International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 133, Issue 3, pp 963–971 | Cite as

Forensic 3D documentation of skin injuries using photogrammetry: photographs vs video and manual vs automatic measurements

  • Mitchell J. FliesEmail author
  • Peter K. Larsen
  • Niels Lynnerup
  • Chiara Villa
Method Paper


Accurate and precise documentation of lesions is an important aspect of the forensic pathologists’ work. Photogrammetry provides a useful tool to take precise measurements from photographs. These photographs are normally acquired with single camera photographs, but the procedure is quite time-consuming. Video recording has the potential to record a larger amount of image data faster. We documented 33 cadaveric skin lesions, using photographs and video recordings. The dimensions of the lesions ranged between 0.27 and 21.8 cm. The measurements of the lesions were extracted with both manual and automatic point measurements from photographs and from video frames, respectively. Very small differences (mean and median < 1 mm) were found between measurements taken in photographs versus video frames. Video frames were often blurred, preventing clear demarcation of the edges of the lesions and presenting a larger amount of noise in the 3D models. The differences between the manual point and automatic point measurements were very small (mean and median < 1 mm), but the manual procedure is to be preferred, since automatic points were not always located on the edges of the lesions. The only aspect in which video frames were superior to photographs was the recording time: video recording was almost five times faster than the photo sessions. In conclusion, this study shows that precise and comparable measurements can be extracted both from photographs and video frames. The video is the fastest method, but the use of photographs is still recommended. Manual measurements are more precise than automatic measurements and equally time-consuming.


3D documentation Video documentation Photogrammetry Skin injuries 



Special thanks to the forensic pathologists and technicians at the Department of Forensic Medicine for their patience and help during the documentation. We would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions and comments.


MJF was supported by Novo Nordisk Foundation [NNF15OC0017818]. CV was supported by Rådet for Offerfonden (J. nr. 16-910-00034).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

No formal ethical consent was needed from Danish Ethical for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Forensic Pathology, Department of Forensic MedicineUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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