one small area and if you're not careful, your camera will try to compensate in the wrong spot and blow out the image. In addition, GoPros can't zoom. That wide angle lens can make things look pretty weird, too. If you've got one, have a go with it, it's just not great, but then again any shot is (usually) better than no shot at all. Here's a clip on YouTube.

    I think the best result comes from having a dedicated and mobile camera operator with a decent camera and a surgeon who knows exactly what he wants from the shot. My worst days are when senior surgeon X books me for a job, and it's actually junior surgeon Y doing the op and he has absolutely no idea I'm coming, why I'm there or what shots the senior surgeon wants. Then Y rings X, who says "just get some video of the operation". The 4 hour operation... All I do is deliver them 4 DVDs and instruct them in the ways of the paper edit.:D

    You need someone who knows exactly what they want and what message they wish to convey. Just like any videoing job.
  4. macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    The advantage of the GoPro series is the headstrap - it doesn't need to be hold in hand, it won't ever drop (the strap is very tight and secture) and, basically, it's recording everything you see.

    BTW, in 1080p / 720p modes (but not in 2.7k+), you can switch the GoPro 3 to non-wideangle modes too. The narrow mode, based on the excellent comparison video at http://vimeo.com/53333820 , might be around 50-60mm equiv. It's NOT digital zoom, fortunately, which means there's no quality loss (unlike with pp); this also means it must be engaged while recording.


    The GoPro 3 BE can in 1080p and below - see the video ( http://vimeo.com/53333820 ) I've linked to above (and the official specs).
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    But it's not zoom-ing, if you get my meaning. When I shoot in OT (and the OP's situation may be different) I go from a wide-ish angle to a telephoto/narrow angle all the time. And although I get the whole "it's recording everything you see" part, if it's on a surgeon's head (or any other active participant), they are bobbing about all the time and not always looking at the area of interest.

    I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying test this out first, and don't rely on something you think should work for your one and only shot at doing something - what looks good on paper doesn't always translate to the real world. The advantage of testing out a GoPro is you might have one already and if you don't they are only $400 or so, compared to the thousands video equipment usually costs. And if it doesn't do what you want, you still have a cool GoPro to play with. :D
    Surgeons don't sterilise their faces. Don't overthink the infection control issues. As long as it's clean and not touching the patient, you have those huge air suckers creating a negative pressure area above the patient.
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Thanks for all the useful advice - It confirms alot that I suspected but didn't know for sure.

    The ability to crop the 2.7k output to non-interpolated 1080p of the Hero 3 does give me some hope that it could work. I just think the best thing will be a view straight down over the operating field, and I can't hold a camera there without getting in the way and won't be able to see the screen either. Ideally what I would like is an above average compact that allows for view, control and zoom from a remote device like the iPhone. This would be much more of a decent investment for me as well, as I can't see myself using a GoPro for much else. I'm hoping to spend under the equivalent of $500.

    I also agree that a head cam is a non-starter. One of my consultants has one, and as well as being no better than an old phone camera, it never really stays still for long. It's a great learning aid and extra view during the procedure though.

  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Thanks again for the replies - I really appreciate being treated with such kindness when I am such a novice - not something seen in all forums!

    I'm just updating you that I had a walk round the shops yesterday, and had the chance to look at loads of cameras. I'm particularly proud that I managed to resist the temptation to buy a Fuji X20, as that is what I would really like to buy, though it would be useless for this task.

    The biggest disappointment was the GoPro. One shop had a functioning Hero 3 BE with the LCD backpack, and even with the 'narrow' view, the picture is far, far too wide. Totally useless for what I need, and all the other action cams didn't have wifi live view, so total non-starters.

    The closest I got was the Samsung 'smart' cameras, as they have an iOS app that gives remote view, flash and zoom control. And then I found out that there was no video support. The pairing process did however reaffirm why I pay the extra for the Apple products - I doubt that an alpha release from Apple would be that unreliable and clunky.

