OBJECTIVES: To compare the clinical efficacy of digital and conventional cephalometric imaging. METHODS: Conventional and photostimulable phosphor cephalometric radiographs were obtained from three human cadavers at nine different exposure settings. Subjective image quality was assessed by six observers who evaluated six cephalometric landmarks. Organ doses were measured with TLDs and effective doses calculated. RESULTS: Compared with conventional cephalometric images, digital images had a consistently better subjective image quality for all exposure settings which was significant (P<0.05) for all but two. Organ doses were comparable. Higher kV and lower mAs settings yielded the lowest effective dose, which was highly dependent on the position of the thyroid gland in the beam. CONCLUSION: Relatively small variations in exposure settings do not influence subjective diagnostic image quality of digital cephalometric radiographs. Higher kV and lower mAs settings have the lowest effective dose and should therefore be preferred.