    So, I'm narrowing down my search to a HD camcorder that's light, or possibly a compact with a flip screen, that can zoom to at least 100mm in 35mm equivalent and still focus at 4 ft. I will then need a clamp, ideally one with a flexible stem, like an old desk lamp, that can attach securely to a 1" metal tube that I can't slide anything over the end - imagine a thin handlebar on a bicycle, only the end is bolted to something that you can't slip a loop around.

    Any ideas? Pretty please?!?

  8. macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    Option: clamp the camera to the surgical lamp

    Several years ago, a doctor asked me on the day of this surgery to video her dermatological surgery on a patient's nose with her own SD camera. She did the surgery upside-down (from the "standard" side of the patient) so the camera could get most of the action. We used one of those gorilla minitripods clamped/attached to the lamp over the operating table. Once we got the angle and lighting right, I basically just stayed there to keep an eye on things. Just a thought.
  9. macrumors newbie

    Apr 11, 2013
    Have you considered a PTZ camera

    Sony's networkable PTZ (point tilt zoom) cameras are available in 1080 and 720


    They have 20x optical zooms and if you get an outdoor version it is encased in a plastic dome, which I imagine is a plus in an operating theatre.

    They can be controlled with a laptop by a person in a different room, and output an h264 stream which could be sent straight to the web.

    Not as cheap as a camcorder, but we are talking about the medical field here.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2009
    The problem with PTZ cameras is that they are wall or ceiling mounted and once something is mounted, you just know someone is going to stand in the way. They can give a great overall view and they are good for doctors to, say, address a remote room of people, but not that great for the op itself. This is why pendant cameras (Stryker, for example) are installed. Even then, the top down view doesn't always cut it. Firstly, while it gives a good view, it doesn't convey to a surgeon watching it how to do it, since it's not from a familiar POV. Secondly, the days of giant open operations where a person is splayed open while the surgeon works have long gone. There's a lot of laparoscopic work these days (for which there are dedicated recorders) or in the case of ENT it's all close in stuff. The image I posted above needed a 30° angle off the horizontal and I was constantly on the move, fighting for an angle in and working against those superbright theatre lights.
  11. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    Wow - thanks for resurrecting the thread. It's interesting to see the options out there. Unfortunately, this will be funded from my own, not so deep pocket, so it has to be affordable and something I can take home with me after every use.

    I think I've settled on a possible solution - the new Panasonic X920 camcorder. 3-CMOS, backlit sensors, wifi view and control, and with the clamp and arm that I have already bought, I'm hoping that it will be light enough not to pull the movable light down.

    I'll let you know how it goes!

  12. macrumors 65816

    Dec 14, 2010
    The GoPro Hero3 Black actually takes fantastic quality video. Many professional videographers now use them because of their size and ability to be mount anywhere with minimal fuss. When using Protune mode, you can colour correct while editing to give some amazing video. Anyone who says otherwise simply doesnt know what theyare talking aout - take a look at the quality of samply footage available on their site etc!

    Although it may not get as close as you require, bear in mind it does actually have a live view as you can stream live footage to your smartphone or tablet with the GoPro app (although with a few seconds lag). Ive covered all aspects of it in my YouTube reviews (link in sig).

    The only issue for you would be the lack of zoom on the actual camera.....
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I totally agree with every point that you make - the footage that I have seen is pretty damn good. I have heard some worrying stories though about major glitches in the latest version though. Its just that for me, the area that I need to film, at the distance I need the camera to be, I would end up with the 'action' as a tiny proportion of the frame.

    Instead, I did buy the Panasonic and I'm really happy so far. The clamp and arm work surprisingly well, if a bit wobbly to manouvre into the right view. Clamping on the light keeps heads out of the shot almost all of the time. The results seem impressive to me as well, though I haven't used a camcorder in a long time - since the days of SD mini-DV.

    My next challenge is to decide whether or not to buy FCPX or something else and then using it on a 11" MBA might be an interesting experience! I do have a cinema display to use at home though...

  14. macrumors 65816

    Dec 14, 2010
    I would suggest starting with imovie, since its free and will probably do everything you need. As you get used to using imovie, you can then think of moving to FCPX as it feels like a natural progression, and you'll find FCX much easier and simpler to get along with.

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